What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Betrayal and Church Camp

Lots of people get ideas for what to write on their blogs from current events in the news. I get mine from other blogs. Mike Cope asked a question about people's summer camp experiences.

Let me start by saying that I lived for nothing more during the summer when I was a kid than going to camp. From the time I first went after my 5th grade year I was hooked. There was just such an incredible feeling while I was at camp that I was accepted, liked, popular...All the things that I really wanted to be at school, but didn't feel, even if I was. I wasn't the type at school to cower in the corner and disappear. On the contrary, I always felt like I was in the way. Especially in grades 8-10. But at camp, no matter how old I was, no matter how horrible that past year had been I was the BMOC* of camp.

This was made all the better by the one thing that I looked forward to most at church camp: girls. At camp girls liked me. My ego was just a little greater in the woods for some reason. I don't know why this was, but I had all this confidence when surrounded by my church youth group, and it paid off in friends, respect, and most of all, girls. I rarely went to camp and didn't have a summer romance; a week long relationship. There was even one year that I had a girlfriend back home who couldn't come on the trip. She was in the youth group at my church and had wanted to go, but she couldn't. I don't remember why. This was a girl that I spent a lot of time with at church and on the phone. We had, just a week earlier, admitted to each other that we liked each other and wanted to be girlfriend and boyfriend. We had been friends for a long time, had fleeting crushes on each other, but the timing had never been right until this particular summer. But when I got to camp the whole camp atmosphere kicked in and I ended up liking another girl. On Friday of that week she came up to camp to attend the banquet with me. All hell broke loose. In the eyes of my 9th grade head I had made my choice, and as horrible as I felt, I felt justified. The romance of the woods and the dark candlelit devotionals were too much for this hormonal 15 year old to handle. (Youth ministers, this kind of atmosphere succeeds in pulling focus to God, sure, but there's just something about confessing your cuss word problems or that you have a friend at school that tells bad jokes that is very sexy. Just saying you might want to watch that.)

The girl and I remained friends, somehow, and we had many more conversations on the phone, all of which seemed to contain the phrase, "I am so sorry" in there somewhere. The last time I talked to her was when I was home from college and we hung out at her sisters house as she sat with her nephews. She brought it up again. "I know, I know, I hurt your feelings. Geez, that was a long time ago." It was water under the bridge, I think. I invited her to my wedding, but didn't hear from her. Then she didn't invite me to hers. She probably figured that you didn't invite people that you hadn't talked to in more than five years. I guess it's true. But for a long time, and during some of my toughest times she really was my best friend. It's kind of sad to loose friends like that.

*Big Man On Campus


JD Tatum said...

Great post. Between this and the This American Life episode about summer camp, I really feel I missed out on a large chunk of my growing up having never really gone to camp.

priest said...

Very nostalgic post. I'm guessing you were referring to 'ol Casey? Roach, but I may be dead wrong.

Hey man, at some point, you've got to tell your version of the water balloon incident at GC. i still tell that story. dude, you were so scared of having to call my dad.

the last time I was out there at GC, Mike Avery (do you know Mike?) and few of us interns went cow tipping. Mike stepped in bull nettle, and he made his intern pee on his leg to soothe the pain. I think Nall already knows about that one.

Nathan Bruhn said...


So here's the byline....


That's right. My camp story is equally funny as it was humiliating. The summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school, I left for the piney woods of Nac-a-nowhere (that's Nachadoches for those who are keeping count) to attend for the second straight year - the Summer Theater Workshop at Stephen F. Austin State University.

The previous summer had been a blast and I knew that several of last years friends were returning, including my roommate.

So things are going great the first week of camp. I thought that I was the BMOC there because I already knew the layout and everything that was to go on.

I had even managed to score a summer-time fling with a cute girl from Texas City. It was an acting camp, for crying out loud so you can imagine the drama and histrionics involved in the daily hubbub of theater camp life. Everyone had a hookup it seemed and everything was way over the top - typical for actors, right?

Well, I had a great idea for several of us who had camp-flings (that's really all they ever where). I thought, let's take a romantic stroll around campus near dusk so that we all break curfew and really "put it to the man!" (the camp director).

So we did.

We make it to a very scenic pond overlooking the eastern edge of campus right at about sundown and I say to one of my buddies, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we all just skinny dipped, right here, right now?"

About less than a millisecond went by before my brain had already given me the clearance to drop trough and jump my happy butt into the water. My roommate's friend followed suit. Our girls were between hysterical laughter and complete mortification.

They decided to hold on to our clothes for us, but that did'nt help us too much when a few minutes later (us swimming in complete abandon to the world around us) the campus police had pulled up and started questioning our girls about who the two skinny guys were frollicking around in the AG Pond.

(Oh, yeah...the AG Pond was where they had a lot of scientific experiments and whatnot...basically...we were butt-a## naked in a non-aerated cess pool filled with God knows what levels of bacteria...not to mention, the boys downstairs where beginning to retreat due to the implication that we were going to have to get out of the water and walk 10 yards to the campus police's car to get our clothes!)

After much shrinkage and even more humiliation, the campus coppers "booked" us, put us in the paddy wagon and wisked us away to our dorm director's room - bad way to end the night at theater camp.

So, the next day "the man" stuck it to me (how ironic. I thought I was sticking it to the man.) and kicked me out of his glorious camp...after my 10th day there. (I had the lead in 2 out of the three shows I was cast in that summer, too!)

I never spoke to my theater camp girlfriend ever again after that day, my roommate managed to blame the whole thing on me - saving his butt - and so he got to stay (I still can't believe that one), and my grandma was one pissed off lady having to drive three and a half hours to pick up her delinquent grandson's streaking butt knowing that I had wasted her time and wasted about $350.00 of my parent's money.

I would not be surprised if still to this day at the campus police precinct (if there is such a thing) there is a wanted poster out for me:

Wanted: Have you seen this butt running across campus? If you have contact the authorities at 555-5555.

I always seem to leave behind some kind of humiliating legacy at the universities that I visit for camp or for school for that matter. (see "Leaving College Station")

This not-so short story by:


ML said...

To jd Tatum:
Your poor mother. didn't she realize that summer camp meant a week of peace at home to finally clean out the closet and find that lost tennis shoe?

Kyle, now that camp is over...do we sell those love letters from camp sweethearts or just burn them? I vote for the bonfire.

I went to camp. Yep there was even camp when I was a kid. I went to Camp Red Oak Springs in Newton, Texas. And yes, I had boyfriends there too.


ML said...

to Nathan:

You should have gone to church camp. Much safer. But I know, less Kyle correct me, that mischief went on. I was a counselor at many camps, but we were ready and expecting trouble. The girls were safe because I slept by the door!


Oh and Nathan....get a blog!

Nathan Bruhn said...

To Mary Lou:

I have a blog...but I didn't want to steal the format idea from Kyle so I just indulged him in a little camp story of my own.

It fit much better on this blog anyhow. I try to keep my incoherent babblings in a thematic filing system on my blog. I couldn't see how this subject would interject with my other insanity. :)