As we once again return to the Hill for another year filled with life, love, learning and lorp, one of the most common struggles a student faces is re-acclimatizing to both the community and schedule that is in place here at Kenyon. For many, it is a rude awakening: for those who did not have summer jobs or internships, the prospect of having to be mentally and physically present anywhere before 11:00 AM other than your family home’s rec room where you passed out last night on the couch after eating three plates of nachos while watching Nick @ Nite until it was light out is a cruel absurdity.
Luckily for me, I spent my summer working at an sleepaway, coed, ages 8-15 summer camp for 10 weeks, and therefore have made an oddly seamless transition into life back at Kenyon, for what I learned over the summer is that is that being a counselor at camp and being a student at Kenyon are actually eerily related experiences. So for those of you who never had the pleasure of experiencing it, I have boiled down the essential highlights of camp life to show you how similar to college it really is. Enjoy, and don’t forget your movement clothes.
1. Communal living – If you think privacy is a luxury in dorm life, imagine having to share a 10 x 10 wooden hut with a literal horde of children, whose only true pleasure in life seems to be that of sitting on your bed and rubbing their sandy feet into your pillow. Now living in a New Apt single, I find myself almost missing the feeling of ten pairs of eleven-year-old eyes, staring at me and asking me endless questions as I gracefully try to peel myself out of a wet one-piece bathing suit. At least I still get to share a bathroom!2. Limited dining options – Just as Peirce has a monopoly on those who can’t afford to eat at the Deli for every single meal of the day/have tried and failed to subsist on Market Dogs and Market Dogs alone, the only food available at camp is that which is served three times a day, with a set, single menu, the exception being the occasional salad bar option at lunch or peanut butter and jelly available by request. Surprisingly, the camp food I have been exposed to is actually awesome; thanks to the butt-load of arable land that exists in New England and all the small, family-owned produce farms that take advantage of that, my camp has a local food initiative similar to that which we have in place at Kenyon (s/o to Charlotte “The Local Food Girl” Local Food Girl). Also, infinimilk is a thing in both places.
3. The Krud – Living in close quarters with children for extended periods of time means that illness literally spreads like the plague. I’ve had a cold since the middle of this summer, and the only thing weirder than having chills in June is having that continue over into September, October, etc. until the actual flu season is over at Kenyon (aka June, once everyone leaves).
4. Townies – There are 2,400 people living in Gambier, and 2,600 living in the rural Vermont town where my camp is located. The extra 200-person cushion does not make any of the locals less friendly, as well any more tolerant of all the weird shit we try to pull when we go into town (think somewhere between this and this).
5. Diehard loyalty to c/kamp – The feeling most of us get when hearing “Kokosing Farewell” at the Senior Sing is the same feeling I get at the end of the summer when I hear “Country Roads, Take Me Home“, “Wagon Wheel”, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” or, oddly enough, “Lip Gloss” by Lil’ Mama, all songs that I will forever associate with camp. I’ve been at camp for seven years (four as a camper, three as a staff member), and have no plans to get a real summer job anytime soon, just as I know that I will probably skip the post-grad job hunt after graduating from Kenyon and be content to just spend my life living as a squatter under the Peirce Pub stage, emerging only to attend the odd Orientation event, club meeting/comedy show, or to try to score free Nite Bites from an unsuspecting freshman.