Muggy bunks, s'mores, finger paint, a ridiculous amount of crafts involving uncooked pasta and Elmer's Glue, canoe trips, and tug o' war. That's what I remember about my one trip to sleepaway camp.
Oh, and mosquito bites. Lots of mosquito bites.
That, however, was in the woods of northwestern New Jersey. Much closer to home, the venerable Camp Kweebec in Limerick is the setting for writer Don Steinberg's exploration of his own childhood summer camp memories, which appears in the newest edition of Philadelphia Magazine.
Steinberg doesn't seem to remember his camp days very fondly, either.
The camp memory that always comes to my mind first is from a rainy day when water activities were canceled due to bad weather, a turn of events that secretly made me happy. I was watching a storm whip up the lake, along with a few kids and the swim instructor, and I got up the nerve to speak out loud for a change: “I wouldn’t want to swim in that!” The swim instructor cruelly cracked, “You can’t swim.” I guess he showed me, because I didn’t talk a lot after that. After all these years, I’ll only grudgingly forgive him now. Maybe he’s dead.
Despite that, he spent a good chunk of last summer "embedded" at Camp Kweebec, where, he writes, his "official assignment ... was to investigate how summer camp has or hasn’t changed, to contemplate why the tradition has stood the test of time."
Whatever the reason, it's not because it's a great bargain: a seven week stay at Camp Kweebec for your son or daughter will set you back almost $9,000.
Steinberg's geography is a bit off: he places Camp Kweebec in Schwenksville—it's actually just inside the northern edge of Limerick Township, near the border of Lower Frederick—and even more strangely, he describes our area as "off the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension before you get to the Poconos," which makes it sound like we all live in Jim Thorpe.
That said, his article is well-written and fun. And it sounds like Steinberg got what he came for.
These were epic moments, high-emotion memories packed into a brief time, that you don’t get from the routine of school or staying home. And the more I pillaged my memory, fed by what I was witnessing, the more I realized that I actually spent some time liking camp.
- A Summer at Camp Kweebec [Philadelphia Magazine]