Rounding the corner into the cabin common area, I could clearly hear the sound of whispered giggles coming from the far Spruce cabin. Tiptoeing around the building, I shut off my flashlight so as not to advertise my arrival. Crouching under the window I listened silently to the gossip being shared ( I was surprised to find that I was apparently dating my 20-year-old field counselor, AND was a professional dancer). After a few minutes I crept to the back of the cabin, turned on my flashlight and thrust open the door. Screams and mayhem reigned for a good three minutes, then quieted to some breathy laughs and “Oh Noodle, you scared us!!.” Yes, I was Noodle, and I was 30.

It was by design that I was there, in dirty Levi's and a puffy vest. After being humiliatingly fired by a very thin, bitchy woman from my previous job, I felt I needed to do something that would feed my soul. I tried to think back to a time in my life when I was truly happy, and though I have always had great friends and a lot of fun, I have never felt as good as when I was at camp.

My first camp was outdoor school as a sixth grader. It made quite an impression on me. I loved my camp counselor (Opus) and I had my first relationship (Brian Nielson, for a day). I loved it so much that as a high school student I returned to be a junior counselor. I was good at it, and most importantly, I felt like I was good at it; I felt competent and respected. Thus when I was fired from my job, I remembered Outdoor School. It so happened that a new session was starting up that week, so after one call I found myself on a bus headed toward the Sandy River.

For the most part, I fit in well with the other staff members. They were fun and smart, and I came to genuinely respect and care for all of them. However, there were differences. I was seven to nine years older than most of them, I knew firsthand the wonder of a Prada heel and I had never eaten tofu. But, those were surmountable odds, and we worked through them.

The age gap between myself and the junior counselors was a bit tougher. It wasn't that I didn't remember being 16—it was that I did remember being 16, and I was on to them. I was hardened to the tears and requests to talk privately on the back porch. I knew that if I survived being 16 they would too.

I spent two sessions out on the Sandy River, and loved every minute of it. I busted JCs with porn, helped countless sixth graders vomit after a bad batch of chili, dissected dead salmon with sticks, tried to avoid questions when we saw salamanders mating violently in the pond, and felt like I was making a difference in the world. It was hell on my pocketbook, but magic for my soul.

Our Readers' Summer Camp Memories :: My Little Darling :: Summer Camp Fashion Spread :: Photo Essay: The Pines :: Who Says You Can Never Go Back To Camp? Q&A With Author Seth Davis :: Horsing Around in Brooklyn :: Confessions of A 30-Year-Old Camp Counselor :: Tennis Camp, Anyone?

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