“Is this your card?” I said holding out a tattered ace of spades.
“It is,” he nodded with one-hundred percent, absolute certainty. Actually, dad had no idea what his card was; he was a good fake. I could see the reflection of the bonfire on the surface of his moist eyes, his expression shadowed by a week’s worth of facial hair. Smoke from burning marshmallows clung to my sweatshirt; dried dirt caked under my nails made my fingertips feel tight – swollen, almost.
Our days at camp were filled with hikes through the woods, three-legged races, mud pie fights, corn hole matches, death by Cheese Puffs tournaments, and a tent vs. tent ultimate kick the stick championship. Also, get ready to be impressed: I hold the record for Twizzler jump rope in two categories – innovative connectedness and most jumps in under one minute. I owe this mostly to an unfair genetic advantage of nubby, strong fingers and stumpy yet extremely dexterous legs. Holler y’alls, but don’t hate.
At night, we usually sat circled around roaring camp fires, just us girls and our hero dads. I vividly remember shouting the lyrics to Tiffany’s version of I Think We’re Alone Now while Kimmy Keaner caked my eyes in black eyeliner and ratted my bangs into an impressive wall of hair spray and split ends. Our dads, who were merely children themselves at the time, drank beer out of cans, drawled on about sports, and shared amongst themselves booze laden stories that were wrapped in the collective nostalgia of their glory days. I was 12, and this was my third year at Camp Y Indian Princess Adventure. And as an honest broker of reality, I have to tell you I really hated it.
If you’re at all familiar with the now defunct Y Indian Princesses (apparently, they finally figured out the word “Indian” is less than apropos), you know it was a program for dads and their daughters to do all the cool stuff Girl Scouts got to do with their moms, except it was less cool. With my dad’s signature blend of “We’re NOT lost in the woods,” and providing cold hot dogs for dinner each night, this sausage-fest left me all but confident we would make it out of camp alive. It was like our dads were living proof that Adult Toddler Syndrome really existed. Is anyone as shocked as I am that our moms actually encouraged us to go? And let’s cut to the chase, I just wanted to wear that adorable green A-line Girl Scout smock, the matching sash, and a beret that would make a French man weep green tears of envy. It was so unfair.
While I slept under the stars on the cold, hard ground in a Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag better suited for a six-year-old child, I thought about my Girl Scout counterparts. I thought about how they must be sitting in Chelsea’s living room at that very moment, braiding each others’ hair, eating cookie dough. I was sure they were also practicing their knitting skills, and learning how to remove debris from their eyeballs with one very skillful sweep of an eyelid. And I was positive they were wearing those adorable A-line smocks while I sat there in the wet, muddy jeans my mom got on sale at Miller’s Outpost. While they were painting pet rocks and coming up with charming names for them, I sat there shivering next to a poorly lit Coleman lantern and a dirty canteen, and Kimmy Keaner snored like a hibernating bear.
I wanted to be this:
(Photo credit: Girls Scouts of America)
But instead I was this:
(Photo credit: Google Images)
I finally decided to bid farewell to the Y Indian Princesses my fourth year when Kimmy Keaner’s dad proudly announced at camp breakfast he was changing his Indian name from Running Wolf to Dances with Wolves. The Kevin Costner reference… I just couldn’t. Still, to this day, I regret never being able to participate in the Girl Scouts. On the bright side, I found this really cute Halloween costume for this coming year. What do you think?
Katy My Lady
(Photo credit: MTV)