QotD: This One Time…IN HELL

Did you go to summer camp?  Which one?  What did you enjoy doing? 
Submitted by Something Else.

My brother and I were sent to a day camp with a name that conjures up unspeakable secrets, hidden abuse and sickly morals.  Camp Smile-A-While.

We weren't even there for an entire summer; it was a day camp.   Which made it even worse.  It was concentrated misery.  The campers were situated in groups.  Groups with names that had the same sort of terrifying smile as a clown does.  We were the…Beach Bunnies.  My brother, caught up in some other circle of Hell, I never saw.

My first day:  I arrived late.  All the other girls in my group were already in their swimsuits, prepatory to going to the pool.  As I recall, it seemed like everyone was in a classroom, and I was standing in back.  I was told that I should get into my swimsuit as well.  There was no changing room, no corner to hide in.  I had to change right there.

Now, I must have been about 11.  Old enough to be embarrassed.  Yet, by some Houdini-esqe contortions I was able to get into my demure suit WITHOUT first shedding my civilian clothes.  The rest of the day was similarly disconcerting.

When my brother and I got home we were both full of lamentations.  But he was more vocal.  I was silently miserable, I believe.  My specialty.

Mother got the message.  She brought us home.  Even though she had enjoyed her afternoon without us; spending her suddenly free hours in the backyard on the lounge chair, trying to convince her pale skin that it should accept its inner brown-ness while listening to her transistor radio. 

I felt guilty that her plans for a summer of lazy afternoons had ended.  I was old enought for that, too.

But really, the situation was intolerable.

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9 responses to “QotD: This One Time…IN HELL

  1. I think there is a little "Smile-A-While" in all of us. A metaphor for shame, guilt, and potentially mispent youth. I was similarly a summer camp drop-out.
    Tippecanoe. The bus even had a big banner on the side. We made keychains from gimp, carried greased watermelons in swimming pool races. I dropped the greased melon and it split open in the pool. Nobody could go swimming that day. The pump could have been damaged. It was clearly my fault. I had not reached puberty. Others had. So I quit. It didn't leave me that or a few summers after. I guess it is still with me.

  2. Oh, man! Between you and Dancing Bear, I'm feeling so sorrowful! I'm sorry you each had such awful experiences. Childhood is a time fraught with peril as it is. You don't need to have more forced upon you!
    Maybe "Smile A While" was directed at the parents who would have some time to themselves.

  3. You know, DB, it's sort of a generation thing with me. Mother was a camp counselor. She was supposed to teach the children to swim – but she was such an…unenthusiastic swimmer that she let the kids fend for themselves while she worked on her tan!
    AmyH – I'm quite convinced that the Camp was designed specifically for the summer easement of parents.

  4. I'm quite convinced that the Camp was designed specifically for the summer easement of parents.So am I, Aubrey – and "Smile-a-While" just gives me the creeps! It's too close to other pseudo-cute/entirely creepy names like "Bide-a-Wee." Eep!

  5. Creepy is right, e2c! Smile a while!!! *shudder*I have to think a moment…the camp I went to was a 2 week long YWCA camp….started with a T. I was so homesick I was literally ill. Dang, the name will pop into my head in a few hours. My data storage system's recall is slower and slower….

  6. Just from the Hellspawn on the patch you can tell Camp Smile-a-While would leave some scars…(my camp was Anna Behrens, for Girl Scouts: deer flies, pit toilets, and stewed prunes for breakfast *shudder*).

  7. Camp Tyrone!! Camp Tyrone!! Why would a camp be named Tyrone?Now all those camp songs are circling, circling, just below my consciousness, threatening to break through at any moment…..

  8. Tyrone…perhaps because it wanted to teach children their inner Power?

  9. Yeah…that must be it!!! ;)All I get when I try to sing those camp songs is my college alma mater. "MSU we love thy shadows…when twilight silence falls…."Gad, I'm losin' it.

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