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Summer Girls: 20 Ways Going To Camp Made You Who You Are Today

Like many 20-somethings, your adolescence was probably separated into chapters, each marked by the years you spent at summer camp.

Whether it was sleep away camp or day camp, and whether you attended as a camper or counselor (or both), there's no denying the fact that being a summer camp girl totally changed your life for the better.

From friendship bracelets to “Princess Pat,” you entered adulthood with a range of skills, knowledge and special talents that you could have only acquired at camp.

You've also gained a handful of unique friendships that will last a lifetime.

So, to the girls whose summers consisted of kayaking trips and bonfires, this is for you. Here are 20 ways that camp made you the fabulous person you are today:

1. Teamwork makes a dream work, and you've got the “project adventure” skills to prove it.

Whether it's an icebreaker game of the human knot or an attempt to get an entire group of 20 girls over a 20-foot wall, you know that sometimes, the only way to achieve success is to work together.

When you spend two entire months with the same people, it quickly becomes apparent that the groups that band together and embrace their senses of unity are the ones who are the happiest.


2. Your friends know to sleep with one eye open, for you are the reigning queen of pranks.

Ashton Kutcher has nothing on you when it comes to playing tricks on your friends. You could say that the more love you have for them, the harsher the prank will be.

You're not above squirting whipped cream into a sleeping friend's hand and then tickling her nose with a feather.

And, you've definitely sprinkled flour or baby powder into your BFF's blow dryer at least once. Oops.


3. No problem is too big for you to solve.

Remember the time when you really should have listened to the weather warnings, but you went out on the lake anyway and your sailboat capsized? Or how about when you were hiking in the woods and spotted a black bear several yards away?

Your days at camp certainly brought about several circumstances that required you to think quickly on your feet.

You know that panic is only a waste of time, and it's in everyone's best interest to keep a cool head. In your adult life, you've become a kickass problem solver, and one who many admire.


4. You know how to spice up a road trip.

Road trips are not complete without several hours of sing-alongs. If you run out of music to listen to, you have a repertoire of camp songs with which to serenade your passengers. The Alligator Song? The Littlest Worm? Baby Shark? Penguin Song? You could go on forever.


5. Not only are you a great teammate, you're also a skillful leader.

You play well with others, which makes you great to have on any team, but you also know how to put on your leadership cap when necessary.

You are able to take charge at a moment's notice and you don't feel intimidated by being the voice of authority. You have a firm voice, which makes others listen to you, but you know how to be approachable and friendly at the same time.


6. Even if you're not always down with being outdoorsy, you at least know how to deal.

Not everyone who went to camp was at one with nature. However, chances are, you had to attend at least a handful of hikes and overnights.

Those experiences gave you the skills necessary to navigate the great outdoors. You can light a fire, pitch a tent and aren't entirely squeamish about peeing outside.


7. Dining in a mess hall every day made you a dish-clearing wizard.

Every camp has its own way of dealing with the 100-something dishes that accrue at each meal.

Some camps have a service staff, but many do not and instead rely on the campers and counselors to clear the tables.

Perhaps your camp had a system of passing the plates to the head of the table and scraping all the contents into a large bowl. Or maybe, there was one person assigned to pour beverages and another to pass out silverware.

Regardless of the system, you are basically now a pro at cleaning up after meals, and your kitchen at home is always spotless.


8. Your camp memories are literally visible on your skin from all those bug-bite scars.

No matter how much bug spray you applied, you still managed to get bitten. You tried all of the possible remedies, even ones that were downright weird.

Yes, you probably chewed a clove of garlic because you heard it would ward off mosquitos.

Once you had those bug bites, it was almost impossible not to scratch, and equally impossible not to pick at the scabs that came later.

Your legs are dotted with faded scars that will forever remind you of lakeside evenings and roasted marshmallows.


9. It is frighteningly easy for you to change clothes in public places.

You are either completely comfortable being naked in front of a large group of people or have perfected sneaky strategies to disrobe without being noticed or both.

If you need to change out of a wet bathing suit into a dry one, you are able to do it without flashing a single soul. All those swim lessons taught you well.


10. It's almost impossible for you to hear a song without making up hand motions to go along with it.

Let's just face it: Songs are better with hand motions. There's something about a good thigh-slap and hitchhiker thumb that adds that je ne sais quoi to any song.

Furthermore, all of those camp songs from your childhood are engraved in your brain, complete with the corresponding hand motions. It's muscle memory!


11. You understand the glorious art of the handwritten letter.

Emails and texts have nothing on the handwritten letter. Getting mail at camp was legit the most exciting thing in the world, and you knew that the only way to get mail was to give it.

Your letter writing endeavors didn't end when the summer did; you stayed pen pals with your camp friends all throughout the school year.


12. You have a competitive streak that runs deep, thanks to color wars.

Color war week was definitely your favorite week at camp. Before camp started, you made sure to pack a rainbow of t-shirts available so you could be prepared, regardless of which team you were on.

Everyone got so intensely serious about their teams; friends who were on different teams refused to speak to one another for several days at a time.

You treated every event like it was life or death, and you went completely all out, balls to the walls for the giant relay race that marked the end of the competition.


13. Skinny dipping is not a bucket list item for you since you did it on the reg.

Jumping into the lake entirely nude was definitely a big deal the first time you did it.

You had to wait until after dark, of course, and it was next to impossible to suppress your giggles as you ran down the hill toward the shore.

After losing your skinny dipping virginity, you couldn't wait to do it again. And again. And again. It became a tradition for the end of camp, and at this point, you've probably swam naked at least a dozen times.


14. Costume parties are a breeze for you.

Theme days are in your blood and skits are like second nature to you. You know how to get creative with a small amount of accessories.

Chances are, you have a collection of weird costumes at home, left over from your camp days.


15. Your friends always turn to you when the situation calls for sneaky measures.

Contraband at camp was basically a challenge. We all know it. Camp directors essentially dared you to find new and creative ways to sneak in candy and other taboo items.

You were the Lane Kim or Claudia Kishi of the bunk. Your book collection contained at least one hollowed-out novel that was filled to the brim with chocolate, and there were definitely illegal items underneath your mattress.


16. You understand the value of unplugging.

At camp, you weren't constantly on your iPhone or laptop. You genuinely didn't care about checking your Instagram feed and you didn't feel compelled to live-tweet your every move.

Instead, you embraced your inner kid by playing outside, waterskiing or going horseback riding. You engaged with the world around you in a way that is impossible to do when you're constantly wired in.

Because of that, you don't freak out during power outages. You're not one of those people who dials 911 when Facebook goes down. You can entertain yourself by reading a book or by making a friendship bracelet.


17. Your creativity isn't limited when you have to wear a uniform.

Camp uniforms usually aren't all that exciting. They typically include khaki shorts and some kind of polo t-shirt.

You figured out ways to incorporate your personality into your uniform, either through your jewelry, hair or details you embroidered onto your shirt.

Despite the fact that you were told to wear the same thing as everyone else, you managed to still let it reflect who you really are.


18. Your time management game is on point. Two-minute showers? Nbd.

Getting in and out of the shower quickly was a high-pressure situation at camp, considering there were 10 other girls in line behind you.

Showers were not the time to thoughtfully ponder the day's events; it was all business. Shampoo in, two-second leg-shave, body wash, rinse and out. You were a multitasking master.


19. You know that nothing is as emotionally traumatic as the last day of camp.

If you had a dollar for every teardrop shed on the last day of camp, well, you'd probably be the richest person on the planet.

Something about saying goodbye to your camp friends (not to mention saying goodbye to summer) was the saddest, most devastating thing the world.

Even though you knew you'd be back the following year, you truly felt like your heart was breaking every time you had to pack up your things and say goodbye.


20. The friends you made at camp will literally be your friends for life.

The sadness you felt while hugging your camp friends for the last time that summer was indicative of the fact that you'd be friends forever.

There's something about a summer camp bond that no other shared experience can replicate.

You and your camp friends have so many inside jokes that they could fill an entire book, and you know that you'll never forget the memories you created together. Once a camp kid, always a camp kid.

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De Elizabeth

Contributor

De is contributing writer based in Boston. She is a Bard College theatre alum, and attended BU for her masters in education. She loves koalas, cooking, dance parties, and avocados. Follow her on twitter @deelizabeth_ and instagram @deelizabeth9
De is contributing writer based in Boston. She is a Bard College theatre alum, and attended BU for her masters in education. She loves koalas, cooking, dance parties, and avocados. Follow her on twitter @deelizabeth_ and instagram @deelizabeth9

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