Never have I ever had I gone to sleep away camp, until the summer of my 7th year on earth. My biggest accomplishment to date (half joking, half completely serious) was being “Most Valuable Mite” on the Peakland Swim Team. I was a rockstar. Breaking my small town’s swim records left and right, and just being generally a total champ at swimming. I started swim team around age 5 (I think?) and soon realized I was obsessed. I was good at it, so it only made me want to swim more. I’m generally not a very competitive person, but with this, I was insane.
My cousin Jennifer and I decided two summers later to be super intense and go to swim camp. Not just any swim camp, Mary T Meagher Swim Camp. Anyone heard of her? Probably not, but she’s an Olympic swimmer and formed this camp at Bridgewater College.
We were SO excited, couldn’t wait to get away from the cares of home and swim it up for a week. My mom and aunt drove us to camp, a 3 or so hour drive filled with Whitney Houston songs blaring and stops at Cracker Barrel. We felt so mature, and wise, and accomplished. I distinctly remember arriving at the college, going to our room that we were sharing (a basic dorm room) and slowly…slowly…starting to freak out. My mom and aunt gave us huge hugs, cried (obviously), and left. Jen and I went back to our rooms, sad and scared, but ready for a week of fun and excitement.
Let me just tell you, swim camp is no joke. NO JOKE at all. We had to be up at 5:00 am, ready for a pep talk from Mary T Meagher herself at 6:00 am for about 30 mins, breakfast, then at least 3 hours of swimming. Next was lunch, cross training workouts (i.e. running and lifting weights), and then a small amount of time for rest. Then it was back to swimming, dinner, some lame activity, and bed. It was a nightmare. I have never been so sad, so homesick, and so tired in all my life. I have also never wracked up so many collect call charges to call home.
Jen and I were basket cases. We would literally fall asleep in the bottom bunk together, holding hands crying. We were uterlly exhausted and wanted to go home so bad. Our moms left us with a present to open each day. Great idea, but just made us weep even more.
The worst part of camp was the other campers. Sad, butI remember everyone being SO mean and SO competitive. One of the gifts my mom gave me included a huge package of Twizzlers. I was pumped because I love Twizzlers. One day after some crazy practice, I went back to my room and the Twizzlers were strewn about the room, cut up into a million pieces. What the heck? It is the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced. Things like that from other campers continued to happen throughout the week.
After four days of torture, 209430943094 calls home, and buckets of tears, my mom and grandmother finally broke down and came to camp. They didn’t take us home, but stayed to watch the “closing ceremonies” of the week and just be there for us. We were so happy. That last day was the best. We felt loved and no longer alone.
The next day, it was time to leave. We packed up the car, said goodbye to some of the weirdos we met, and headed down the road. I remember, clearly, both Jen and I saying “We can’t wait to go back next year!”. I know my mom wanted to punch me in the face.