This one goes out to all us grown-ass adults who still feel a little bitter that we never got to go to summer camp.
Does The Parent Trap – both Mills and Lohan – make you feel culturally alienated and more than a little wistful? Then I’m talking to you.
In our younger years, we non-campers had the worst summer vacation stories when we reunited with our friends in September. Our camper friends had all new social groups and secret camp identities. You know what’s NOT a great story? “I got a fun new nickname – from my brothers!” See, we all may have spent our summer doing the same activities, like swimming and hiking …. but us non-campers were with our siblings instead. (Lame-sauce Camp Substitute #1: having a big family.)
Our friends would tell us that you “just can’t understand camp” if you didn’t go. Yeah. We know. That is like telling me that I “just can’t understand yacht ownership” or “don’t know what it’s like to be married to Idris Elba.” Trust me, camp was not a luxury we chose to forego. Telling us that we couldn’t conceive of how totally awesome it is only made us feel worse.
Camp Envy is a disease of the middle class, like tennis elbow or credit card debt. You may have contracted Camp Envy if your folks had too much money to qualify for financial aid, yet not enough to enlist you in the sleepaway elite. My parents claimed they couldn’t afford camp, so one year I told them that I had heard there were camp scholarships and even special camps for low-income kids! That’s when I learned that I was not, in fact, low income. My disappointment at missing out on camp was somewhat tempered by the pride of forcing my parents to admit that they had sort-of lied. As it were, budget-wise I got private school instead of camp. (Lame-sauce Camp Substitute #2: Nuns.)
In the interest of full disclosure, I did get to go to theater day camp, but there were no cabins. No lake. No fires. No camp nicknames. I think we can all agree that for Camp Envy purposes, day camp isn’t “camp.” It’s school, but with all the rote learning replaced with creativity or sports. There was also some sort of a local Gilda’s Club camp I would have qualified for in high school, but let’s be real. If there’s anything worse than a parent having cancer when you’re 15, it’s being expected to macrame about it. Or make a Popsicle stick house for your feelings. Okay, I’m actually not sure what goes on at camp, since I never got to go.
I thought that Camp Envy was behind me until yesterday. It was Camp Day at Tim Hortons. For those of you not from Canada or Almost-Canada, Tim Hortons is a ‘cafe and bake shop’ that sends over 15,000 children to camp every year through its charitable foundation. On Camp Day, proceeds from all coffee purchases go to sponsor campers. You can also add $1 or $5 to your purchase to help kids buy, I’m guessing, boondoggle equipment and s’mores ingredients. My initial reaction? “Screw them! I didn’t get to go to camp, you don’t get to go to camp!” (Lame-sauce Camp Substitute #3: Some coffee)
By the time I made my order — coffee, iced and black like my envious soul – I had thought better of depriving polite Canadian children of their time-honored right to get weird rashes and learn all of the verses to American Pie. Instead, this summer, we will turn our blog into an occasional “camp” for those of us who didn’t get the experience as kids. Grown-ass adults who DID go to camp, you can play, too! Just refrain from telling us that we can’t imagine how magical camp was. We watched Bug Juice and Salute Your Shorts; we know.
So, consider this the opening of Camp Cookies + Sangria. We’ll sprinkle camp-themed posts throughout the summer. We can help you create your own mini-camp with friends, teach you fun crafts, and delve into “camp culture” by discussing movies that always made us want to sleep in cabins and eat at mess halls.
If you never got your chance at sleepaway camp, but always harbored a secret belief that you would have been a freaking amazing camper, come on over! If you were a freaking amazing camper, we want you too (and we’re happy you got to realize your potential)! Whenever you see a post tagged Camp Cookies + Sangria, you know that we have summer fun in store. Minus the weird rashes.