When I was a kid, I was a camping fool. I can’t remember if it was my own brilliant idea or my mom’s realization that if my siblings and I were to survive until September, I should be kept as occupied as possible. Whatever the case, I was enrolled in every sports, academic, art, and sleep-away camp ever. I loved summer camp so much that when I was too old to be a camper myself, I volunteered as a counselor. Counselors have just as much, if not more, fun than campers because you get to do all the same activities, with the bonus of adorable kids falling all over themselves to make you like them, drawing you pictures and giving you hugs and sweaty handfuls of wildflowers.
Now that I’ve entered the overrated world of adulthood, I long for a slightly updated, adult version of summer camp. I still want to sleep in my bright blue sleeping bag in a wooden bunk, mindlessly follow a cool grown-up to scheduled meals made lovingly by a chubby, smiling cook, and sign up for organized activities like making oven mitts and picture frames, shooting a bow and arrow, and playing with kittens in a big red barn. I want the innocence of songs in the round with silly hand motions, ghost stories, campfires, eating s’mores until I’m sick, and the excitement of the dance on the last night, spinning slowly in an awkward circle, arms around the neck of the boy I’d fallen in love with while making a birdcage out of Elmer’s glue and tongue depressors. I wouldn’t change much at all, just get rid of that rule about no fraternizing between the boys’ and girls’ sides of camp, install an espresso machine, extend curfew, and perhaps replace afternoon naps with a happy hour.
Luckily, here it feels like summer most of the year, and living in the friendly, creative, and celebratory atmosphere that is Santa Barbara, I feel like I’m pretty close to my fantasy of summer camp for adults. Now if I could just get everyone to join hands for a round of kumbaya.