Nobody gets kissed at this summer camp

I heard about this lawsuit story on morning news radio. I was one-quarter still asleep but it made me open my eyes and say, “Huh?” And “Whaaaa?”

This is a tale about summer camp. It does not involve marshmallows and fires and horror stories. It is itself a sort of horror story. From Dareh Gregorian at the Daily News:

Girl’s armed ‘camp’

A Connecticut teen says she was dragged out of summer camp by a gun-toting cop for kissing a boy.

In papers filed in state Superior Court, the girl, identified only as “Jane M.,” said she went to Camp Emerson sleepaway camp in Hinsdale, Mass., and struck up a relationship with a fellow 15-year-old, fictitiously named “Dick.” Their relationship “became the summer romance that most teens yearn for.”

Dick got up the guts to kiss Jane on July 11, “A beautiful, innocent moment,” the suit says.

“It was puppy love,” said Jane’s lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold.

The counselors high-fived Dick afterwards, but when word got back to camp owner Sue Lein, she was not amused, the suit says.

Lein allegedly told Jane, who had problems with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, “that she was a slut and/or loose,” then called the teens’ parents and ordered them to pick the kids up the next morning. Jane was escorted out by a uniformed, armed cop, Arnold said.

But there is one upside: Dick and Jane are “boyfriend and girlfriend,” said Arnold.

Lein did not return a call for comment.

So now let me remember my years at summer sleepaway camp. My mom got more or less conned into sending me unwittingly to a Jewish Prince ‘n’ Princess Training Camp, although she had no intention of turning me into a JAP. In fact, I doubt she even knew what a JAP was.

My mom sent me off to camp in the Massachusetts Berkshires with those little name labels sewn (she did the sewing) into every camp garment on the “what your child needs in camp” list. So I showed up with a duffle bag full of shorts and t-shirts and bathing suits, and Pride and Prejudice. The other girls showed up with cashmere sweaters and 69 Park Avenue.

I am not making this up.

There I was, a long-term wallflower, at a camp the major feature activity of which was “socials.” (Ergo, the cashmeres.) “Socials” consisted of the boys on one side of the gym, the girls on the other, and then merging in the middle for dancing purposes. (Nobody asked me to dance over the three years I spent at camp, except for one or two compassionate, or perhaps assigned, male counselors, once or twice a social. But don’t feel bad for me: not only did being a wallflower help to form my excellent character, I really didn’t care about boys at that time.)

The second part of the “social” was called Milk Shed: after the dance, the wallflowers (there were a couple of us) would wend their way over the hills back to the bunks, while the popular girls, having hooked a popular boyfriend, would go down the hill to the milk shed, whose secondary function (after dispensing milk during the day) was as the locus of one half-hour of post-social kissing activity. Monitored and timed by designated camp counselors who, I’d guess (I never went to Milk Shed), were also kissing.

After which the popular kissed girls and counselors would return to the bunks where we, the Permanently Unkissed, were eagerly awaiting tales and details. So we could figure out how to kiss. Eventually. After all, camp experience must be healthy, invigorating and above all educational.

So. I’m kind of wondering: what the hell has been going on at Camp Emerson? Don’t they have a milk shed? And Milk Shed?

Well, they have a lawsuit now. I think Milk Shed would be less costly.

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