I love my son desperately, but let's be honest: sometimes the child hasn't the common sense God gave a stump. And he's at sleepaway camp. This is not a winning combination.
To be fair, I too suffered from an ability to think things through well at that age. And when I went to camp, I survived, yes, but let me tell you now that was nothing short of a miracle, because here are some of my winningest moments ever from my summer forays in Transylvania County.
- I'm ten. One day a copperhead is sunning itself in the road just down from our cabin, and here comes the owner of the camp with a hoe and CHOPS off the snake's head. He picks up the body, which continues to wriggle in spite of its headlessness, and carries it off. I, brilliant child that I am, seize upon the opportunity to pick up the severed head, which I tuck into my trunk as a momento. Let me ask you, where is the venom in a copperhead? IN THE HEAD. Miraculously, I survive this lapse of critical thinking, though my mother almost dies from fright when she opens my trunk back in Washington.
- I'm eight. One afternoon my counselor realizes I'm drinking creekwater by cupping my hands and asks me why. "It just tastes so good," I explain. "You hafta dump out the crawdads first." I can still see the look of horror on her face. I'm not sure, but I think this is the moment that she decides never to braid my hair again. I do not die of intestinal parasites. Another miracle survival story.
- I'm nine. This summer I bring roller skates to camp. I then have the bright idea to attempt a trip down the water slide into the lake in my bathing suit and roller skates. My common sense carries me only far enough to know I should not run this by any counselor. I wear no helmet. I am forbidden to use the slide the rest of the summer. Miraculously I suffer only two skinned knees in addition to my wounded pride.
- Roller skate summer again. Did I mention they were the really horrible kind with metal wheels? My cool ones with the orange wheels (thank you, Mom, I begged for pink) wouldn't ft into my duffel without my mother seeing. It's pouring rain at camp, and lightning to beat the band, and where am I? Inside the open air pavilion on metal skates, loving how it sounds like I'm tap-dancing when they land on the wood. When the bell rings and it's time to go to the dining hall, I keep my metal-wheeled skates on, and open an umbrella with a long, metal tip, then s-l-o-w-l-y make my way through the rain, on my metal skates across gravel and grass, enjoying the cacophony of thunder and the flashes of REALLY CLOSE lightning as I make my way, not a thought in my head about the wisdom of having metal ON BOTH ENDS. Counselors running past stop briefly to look, then shake their heads and run on. My skates are confiscated by the camp director at dinner. I immediately decide I don't like her and am never coming back. I come back five more summers.