Though we only just met one another on Sunday, in those first raw moments after our parents dropped us off for camp, I feel as if I have known you since last summer.
I cling to the few, all-too-brief encounters we’ve had. Watching your slender white fingers assemble a lanyard during Arts and Crafts with the savvy of someone beyond your years. Snuggling up mere feet from each other that time we had to watch The Wizard of Oz in the gym because there was a thunderstorm. You, finding me open on the basketball court and with a recklessness I can only assume was born of affection tossing the ball in my direction (that I missed the catch and let it fly out of bounds must be attributed to your distracting beauty).
No, there is no doubt in my heart—none at all—that you and I would make a splash as a couple. With you on my arm, I would be the luckiest kid in the Under-12 cabin. So with my heart on my sleeve, I ask you: will you go to banquet with me?
p.s. Please reply by flag raising tomorrow so that I will have time to ask Kathleen G. if your answer is no.
Summer romance, puppy love, camp canoodling. Whatever you want to call it, there can be no denying that for many young campers, summer is a magical time when romance blossoms along with mosquito bites and poison sumac. Away from parents, camp is the first time a kid can reinvent him- or herself (the second being college and the third being either prison or the retirement home) in order to get a little attention from the opposite sex, before going back to school and dorkdom.
Although Red Arrow Drama and Arts Camp was more commonly a place for sensitive young folks to hone their flowery language and sense of theatricality, it was also a premier hookup spot for young people more commonly used to being tormented by bullies and/or hit on by teachers. AOL Kids keyword “RedArrow” was so popular by 1997 that America Online had to move it to its own server. As much as the counselors and administrators tried to focus the campers on more useful endeavors such as starting a fire without matches or the power of silent acting, most kids treated the camp as a sort of Grindr for 12 year olds. When it was finally closed after a Mono outbreak in 2001, a poster on Club Penguin called it “the saddest day since, like, forever or something.”
Alas, we all grow out of the summer romance phase. As Caleb Gross would write himself in his bestselling memoir Gross Profits:
I fondly remember those days in camp; the beauty of nature, of my own youth and of the youth of those around me. And yet I found shortly afterwards that a summer of growing up and sharing yourself with another human for the first time, leading after six weeks to a passionate kiss never to be duplicated, could easily be replaced by the much more efficient alcohol-soaked chat about music, followed by pawing at each other for a few minutes before falling asleep. Which brings me to the night I met Chief Justice John Roberts…