Ah, summer camp.
The sun-drenched days of playing games and making crafts, and the fun evenings of toasting marshmallows by the fire — all in the name of building skills, creating memories and bonding with friends you keep forever.
Or … something like that.
When we asked readers to share with us their fun, funny memories from summer camps past, their stories included bouts with poison ivy, mud-soaked softball games and a few surprise run-ins with animals.
Here are some of our readers’ summer camp recollections, as told in their own words, that gave us a chuckle.
A muddy fall from grace
Christine DuBose, 37, Burleson
Many moons ago when I was in high school, I attended the Florida College Camp in Dry Creek, La. We got to the camp on Sunday, and it was raining and it rained all night.
On Monday morning, everything was a mud bowl. My camp team had softball first thing in the morning.
I was the first to bat. The ball came to me. I swung and I hit it! I started running to first base.
About halfway to first base, I slipped in the mud and slid all the way to first base.
Needless to say, I was covered from head to toe in the mud. At the end of camp, I won the prestigious Miss Grace award for my muddy gracefulness.
Sharing is caring
Sheila Grissom, 71, Fort Worth
When I grew up in a rural area of western New York, south of Buffalo, a highlight of summer was attending a camp run by the YMCA.
One event during each week was roller skating at a rink across the lake. We all climbed into camp rowboats and rowed across the lake, with a counselor in each boat.
As our boat arrived at the far shore, I held onto the weeds on the bank as everyone climbed up the bank. We then walked to the rink, skated and returned to row back to the camp.
The next day, almost everyone in my boat was in the Health Cabin with severe cases of poison ivy. It seems that not only did I not recognize poison ivy, but I was not allergic to it.
I was not a popular camper for the rest of our week. It is close to 60 years since I attended camp, but I will never forget that particular year.
What’s for dinner?
Ellen Blythe, 81, Fort Worth
Great memories and unusual events happened during the summer camp of 1940. For us small-town girls and boys in the Mississippi Delta, 4-H Club summer camp at LeRoy Percy State Park at Hollandale, Miss., was a greatly anticipated event.
We were always assembled soon after arrival, and at this gathering we were informed of our responsibilities, behavior toward all people and doing our fair share in all respects. With this we would all enjoy camp more and assist in helping to run a smooth, enjoyable camp session.
Toward the close of the meeting, the leaders asked for volunteers for different chores. When they asked for people to help prepare the evening meal, my boyfriend and I thought that would be a neat job. So up went our hands to volunteer for this.
Wow! Little did we know what we were about to encounter!
The boys actually had to kill chickens, and we girls had to help clean and cut them up. There was no turning back; we were committed.
We did not enjoy our chicken dinner that night and neither did any of the others who helped. Later we reminisced and laughed about it. My weekly summer camp was always memorable and enjoyable.
The one that got away
Joanne Betts, 82, Bedford
The year was 1944 (yes, Virginia, they had camps back then). I was 13 and arrived at church camp near Greenville. I was there about two hours when I saw this cute guy with a huge canvas sack that had a steel canvas rim on the bottom of the sack.
I went over and asked him what was in it. He smiled and said, “Ice for the kitchen.” The ice wasn’t the only thing melting at that moment. He talked, I flirted.
He picked up the ice sack, and it slipped and fell on my big toe. Oh, the pain!
The toe pain got so bad during the night that the counselor called my parents to come after me the next day. I lost the toenail, the guy and what could have been a fun week at church camp.
I did learn a lesson — never flirt with a guy who has a lethal weapon in his hands!
I later improved on my flirting skills.
Girls just want
to have fun
Pat Langa, 69, Denton
My memory is as a counselor at Girl Scout Camp Woapak in Harriman State Park, N.Y. My parents were quite strict and relieved that my sister and I had the perfect job as waterfront instructors.
They had no idea that our camp director did not care what we did at night as long as we were at reveille in the morning.
So once a week after taps, we would go to the Trading Post, a bar and dance spot near West Point. And as the drinking age was 18, we could legally have a good time. Looking back on driving those mountain roads in an old jalopy, we surely had God watching over us.
I pushed the limit as a camper, too, once hiking alone over a mountain trail to visit my sister at another camp a few miles away.
A near-death experience
LeAnne Reaves, 65, Hurst
The year was 1958, a good year in Wichita Falls. My big sister Michele was 10, and I was 9. We had been to church camp before, but we never “got away.” You see, our mom was always a camp counselor. This would be different at Camp Fire Girls Camp. On our own at last. We were big girls now!
The first day was awesome. Hiking in the woods, swimming, ghost stories and s’mores. The second day was … well … just … itchy.
“Completely covered,” the camp nurse announced into the phone. “Your daughter is completely covered with poison ivy.” My parents were horrified and three days away.
As Michele stood over me bawling [and asking] “Will she die?” I lay covered with just a sheet and stinky calamine lotion. All I could think or say through my stinging tears was, “I want my mommy!” Not such big girl now, huh?
Sometimes lying under a sheet at night, I can still smell that calamine lotion. But that first day, that first perfect day, made it all worth it.
There’s just something so special about summer camp for making lifelong memories.
Birds of a feather
Judy Escher, 61, Fort Worth
In the summer of 1966, I attended a two-week session at Camp Rocky River Ranch in Wimberley.
An activity I enjoyed daily was swimming.
One day, I had gone swimming with my cabin mates and when we returned to our cabin, we hung our swimsuits on a rope line with clothespins to dry.
As a preteen, I liked to wear a two-piece swimsuit. I had left it outside to dry.
Two days later, I checked the swimsuit and to my surprise, a bird had built its nest and laid an egg in it.