Remember that famous literary opening about camp? “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
Okay, yes. That’s technically the opener for a famous Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities. It just resonates though, you know? Most of us remember the highs and lows of our camp days. There were those nights of sitting around the campfire singing along to those good ole camp tunes while you make eye contact with that cute boy. Then there are those experiences that are real downers and stick with you until you’re kneedeep in your thirties. Like when that same boy gets a wedgie in front of the whole camp and everyone, I mean EVERYONE, sees his skid marks on his underwear.
We’ve all been through it, and most of us during our precious middle school years where our pits start to stink, we’re noticing our first zits, and none of us have the tools to hack it. I have this recurring thought that it would be so nice to experience the glory days of our youth when we had the coping tools that we have as adults.
That’s why I cannot express how much I dig this cool-ass camp for adult women, Camp Hecate. Camp founder Margaret Mason Tate nailed it when she came up with this concept for burden-laden women to have a chance to put it all down, rest, and relax with their friends. With Camp Hecate’s four pillars of Trust, Visibility, Belonging, and Grace, every camper can lean into the safety and security of knowing that there is no hierarchy and everyone belongs. Not everyone feels comfortable or like they belong even in adulthood but Camp Hecate has a camp culture of inclusion, rest, and connection. If you don’t have the tools- lawd get ready, you’re going to gain those tools at Camp.
In this spirit of community, I’m going to use the remainder of this post to share some stories of some BRAVE women who sent in their cringeworthy middle school tales in solidarity. Read these and know how not alone you were then and how not alone you are now. At the end, maybe we’ll have a cathartic camp activity of tossing our bad memories in the proverbial Camp Hecate fire to let ‘em go. I know I’m ready to forget those skid marks forever.
From Mackenzie who included this cuuuuute picture of herself:
When I was in 6th grade, the boy I liked came to the PE area while I was running sprints. My brain tells me to speed up, run really fast and it’ll impress him. I tripped over my own two feet and wound up scraping both the top side of my arm and the bridge of my nose. I don’t even think he noticed me.
Picture a very socially awkward eighth grader with her first boyfriend. We held hands in the hallways of our middle school, and church. We called each other occasionally at night. For valentines day we went our first real date, it was a double date to see an Irish dancing show, the other boy’s father drove all four of us. The couple with us started making out hard when the lights went out. I, a good catholic girl, was just sort of ignoring it.
My boyfriend eventually leaned over to whisper in my ear. He asked if he could kiss me, which is sweet and also about 17 years before consent was a huge topic. I reply yes. He laid the sloppiest wettest kiss on my cheek. I didn’t know that I had to turn my head. I was watching IRISH DANCING. I forgot to turn my head to accept the first kiss of my young romantic life. The absolute worst part was that I didn’t realize I forgot to turn my head until years later. When my boyfriend walked me to my door later in the evening, I got my first actual kiss (I think he asked if it was okay again).
I sat on a wet chair one day during lunch and everyone thought I peed my pants. It was horrifying. Also, I learned that day that the people who I thought were my friends were not at all my friends. They were major bitches.
From Anonymous (she says she’s still mortified it’s cool, we feel you girl!)
In 7th grade, I was having a really good ass day. Like one of those days where you look in the mirror and you’re just like, damn, that is one nice jiggly ass. After school, I went to the convenience store next to the school to buy some candy and a coke, where I run into my crush and his group of friends. Being obnoxious and 13, I was like “I’m going to show off this ass that I have because it’s fab and maybe he’ll be hypnotized by the magnetic power of my ass and fall in love with me FOREVER”.
Unfortunately for me, I was not yet in tune with my bodily functions and got home to realize I had just gotten my period and there was a HUGE bloodstain on the back of the pants that I had just shown off to a bunch of 13-year-old boys.
In 6th grade my crush moved away so I wore black for a full week in mourning.
From Aubrey O.:
So my mom was always known as quite the electric lettuce gal. Especially during the stressful holiday seasons…. when I was in middle school the d.a.r.e. Team came in to teach us about the horrors of drugs. The weed jar came around (yes they just gave us jars of weed to smell and examine ) I took a biiiiig whiff and said “smells like Christmas” and literally everyone in the classroom went “Awww poor thing”
From Miss Katie:
So there I was, with my science class project group, doing a presentation on an alien species we had made up. It was already weird, the classmates were heckling us, the teacher was annoyed, and one kid raises his hand and asks what the species is called again. So I huffily spin on my heel, grab a pen, and spell the name on the dry erase board behind me.
It was a permanent ink pen.
We got a B minus on our report.
In 6th grade I had to give a presentation to the class, and when I get nervous, I start laughing. I started hysterically laughing, like couldn’t breathe, tearing streaming down my face laughing. And then I peed my pants from laughing so hard. Did I mention I was wearing jean overalls? It was awful!
I was 12 and in the seventh grade. My first official year of wearing a bra, always putting on a little makeup, and dealing with a full on monthly period. Image was everything, and I was very self-conscious of my newly acquired glasses. Needless to say, my confidence was in need of a huge boost.
The day started out like any other. I was poppin’ with white shorts and this oh-so-cute floral top that would for sure distract from my ugly ass glasses. Then the worst thing in the world happened. I went to the bathroom and realized that I was starting my period. WITH FUCKING WHITE SHORTS ON. Good thing I caught it in time though. As I always had a very heavy flow, I had only the thickest and biggest maxi pads for the time at the ready. You know, the two-inch thick, foot-long ones. I was terrified of tampons, so I wasn’t even entertaining those yet.
Well, I stuck it on and, to my horror, I realized that, when I looked into the mirror, you could SEE the pad in the back through my very sheer and thin white shorts. FUCK. I quickly went to my class and sat into a desk.
Since I KNEW that the person sitting behind me would invariably see my pad, I decided to lean back, sliding my rear forward in order to hide the monstrosity. And then it happened. I could literally FEEL the discharge running down the length of the pad. This was NOT going as I expected, and I was stuck. Eventually, the class ended, and I just sat there, frozen, unable to move. I waited for every classmate to leave before I casually and quickly rushed to the bathroom.
Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad, I told myself. WRONG. I had a bloodstain the size of a tennis ball on the back of my shorts. A very RED tennis ball. I scurried to the office and called my dad to bring me some clean pants, which he did without pressing when I could NOT tell him why.
I don’t know if anyone ever saw, but it was a devastatingly embarrassing moment that I will never forget.
Middle school as a whole is extremely embarrassing, but I’d say the worst thing overall was my sense of fashion. Or more accurately the complete lack of. In sixth grade, I only wore sweatpants that were too short for me and t-shirts that were one size too big. Every single day. Other kids said something about it. My family made comments about it. It was overall not great. To make up for only wearing sweats in sixth grade, I only wore jeans with a tank top and a track jacket for all of seventh grade. Even on days where all I wanted to wear was sweatpants to be nice and cozy, I wouldn’t do it because I didn’t want to revert back to the year before.
Finally, by eighth grade I had kind of figured out how to put some variety in my wardrobe. And most of the year was without issue, people even complimented my outfit sometimes! That is until my science teacher, who was also my homeroom teacher, determined, by her standards only, that I showed off too much cleavage. So she gave me her sweater. To wear. Every day. And she expected I would be wearing that sweater in her classroom if she didn’t like what I was wearing.
Whewwwwweeee, let’s all take a big, deep breath. What is your embarrassing story? Care to write it out cathartically and toss it into the fire with us? Camp Hecate provides the perfect opportunity to let it all go and create a new history where there are no haunting memories. There you’ll find only acceptance, warmth, and broadening horizons. Cheers to new experiences and cheers to Camp Hecate!