No Place Like Camp

Noise. Constant noise. Spills. Half-eaten lunches. Picky eaters. Plain bagels. Straw wrappers. Untied shoelaces. Unscented sunscreen that you can smell from a mile away. Lost water bottles. Lost hats. Lost sweaters. Lost underwear. Yes, lost underwear. Goggles that are too tight. Swim trunks that are too loose.


This is my fourth summer working at camp. I thought I had seen it all. I thought I had heard every complaint. I thought I had smelled every smell. I was wrong.

Every single day there is something different. Something I’ve never seen before. If there were a television series about summer camp, it could go on for 100 seasons without ever repeating a storyline.

Being a camp counsellor is harder than it sounds. If one of my kids does something wrong, it’s my fault.

Why wasn’t I around? Why didn’t I prevent the situation? Why didn’t I run across the field and do something? Why was my back turned? Why didn’t I tell them not to do something before I knew they were going to do it?

By the end of the day, when all the kids have left, I am drained. I am tired. I am sore. I am wondering what that is on the floor.

I look back on my elementary school days and wonder how my teachers did it. How they controlled a classroom of thirty children and got us to stay at our desks. I can’t get my kids to sit still for five minutes before they start wandering off to nowhere in particular.

Sitting down to eat lunch is a lost art. Some kids would rather walk around with a sandwich hanging out of their mouth. Some kids claim they “aren’t hungry.” Some kids don’t like the lunch their parents packed for them, but adore their snacks.

What can I do about it? Very little. I can’t go to their house and make their lunch. I can’t shove the food in their mouth. I can encourage them with “take three more bites” or “you can’t do this, if you don’t eat that”, but they have to physically put the food in their own mouth.

It’s such a struggle.

When I was a kid, I was a vacuum. If it was sitting in front of me, it would soon be sitting inside of me. Even the crumbs.

After lunch, there’s swimming. We take a school bus to get to the pool.

What is it about a yellow school bus that triggers something in a kid’s mind that they must run to it?

I can’t get them to run to lunch, but they’ll run to a yellow school bus. Maybe we should serve lunch on the bus?

It’s as if they think there won’t be any seats left on the bus. As if they will be left behind because they didn’t get a seat. Since when are they excited to sit down? Or maybe they just want to sit at the back of the bus. Why is the back of the bus always the most coveted?

So many questions.

The backseat of a car is never coveted. People call “shotgun” so they can sit in the front and everyone obliges. Yet the back of the bus has an allure that can’t be matched.

Some things will never change, I guess. Like Pokemon cards. When will they die? Yeah, I said it. I don’t know the first thing about Pokemon, Pokemon cards, or why kids for the last 15+ years have been so fascinated with them.

I’ve never understood what made one card better than the other or how you can play with them. It’s just text on a card, is it not? Here, let me get a pen and change some numbers on the card. Now tell me if it’s still good or not.

Camp is just different, man, it’s just different.

Nothing really compares to it.

It’s kinda like school, but not exactly. Though if two counsellors of opposite genders are seen talking to each other a lot, then the whole camp will think something is going on between them. If they hug, that confirms they’re dating. So in that sense, camp is very much like the petty hallways of high school. Except there are little kids around who have snot hanging from their nose.

Camp is a place that can make you so tired and stressed, yet so happy at the same time.

It is a place where you can make a kid laugh, or smile, or think, or skip around a room because it’s their birthday.

It is a place where food competitions end within seconds, while cheaters (me) are caught on video camera.

It is a place that will beat up counsellors on a daily basis, but will drag us out of bed the next day for another round of “What will happen today?”

It is camp.

There is no place quite like it.

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23 Responses to No Place Like Camp

  1. grammyg53 says:

    I’ve been missing you but knew where you were… glad you’re having so much fun. HAHAHAHA
    Are they serving pizza for lunches? Seriously, I have been missing you…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I’ve missed you too! Forgive me for being absent. Unfortunately they aren’t serving pizza! They would never leave the lunch room haha


  2. Jessie Reyna says:

    I was never a camp kid. My mom sent me on a day camp and I quit after the first or second day haha I was more of an “indoor girl”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d forgotten all about camp, but not some of the situations that occurred. However, its interesting to hear how a counselor views those situations from a completely different perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mindy says:

    HOLOGRAM CHARIZARD! You can guess if I had to Google that. Sounds like a tough but rewarding job 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. tontaybla says:

    Everytime I drop my son off for camp I want to drop a recording device in his backpack. I think because it’s supposed to be fun at all times, although it’s sructured fun, that kids kinda loose all sense of daily responsibilities, like eating and going to the bathroom. Almost every time I pick my son up he says hi and then runs toward the bathroom like he hasn’t had an opportunity to go all day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Yeah I know what you mean. They’re having too much fun that they forget to go to the washroom, or they want to rush through their lunch and snacks in order to go run around some more. As counsellors, we have to slow them down a bit and remind them of daily functions like going to the washroom and digestion.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Laura says:

    Am crying here…too many things to count in this that are SO DAMN TRUE. I spent a year as a camp counselor and six years teaching and the questions go on and on and on. (If you ever find out the answer to the Pokemon thing please, please post it. That one will haunt me to the grave.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Every time I give an answer to a question, they ask “Why?” They questions really never end haha. I’ve resorted to the “Because I said so” a few times and feel very old when I do. Pokemon is so foreign to me. I’ll never understand it.


  7. Paulo, I was thinking aboout dropping you a message about your absence….so here I am XD Welcome back! I wish I could camp though D:


  8. Barb Knowles says:

    I imagine that since the beginning of wheeled transportation, kids have wanted to sit in the front, yet sit in the back if there were more than 2 rows. A truism.


  9. George says:

    I remember those days..:)


  10. anxietybug88 says:

    I’m glad you’re able to handle stuff like this. I would have thrown some (or most) of those kids in the lake by now. To briefly explain Pokemon, it started off as a TV show about these messed up creatures you had to capture so you could battle other people using them. Then they made it a card game. It’s stupid. lol


  11. JM Stories says:

    I remember crying on the first day of camp because I didn’t want to leave home, and crying on the last day because I didn’t want to leave camp. Oh, and a note on kids eating: when I was a kid and there was food set in front of me, I could eat it then or I could eat it for the next meal or the one after that … no mercy.


  12. Lyndsi says:

    Sounds a lot like parenting ha. I’m really just commenting to say that I have missed you! I was about to start some sort of search party, unfortunately I only know your first name so it would have been pretty hard trying to find a guy named Paul in Canada lol. Glad you’re having fun though!


  13. Ugh. My three years of camp experience were horrible. You’ve kind of inspired me. I should write about it! Though, maybe I am too traumatized. . .

    I am currently a teacher for my church’s Vacation Bible School this week. I have the kindergartners. Which basically means I yell all the time. And I get sticky and I don’t know why (or from what).

    Glad to hear YOU’re having a great time at camp!! Haha.

    Stay sane.

    US Lifestyle Blog //


  14. Little Rants says:

    You’re back! Yaaaay! I missed you like 💉🔫💣🔪


  15. LOVE this ! So true.

    Liked by 1 person

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