Summer vacation is hell.
We started off on the right foot. There were projects and outings and waaaaaay too many movies…and then we had to go to bed and figure out something new and exciting for Day 2. I’m going out of my mind.
I’m starting to appreciate a little something I have always loathed and tried to pretend never happened.
My mom works in a summer camp.
Works as in still does after over 30 years…
Every year we would pack up our lives and travel however many miles we were currently living away from the Great Jewish Migration to the Catskills and join the flock.
The trips were painful. There was vomit. There were complaints. There were cries. There was pee – sometimes at rest stops…sometimes – not. There were bedbugs in motels…truck drivers at 3am…and a certain smell I just can’t describe.
Then camp would start…and there were rules. You HAVE to stay with your bunk. You HAVE to play this game NOW. You MUST had fun and you MUST sing at the top of your lungs and try to get everyone to look at you.
I genuinely hated summer camp.
For one, it was hard to balance life as a camper and the daughter of a staff member. I never felt fully part of anything.
Then there was the fact that this particular camp is the epitome of Beis Yaakov and I was fighting that tooth and nail. Let’s just say there was a bit of a conflict of interest between what I thought was true and what they demanded I believe.
So with much heartache, punishments and stamping of feet, the two months would pass until we would finally get back to real life and I would pretend I didn’t have to go the next summer.
I still hate summer camp. If I meet people from there I shudder. If I hear a song, or a cheer – or worse, the alma mater – my heart starts pounding and I look for a way, any way, out.
But now I understand my mom and can appreciate – and wish for – the kind of summers she had.
Her laundry was done for her. She didn’t have to cook. She didn’t have to take care of her kids. She got access to the pool when she wanted. She had a mother’s helper when the kids were too young to sleep in the bunkhouses. She had air-conditioning and a fridge/freezer with plenty of ice pops. She never had to answer a bored child’s cry. She never had to discipline a child (except to send them to them to the head counselors if she found someone hiding out in her room) and she never had to try to get everyone out on an excursion and try not to have it end with tired, pouting kids.
Good one, Mother…thanks a lot.
Next summer, I’ll send you my little girl and you can let her experience the hell I did while I sit back and enjoy my summer.