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Manitou Experience

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CAMP!

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Ah, Facebook — the ultimate documentation of seasonal shift. As I scroll past scores of smiling kids dressed in matching t-shirts and clean shorts, posing in front of Greyhound buses and overstuffed duffel bags, there’s only one time of year it could be.

Summertime.

Camptime.

Once upon a time, that ecstatic face belonged to me, the result of counting down 299 days until that moment. I look at those happy children and a warm wash of nostalgia comes over me, like peeing in my bathing suit during second period swim class. And just as quickly, that pleasant sensation gives way to a consciousness that underneath my calm surface lurks a deep, murky feeling as green as the muck in the lake.

ENVY.

Is it so wrong that more than three decades later, I would do anything to go back to camp and despise those happy children who have taken my place on the camp-bound bus?

My parents shipped me off every summer for two months from the time I was ten. Today, that seems like a long time, particularly by West Coast standards. But back then, that stretch was almost not enough for the Witness Protection Program of my youth, aka camp. There in rustic cabins, around dining hall tables, up at the stables and down by the lake, all sins were forgiven, as campers’ true identities were erased, and with a fresh slate we reunited with friends who knew and loved us in the best possible way: just as we were. read more