"Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh, Here I am at Camp Granada. Camp is very entertaining, And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining."
Whether you went to Camp Tawonga, Camp Ramah, Camp Swig…or Allan Sherman's fabled Camp Granada — http://terrisfunnypages.com/terra/camp.html — nothing can compare to those long summer days and bug-filled nights at summer camp. In another column, we'll look at choices for modern-day campers. But first, a nostalgic look at summer camp on the World Wide Web.
Dina Fuchs owes a lot to her summer camp. Her existence. Dina's parents met at a Jewish camp. And Dina continued her family's connection to the camp when she packed up at the tender age of 7. But for Dina, things didn't start off too well: "To me, camp was like a Jewish juvenile detention center," she writes. Eventually, things changed and now she looks back fondly at those years.
"My camp memories still sneak up on me once in awhile. One day, I was walking to my car after a rainstorm and I caught a whiff of that sweet, grass-soaked fragrance that lingers after a summer downpour. And in that instant, I was carried back to those sleepy mornings where I stood shivering in the dewy field at Camp Judaea — standing with my hands folded behind me, singing "Hatikvah." Her story, from the Atlanta Jewish Times, is at www.jewishsf.com/ bk000512/supcampbug.shtml
"Now I don't want this should scare ya, But my bunk mate has malaria. You remember Jeffrey Hardy. They're about to organize a searching party."
If you ever spent a summer at camp and want to relive those long ago joys (and traumas) that Allan Sherman alludes to, then don't miss "The Girls of Summer" by Geraldine Sherman. She was a camper at Camp Kawagama in the 1950s in northern Ontario. Her story begins as she and her childhood friends attend the funeral of their beloved camp director. With the help of the girls of cabin 22, she looks at how a summer camp almost half a century away molded who they are today.
"If Margaret Mead had landed on Kawagama Island in 1955 instead of Samoa in 1925, what conclusions would she have drawn about North American adolescents? Would she have determined that camping was a rigorous and painful preparation for adulthood? A benign rite of passage? A privilege for society's future leaders? She would likely have decided, correctly, that camp was the place where our outrageous individualism was tempered in the fires of peer pressure, where the people we were to become first emerged."
Even the picture on the Web site of Sherman and the Kawagamite girls in their plaid shirts and broad grins will bring smiles and a touch of melancholy to anyone who's been there and done that. Her story, from Toronto Life, is at www.geraldinesherman.com/Cabin22.html
No look back at summer camp would be complete without mentioning the food and drink. In fact, what defines Phyllis Wilson's Jewish summer camp years was the juice — bug juice. So Phyllis has attempted to reconstitute those memories, presenting her recipe for Summer Camp Bug Juice. It calls for flavored drink mix, sugar and "red food coloring if you feel a little sadistic" but no bugs.
Her recipe is on the Jewish Food Mailing List Archive, www.jewishfood-list.com/recipes/ beverages/bugjuice01.html
For Bulletin Joy of Jewish Cooking columnist Rebecca Ets-Hokin, memories of summer camp include a not-so-delicious recollection of summer camp meals. "My dining hall memories include rubbery scrambled eggs, warm Kool-Aid and unappetizing stews," according to her story at www.jewishsf.com/bk990423/cook.shtml
But all that changed when she revisited her childhood camp to find that it has a new motto: Camp Tawonga, where food is king! "The powdered government-surplus eggs and milk, and the canned fruits and vegetables of the 1970s have been replaced with farm-fresh produce and California Culinary Academy graduates in the kitchen, with one cook devoted solely to vegetarian cuisine." Ets-Hokin collected recipes of some of the campers' favorites like Max's Meat Loaf, Tomato Sauce, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Deborah Newbrun's Fruit Crisp. And you can rest easy. She's adapted the recipes to serve eight.
"Wait a minute, it stopped hailing. Guys are swimming, guys are sailing. Playing baseball, gee that's better. Muddah, Fadduh, kindly disregard this letter!"