This morning, I drove up to my son’s sleepaway camp to bring him home. He had been away for 4 weeks, which I realized all too late wasn’t anywhere near long enough. My wife and I had yet to finish converting his room into an “adult playground”.
However the camp, ever insensitive to MY needs, insisted that I bring him home anyway. Something about it being the end of the season and wide-scale spraying for West Nile mosquitoes. I countered that my son would be better able to build resistance to the West Nile virus (and pesticides) with increased exposure, but apparently this was one argument I was not going to win.
So I set out on my 2 hour drive to the camp (and don’t even ask if the camp is going to reimburse me for gas and tolls). And when I arrived, I was not expecting to see what I saw. Whereas I brought up a shortish, chubby, pasty kid, I was now taking home a slightly taller, thinner and tanner young man. I was impressed. I was also aghast when I discovered 1 hour into the return trip home that I had the wrong child. This would only add more time to the traveling, I thought to myself.
After the offspring exchange, I began the trip home in earnest. My son regaled me with tales of fourth place finishes, booby prizes and missed opportunities. A real chip off the old block, he is. Eventually, we arrived home and hauled his duffel bags out of the back of the minivan. My wife and I unzipped them and inspected the petrified contents. Apparently in camp, “laundry” is a four-letter word, which is absolutely ridiculous since it has at least 6 letters the last time I counted. At one point, one of his socks fell out of the duffel and chipped the concrete that comprises our back porch. I made a mental note to have it fixed using the money from his college fund.
Once all the clothes were removed, my wife looked the pile over carefully and incinerated it completely. We also packed up all the wildlife my son brought home with him (“souvenirs”, he calls them) and shipped them back to camp lest we get arrested for carrying them across state lines. I reassured my son that the snake would weather the trip just fine, seeing that I packed him along with the chipmunk.
Finally, we inspected my son for both lice and ticks, and fortunately it appeared that the former was devoured by the latter. We contemplated having him shower but felt that burning off his epidermis (top layer only, you ghouls) was probably the most efficient way of removing the camp experience from his person, if not from my bank account.
Sleepaway Camp Visiting Day
We discovered a very large, very well-fed wolf spider in my son’s bunk. Call me Sherlock but I think I just solved the mystery of the missing bunkmate.
Sleepaway Camp Visiting Day
At one point, my son and I decided this would be a great time to escape — via boat. Unfortunately, we did not realize that were in a rather small lake and not open water. The authorities easily picked us up on the adjacent shore.
We have to think these things through more. Lesson learned.
ME: So (name redacted), did you get eaten by any wild animals or stung by any exotic insects?
SON: No Dad. To be honest, I’ve been hiding under my cot since I first got here.
ME: Excellent! Chip off the ol’ block! Only 2 1/2 weeks left! Keep your head low, boy.
SON: Like you have to tell me, Dad.
Oh, just some pictures of my old sleepaway camp, located in the Mid-Hudson Valley in New York. The photos were taken at yesterday’s Alumni Day reunion.
I worked here for 11 summers, starting just before my freshman year of college and ending the summer before I got married.
This place made me a lot of what I am today. What that is, is debatable—but…