Going to Camp … and also Crazy

After three days at summer camp in1989, Shield staffer Tama Henderson was ready for a change in scenery


Tama Henderson, entertainment staff

Dear Mom and Dad, 

This letter contains a brief itinerary of my first three days at ‘camp,’ and it also represents all the rage and hatred that I feel toward both of you for sending me to this forested ‘haven.’


DAY 1: After you two dropped me off here, some guy (I suppose he was a counselor) that looked like a Banana Republic reject, dragged me to a room that resembled a damp jail cell. The other kids here look like regulars, and I have a feeling that the buck knife I brought is going to come in quite handy. 

After 10 minutes of planning my escape, a different reject/counselor guy entered my ‘cell,’ grabbed me by the arm, and without speaking led me to a log cabin. (By this time I was beginning to wonder if people could actually speak English here.)

When we came within a 20-foot radius of the building, a horrible stench, much like sewer water, entered my nostrils, and a sign bearing the single word “CAFETERIA” on it caught my eye. In that brief moment, I saw my whole life flash before my eyes and realized that death waited on the other side of the screen door. I had to think quickly. Within five seconds, I was on the ground, rolling around in the gravel, holding my stomach and yelling. 

The counselor guy only looked at me like I was some sort of strange bug that he had never seen before, and I thought he might decide to step on me. He made some strange noise that seemed to say, “I don’t blame you for not wanting to eat here.” He leaned over, pulled me off the ground and led me to a white building with a large, unmistakable red cross on the side. 

He mumbled some words to a slightly large nurse-looking person, and she in turn waddled over to where I was. She began checking me over. I stuck out my tongue, said ‘ah,’ held the thermometer in my mouth and donated a pint of my blood to a so-called research lab.

She gave me two aspirin and a glass of water. Then they dragged me off to bed. No toy or anything.

Before I went to sleep, I thought about the day’s events and realized that there was quite a lot of dragging and not enough speaking going on here. This worried me, but then another thought came to mind, and I had a vision of some psychopathic guy wearing a hockey mask and holding an axe walking around outside my window.

DAY 2: After about two hours of sleep from the previous night, I was awakened by an annoying bugle and was promptly herded to the dreaded cafeteria along with my other inmates. There was no escaping it this time, and plus, I was hungry. I was relieved to see boxes of cereal sitting on the table, and I promptly gulped down three bowls. 

There was a list of the day’s activities posted by the door, and I thought that Arts and Crafts would be a pretty safe choice. I didn’t have to be anywhere until two that afternoon, so I decided to go back to sleep. 

After my nap, I felt somewhat refreshed and made my way to the Arts and Crafts tent. Upon arriving, I noticed several people collecting rocks and beginning to paint them. I then realized that Arts and Crafts might be just a little too ‘safe,’ and after three hours of trying to paint my name on a rock, I was sure of it.

My boredom soon turned to fear as they hiked us all 10 miles through swamps, forests and ticks for the dreaded hot-dog roast. Mine fell into the fire, and again I went to bed hungry. 


Day 3: I CAN’T STAND THIS ANYMORE! Mom, Dad, tell me what I did to deserve this torture? There’s no way that my frail mind can take this punishment for one more day! I’ll do anything! I’ll mow the lawn until I’m 40, just please send me a bus ticket back home. HURRY! There’s a rumor of a canoe trip in two days and I can’t do this stomach cramp thing for much longer.



Your stressed daughter

This article was published in The Shield in May 26, 1989.