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Overnight Camp: A Kiss and Tell Account


Summer camp was the best gift my parents ever gave me. At overnight camp, everyone shared clothes, shaving cream, stationery, and secrets. There were no locks: only doors that creaked and banged to announce comings and goings. On Friday nights, I sat at a fire-circle facing the quiet lake, chanting prayers and singing songs in Hebrew: songs, which, until then, had felt strange and foreign to me.

At camp, everything made sense, and when I linked arms with my friends, I felt a peaceful connection to nature as if G-d had fashioned a golden cord that started from the sun, zig-zagged over to the stars, dropped down to earth, and connected every one and every thing. All at once, I wanted to stay there forever.

In 1979, I was 11-years-old. Our camp director invited a bunk of boys and girls to his cabin for a “special” evening program. It was dark outside and the yellow glow from a single bug light cast strange shadows over everyone’s faces. I remember sitting outside his cabin, the one with the peeling paint, feeling excited. Expectant.

Click photo to see other work by Sonia Poli

When the director emerged, he carried an empty wine bottle tucked under his arm. He explained the rules of a game called Spin-the-Bottle. Before that night, outside of relatives, I’d never kissed a boy my own age before.

After what seemed like hours, the bottle pointed at me. Shimmying to the center of the grassy circle on my knees, I leaned in toward my partner and when our lips met, I gave his bottom lip a little tug with my teeth. He pulled away from me, looking terrified.

“What happened?” somebody asked.

“She bit me!” The leery recipient of my wonky kiss moved back to his place in the circle where he checked to see if I’d drawn blood.

Later, when we girls laid in the darkness atop skinny mattresses, we dished about the game, rehashing who had smelled nice and who had the worst breath and who we wouldn’t mind kissing again. If we had to.

Don’t get me wrong.

It wasn’t appropriate.

But it was fun.

Looking back at the summers of my youth with an adult sensibility, I see how the tail end of the 70’s “free-love” ideology contributed to a climate and culture that became unsafe for campers and staff and, in some ways, that carefree mentality precipitated the desire, perhaps even the need, for the tedious forms we parents have to complete today.

But for a little while, it worked.

Once upon a time, overnight camp was a place where it was okay to be a wee bit naughty.

No one cared if we scribbled our names on cabin walls.

Or if we snuck into canteen to eat a few extra candy bars.

If we showered during a thunderstorm.

Or if we practiced kissing.

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 9.56.09 PM

I suppose I’ll always feel nostalgic about the summers of my youth. For a few weeks, we got lost in a kind of magic.

Nature provided the perfect backdrop: the lake sparkled in the sun; blackberries hung from bushes heavy and ripe, waiting to be picked and shared; leafy trees rustled in the darkness as we hurried down dusty roads toward something that felt close to love.

Without television, email or Internet, we really were cut off from the outside world. Together, we pretended time was standing still even though we knew it was racing forward. Is it any wonder we fell into each other with our mouths wide open, without asking questions?

What do you remember about summer camp? And if you didn’t go, do you wish you did?

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{NOTE: Sunday, my son left for 7 weeks at overnight camp. He’d better not do any of the things I did. Also, I’m joining the peeps at Yeah Write. Such a great community. Come check us out.}


91 thoughts on “Overnight Camp: A Kiss and Tell Account

  1. In third grade I got bucked from a horse named Sugarcane that the stable person said was the kindest horse they had. Then I almost got bucked from the camp for slapping sugarcane in the ass and telling the stable person what he could do with his horse.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Dono. Sorry to hear Ole Sugarcane didn’t give you the time of your life. (And you never felt that way before. But I swear — this is true — that I owe it all to you.) I’m guessing you learned something from that experience. Like maybe you were able to remember it in full detail and recall it to some blogger’s kid in a letter or something. With pictures. 🙂

  2. I never went to camp. It wasn’t offered and I would have been to shy and frightened to go. Looking back now, I think it would have been a great experience for me. Maybe painful at first, but I probably would have come feeling more confident and grown up. I wonder if you felt changed after your first time at camp.
    I did have parties in our finished basement from the time I was eleven (1963). There was a lot of hand holding, dancing and a little smooching. That was fun, eye-opening. … But going away from home for a week or more would have been a real ” grown up” experience.

    1. Hi Marcia: I definitely came home each summer feeling more confident and grown up — even if this wasn’t the case. I remember one summer, one girl admitted that she had gone “all the way” with a boyfriend from back home and feeling left behind. I may have tried a little too hard to make up for lost time that summer.

  3. I remember almost drowning in the lake when I was trying to swim in the near frigid water to get my beginner’s badge. We were supposed to swim across a body of water to complete a portion of the test and I was not a strong swimmer and the water was so cold. I couldn’t do it and the instructor had to rescue me. It was so embarrassing.

    1. I’m glad that your camp had solid instructors who were looking out for you. You may have been embarrassed, but much better than sinking like a stone, right? I mean, thank goodness you survived to tell this story.

  4. Picture this: Me, TWO girls, a lone bell tower atop the old camp chapel. Best. Summer. Ever. Until they boarded up the entrance and I lost my favorite make out spot. Fortunately, I had a boat and several miles of lake.

    Camp is one of those things that if you went it changed your life. If you didn’t, (it seems to me) you always wanted to go and you truly missed out on something special. I consider myself extremely fortunate that I was able to go to camp (and work at camp) for many years. These days, I don’t go to camp often, even though we have a house a mile away. I won’t say we out grew camp. Rather, we’ve changed as people. Mostly, we visit camp to drop off / pick up Thing 1 at camp. She loves it, and can’t wait to work up their just like I did. I am one happy and proud (former) camper.

    1. Do you think they boarded up the bell tower because they found it was the best make out spot in camp? LOL!

      Many of the people I knew from my summer camp days live nearby, and I’m forever running into someone that I knew from way back when. But I know what you mean about folks “changing as people.” I like to visit my old camp right before school starts each year, when no one is there. Tech and I stroll around, sharing memories.

      I’m glad that your kids are enjoying the same kinds of summers that you did.

      Even if they boarded up that old bell tower. 😉

  5. All the summer camps I went to were either all girls camps which other than a few giggles weren’t all that exicting or swim camp which I spent about 8 hours a day in the pool, not much fun there either… except for the summer I just turned 14, I made out with a hot boy from Pennsylvania the night before camp was over. lol

    However, in college I was a counselor at a camp in the Berkshires. Now THAT was the time of my life! 🙂

    1. Oooooh! You were a counselor in the Berkshires? I’ll bet you were a very good girl, right? I’ll bet your campers loved you and you were 100% attentive and you didn’t pay any attention to the boys at all. 😉 How’d I do? 😉

      1. Um no, we went out drinking every night, I dated a “kitchen boy”, and I would just sit on the deck lazily while I taught diving. 😉 It was awesome. 🙂

  6. I went to camp for two weeks when I was about the same age, around 1988. I wanted to love it so much but I just hated it! I was so determined to be upset about sharing space with people, being a “minnow” in swim lessons when everyone else my age were “fish”, only having milk at dinner and I hated milk, and so on… Looking back now, if I had just gone with the flow and enjoyed everything else I would have had a blast!! Thankfully I have somewhat outgrown my pessimism. Phew.

    1. Before I found the right camp, I went to a day camp through our local YMCA. They had those same stooopid swim groups: “minnows” (sucked) and “trout” (beginner) all the way up to “sharks” or something (super proficient). I, too, was a (totally lame) minnow, condemned to sit in a rowboat with a counselor. That summer sucked. I’m glad my parents let me try a different place.

  7. I remember the communal showers. Ugh. That was not my cup of tea, and I definitely tried my best to wait for the one private stall! I remember the camp counselor discussing the best razor to shave her armpits with (random memory!), and not being able to imagine being as “old” as she was. I remember how the swimming pool and riding trails were at the bottom of a huge hill, where the cabins stood. I remember the woods and the beauty of the location. Ah, thanks for that!

    1. Rivki: I actually loved our camp’s (disgusting) communal showers in that I really felt like we were roughing it. The showers were often peopled with bugs. We had to wear flip-flops so as not to step on anything weird. There was rarely enough water pressure or even hot water. But I sooooo appreciated going home to take that first wonderful shower at the end of each summer. The bathroom in my parents’ house may have been small, but that first shower after 8 weeks away? Heaven.

  8. I only went for one weekend with my girl scout troop. We had just moved to the States from Puerto Rico and I went very ill-prepared. I froze and was miserable! Oh well…
    I would have enjoyed spin the bottle though. 🙂 Loved this post, you captured it so well.

    1. Oh Maria: Girl Scout Camps. Yuck. I only went to one, one summer. When I was in 3rd grade. Latrines. Enough said, yes? I’m glad my parents let me try a different camp. You know, one with boys. LOL. 😉

    1. JM: For real? Back in the day, people used to call our Jewish camp “Camp Sex On The Lake.” I doubt my parents would have sent me if they had known that. Meanwhile, why was there all this making out at religious-based camps? Sorry to hear about the bat thing. Hopefully he didn’t land in your curls, eh?

  9. I went to sailing camps and scouting camps (summer camps don’t exist in NL). We had a lot of fun doing the things you weren’t supposed to do, making decisions your parents never even thought you were (already) making (such as who to kiss and who definitely not) and feeling very adult about it. We did some stupid stuff, but they make great memories 😉

    1. You summed it up perfectly!

      “We had a lot of fun doing the things you weren’t supposed to do, making decisions your parents never even thought you were (already) making (such as who to kiss and who definitely not) and feeling very adult about it.”

      Yes yes and yes. So knowing what you know, would you send your kiddies to summer camp one day? 😉

  10. What??? The camp director planned an evening program of spin-the-bottle for a bunch of 11-year-old kids!?! Completely inappropriate! Glad things have changed now that OUR kids are there! What do I remember about summer camp? Lots. I went to a riding camp in the Adirondacks; we rode for 3 hours every day. We had a rodeo at the end of each session and the whole camp came to watch. I won the barrel race on my horse Pickle. One time we were in a field letting our horses graze for a bit. My horse got stung by a bee, got spooked, stepped on my foot and pushed me down. I twisted my ankle pretty badly. Fortunately that was the day before we went home. Another time we went out of camp on a 3-day trip with the horses. We bathed in a cold river/waterfall with biodegradable shampoo. It was so much fun! But the bad part came when it poured all night long. Water seeped into the tents from the sides, getting our sleeping bags soaking wet. Of course, the counselors in their own tents had their sleeping bags atop bales of hay, so they were dry and rested in the morning!

    So excited to be the winner of the V05 Giveaway! Thanks!

    1. Can you even believe that about the director? That was a long time ago, and I should probably change that detail so as not to throw that director under the bus. But, oh well. It’s true. FYI: All of that monkey business stopped when the current director straightened things out. And thank goodness he did. Had he not, I’m quite certain my beloved old camp would be long gone.

      I love that you had a horse named Pickle.

      And congrats on winning the VO5 giveaway! Email coming your way!

  11. Only camp I went to was a Boy Scout camp. No girls. At my age at the time, I wouldn’t have been interested anyhow. Girls still had kooties back then. Anyhow, girls or no girls, I’m not a camp person. My idea of camping out is a nice motorhome hooked up to all utilities. No tents, hard ground, etc., for me, thank you very much.

    1. Hubby is like you, David. He requires at least four-star accommodations to go camping. He doesn’t understand why anyone would ever pay to sleep on an uncomfortable bed and eat crappy food. And looking outside my window at the gray sky today? Hubby would definitely not go for the whole walking around in the rain thing. 😉

  12. You definitely grow-up quickly at over-night camp. You watch and learn many experiences. Some are good: some are bad…. but….
    on the whole it gets you ready for being independent. I loved camp. The friendships last a lifetime.

  13. My camp experience was exactly like yours. Except with no religion. And no boys. And no kissing. And with a couple hundred Girl Scouts.

    I don’t mind the spin-the-bottle, but with an adult directing the action? That part seems a bit…creepy.

    p.s. I LOVE the Sonia Poli artwork – what’s the connection?

    1. The director being in on things? Looking back at it now — with an adult sensibility, it’s weird, but at the time, it didn’t seem weird at all. He was young. The staff? They were young. We were young, too. The whole place was run by young people. It’s not like that anymore. And it’s sad, but it’s probably a whole lot safer, too.

      The Poli work is called “The Kiss” — I think. When I saw it on, it spoke to me. I find lots of great art there.

  14. My favorite time at summer camp involved singing, canoeing, campfire, and giggling. Lots of giggling!!! 😉
    It is a different world now…I hope your son has a great time, though! These will be his ‘good ole days’.

  15. When I was little I begged my parents to let me go to overnight camp. We couldn’t afford it, but that wouldn’t stop me from asking. Then my parents let me watch a little horror movie called “Sleepaway Camp”. Then ending of that movie still haunts me to that very day…. I never asked again.

    Well played, parents! Well played.



  16. Oh wow! With current knowledge, that scenario feels like one of those health and safety photos where you have to spot all the hazards. The DIRECTOR instigated ‘spin the bottle’ for ELEVEN-YEAR-OLDS!

    And yet, as you say, it was how the times were, and you’ve collectively suffered no permanent damage (I assume).

    We don’t really ‘do’ summer camp here in the UK, a fact for which I think I’m mostly glad.

    1. Yes, those were slightly more innocent times. And it was all well and good. Sort of. But a little creepy, too, looking back at it all now. I’m pretty sure none of our parents would have wanted to know about what we did during those summers.

  17. I gasped when you said the director brought you all in for spin the bottle. I love your point about a different era and how maybe we’ve gone TOO far to the hover and helicopter. But that atmosphere you described here. . . . it’s very very very interesting. Maybe a backdrop for a novel for you? Something to think about!

    1. This piece was NOT written in response to yours. I wrote it a while back, long before my dude went to camp. I was thinking about the forms I had to sign. My parents didn’t have to sign anything really. They recall providing contact information (home phone, no cells back in the day) and the phone for someone else in the event if emergency as we as a medical form. Oh, and a short paper where they could request 2 people with whom I wanted to share a bunk.


      Um, my kid had to sign a social contract promising no bullying, no vandalism, nothing more that hugging and kissing with clothes on. And more.

      I’m torn.

      Obviously, no one should be engaging in inappropriate or illegal behavior, but then again, the fact that people have made terrible mistakes in judgment in the past? Well, that’s probably what got us to where we are now.

      Incidentally, this year? Our pediatrician asked if we wanted to vaccinate Tech for HPV. We opted out. Come to find out “everyone else” had done it. Talk about a whole new kind of worry! That’s what I’m working on in response to your piece.

  18. Slump? What slump? This is beautiful writing, Renee. I loved it and can’t believe your camp director offered up Spin the Bottle as a game!! I didn’t go to summer camp and yes, I wish I had. I love the friendships and commraderie I always hear about and that carefree feeling I could use more of. Sounds heavenly! Fabulous post!

    1. Keep in mind this was decades ago. Decades. Heads would roll if stuff like this happened today. (But it was wicked fun.) As far as the slump, I’m only writing once a week. I just can’t do more. I’m okay with it. Kinda. But I still haven’t figured out how to expand my reach to places like BlogHer and Mamapaedia, etc. I don’t get it, Mare. What’s wrong with me?

      1. Aw, honey! The only thing wrong with you is same thing wrong with me – we think something’s wrong with us! I want to trust that our flow/process is fine for right now. Exactly the right timing and flow! Easy to see for you. May be true for me too. 😉

  19. wow…I guess camp directors were a little looser back then. I never got to go to camp but always felt I was missing out….sounds like I was right.

    1. Hi Zoe. Um, yah. It was a different time. Sometimes I think I’m imagining it. Thank goodness there are a few other people who remember this event like I do — to confirm that I’m not bonkers. Because it sounds bonkers, I know. At the time, it was okay — except — you know it sooooo wasn’t. Some of us were probably not heterosexual — and we were being asked to participate in a thoroughly heterosexual activity. Not to mention, an activity that was encouraged and facilitated by adults. I see that now. But at the time? It was just magic.

  20. All I could picture as I read this was Bill Murray in Meatballs. Can’t believe the camp director initiated a game of Spin the Bottle. Just a few short years later, when I was at camp, they did everything they could to keep us apart.

    I’d totally forgotten about the blackberries we used to pick along the trails. They were amazing, and I don’t even like blackberries.

    My 11 year old nephew is currently at the camp I spent 7 summers at. Makes me feel old.

    1. Yes, well. As I said, it was a different time. None of this would have been “kosher” now, in any way shape or form. In many ways, my camp experience was very much like Meatballs. We were actually encouraged to “get together” back in the day — and this continued well through the 1980s. That said, things are necessarily different now. Sign of the times.

  21. Love this. It’s hard to read this and think about my kids doing these things but wow, when you think about all of that freedom and discovery, it’s what we had to do, wasn’t it? I didn’t get to go to summer camp every year. My husband did, was a canoe instructor up in PA and it was definitely the highlight of his childhood. He’s ready to send the kids off now. You definitely need to share some of your other stories though!

    1. I don’t know about sharing my later stories. I’m thinking about it. This is the place where I struggle as a writer. I want to tell my truth, but I don’t want to tell someone else’s. Obviously, a lot of “bad stuff” can happen when children are in charge of other children and an adult sensibility isn’t really present. You can imagine, I’m sure. I have to ruminate on this.

        1. I’m trying to figure that out. How do you make your decisions? If I may ask? Feel free to email me off blog, if you’d prefer. I just left a comment at your place. 🙂 I’m definitely looking for guidance here.

  22. I love this. I never went to sleep away but i was a bungalow baby, which meant we spent every summer upstate with no rules and no supervision. it was completely different time and feeling than today. that era does have a certain glow around it, and not just the drugs. 😉

    1. I learned about the drugs and the alcohol when I became an older camper and, even later a staff member. I’m glad to know you were a Bungalow-Baby, baby. It was a magic time. Until it wasn’t anymore.

  23. I never went to summer camp. As the oldest of 3 during my pre/early teen years with a single mom, baby sitting the sibs fell on my lap…but I don’t really feel like I missed anything. I found my share of boys to make out with…just a little closer to home. 😉 (And had the boy been a bit more adventurous, he’d have realized that little nibble was sexy, not scary….Hehehe!)

  24. My camp experiences were not like this. But I have a lot of crazy memories from the summers I did choir tours, and we would be sent to stay with random families – there was more than one crazy family that welcomed me into their home.

      1. I have not written about them…but when I do (hopefully soon now that the stories are all percolating in my mind) I will pass a link your way 🙂

  25. I remember CSL. Great times, but also questionable ones as you point out. One in particular involving a male counselor during an off-site overnight trip stands out. Nothing happened, thank goodness, but I shudder to think if it had or if that counselor repeated his behavior today. Times have changed for sure.

    1. Ange! Thank you for piping in here. Sometimes I think I’m crazy when I remember the things that happened. Because how could they have ever been allowed to happen? Even if people don’t like to revisit the truth, I have a right to talk about the events of my past. These things did occur. I’m not making them up. So thank you for confirming things.

  26. Summer camp was so rad for me. I discovered so many things about myself, when away from my parents like that.
    There was definitely a sexual energy in the air. I probably would’ve nibbled a few lips, if I hadn’t been too busy playing basketball. LoL. I was definitely labelled the tomboy of the camp.

    1. Summer cmp was rad for me, too. And I didn’t mean to make it sound like all we did was make out — because that’s not all we did. That was one weird night out of many wonderful nights.

      But yes.

      There was sexual energy in the air. I don’t believe it’s wrong for that energy to be there. To me, it seems natural — all those teens living together for weeks? How can there not be sexual energy? –but children need to be supervised carefully and kissing should never be the theme for programs.

  27. I went to summer camp once, as a kid. It was scout camp and it rained every day, not just a little rain but torrential downpour rain, every day. I remember swimming the mile (in a pool) and Nixon resigned and Ford became president. It was fun and when I went back as an adullt leader 4 years ago it was just as fun, but from a different perspective. I swam the mile in a lake – twice, probably a mile and a quarter – there is no line in the bottom in a lake 🙂 It was the best time for all the right reasons.

    1. It’s been such a rainy summer so far. I’ve been worried about the torrential downpour factor. And then I realized it’s better for my son to be at camp than at home during a rainy summer. He’ll go ravine running and mud sliding and get filthy with his friends. Congratulations on swimming the lake twice. People did that at this camp, too — and I always thought it was quite the accomplishment.

  28. Holy kissing campers Batman! I’ve been to and worked at a few summer camps, and I would have been fired so fast if I let – never mind encouraged – this happen! Hahaha, but it sounds so magical in a way! We were instructed, at teen camps especially, to be constantly vigilant of campers coupling off and disappearing into the bushes…

    1. Hi Janelle: I’m guessing you might be a little younger, maybe? This was definitely the mojo for the time. But yes, now there are intensive training classes prior to the campers arrival. Thank goodness, right? I mean, parents have to have faith that when they send their kids to overnight camp that their kids are being cared for appropriately. Back then, I think the emphasis was less on safety and more on having fun. And sometimes that idea of “fun” was a more mature concept. Glad to know you were one of the vigilant ones!

      1. Under 30, if that helps, but not by much… My camp counselor days were late 90’s early 00’s.

        As a camper, I wasn’t entirely innocent, but my offenses were generally more of the prank variety 😉

  29. In New Zealand we have school camps instead as summer holidays for us has Christmas at the start of it, so most people use summer holidays as family holiday time.
    However 1 year when I was about 12 two of my friends where going to a Christian Youth camp and I convince my parents to go. I remember being bucked off a pony, shaving my friends eyebrows off and getting thoroughly freaked out sleeping in the tiny chapel overnight. My family had stopped going to church when I was young so I associated churches with christenings and funerals and was terrified of ghosts.
    School camps were awesome.

    1. Oh Kelliefish — You shaved your eyebrows off? How did that happen exactly? Your Christian Youth camp sounds rather dismal. I’m glad you enjoyed school camps, although I’m not sure I understand the distinction. How were school camps different from regular school? Did you sleep over? I’m interested — especially since our educational system is soooo broken and in need of an overhaul! Tell me what you loved about school camp and how it was different from regular school.

      1. It was my friends eyebrows we shaved off, I wouldn’t let them anywhere near mine.
        School camps are done every year for kids aged 8-16 for usually about a week. The younger ones sometimes do an over night. Its up to the schools how they organise it and where they go and if they do it as a big group with lots of classes together or just one class at a time. A few parents come as well to help with activities and supervision, My Dad used to take time off work come every year which was special as he didn’t make it to a lot of other things.
        Its really hard to describe as each one was very different but I enjoyed
        -Getting to know my classmates and teachers outside of school
        – Having physical challenges, like high ropes courses, absailing, catching flounder and crabs, hiking up a mountain etc.
        -Seeing and learning about different things eg one camp we went to see different power station hydro, coal, and steam. Another we stayed on a Marae which is a traditional village that some of the Maori People live on, Another we went to hot spring and mud pools. We went to beaches, farms and Mountains.

  30. Never went to summer camp, but went to Ski Camp which was I guess somewhat the same thing only in the winter and in the mountains. Full of daredevils, hotdoggers, mountains and snow and teenagers. Our ‘counselors’ were not much older than we were and we were all looking to see who could get down the mountains fastest, take the jumps highest. We were so stupid.

  31. I never went to summer camp. It’s not a big west coast thing. I live on the east coast now and SO many people send their kids. My 16yo does travel baseball in the summer. My 9yo so far prefers the day camps!

    1. Summer camps have changed so much since I was a kid. My camp was about unplugging from the world. It was a “liberal arts camp” where the goal wasn’t to learn anything. It was just to have fun. There really weren’t any goals, per se. Now kids seem to be kept much busier. I know my son says he never has a quiet moment. I’m not sure I love that so much. Part of the joy of being at camp (for me, anyway) was just hanging out and appreciating nature, the silence, and connecting with each other, and even G-d. I know there are summer camps out west. They’re there is you look for them. Sadly, a counselor just died at a Jewish camp out your way. Tragic.

  32. Ah, summer camp, sight of my first kiss…it was terrible. I didn’t try it again for four or five years, lol. Sounds like you have some wonderful memories!

  33. I won the art contest. I also won the ostracized kid award because I was the only one that could not swim and had to stay in camp while everyone went canoeing. I’m 64. Still can’t swim but betcha I’ll win the art contest.

  34. I did go. And loved it. My daughter also just came back from two weeks of camp. With no cell phones or internet allowed. She loved it in spite of the lack of technology or maybe because of it — to my delight.

    1. I think that is the greatest gift of summer camp — the minimizing of technology. I wish parents didn’t crave the connection so much. I know so many people who hover about, looking for pictures of their children, hoping to see a smile. I can’t do it. I have faith that no news is good news. 😉

  35. Ohhh, so juicy and full of vivid descriptions. 🙂 All I had was church camp. No shenanigans there, just baptisms. But it was fun a different way. Freedom from parents. My first sense of “on-my-own.”

  36. My first time commenting on this blog, hi.

    I think I might have gone to the same camp as you, Renee (grew up in Cleveland). Lots of late-1970s shenanigans. I attended girls’ school and made up for a lot of lost time in summer. When I think about what we did, and what we knew the counselors were doing, I’m a little horrified. But at the time it was just about discovering stuff. There was all kinds of making out but I had the sense that there was a ‘speed limit’ or just a pace at which things unfolded–and THAT is what I fear my preteen won’t have. That it is now a more all-or-nothing kind of proto-sexuality.

    1. Yes! That’s it, exactly! There was a kind of speed limit. At least, I felt there was a clear line regarding how far we would (or would not) go. These days? Well, the line is more blurry. There is less of a hard-stop, if you know what I mean. {at first i thought we really may have gone to camp together. nice to meet you!}

  37. I think I’m a little older than you and I don’t recognize your name. But I think you’re right that some of that adolescent proto-sexual buzz got associated into the Jewish stuff. That must be part of why camp was such a (and my only) positive childhood Jewish experience. Not the kissing per se, but just the “wow, this is beautiful and intense” rush that comes along with desire and spreads out to whatever else is going on.

    And yes on the sense we had of the hard-stop. I would like to know if teens have that now, or if, as I fear, they don’t.

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