Browsing Tag

Camp Matoaka

the upside of nostalgia
Best o’ the Bitch, Bitch’in Life

The Upside of Nostalgia


Up until a few days ago, I had a rule I lived by: You can’t go home again. (Thomas Wolfe, although lots of people have the same thought: for example a more contemporary comment on nostalgia: “Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now,” from the CSN classic, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”)

To me, sentimentality can be a sappy pit of self-indulgent goo. I’m not normally one to throw down a #tbt — when I pull up old photos of places I’ve haunted over the decades and the old friends I used to frequent them with, I feel like I run the risk of hitting the sorrow rather than the sweet spot… and so it’s not necessarily something I want to do, say, every single Thursday.

Coming from someone whose weekly blogging is often fueled by remember when’s, I know this sounds like a bunch of hooey. But lots of creative peeps like to pull their inspiration from feelings of loneliness, melancholy, and depression. To me, the deep abyss of longing and loss serves as an endlessly abundant well of material. read more

100 reasons you'll always be a camper
Best o’ the Bitch, Bitch’in Life

100 Reasons You’ll Always Be a Camper


It’s that time of year again — summer solstice has turned the air soft, sweet, and warm, and kids everywhere are packing up and heading off to camp.

If I could throw myself into a trunk or a duffle bag, believe me, I would. There are many excellent things about being a grown-up, but not spending the lazy, hazy daze with no greater stress than getting yourself to fourth period after rest hour — I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t wish they were back at camp?

This summer my camp celebrates its 65th year, and I’m debating going back for the auspicious occasion. Then again, I’m with Thomas Wolfe — you can’t go home again. And actually, I don’t necessarily need to go anywhere.

Once a camper, always a camper.

Don’t believe me? Here are 100 reasons you’ll always be a camper:

100) When you wake up each morning, a bugle goes off inside your head, ensuring you’re definitely up for the day. Bonus points if it includes a record crackle and someone telling you to “wakey, wakey, wakey!” (Or some equally horrible/excellent early morning greeting.) read more

Best o’ the Bitch, Bitch’in Life, My Bitches, Recipes

You Know You’re A Camper When…


The sound of a Greyhound bus pulling up makes you totally bipolar; it’s either your greatest joy (going to camp) or your most tear-stained misery (leaving camp).

You love nature, but only really if you can still operate a hair dryer for socials.

You used to have white clothes for Friday night services, but by summer’s end they’re an unidentifiable grayish-pinkish color called, “Camp Laundry.”

You lost your virginity trying to get up on one waterski.

You recognize the significance of your bed-choice: top bunk says daring loner; bottom says wimpy socialite.

Bug juice is your beverage of choice.

You own a trunk, a house-sized duffle bag, or both.

You await the mail each day with baited breath and secretly pray there’s a care package from your mom with candy and gum surreptitiously taped to the pages of comic books and Teen Beat magazines. Nothing says love more than a parent complicit with breaking all the camp rules.

Seemingly useless trivia is your bailiwick.

You hate stuffed animals in real life, but at camp you have enough to make a snuggly line-up to chase away the homesick blues. (Or, conversely, as you move into senior camp, to explain various sexual positions that are tough to verbalize but make complete sense when illustrated by a teddy bear and a stuffed elephant.) read more

Best o’ the Bitch, Bitch’in Life, Recipes



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.



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.


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