Girls Camp, Diet Coke, & Satan
Recently a friend asked me if I wanted to contribute an essay to a book she’s compiling about LDS Girls Camp. I’ve attended Camp as a leader on and off for 15 years and have lots of unforgettable memories. Unfortunately, the ones that stand out most in my mind would not be welcome in a family friendly collection. Here are a few of the camp stories least likely to impress Deseret Book:
-The time the power went out and it was 100 degrees and humid. I was helping in the kitchen and it was so hot we hid in the small bedroom sized fridge and drank several 6 packs of Diet Coke, ate left over strawberry shortcake with our hands, and talked about which of the men over 60 in our stake were most likely hotties back in the day. Mitt Romney came in first.
-The time one of the JC leaders was possessed by Satan. Or at least, to quote Michael Scott, “that’s what she said.” Seriously the weirdest camp experience ever. The Exorcist meets Princess Pat.
-The following year the former Stake President came to keep demons at bay and turned out to be my new BFF. We spent our afternoons planning pranks and going to Walmart to buy fans for the kitchen staff and giant plastic spiders. I’d always thought he was a nice guy, but when your SP “shakes his booty” (a practice now banned) at dinner, buys you Diet Cokes, and gets the really shy girls out of their shells, it makes you not resentful that a dude is around. Maybe even grateful.
-The time I hid the Camp Director’s garments in my pocket so the Assistant Director wouldn’t know we’d been skinny-dipping. One afternoon, the CD confessed to me that she’d always longed to skinny-dip, but had been too shy as a girl to do it. So a few of us leaders arranged to take her one night. I even made sure we had a certified lifeguard with us. We get out and hear the AD calling for us so we don’t have time to get fully dry, just enough to toss on our clothes sans underwear. The AD catches up to us and the CD slips her G’s to me as she had no pockets. Never got caught.
-The time I got caught skinny-dipping and bonded with a nurse. Sande was the nurse, I was the craft lady, and we both love water. So one night we sneak down to the dock for a dip. One of the counselors hears us and is MAD so she steals our clothes to teach us a lesson. And drops my new sneaker into the non-bathing side of the dock, the part filled with leeches and snakes and piranhas. Ok so lots of gross reeds and frog or two. We climb out of the water and I try to retrieve my shoe. I lie on the dock and stretch my arm but the shoe just keeps drifting. So Sande tries while I get an oar from the boathouse. BTW we are buck-naked. And I am a thousand months pregnant. Sande takes the oar but can’t lean far enough out, so I LAY across her thighs and butt to keep her from falling in as she whacks the oar repeatedly, trying to create a current that will push the shoe to us. It looked like she was having sex with the dock whilst being humped by a pregnant lady. Finally Sande dives into the Black Lagoon and brings back my shoe. We are now bonded for life. Sole mates. Ha ha ha. Cause of the shoe.
-The time I learned to fill up water balloons using the toilet. If you straddle the bowl and take the lid off the tank, you can use one of the valves that fills up the tank to fill up balloons. But better than that was the conversation I overheard while attaching, filling, tying, repeat. Two women had clearly grown up in the same small neighborhood because they kept saying stuff like, “remember when we used to go to church in that old school house?” or “remember when my uncle had that old pick up?” Then they shifted to talking about how their kids were doing at BYU Idaho. And one of them said, “Remember when only sluts went to college?” I was so taken aback that I forgot the balloon growing bigger and bigger on the valve until it exploded in my face. I’m still gnawing on that one.
I’m making myself sound like a troublemaker but I swear I am mostly really obedient and helpful while at Camp. The truth is I love the magic that happens there. The crazy pranks and silly skits and undercooked hobo dinners are as essential to bonding as the devotionals and testimony meetings. And I love the bonding that goes on with the leaders too. When you are tired and out of your element there’s potential for meltdowns but there is also potential for transformation. When we are vulnerable and let our walls down, that is when we let others in. Some of the sweetest friendships I have were forged while making s’mores over campfires. And sometimes it’s the messy things that are the most satisfying.