For parents, sending a teen to summer camp must be a deal with the devil: You get a break from caring for your angsty kid, but in exchange, you live with the knowledge that little Madison might suck a dick this summer.
Communal sleeping, shared showers, and minimal supervision — often at the hands of slightly older and even hornier youths — add up to a pressure cooker of hormones, humiliation, awkward fumbling, and memorable discoveries.
When she stole my pink training bra, I was kind of honored.
If Lauren Petersen felt tickles on horses, then feeling tickles on horses was cool. I was kicked out of the horsegasm clique after fighting Lauren for my bra.
Soon everyone was feeling tickles, or trying to feel them, or faking them. On laundry day, I snatched it back, then dramatically wrote my name on it in black permanent marker, ruining the bra for both of us. All camp hookups, in my experience, were a little predator-prey.
After that I had to be friends with a girl with a bowl cut who kept apologizing for having the same last name as me. I was 15 when a 20-year-old counselor convinced me it would be hilarious if we stole full-body squirrel costumes from the drama supply closet (the squirrel was our camp mascot) and snuck through the woods to terrorize kids who were camping in tents that night.
So we put on the costumes and hiked to the campsite — and ended up making out on a picnic table in full-body fur suits, squirrel heads perched beside us. We did it outside on the porch, her lying down and us on either side of her, giggling. She once dared several girls in my bunk to put Gold Bond on our vaginas.
It was so cold that it stung and I experienced a kind of sensitivity generally reserved for varsity S&M games. I was 11: I didn’t understand sex, but I remember sitting at a campfire sing-along and just staring at her legs.
I think the counselor got a perverse kick out if it, even though she is straight. I wouldn’t say I “realized” I was gay at church camp. Then I looked up and saw her looking back at me with this face that said, “I know exactly what you’re thinking, you dirty little lesbian.” Not in a mean way, just the same thing she did when little boys had crushes on her.
When I had my first kiss at camp, it was with a boy. It was encouraging in a way I hadn’t experienced before.
I was a hard-core Texas Bible baby, but my camp shared space with other groups and many weren’t Christian. Being interested in girls had never been an option. I had my first orgasm at Jewish summer camp, the result of dry-humping against a cabin.
A few years later I lost my virginity at a summer camp on a kibbutz. In 1983, I was 11 years old — too young to be interested in seeing what a naked girl looked like, but old enough to be terrified of being seen naked by one myself.
I had sex five times that night, including in the shower, and came every time! But the other boys in my cabin, a year ahead of me and with puberty underway, proposed that the girls' cabin join us after dinner for skinny-dipping in the Au Sable River in northern Michigan, where we had gone for a canoeing trip.