Monday, August 22, 2011

Once Upon a Time at Camp Part I

  Holey, moley!  Where'd the summer go, huh? One minute, I'm bitching about not getting an invitation to the Royal Wedding and the next I'm bitching about not getting invited to Kim Kardashian's big shindig.
  The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are finally drawing to a close.  This week I actually have to go back to work; I'm not complaining, mind you. It's just that I won't have as much time to read/comment on your posts.  While, at the same time, complaining to Mrs. Penwasser that I didn't have enough time to cut the grass, prepare dinner, wash the car, do the laundry, make the bed, fix the garbage disposal, water the garden, arrange my socks, flush the toilet, or bathe.
  Anyway, the life of Riley (gotta meet that guy) comes to an end very shortly.  But, I first thought I'd take us all back to those halcyon (I love that word!) days when it wasn't my wife who accused me of being a slug, but my mom.
  Whaddya say?  Let's go to camp!

Seriously, I'm going to save up
and buy me that mustache
    In the 19th Century, a man named Henry David Thoreau spent two years at Walden Pond in Massachusetts.
Shoulda ate more than nuts
and berries, Henry
    His rhapsodic description of this idyllic wooded site sparked a hopeful glimmer amidst the gloom of the early Industrial Revolution.  Writing wistfully of the glories of nature, he enthralled those who would seek bliss among the trees.
    Evidently, he’d never been to Quinnamuc Wilderness Reservation.
Archery range.
Ha, ha. Very funny.
    Nestled in the wilderness of northwestern Connecticut, Quinnamuc was a hundred acre enclave catering to the youth of the Archdiocese of Bridgeport.  Promoted as a refuge from the evils of the secular world, it drew heavily upon tenets of the Catholic faith.  This, I suppose, explained the Simon Peter Fishing Lodge and the holy water fonts at the Saint Sebastian Archery Range
    Although, I think the Joan of Arc Campfire Sing-A-Longs were in poor taste.
    Each year, as July slid sleepily toward August, Spags and I joined likeminded lemmings from St. Stanislaus for a week basking in the aforementioned glories of nature juxtaposed against a panorama of ecclesiastic rusticism. 
    That we had about as much fun as Jesuits at a booby bar was beside the point.
    The first day was the worst as this when we actually came face-to-face with The Great Outdoors
    And Father Karl.  On loan to the camp, he was our “Senior Activities Programmer” or SAP.
    The SAP remained with his group throughout their stay.  He coordinated activities schedules and maintained liaison with the camp staff.  He was also there to help us develop an appreciation for the wonders of the natural world and ministered to us in all crises of faith or bedwetting.
Could someone close the damn door!?
    Plus, he kept us from using frogs as wiffleballs and tossing firecrackers into the latrines.   
    “Great, now my summer is complete.” Spags whispered crankily as Father Karl, nattily dressed in flannel shirt and baggy khaki shorts, bade us welcome.
    “Ah, Al,” Father Karl smirked, “good to see you.  I thought I heard your father’s car at the camp entrance."
    While Father Karl greeted the rest of our group, we glumly scanned the campsite.  It slowly dawned on us that we had once more made a horrible mistake.  Over the past year, we’d forgotten how much we hated this place. 
    However, since my father barely slowed down as he pushed us from the car, we knew we were stuck. paper!
    As legions of mosquitoes saw “Open For Business” on my forearms, Father Karl cheerily announced that it was time to head to the Fishes and Loaves Mess Hall for supper.
    “Because,” he breezily said, “the Lord loves a healthy appetite!”
    As I sourly looked at a campsite which would make a Spartan call the ACLU, I decided the Lord wasn’t too fond of electricity, though.  

To be continued....


  1. I never had a need for summer camp since our summer home was our own version. I'd not a girlie girl but my version of camping was setting the tent up in the back of the yard with the house in sight so we could run back to use the bathroom. I stayed out there all night, rain or shine, but I'm not doing business in the woods nor am I going without electricity. Can't wait to see how this one pans out.

    Is it wrong that the part that scares me (being a non-Catholic) is that this was a bible camp?

  2. Mrs. Penwasser feels the exact same way.
    As far as "outdoor facilities," whenever we had to go #2, we just "held it." This, of course, resulted in quite the chocolate-colored explosion once we got home. Unfortunately, this technique never worked on the week-long camping trips.
    As far as Bible camp, since we were Catholics, the Bible was never really a HUGE part of what we did (NOT a slam against my fellow "Pope People"; it's just the way it was).
    For example, there was no "Walk On Water" competition down at the lake.
    But, we DID have Bingo and Casino Nights.
    Okay, maybe THOSE were cheap shots.

  3. The only difference between this camp and mine was we called our "SAP" the "Scoutmaster."

  4. you were very verbose with this post. i almost felt like i needed to get out a dictionary just so that i could muddle through the meaning of some of that & you were only going to summer camp, damn!

  5. You mean like, "ecclesiastic rusticism"?
    I suppose it's better than being loquacious.

  6. Another Penwasser saga to be savored! Love these!

  7. You make me proud to be Catholic. Only we can laugh at ourselves like this.

    Did you have a St. Lawrence Bar-B-Q?

  8. @Eva: I'm glad. Little did I know that my life would give me so much material!
    @Mary: Speaking of material..... I will say this (and mean it sincerely): it was a nun who taught me how to write. Her name (still is) is Sister Madonna (no kidding). I can only imagine how she felt when the singer came out.
    St Lawrence Bar-B-Q ....hee...hee...hee

  9. I never went to summer camp. My younger sister did many times to Baptist church camp, but somehow I don't think that was any where near the fun you are going to let us in on of your Catholic camp days. I'm cringing already.

  10. Between the "Joan of Arc singalongs" and the caption on this last picture, I thank you laughingly.

  11. @Clipped: It wasn't so bad, even when we had to carve a totem pole of our favorite Pope. Most kids picked Pope Paul IV (Pope John Paul II was still just a regular Polish guy in 1972). I chose Pope Incontinent I.
    @Robyn: The worst part about the Joan of Arc singalongs is that we had to sing in French. Surrounded by English longbowmen.