Monday, August 1, 2011

Girls Camp

Back in my day, Stake Girls Camp* consisted of a week spent in uber-rural Idaho, sleeping in a floorless Army tent, digging latrines, torrential downpour, the constant fear of rattle snakes and Giardia, and the knowledge that if I started my period I would instantly become bear bait (rumor had it they could smell blood from 50 miles away and delighted in teenage menstruation).  It also meant endless rounds of camp songs about scab sandwiches and four days without a shower.  It was pretty much an 1800's work camp with a cheesy theme that was somehow suppose to bring me closer to God and increase my testimony*.

Fortunately, my down-to-earth and somewhat rebellious mother was in charge of the Annis Ward* during my first year of Girls Camp.  The theme that year was "Bring the World His Truth" and every ward* was assigned a country as their mascot.  We were Germany (West Germany to be exact because this was during the pre post-wall era).  This was a dream come true for my mother, whose maiden name is Pabst.  She spent weeks constructing a four foot wind chime out of empty beer cans and teaching us her favorite German beer drinking song (because that's appropriate for a camp sponsored by the Mormons).  Needless to say, that was the last year they left my mother in charge.

My Minnesota bestie, Miss Natalie, was somehow suckered into being an Assistant Stake Camp Director; meaning she's spent the last 6 months in ridiculously long meetings planning Girls Camp for over 100 teenage Mormon girls and their "we hate to camp" leaders.  Natalie is also a social leper...a really smart and successful business oriented social leper, who leads million dollar projects for a major US corporation but is obviously unqualified to be a successful Girls Camp leader because she has never pushed a kid out of her vag or been a stay-at-home mom...the two most important things a Mormon woman can have on her resume.  What a nightmare.

So I really couldn't say no when Natalie asked me to come to camp as the "Assistant Craft Leader" when the reality was she didn't want to face a week of belittlement alone.  So off to camp I went...


Girls Camp in Minnesota was like Camp Beverly Hills.  There were no latrines to dig (because they had real flushing toilets), no rattlesnakes, no bears, no Giardia and someone did most of the cooking!  The girls had professionally made tshirts, hiked on a paved trail, had craft and free time every day, and earned rewards for showing up on time (and we wonder what is wrong with the world).   And sure enough I saw first hand the belittling of Natalie by the other leaders.

What the camp didn't skip was the supposed faith-inspiring theme: "Live Like You Believe", round after round after round of irritating camp songs (not a single cool Turkey Vomit song in the bunch), and my favorite part, the nightly gathering for faith promoting lectures and skits.

The highlight of my week, other than stealing a canoe and taking it for a spin long after official camp hours, was the night the girls had do to a skit about "virtue".  Wowza.  If I thought we were setting our youth up for a life of judgmental failure before, I can wholeheartedly testify that there is a HUGE difference between educating and encouraging religious rules and principles and totally warping and instilling a completely bogus reality.  Case in point:

One ward* had 1/2 of their girls dressed up as "hoodlums" a.k.a. dressed all in black (that color has been stereotyped to death) and the other 1/2 of the girls in their modest camp capris and "Live Like You Believe" shirts.  Then there was one impressionable soul who was bantering back and forth between the two.  The plot evolved around the impressionable being convinced to drink some coffee...and then murder someone in the next scene.

It was at that point that I started giggling and received an onslaught of visual daggers from the leaders around me.

I turned to Natalie and said, "Whoa!  That's a huge stretch.  Coffee is NOT a gateway to murder", pause..."I mean, everyone knows it's the gateway to prostitution". 

Natalie laughed out loud...which produced a whole new round of visual daggers.

I'm pretty sure it's my lack of children and stay-at-home-mom skills that totally clouds my ability to see the connection between the world's favorite caffeinated beverage and a life of crime; just like lack of children and stay-at-home-mom skills is the cause of Natalie's camp leader incompetence.

I fear for the future of our youth.  My heart aches that they are being set up to live a life of miss-judgements and assumptions just like I was.  I thank God on a daily basis I was blessed to be raised by a mother who attempted to bring some grey into a culture lived on a black and white spectrum...one beer can at camp at a time.  


I'm praying they ask me to be the Assistant Stake Girl's Camp Director next year...so I can suggest that the theme be, "Don't be a Pretentious Ass Hole", preach alternative lifestyles (a.k.a. how to be single in the LDS church and still be valued as an equal), and teach those girls who to dig a latrine...because if you're going to survive in the LDS culture ya' gotta' know where to put all of the crap.

20 comments:

Dave said...

I literally laughed out loud at the "gateway to prostitution" comment. My work cover has officially been blown!

The Book Goddess said...

You are one of my favorite people on earth. Just sayin'! Oh, and I didn't remember the wind chime, but definitely remember the camp songs and pretty much everything else! Good times.

Kate said...

A few weeks ago, when my step-daughter (a practicing Mormon) was fighting with us (non-practicing Mormons) and she was crying hysterically because we had dared ground her from her phone for misbehaving, she burst out with, "You embarrass me! You drink coffee in front of my friends!" Reading this blog, I now understand her concern: obviously we are on our way to being mass murderers and she was hoping to save us from that horrible fate. Thank you, Coffee Slut!

Jess said...

Oh hahaha.. Girl's camp! Tortuous memories!!

Lovelyn said...

I just found this blog and I have to say it is hilarious.

When my father started drinking coffee I told my mother to hide all the knives in the house because we all knew what would come next.

Carrie said...

Lovelyn...I hope the knives were securely locked away and that no one died as a result of the "prostitution juice". We live in dangerous times, and it starts when the "best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup".

Emily said...

Oh, those hideous, smelly army tents! The crazy gopher-gut songs were the best! But really, coffee as the gateway to murder or prostitution? Puh-leez... At its worst, maybe a gateway to guiness... What are these girls being set up for? No wonder I was so warped when I left Idaho...

Emily said...

One final thought...it doesn't take pushing out a kid to be uptight, and you're not necessarily cool just because you haven't. It's perfectly fine to be a laid-back, fun, funny mom.

Becky..AMHW said...

I got into trouble for taking a very quick spongebath alone in a very modest zipped to the neck tent at girl's camp. Sorry, my dad lent us the tent...my tent, my rules.

Natalie said...

hahaha... I should have known you'd blog about girls camp! Thanks for being my single wing woman. Camp wouldn't have been the same.

Armelle said...

You're hysterical and your Mom is the best. Mormon Girl Camp SO much like my Catholic Girl Scout camps back in the days. Digging latrines was not the worst, if I remeber well, it was to fill them up at the end of the camp...

Anonymous said...

Oh those good ole girl camp memories. Thanks for bringing back the nightmares.

Also,
Coffee to murder.......I feel I'm a "good Mormon". Will I make it to the murder point if I drink iced coffee? It's not a "hot" drink. -- Kay

Anonymous said...

You are the best.... Did I ever tell you how we emptied the cans????? love the mormon mom from Hell

Angenette said...

This reminds me of an FHE I went to once in singles ward where the lesson was not falling into temptation around us. The chic teaching the lesson said, near the end, "If we do these things, then we can be strong when those around us aren't. We can resist drinking caffeine and watching rated R movies and... um ... I can't think of any other ways to commit sin..."
And she was being totally serious.
Not sure, but I think that was my last FHE in that ward.

mama t said...

oh my god. that is fantastic. and i have nothing else to say. oh, wait, one more thing: i drink 3 cups of coffee a day. what does that say about me?

Thursday said...

Just thinking about girls camp makes me nauseated. Coffee as the gateway to murder--priceless.

Joe said...

After my mission, i had doubts, then one day a friend conned me into going to a singles ward so that she "wouldn't have to go alone". (BS) And I found the fire-and-brimstone about becoming menaces to society overwhelming and snuck out of Sac Mtg and lingered toward the classrooms. A door being open to the YW room, I found a display with a cracked vase and posterboard that read; "Your virtue is like a beautiful vase, once cracked, it will never be uncracked, again."

I laughed hysterically. Then, my friend found me - apparently she wasn't enjoying the service, either - and asked what I was looking at. I knew she was not a virgin and had repented and so i showed her the teacing aide and asked her how wrong that was. She answered that she didn't see it as wrong at all. That she had experienced that, first-hand.

I'm sorry, but my two daughters, free as they are to grow up Mormon if they like, will hear their father teach them that no one has the right to make them feel ashamed for the rest of their lives because their reproductive organs have been symbolically "cracked" by fleeting error in judgement.

I have to believe LDS women can choose not to believe that their most prized value is between their hips. Believe me, we guys were not raised to think of our "virtue" in such a way. That's something they ONLY teach the girls and it's sick.

Anonymous said...

Carrie,
I LOVE reading your blog. I have been a fan for over a year now and check it almost every day. The only problem I see is you can't write fast enough. With your tude (attitude, that is)I believe we had to be sisters in the previous life.

Thank you for making me laugh.
--Kay

Anonymous said...

So, I'm googling for images of a tattoo I wanna get and land across your blog. After the first paragraph I'm like, "fuck yea". And the fuck yeas just continue. Fuck yea. Sometimes I think the crazy people / normal people ratio is closer to one than we think. But, then there are threads like this: http://online.wsj.com/community/groups/religion-diversity-tolerance-governance/topics/do-we-need-religion-have. I always wonder which side of the equation I'm on; maybe that's a self-confidence thing.
Fuck minus the yea to them, fuck to the yea for your blog.

Anonymous said...

Can I get a hell to the yeah! I'm a convert...was a partying, bastard daughter, sailor-on-leave vocabulary, dated before 16, coffee-drinking, staying out after midnight **oh no I'll corrupt your posterity** kinda convert. Girls camp was equivalent to sliding down a banister...turned into a razor blade, landed into a pool of alcohol experience...and I'm not talking about the horrible diarrhea from Salmonella...thanks to the idiot that cut the tomatoes with the same knife she cut the raw chicken! Paint that pretty picture. The camp songs, the warm and fuzzy testimony meetings...hard to find a place in all of that when no one else can possibly relate to you. I could have taught them 99 bottles of beer for a camp song..or lessons on how to hold your head above the toilet properly while vomiting so you don't get back splash and puke chunks in your hair! Sinners aren't lepers, some of us have some really, really good stories. LOL, coffee won't lead to murder, just lots of energy and regular bowel movements (according to my mother)....maybe that's what I need to get all my scrap booking done! I CAN say the camp counselors had our best interests at heart, even if their hearts were a little misguided. THANK HEAVENS I had a STRONG testimony and resilience or I would have hit the road screaming and running after being pent up with Molly Mormon and Lottie Latter-Day Saint for a week. Been a member now 22 years, Temple marriage, 3 beautiful children and still going strong. I consider myself lucky. I have the best of both worlds. No bubble for me. Lived and learned in the real world then made a choice to follow my heart and join the Church. Never looked back.