Thursday, May 11, 2006

Notes on Camp

When I was about ten years old or so, I went to summer camp with a troop of unruly Boy Scouts. I did it mostly to please my parents, as Scouting (aside from the uniforms and boots) was not my cup of tea. Our session lasted for a week. We slept in tents pitched here and there across the face of an enclave known as Camp Hugh Taylor Birch. Camp Birch was infested with skunks and poison ivy, and sopping wet from the incessant rains of Ohio's thunderstorm season.

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.
I doubt there will be any boy-on-boy kissing (at least for me), but these days I get plenty of that at home anyhow.

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.

Alone.

Which is something I really just don't want to think about today.

54 comments:

Cheryl said...

So what happenned to the blow dryer now that you no longer need it for --uh-- hair?

How wonderful to get to go to Meg Swanson's camp!!! :)

Jon said...

OK, I'm sorry but I have a hard time picturing you with hair. I mean, you showed us that rather cute baby pic of you in the bath and you were bald. Now we see the now pic of Franklin and you are bald. Was there, truly, ever any hair in between?

I'm so jealous of you going to camp. Maybe next year, rather than Stitches, I'll opt for camp. {sigh}

terri said...

"Instead, we shot blunt sticks at a line of empty plastic milk jugs suspended from a length of clothesline."

And you don't think that's fun? What is wrong with you!?

Have fun at knitting camp, I am jealous!

FiberQat said...

Dolores can stay with me, sweeters. I'll keep her busy.

I had summer camp experiences similar to yours. I preferred spending my summers in my room working on jigsaw puzzles and reading, but my mother wanted me to have the outdoor experience. Great. A week of being sunburnt, chewed by insects, and shunned by vicious girls in the great outdoors.

Madam said...

The former sounds infinitely less appealing than the latter. (I recall my own camp, where the best part was getting submerged thigh-deep in the world's largest mudpuddle.)

If you can take the bus up to beautiful Madison, WI, I know of several people who are going. (Don't laugh. The Van Galder is always on time and very comfy. You can get it at O'Hare or somewhere downtown.)

Lucky you!

Jessica said...

Camp is a completely wonderful experience. Have a great time. I've heard the hotel has a fabulous pool with a huge slide but I could never pull myself away from my knitting long enough to find out. And the Friday night fish fry at the 14th St Pub (I think I got that right) is excellent. Sweet potato fries. Yum.

Jax said...

Weird for a bookworm, but I actually liked the camping part of Girl Scouts. Of course, we were allowed to play with fire and sharp objects.

It was the endless hours of "meetings" that drove me whacko. But, hey, I did earn that oh-so-useful "Housekeeping" badge before going AWOL.

Do send us postcards from paradise!

June said...

I know you were kidding about MS, but she truly is a lovely, lovely lady. You will adore her, I promise. Have a good time at camp!

AuntyNin said...

Are you sure that leaving Dolores alone is a good idea? The consequences could be ... um ... the mind boggles.

Count me among those who are seriously jealous of your camp plans.

ted said...

WooHoo! Camp won't know what hit it!!

We expect pictures, postcards, wonderful stories of Things-Shown-and-Told. You will come back refreshed, renewed, with your mind bursting with ideas and possibilities.

You'll want to save a bit of money to buy a new bookcase when you come back.

Be sure to go to Loie's for breakfast every morning. It's worth it.

Be sure to hunt through the bin of discounted and end-lots of yarn. You never know what treasures you'll find in it.

And if there's Vendor Day, get some of Jocie Seefeldt's handpainted 2ply laceweight. Wonderful stuff. And take along some of "Delores" to sell, as well.

I'm so happy for you I'm getting weepy. (And it takes a lot for that to happen, I assure you.)

pacalaga said...

Apparently I am not the only one who thought WHA? when I came to the bit about the blowdryer.
I am deeply jealous of knitting camp. I hope you have a glorious time and tell us all about it, and show us lots of pictures.
And I hope if Dolores burns anything down, it's not in your neighborhood.
(What tattoo did she get?)

Anonymous said...

OMG, franklin, are you SURE you want to leave dolores alone?

is your renter's/homeowner's insurance paid up in case she burns the place down?

she could also throw a drunken orgy and have the cops come and break the door down.

on the other hand, taking her with you would ruin what sounds like a splendid adventure for you.

ah decisions, decisions.....

tats on the tuchas pix please....

anne marie in philly

DianeS said...

Knitting Camp is yet another fun thing on my To Do list, but not for this year.

I'm aiming to check out Rhinebeck this year and MDSW next year, so maybe Camp the year after?

The thought of Dolores alone for a week gives me the willys...this may be the only time I'm so glad to be a few states away!

Ryan (female, despite the name) said...

Your description of camp reminds me of the one I went to where, once a week, you had to take a freezing cold shower and then one of the counselors would scrub you roughly all over with a scrub brush. Not a soft one; a hard, bristly one like one you would use to scrub your floor. It hurt like the dickens.

And you HAD to go skinny dipping, also once a week. Seriously. We were lined up by tent-group on the beach, and then we had to throw off our robes and run into the water, stay there for however long, and then come out. (One time a bee had found its way into my robe. It was Not Happy when I put the robe back on and showed its displeasure.)

Okay, at the ripe old age of 46, I can finally look back and say that was one Truly Weird Camp.

Nelly O said...

It's funny that people are surprised you have a blow dryer, Franklin. Without it, though, it would take HOURS for that Tammy Wynette wig to dry.

Susan said...

Pinot Gris, 3 bottles. check.
Sav blanc, 3 bottles. check.
Quarters for the !@#% tollway. check.

Project for knitting en route. got it.

All my spending money for 2006.

I'm ready for camp, too. I'm looking forward to meeting you, Franklin. See you in July.

Liz said...

I wish I didn't already have commitments for that weekend. I will be doing actual camping that weekend.

Next year a bunch of us from the Twin cities are hoping to go. Have a wonderful time!

Vintageme said...

I just saw Cheryl's post..my very thoughts ! That was wonderful to read .Holly adored it as she would rather have stayed at home reading Judy Blume ( one of many she loved) than any camp.She was a Brownie for a short while and loathed it .You have gotta stop bringing out the mother in me I just wanna hug little Franklin.

Mel said...

It seems the thought of you with blow dryer in hand has been a wee bit jarring to a number of us.

It sounds like your boy scout camp really sucked. My experience was a bit better, except nobody kissed me, much as I might have hoped for it.

Lizzie said...

I'm so impressed! I don't think I'm a good enough knitter to attend camp, though I bet it would be fun. I hope you'll post a full report when you get home.

Anna-Liza said...

I don't know, I can think of a number of uses for a blow dryer that don't involve drying one's coiffure ...

I am envious, and I also hope you have a fabulous time, but not so fabulous that you can't remember it (so we can read all about it later).

Would it be unethical to pay someone to keep Delores drugged into oblivion, er, I mean happy, while you're gone?

Lisa said...

Oh Franklin...you will have such a good time! I wish I was going.

obxparrot said...

I don't know who is more excited . . you about going to the camp, or Delores knowing she has the place to herself for a week. It's a scary thought about what plans she is cooking up! I can't wait to read the post-camp follow up blog reports . . . include the police mug shot of Delores. For some reason, I think she might have one upon your return home.

Jean said...

Dear Franklin,

I envy you camp -- I wish I could drive you there.

But this is commerce: I have conceived a great desire for a polo shirt (or golf shirt). Cafe Press has them. Is there any hope of one with Dolores on?

Love, Jean

Vintageme said...

Pity telegrams don't exist..get an English blogger to mail Dolores that her very rich aunt is on her death bed somewhere in Wales ( remote as possible) add a picture of a huge house ..make sure she has time to get the ticket and be off before you leave .I guess a mainly Welsh speaking area should keep her busy .

Anonymous said...

Is Dolores a mother?

I'm asking you because I was wondering if it would be appropriate to send her an ecard for Mother's Day. Not one with roses or ribbons and rhymes, but something feisty and ironic. I'd send one on Dolores Day, but there isn't one, although there is a Doris Day.

She does have her own email account, right? You have given her one?

Poppins
http://www.upsaid.com/teachermom

Lisa and Robb said...

Oh, you have no idea how much I wish that Meg Swansen secretly reads your blog!

Sneaksleep said...

I was so bored in Brownies that I quite before even completing a month of Girl Scouts. I always loved camping, though. Probably because I never had to do it with large groups of mean girls. Have a blast!

Claudia said...

Envy - I am green. Have a lot of fun at the camp. Sounds wonderful. Dolores stays home alone - you are brave ;-)

Sally said...

Oh dear, Franklin, I know Camp Birch. My son was in Boy Scouts while we were in OH (Wright-Patterson). I was involved with the troop, and our boys never went to Birch for summer camp, as they didn't like it there at all. Always ticked off the older Scouters, as they had fond memories of Birch from their young days. Go figure? Our scouts only went to Camp Birch for Camporees, etc. Too bad you didn't get a chance at Goshen in VA. While in VA, I took Webelos there two summers and it was great--BB guns, real archery, swimming in the lake, etc. You would probably have actually liked it. Have fun at knitting camp, it should be a blast!

Jill Smith said...

Am I the only person who read the title, started reading the entry, and then said, "Oh - SUMMER camp."

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Elisa said...

Dolores obviously needs a companion to keep her occupied while you are away. My first thought was a fuzzy bunny (side benefit: angora to spin) but - um - a Chippendale dancer would probably be more to her taste.

David said...

If I had gotten a boy-on-boy kiss during my brief foray into Scouting, I might have stayed longer.

Linda said...

I have turned bright emerald green from jealousy, on the other side of the world.

Riin said...

I remember Girl Scouts. Some girl shoved me into a ditch. I had a lot more fun when I went to a spinning retreat decades later.

Dolores on her own for how long? In your apartment? Do you need to lock anything up before you leave? Have neighbors check on her or anything?

Flossie said...

Hmm, over here in England we don't have any knitting camps. What we do have however, is WoolFest at the end of June, with a newarby camp site. WoolFest is in Cockermouth in the Lake District. My knitting group (from a pub in Newcastle upon Tyne) decided we want to save our pennies for yarn, so we've opted to stay at a nearby campsite. We're all stangely looking forward to it, although it does tend to rain A LOT in the Lake District...hence all the Lakes. So long as my yarn stays dry I'll remain happy :o)

Flossie said...

Hmm, over here in England we don't have any knitting camps. What we do have however, is WoolFest at the end of June, with a newarby camp site. WoolFest is in Cockermouth in the Lake District. My knitting group (from a pub in Newcastle upon Tyne) decided we want to save our pennies for yarn, so we've opted to stay at a nearby campsite. We're all stangely looking forward to it, although it does tend to rain A LOT in the Lake District...hence all the Lakes. So long as my yarn stays dry I'll remain happy :o)

Celtic Knitter said...

Hey, I had my first boy-on-boy kiss in a boy scouts camp too! Well, at least the boy scouts taught us something useful we could use in life :)

Angel said...

Heh
Dolores can come hang with me down here in the hot steamy South. She can terrorize the children at the complex's pool when she shows up in her itsy-bitsy-bikini.

The only camp I have ever been too was rowing camp. Spring break while in college we would leave frozen Boston and head to South Carolina. It was an 18 hour bus ride. There were water moccasins in the lake as well as small gators (talk about a reason for keeping your hands in the boat. I carried a stick for beating them off with- I was the coxswain.) It was 45 minutes from the nearest Walmart (and when you are 45 minutes from the nearest Walmart, you are in the middle of nowhere lemme tell you.) And I got food poisioned halfway up the bus ride home. For the remaining 9 hours, I thought I was going to die..... and I spent the next month in and out of the hospital due to that.

I hated rowing camp. However I am sure that knitting camp will be wayyyyyyyy better.

PuppyMomma said...

I wish I was going. If I was, you could carpool with me. But actually, I think I'd want Dolores to come too.

Marilyn said...

Ah yes, camp. I hated camp, I hated the stupid Girl Scouts. My parents forced me to go to Camp Wyoda in VT, where the only things I enjoyed doing were enameling and playing my violin in the camp orchestra. Otherwise, it sucked.

Going to Meg's camp has always been something I've wanted to do, though. Maybe next year or the year after. Maybe before I go to the LYS in the sky. Maybe. But I know you will take many pictures and bring back many stories.

I'll keep Dolores if you're willing to ship her to NJ. But only if she promises me that she'll make me a killer Cosmo every night. Because I'll need the alcohol.

Adele (Sydney, Australia) said...

I've never met a straight male knitter, although you've mentioned that one of your SIB pals is married, so your chances of a boy-on-boy kiss may be better than at Boy Scouts! ;-)

liz said...

Franklin, you always give me a big shout-out-loud laugh..I know I shouldn't encourage Delores, but I love her as well! thank you so much

Lola Lee Beno said...

I beg to differ. Dolores simply must report back on the knitting camp for those of us who will never, ever be able to get in for one reason or the other.

AngeliasKnitting said...

Camp sounds like fun! The "I have gas money" should do the trick (gas prices are crazy right now)). Good luck getting a ride. Take lots of pictures of knitting camp. I'm so jealous!

TrickyTricot said...

I am of course, very envious of you. Had I not had to save all my vacation time for November (or had I had 700 bucks stowed away), I would have loved to have made trouble with you!

Maureen in Fargo said...

I had good Summer Camp experiences as a kid myself but Knitting Camp is way better...

I've been looking forward to meeting you since I saw your name on our Camp 2 list. I think Susan who posted a comment is one of my returning friends...the wine was a dead giveaway...bring a wine glass and you can join us! Ah, what the heck, you can join us even if you don't bring a wine glass, I'll bring an extra since you have to hitch a ride. I'm driving from Fargo which is unfortunately in the other direction or I'd give you a ride myself.

Can't wait until July!

Rachel H said...

My only sleep away camp experiences as a child were at choir school, something I rather think you would have enjoyed. Housed in an old boarding school, no outdoor activities or silly crafts to foist upon our parents, and lots of classical music to sing.

I'm in complete agreement with you that this year's camp will be So Much Better. Tell Dolores she's welcome to come and stay with me while you're gone.

Knit-Knot said...

I'm just sick with envy. Have a great time.

Helen said...

Welcome to Wisconsin! Stop in Stevens Point at The Hilltop for the ale named after my beagle. The brewmeister ist ein neighbor. We were talking dogs once. I told him that beagles are Pets with Personnalities - you have some little experience with that A Personnality yourself.

"Yes," I said, "beagles march to a different drummer". The ale is Hound Ale; the slogan: "For those who march to a different drummer".

I'd buy you and your carpool a round but I'll be handing out lace scarves in Cherry Tree Hill glitter alpaca to friends on the rez in Wyoming.

-Helen

brewerburns said...

I'm so jealous!

Tallguy said...

I knew there was something I forgot to do -- I was going to camp this year too, and then something happened. So maybe next year. I'm jealous!

That comment about a blow-dryer really threw me for a loop. I'm still not over that one!

Knitting Painter Woman said...

Have a wonderful time.

Janice said...

Looks like they are FINALLY going to let you play with the pointy sticks this time!

My memory of girl scout camp is cleaning out the latrines after the boy scouts vacated the camp (EWWW) and the stomach flu after my group helped cook dinner. (really EWWWWW!!!) Those scouts really know how to have a good time.

Knitting camp is going to be WAAAAY more fun! You better tell us every thing!