11 Things Learned At Sleepaway Camp

  1. What going to first base really meant. If you were one of the girls who matured enough to think boys no longer had cooties, you spent the summer smooching them until your mouth shriveled up and your strawberry Lip Smacker ran out.
  2. How to do all kinds of things with lanyard. If you mastered the box stitch, you were sought-after and considered a very valuable camper.
  3. Peeing in the woods, sans toilet paper, for the first time and feeling as extraordinarily free as you did strange.
  4. Winning Color War was the most important thing you HAD TO DO that summer, which still weighs heavily on you during the summertime now, when your to-do list is overcrowded with jobs you need to work in order to have enough money to pay your bills.
  5. You can roast anything, really, over fire. Marshmallows, bananas, the love note some boy camper with a retainer slipped into your duffle bag.
  6. When in a large group of girls, you slowly begin to share everything: Soffe shorts, secrets, hair lice.
  7. Also, when in a large group of girls, some of them will be indescribably, overwhelmingly mean. And maybe you started to understand this from grade school, but when you spend 30 days in the same bunk you start to see how caddy and obnoxious some of them can be for reasons as lame as: ew, Jen, why would anyone French braid only one side of their head? At the ripe at of 9, you hope, desperately, that one day they will change.
  8. The art of persuasion via writing letters home. Dear Mom, camp’s great. You’d be happy to know the following: I’m less homesick, I’ve been chomping on lots of veggies, and I’ve made one friend—other than the nurse. All the girls here love the tie-dyed shirt you made me, so maybe you could send some more [insert something you really, really want probably from Limited Too]. I know I, or they, or we would love that!
  9. Bug spray, Sloppy Joe, wet bathing suit—are all smells you can’t physically  tolerate anymore
  10. How to change your clothes, in front of people, without them seeing a thing. This is an essential coming of age technique that one learns while one also learns that not everyone’s body parts look the same at age 9. Some girls have mountains where others have just ant bites.
  11. There’s a possibility that sometime, in no immediate future, summers like the ones you spend playing kickball and doing arts and crafts all day long, won’t last forever. You’re not capable of fully believing this—how could you be? You’re simply just killing time between the 5th and the 6th grade. But one afternoon, over a glass of iced cold lemonade, one of your counselors will start throwing out words like full-time job, engaged, lip waxing, and your concept of time and how it’s spent will never be the same. TC Mark

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Jen Glantz is the world’s first professional bridesmaid and founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. Her new book, Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire) [Atria Books] is available now.

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