For My Future Children: If You’re Anything Like Me, Some Lies About Summer Camp

by Emma Barrie

(As depicted in cinema, mostly the Lindsay Lohan version of The Parent Trap.)

Lie: You’ll have food fights in the mess hall and it’ll be loud and fun for all the kids. The counselors will try their darndest to stop the madness, but soon they’ll give up, making defeated faces. The oldest and most crotchety counselor and also the camp bully will get coleslaw thrown at them. This will be so funny for everyone, and you’ll leave the mess hall with a new best friend.

Truth: You’ll get in lines for disgusting food that the camp website promised you would be “better than regular camp food!” You’ll be forced to sit with your cabin, which is mostly made up of snobby girls who talk about their parents’ yacht or gross girls who pick their noses under the table while pretending to reach for a dropped fork. The second a piece of food is thrown (if that ever actually happens, which it won’t, but if it does it’ll probably initiated by someone who loves camp movies) the instigator will immediately be ushered out of the “mess hall” by a counselor who is neither kind nor cruel, rather one who’s 18 years old and mostly doesn’t give a shit. Then everyone will play “nose goes” for who has to wipe down the table. You will always be the last to touch your nose because you have poor reflexes.

Lie: You’ll play practical jokes on each other. Salamanders in her bed! Itching powder in her bathing suit! You’ll make secret Rube Goldberg machines in other bunks so that when someone opens the cabin door or reaches for a towel, they’ll get maple syrup’d and feathered. You’ll replace everyone’s shampoo with Nair!

Truth: The only practical joke that will take place is called Homesickness & Lice. It’s where you miss your mom a lot, your scalp itches, and no one wants to talk to you.

Lie: You’ll stash candy and whip it out for an all-girls game of poker after the counselors call “lights out.” You’ll barter your root beer Jelly Belly’s for someone’s double-stuffed Oreos!

Truth: Counselors will search every last inch of your duffle bag for candy. If they find something, they will take it and hide it from you, and tell you horror stories about how bears are attracted to Pringles and menstrual blood. You’ll make sure to hold in your period for the remainder of the month, or the rest of your life.

Lie: You’ll bond with everyone in your cabin, and at the end of camp, you’ll all cry because you have become best friends.

Truth: The only girl in your cabin who really likes you will have a terrible lisp that has been irritating you all summer, and you can’t wait to stop hearing it. Throughout the course of the month, a few of the girls have become inseparable, but you are not one of them. During “turtle time,” when everyone can relax and choose their own activities, these girls will choose to sit in a circle on the cabin floor and share shaving cream, razors, and tips about how to get super smooth results. You’ll try to shave your legs secretly with an electric razor, alone, because you’re afraid of real blades, but the buzzing will give you away and girls will tease you and ask you if you have a vibrator.

Lie: You’ll be having so much fun you’ll forget to call home!

Truth: You’ll be crying and waiting in line during “turtle time” to use a payphone, but “turtle time” will end right when it’s your turn. You’ll write letters home that say, “Please come and get me, and I will never ask for anything else ever again. I feel trapped and abandoned. If you don’t come and get me I will coat myself in Pringle crumbs and lie down in the woods.”

Lie: There will be quaint but rustic bathrooms and shower stalls.

Truth: You will be afraid to poop for one month.

Previously: Ways to Be Successfully Unemployed.

Emma Barrie has also written for the New York Times and This Recording.