“Summer camp is an essential part of a well-rounded, All-American upbringing,” said a child life specialist somewhere at some point in time.
I was #blessed to be able to attend sleep-away camp during the summer after 5th grade. Nestled in a small town outside Providence, Rhode Island, the camp was called Camp Fuller, but I remember it best as “Camp Fuller by The Sea.” If you’re interested in learning more about Camp Fuller, be sure to check out this super informative and sorely unedited Urban Dictionary entry written by a former camper – let’s call her Katie. If you don’t read it for her fascinating take on the camp’s social hierarchy, read it to see Katie misspell basic words like “attention,” “counselor,” and “division.”
Until Camp Fuller I’d only gone to day camp. I excelled as a day camper…crushed it at typical camp activities like drip drip drop, Popsicle stick art, talent shows, sports, and of course, the cornerstone of every camp experience, Beach Day. Beach day was my favorite day. The only bad memory I have of beach day is the time I spent the entire day sitting on a towel in order to conceal a tear in my bathing suit. At that age, one hole in your bathing suit gone unnoticed can jeopardize the rest of your camp career.
While I was perfectly content as a day camper, sleep-away camp beckoned me like the last slice of pizza. At the ready age of 10, being on my own sounded thrilling to me. So it was settled. I would be attending Camp Fuller for one 2-week session. I pictured myself paddling a kayak while the sun sets, sitting around a roaring bonfire while Chad, the sensitive counselor, plays the guitar, meeting my long lost twin after an aggressively over-acted fencing match.
I remember a lot about Camp Fuller, and not just because I was sober the whole time, but because I enjoyed most of it. Being sober certainly did help though. I remember waking up to Britney Spears’ first CD. I remember being asked by someone waiting for the shower if I had peed in the shower right after I did in fact pee in the shower. I looked at her strangely and said ‘no’, but she and I both knew that I did it. I remember every girl in my cabin, especially the chick who slept above me. I guess that made us bunk mates. She had hair down her back and brushed it everyday for about an hour. She also had fully developed breasts which supported my “Never Been Kissed” theory that she was actually much older and posing as a 11 year-old to fulfill childhood dream of her’s. We had two counselors living in a room attached to our cabin. One was named Cassandra, and the other, a British woman named Lucy. Between her British flag shirt, her blonde hair, Lucy reminded me of Baby Spice, making it extremely difficult to dislike her. The other counselor, Cassandra, was American, but royally screwed herself when she divulged her greatest fear to the cabin. It started as a harmless conversation about our fears until Cassandra grabbed hold of the flashlight and shared that her biggest fear was being raped. Lucy did nothing to lighten the situation. She said her fear was being buried alive. If I remember correctly, I think I said mine was sharks. My fears have taken a much darker turn since then, now it’s guys my age who wear Abercrombie and Hollister and think it’s ok and hangovers lasting longer than 12 hours.
I remember a lot of the girls at camp, but none better than Ksenia…or maybe it was Xenia. Either way, she had a silent letter tacked on the beginning of her name. I mean at least the ‘X’ in my name stands for something. For the record, I believe silent letters are as cool as that new cropped pant trend. I was convinced she was part human part cat after watching her climb the rock wall. I’ve never seen anyone climb a rock wall with such grace and speed. She even climbed it blindfolded and with her feet tied. Fucking Ksenia and her silent K and her Russian gymnast strength and discipline. I think every guy was in love with her (this was before they watched me stuff three marsh mallows in my mouth). There was one black kid at the camp. His name was Lance. he wore classic Timberland boots and had braids like Lil’ Wayne. All the girls loved him, including myself. He was in my water skiing class but he never actually went water skiing, he just skipped rocks all of class and said things like “Shit,” “Damn” and “That is wack.”
Although I did not return to Camp Fuller, I will forever cherish the memories I made there. Like the song goes, “To thee Camp Fuller by the sea, we will always faithful be.”