None of this was designed to please a finicky, bookish child who was deeply attached to his blow dryer. To make matters worse, first-year campers were sequestered in a separate program which kept us from anything that might have been remotely interesting. On the archery range, for example, we were not allowed to shoot arrows at proper round targets. Instead, we shot blunt sticks at a line of empty plastic milk jugs suspended from a length of clothesline. We were not permitted to row on the lake, to build fires or cook over them, to go on overnight hikes, or whittle with our pocket knives. Compared to Camp Birch, sitting in my backyard reading Vogue was an Outward Bound experience.
Most of the other boys, I might add, were not the squeaky-clean Boy Scouts of popular imagination. I smuggled Judy Blume novels in my backpack, whereas most of them had smuggled alcohol, cigarettes, dope, and Playboy. My priggish nature recoiled at this and it made socializing awkward.
There were certain perks, I will grant you, like getting my first boy-on-boy kiss from another Scout. (Hi, Brandon–wherever you are.) But on the whole, when I pondered the prospect of the second year of this, I responded by leaving the Boy Scouts altogether.
There were no summer camps before that, or since. Until now. I'm going to camp. Knitting camp. Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp, in Wisconsin.
Judging from the descriptions in my acceptance materials, Knitting Camp differs in several key respects from Boy Scout Camp. For example:
- I will not be expected to sleep in a padded bag on rocky ground that smells of skunk urine.
- My breakfast will not consist of a granola bar, an apple, and a piece of burnt Wonder bread.
- I'll be allowed to shower daily, and by myself.
- The toilets will flush.
- Upon hearing the schedule for the day, I will not feel inclined to drown myself in the nearest body of water.
- Meg Swansen will probably not call me a "stupid pussy" when I screw up my project.
My next step is to figure out exactly how I'm getting up there. If you're reading this and you're passing by or through Chicago on your way to Camp 2, give me a shout, won't you please? I'm small and polite and clean and I have gas money. I should probably also mention that Dolores will be staying home.
Which is something I really just don't want to think about today.