Poopy Colored Cabins by Rachel Weinberg
No, it’s not like The Parent Trap. Well, maybe a little. Don’t bring a single pair of shoes you actually care about; the dirt roads will eat those babies up. White Nike’s meet brown, mud-caked AF-1's, and flip flops are a great way to catapult rocks into the backs of your calves, splatter your legs with little dirt dribbles after it’s rained. Do yourself a favor and walk down the hills sideways, mountain goat style. Otherwise you’ll bust ass the whole way down and have to hike back to your cabin to change out of the pants that now look like you couldn’t hold it till the Dining Hall.
Bring a God damn sweatshirt to Evening Activity—trust me on this one—and for the love of everything else, make your campers bring one, too. Yes, it gets real-life cold, even though it’s summer. Bring a backpack, keep a raincoat and cough drops in it (for when you inevitably lose your voice screaming during Color Wars.) Oh, and string to make bracelets, too—not for you, but for the camper who A.) won’t stop crying or B.) “hates this stupid place and every stupid thing in it.” They just need a friend and some colored string.
The mountain weather is a crazy ex. Blue skies and sunny one moment, pissing buckets the next. The campers are kinda like that too, especially the senior girls. They’ll try and bikini shower on the porch when it rains. Let ‘em, but tell them that if the Division Director catches them, you’ll take away all their contraband. And when they ask you what you’re gonna do with that many iPhones and straighteners and packs of gum, tell them you’re running a black market out of the staff lounge, and no, you won’t split the profit.
They’re gonna think you’re dating every guy you meet eyes with—kids have the worst gaydar. But when they ask who you’re into for the ninetieth time, tell them it’s Todd from Bungee like they suspected, and they’ll swoon over his tan muscles and the fancy wedding you’ll have till the end of camp. When you get called up on stage to dance during Evening Program, for all things holy, you better dance. Hang up your varsity jacket, leave your sorority letters at home. People will think you’re less cool the cooler you think you are.
Stick up for them, even when you get five’s on Cabin Inspection for three days straight. As it turns out, fifteen-year-old girls change nine times a day—even in the middle of the Poconos. Know all the counselors of the boys they’re into. One of those little shits will sit on the rocks outside your cabin, looking like a chipmunk under those ginormous pine trees, and you’ll know exactly who to send him back to.
Sing at the campfires. Grab their hands and jump up and down, yelling some rhyme about Poopy Colored Cabins. They’ll all think we call ‘em that because they’re painted brown, but you’ll find out it’s because the toilets overflow shit more days than not. Know how to use a plunger—like, actually. Put your arms around each other's shoulders when you sing “Wallerville Road” to the tune of John Denver’s “Country Road” and try not to cry. They won’t know the original, and after a while neither will you.
June will become the end of July in what seems like an afternoon. Stay out on the porch a little longer to watch the fog rise off the mountains in the morning. The stars are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, the big red one in the middle is Mars. Don’t seem too excited to go on your days off, even though the only feeling better than driving down that dirt road in a shitty Chevy piled high with other counselors, sweaty and smelly and your new best friends, is driving back up it.
Let them come visit you at whatever activity you end up working at, let them be you for the day. Or even the whole summer. Because you’ll cry like a baby when their tri-state area parents come to pick them up. And you’ll miss those mountain sunsets on your grassy walks down to flagpole, the way the air smells when it’s about to pour, even the nights when flashlight time lasts forever. Oh, and bring more socks than you think you’ll need, the laundry always takes one on the house.