sleepaway camp for adults

If I were to go to sleepaway camp today, I’d make a point of including wine into my nights and more sunblock into my days. Louis Armstrong music would be piped in over the loud speaker during shower hour. There’d need to be activities everyone at camp absolutely hated, aside from cleaning the bathrooms, just so we could bond in the misery of it. I’d want more water fights and later curfews. The food would be gourmet, with instructional classes that involved purees, puddings, and cooking en papillote. We’d learn how to construct the perfect tartin, uniform slices of apple with dabs of butter, a shower of cinnamon, and the soft fall of fresh minced rosemary. There’d be music with meals, and we’d all learn to slow down a little, to enjoy and savor, without the need to overindulge. We’d leave the meal sated, not stuffed, then grab our photography equipment and depart to a scenic town or hike or lake. We’d be moving, active, climbing hills, but we wouldn’t realize it because our attention would be directed on getting the shot, telling the story, capturing the gesture.

I think that’s the key to getting people who hate exercise to not mind it so much. Put the focus on something else. It’s why I think wii Fit is a socially responsible move on Nintendo’s part, even if it’s not suitable for kids and could damage their self-esteem. "Mummy, the machine just called me Pizza Hut." The wii might very well start being called the wah.



  1. You should check out Juniper Hills Farm for an overnight cooking retreat! Sounds right up your alley.

  2. Have a great time! I cannot wait to read it myself.
    I agree on the adult sleep away camp… sign me up.

  3. Nah. I'd rather do all the same stuff I did at the (non-fat) sleepaway camp I attended all those years ago. Canoe, ride horses, play badminton, shoot… all of it. I'd want to sing the goofy songs and sleep on a top bunk. I'd want to wake up to the old bell and stumble in the cold morning air to flag-raising.

    Adult stuff (gourmet cooking, photography, Louis Armstrong, etc.) I can do here in the adult world. If I was going back to summer camp, I'd want to go ALL the way back. Because I loved it.

  4. Stephanie, I think this is one of the points that you were driving toward during your (triumphant) book reading here in Miami last night. Hearing excerpts of your story, I thought that it seemed like the kids at "fat camp" could have benefited from learning how to savor life in exactly the way you describe here. The same cure probably could heal lots of ailments that we suffer as adults.

    Can't wait to delve into Moose. My sister and I thoroughly enjoyed the reading, and it was obvious from your lovely inscription and thoughtful comments that you were paying close attention to your readers while simultaneously entertaining us. Thanks for a lovely evening.

  5. The camp where I was a counsellor for many years celebrated its 80th anniversary a few summers ago. All former campers and counsellors were invited back for a w.e. & some opted to sleep there. Others (we) chose a near-by air-conditioned motel. But we ate in the messhall, sang all the old camp songs, used the athletic facilities, and generally recaptured our youth. There were some people in attendance who hadn't seen each other in 50! years. It was absolutely wonderful and we had a blast! One of the fellows, made the comment that in a million years he never would have dreamt that 40 years later he'd be eating breakfast in that same messhall with not one, but THREE (I was one of them.) of his former girlfriends!

    Three or four years prior to this all-camp celebration, with profound thanks to the internet, many of us reconnected and held our own two-day reunion in Florida where the former owners live. That engendered a vow that we wouldn't allow years to go by again without maintaining those friendships that only take place among campmates. We've stuck to that promise and I can say without equivocation that every single one of us has picked up where we left off as if time has stood still. We live all over the country but mainly on the east coast and have dinner together every few months, have been there for each other in good times and bad, and simply revel in the extraordinary friendship we are privileged to have.

  6. I've never tried the wii, but anything that motivates people to move is potentially a good thing. Potentially.

  7. Sounds great, but isn't that what beach houses are for? And don't you have one? Sounds like you need to rally your NY crew and head to RI. It's what I am doing this summer (except a different beach).

  8. We have Wii Fit, and I think the worst it does is indicate if you are obese, overweight, normal weight, underweight, etc., and it decides than based on BMI. Honestly, if a kid is actually obese, not doing anything about it (i.e. having both kids and parents stay in denial) is actually doing more harm than good. Plus, the game is smart in that you can opt not to find out what your weight is; it also lets you password-protect your Mii's file so no one else in the house can see your stats.

    I've found the "trainers" on the game to actually be really supportive and helpful, even if the female is totally coming on to my husband when he's doing push-ups. :)

  9. At my fantasy camp for adults, there'd also be trips to the nearby outlet malls, and as we got off the airconditioned bus, the "counselors" would hand out money for us to use, just like they did when I did Teen Tours through the Y on Long Island.

  10. I heart WiiFit. I sweat for a full half hour and have a great time in the process! I don't even care if it calls me fat. Hell, I call me fat! :0)

  11. What a wonderful post! My adult camp would also have Grey's Anatomy and Samantha Who? marathons.

    Just ordered MOOSE!

  12. What a wonderful idea! I love your blog and think there should be a blog writing camp. S'mores and inner truths.

    Loving MOOSE!

  13. Beautiful! I want to go. Maybe if you get tired of writing books one day, that should be your next venture.

    FYI, I think you misused the word 'tartin.' Unless that's a slang term you've heard for a tarte tatin, the classic French apple tart. I've just never heard it conjugated like that.

  14. My sleepaway grown-up camp would include champagne at all times. No need for any other beverage.

    I'm in the throes of Moose, and Stephanie – it's amazing. I'm totally hooked. Yesterday, I broke only long enough to see the SATC movie…BLISS!

    Then today, the pesky things like writing a paper for class, laundry, planting the vegetable garden, dishes, shopping and … oh, you know. So I work for an hour – then reward myself with 15 minutes of Moose. I'm just about to my next Moose break!

  15. I think WII Fit was a brilliant idea! For me excersize has to be fun, and I must admit, I never laughed so hard as I did last night trying to hula hoop. I just started reading moose -27 pages in and I love it. Thanks for being honest & frank, and letting us know we are not alone in our battles with the bulge. Can't wait until your book reading Wednesday night.

  16. I was so happy to meet you and attend your reading in Miami on Friday night! I'm about halfway through Moose and I can identify with a lot of the things you went through with your parents. Growing up, my parents always made remarks about what I was eating, and like in your household, we never had any junk in the house. I was pretty overweight as a child, but not to the extent that I was obese. It took me awhile to realize that my parents made those comments to me about food and weight out of love…..its hard to explain that to people who didn't deal with weight/food issues growing up. Obesity runs in my family and I think my parents didn't want me to grow up hating myself or being ridiculed. I'm glad you wrote Moose….I told my mom about it and she wants to read it when I'm done. I think she would relate to your mother a lot too.

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