The Best Parts of Summer Camp

Just got back from visiting day at my kids' own camp. Gah, those weeks of my childhood spent smelling like sunblock and bleaching my hair with Sun-In were, like, the best ever.
  1. Reuniting with your friends at the bus drop-off each year.
    Inevitably at a huge mall parking lot. Squeals and jumping and hugging and the race to get on the bus and go.
  2. Summer lovin'
    Summer crushes - and when one is old enough, sneaking off to the bushes to make-out - are a special, magical thing. Often ruined by the real world when you got home and realized the guy you loved so intensely wore tacky tank tops and had a mullet.
  3. Reveille for wake-up
    My camp blasted it over the loudspeaker each morning. Then we threw on our oversized Champion sweatshirts and tie-dyed shorts and trudged to the flagpole.
  4. Milk and cookies!
    Every single day before rest.
  5. Freedom of living without parents.
    Your counselors were, like, 18 years old, and didn't care how you dressed, what you ate, if you wove swear words into your vocabulary. All of your choices were your own: a revelation.
  6. The thrill of getting a care package!
    The primary reason you thought of your parents, actually. How much crap could they send you and could they send you more?
  7. Pizza delivery from the outside world
    THE BEST! Our bunk was inevitably disgusting but when you had the incentive to clean, perhaps to win "cleanest bunk" and earn real pizza (not camp pizza), we worked for it.
  8. Color War!
    The best week of camp, for sure. Painted faces and divided bunks and team spirits and cheers that I still remember to this day. Oh, and SING! When the whole camp performed four songs for each other, which ultimately decided the winner.
  9. Boys
    Have I mentioned summer romance?
  10. Raids!
    Have I mentioned boys? And sneaking over in the dead of night (usually getting caught, though) to try to make it to their bunk? (Then doing what? We weren't sure. It was really just a badge of honor, I think, to make it to boys' side.)
  11. All-day swim
    When temperatures would creep past 90, we'd get to ditch all the annoying pre-assigned activities and loiter by the pool instead. So good.
  12. Boom boxes and mix-tapes.
    This was before the days of an iPod. We would blast music out the windows of our bunk and on its porch, and then once home, we'd craft a perfect mix tape for our friends. Endless Summer Nights reminds me acutely of one summer spent in the Poconos. Don't judge me.
  13. Camp fashion
    This was in the 80s and 90s. What else needs to be said?
  14. Bus letters
    Remember those? The emotional, teary tributes to our friendships. Who knew that we'd all reunite years later on Facebook?