Monday, June 23, 2008

Camp Winna- What The F&%k

Hi, all!

So I've been very busy over the past few days, visiting the fam down in "The Dirty Souf," preparing to run up to Nashville to see my friend Tiff's GORGEOUS new baby, and getting all my stuff ready for this, a trip that is always the highlight of my year!

However, before I leave to get my beach on, I had to share a little summertime memory with all of you. A former student of The Husband's is spending this summer acting as a camp counselor, and this led to a discussion between me and The Husband about camp, namely whether we'd ever been. The Husband has never been to camp, spending his summers riding around town on his bike, getting free lunch from the school cafeteria (in the summer! Who knew some schools did this? Not me!), and... I don't know, throwing bricks or whatever other shenanigans young boys get into.

But me? Oh, yeah, I went to camp. A little camp we shall call Camp Winna-WTF?, AKA THE MOST INSANE PLACE EVER.

Now, first of all, let me say that I have no idea what posessed my parents to send me to camp in the first place. Granted, it was only for a week and not an entire summer, but still. I was not exactly a "camp-y" kid. Even at the age of 8, my likes and dislikes were pretty firmly defined. A helpful chart:

Not being hot
Peeing inside
Being left all the hell alone

Arts and Crafts
Being hot
Forced social interaction

So, yeah, camp and me? Not a great fit.

On the upside, I did spend that week reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe twice, and Anne of Green Gables once, thus earning myself the nickname, "That Freaky Girl Who Reads A Lot And Also Cries Because She Is Hot."

So it wasn't a total bust.

Anyway, I was telling The Husband all of this and he was laughing at me (a regular occurence), and then I got to the story of what happened the last night of camp, and his laughter slowly began to fade as the look of amusement gave way to one of horror, followed by total silence that was finally broken by him saying, "Uh....Rachel? That's f&%@ed up."

And dear readers, it was. In fact, I didn't really realize HOW weird it was until I was telling The Husband. I mean, when you're 8, life is still kind of weird and new, so you tend to be a little more open to things like the insanity that happened that last night at camp.

Here's what went down:

That last night, we lined up and walked down to the little stone amphitheatre where we watched a totally weird play about the Holy Grail.


So after we watched said weird play (which honestly I don't remember that much about other than my cabin's counselors were in it. It was the pretty standard, "Galahad finds the Grail, ascends to heaven" thing), we were told we had to be silent for the rest of the night. Then we were given little white candles wrapped in tin foil. This is where the not talking part got hard, as it's really difficult to hold back squeaks of pain while hot wax is drippping down your hand.

So we made our silent, candlelit vigil back towards to bridge which connected the cabin ares with the rest of the camp, only to find that bridge...


Apparently, when Galahad ascended to Heaven, he did so on a flaming bridge, so every year after The Best Little Grail Hunt in Alabama play, Camp Winna-WTF? burned a big honking hole in the bridge all symbolically or something.

You know, because if there's one thing little 8 year old girls appreciate, it's highly symbolic religious acts.

To cross the bridge, we had to go one at time, riding piggyback on the only boy counselors at Camp Winna-WTF? (Yeah. I know.)

The bridge was really high and over rushing water, but I couldn't really see anything due to the smoke, flames, and hysterical blindness I was experiencing due to the mind numbing terror.

I have this super clear memory of burying my face in the back of some creepy 16 year old boy as I breathed in smoke, nearly peeing myself with fear when he JUMPED OVER THE BIG HONKING HOLE. Looking back, there probably wasn't an ACTUAL hole, but at 8, I totally believed that I was about to die.

Now, I know as you're all reading this, you are thinking, "Rachel, I love you, but there is no way in hell that at summer camp, you were forced to watch a Grail play, participate in a mute, candlelight vigil, and then carried across a burning bridge. I know you make your living as a fiction writer, but this time you have gone too far!"

To which I say, "Fair point."


That's right. Not only does this shit really happen, they are proud of it. They have a whole section devoted to it on their website! (Sidenote: The Husband just looked at that section and said sagely, "Well, at least they have all their freaky shit right out there in the open." Hee hee!)

Jesus. Is it any wonder I never went to camp again?

(Sidenote #2: I just noticed that the Camp Winna-WTF website says they have an "Asthma Camp" called "Camp Wheezeaway." I'll just...snort... go and uh... giggle... reserve my seat in hell... wipes


a.k.a. Ethel said...

I think with your upcoming fame and fortune you should buy Camp WTF and burn ALL of it to the f#@!$g ground.

Felicia said...

Hahahahah....*wheeze*...hahahahaha...ohhhhhhhhh...hahahaha OMG......hehehehehehe...ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh hahahahaha*dying*! hahahahahaha

Maureen Lipinski said...

I would suggest watching the documentary Jesus Camp, but it sounds like you basically already WENT THERE.

Still patiently waiting on the big news...

Anonymous said...

OMFG... I never laughed so hard or thanked my parents so much for never having sent me to camp! Seriously...lit the freaking bridge on fire? You have to be a sasist to think 8yr old girls would love nothing more than to be carried over the bridge of fire on the back of a teenage boy scared out of their freaking wits! I checked out the website, because I know how we writers like to 'embellish' things, but that was simply... well what can I say except that um.... no embellishment there, but maybe a great ya story in the making....

Anonymous said...

So that's really mean, that camp is amazing, you are the only person Ive ever heard of not liking it. Seriously, maybe you were a weird kid, since you didn't like talking to other kids.

Anonymous said...

honestly, are you dumb? they dont actually burn the bridge theres a basket they have on the side full of hay and they carry the chicos so they think that the bridge is on fire. why would they actually burn it? you just bashed a great summer camp that everyone loves and you dont even have any of your little facts right. next time you wanna talk bad about something atleast get your facts right.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

All I can say is wow. You must be an atheist or something. I shouldn't even have to defend Camp Winnataska because it's so amazing it will just defend itself. I was probably in a cabin with you and never talked to you. No wonder you hated it. You listed everything you didn't like which is everything that makes camp so amazing. Can you please delete this and never bad mouth Winnataska again?

Anonymous said...

WOW when i read this i was deeply ashamed to know some who went to that camp came back with haunting memories.winnataska is a place to worship god and to build a relationship with god.Maybe as a troubling 8 year old that was difficult but i honestly think u missunderstood most of what the camp was really about im sorry b.c you really missed out. I also dont like how you trash talked the camp. thats immature and offensive to most people. Think before you act next time thanks

Anonymous said...

honestly, its fine to have opinions. however, as an adult, dont you believe it was very immature of you to waste your time talk about a place that so many people love, knowing that it would be offensive? no, camp is not for everyone, but it is a learning experience. i guess one thing you failed to learn, even now, is things and places made to praise and worship God are the best things on this Earth.

Rachel Hawkins said...

I am honestly thrilled that so many people seem to have great memories of Winnataska. Good for you. However, I did not, since, as I stated QUITE clearly in this blog, I was a weird little kid who didn't like camp. This little story was solely meant to amuse my regular blog readers, not to offend anyone who loved Winnataska. Maybe those of you who have great memories of Winnataska should devote your time to writing a blog about those memories rather than asking me to delete MY memory of camp. 'Cause that ain't gonna happen!

Jodi said...

Holy $@!%!!! The Camp Minnewha?wha? alumnus are fierce, aren't they? Loved your memories...especially your list of likes and dislikes. Right there with you, only I grew up in a house with NO air conditioning. On the bright side, I did get to pee indoors (except on Sundays...did I mention my dad was a baptist minister to some of the poorest areas of rural Alabama? -- I learned to hold it for HOURS!). Anyhow, loved it. Think you should definitely write a book around it. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Pyromaniac's Lovesong (or whatever the heck it's supposed to be) would make for some AWEsome YA fiction. Don't you think?

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