The Best Summer Of Your Life
by: Max Burbank

Hey, hi, I am so glad you're all finally here. In just three days the kids will be here, so I suggest you enjoy the beautiful peace and quiet while you can. If you came up in your own car up that's great, good for your days off and really useful for mail runs into town, the occasional emergency room run or whatever, so make sure I have your registrations and licenses and keys so I can lock 'em up in the office safe where none of the kids or other staff can 'borrow' them. If you came up on the bus, I just wanna say I'm sorry about the bathroom, but you know, if you have them unlocked, the company charges me extra and I didn't wanna add that on to, you know, the bus fee I deducted from your end of summer pay out. And Stewart, I saw you had your Mom drop you off here, and that's... you know... whatever.

So to start, in all friendship, I wanna say welcome to Camp Silver Lake for the Arts, and the best summer of your entire life. I know John, Dylan, Stovepipe, Mister Waterfront himself over there, Old Lax Dave and some of the other lifers will tell you, none of you are ever gonna have a more rewarding job than summer camp counselor. I know I didn't when I was a counselor and my Dad ran this place, and now that he's kind of stepped back to enjoy his golden years and sort of passed the reins to me, it's even more rewarding. So I guess when I said you would never have a more rewarding job, I was talking about you guys, not me. But that's my job, not yours, and if you run into my Dad at any point and he says otherwise, just let me know, 'cause the Doctor says he's not supposed to get out of bed or be around kids at all at this point, just for legal reasons.

So anyways, for the majority of you for whom this is your first summer here I need to go over some stuff, and for the rest of you, if you could just shut up so I can hear myself think. If you can't, go now, because in all friendship I've heard every wise ass joke you're gonna make during this talk and it's not like they were funny the last six years. If guys your age still have to take seasonal work like this you should be glad as hell I give it to you, no offense.

First of all I gotta address the fact that a little birdy told me that Stovepipe may have said something to all of you who took the bus up to the effect that all of the kids here are Jews. Nothing could be further from the truth, not that if it was, that should be a problem for anybody, but in case you're wondering if this is one of those religion camps that prepares you for life on a Kibbutz, it is not. There are plenty of other camps that do that and there is nothing wrong with them, but that is not the market we are in. I don't even know the Jew count, and I shouldn't because it's none of my business. My guess, though, is that easily a fifth of these kids are gentiles. God knows the Abezi kids are not Jews, which goes to show that a camp might feature a pork free menu for any number of reasons. Look, the point is, you open an arts camp in upstate New York, what the hell do you think it's gonna fill up with? No offense to Stovepipe who is an excellent chef and can make six pounds of ground meat serve a hundred and forty eight kids and staff, but, and I think Dylan and Dave will back me up on this, his sense of humor is a little different on account of the plate in his skull, so you don't have to listen to every word he says about the kids. We all love you, Stovepipe. You're a camp legend. Sit down.

As it happens, I myself am a Jew. Just don't nose that around on your days off 'cause it's never really come up in town and we're way the hell out in the middle of nowhere. Winter lasts a very long time up here, they get like three hours of daylight and do nothing but drink, go to church, snowmobile on the lake and share unpleasant theories around the wood stove. Which leads to another point, contrary to what you may hear in town this is not a summer program for mentally disturbed kids. It's a summer camp for the arts for the non-sporty kid. And that means, yes, there are a fair number of kids here who could be described as mentally disturbed if you want to be cruel. There's a lotta fat kids here, too and this isn't a fat camp. Jesus, more than half these kids have inhalers, does that make this an Asthma camp? It does not. Also, this is not a make out camp. These kids are sophisticated, many from broken homes, what I'm saying is you put 'em out in the country for eight weeks, no TV, no internet, no cell phone, you take your eyes of them for six seconds they're doing stuff a rabbit would be ashamed to be caught doing. You see any of that, you turn a hose on 'em. One little pregnancy can put a camp out of business. You think I'm kidding? There were more pregnancies in the summer camp industry last year than water skiing accidents, and there were a lot of water skiing accidents. I'm looking at you, Dave, on both counts.

Okay, so what have I covered? Not a Jew camp, not a disturbed kids camp, not a fat camp, not a make out camp... Oh! Right! I want to stress, and this is not just my rules, it is state and federal law, you absolutely cannot under any circumstances smack any of these kids around. You cannot lay so much as a finger on them. And if you don't think there are going to be times you want to more than you have ever wanted anything in your life, than you have never had to share room with more than a dozen seven to fifteen year old mentally disturbed fat kids. Ironically, while it is against the rules, it is not against the law for them to hit you. You think asthmatic Jewish kids don't hit? I'm here to tell you they do, very hard, often from behind, frequently in the dark. Also sometimes biting. The Abezi kids I happen to know for a fact in their own country have more than once killed servants, and here they have diplomatic immunity. If I have learned one thing in this business it is that you can be friendly with the kids, but you cannot be their friends. The same goes for me and you all, no offense, that's just the way it is, something I have learned from bitter experience. Ask Dave. I practically grew up with the guy. We went here as kids. Did that stop him from driving my ski boat up on the lawn during parents weekend last summer? It did not. Why is he here again this summer? Because it's good for my bottom line to have guys who'll work for room and board, which some people have to take and like on account of regular work being so hard to come by for ex convicts and other camp owners not being eager to hire on middle aged alcoholics as waterfront directors. You wanna make friends this summer? I'll letcha do dump runs, the place is full of garbage eating bears who are at least up front about the fact that they are animals and would much rather paw through old tires, broken bottles and diapers looking for rotting leftovers than do an honest god damn days work. Did I say anything about gay kids yet? Officially we don't have any, as officially that's not something kids know about themselves one way or another at this age, which is officially bullshit. What I am saying is, this is a summer camp that advertises its theater program. Stage Door Manner maybe has more gay kids than us. I bring this up not out of any prejudice, but because one of the first major events of the summer is the Fourth of July parade through town, which can be a lot of fun, but as counselors I need you to be on top of what some of your more sophisticated New York kids who choose a camp that advertises it's theater program think is normal in terms of parade behavior and remind you again about the very long winter the local population go through, several of whom have less than a fourth grade education and I have seen with my own eyes buying their lunch at the bait and tackle shop. All I mean is, a word to the wise, in all friendship, it is just in your best interest to make sure these kids keep it under their hats.

So, what else? You get one period off a day, one day off a week, no days off the first and last week and the week of parents weekend. Head Counselor Ira Goldblatt will come up with a schedule and one week from now each and every one of you will come to him asking for your period and day off to be changed so you can have the same ones as whoever you have shacked up with by then. I'll tell you now, forget it, because A, it takes everything Ira has in the brains department to do this even once, and B, by the time your first day off comes around you'll be well into an inevitable round robin of sleep deprived sexual partnering that a few years from now you'll look back on with either nostalgia or deep shame depending on the kind of person you turn out to be, which is as good a time as any to tell you that Stovepipe has genital herpes. Sorry, Stovepipe, but my lawyer made me absolutely promise to say that the first opportunity I got. Sit down.

Okay, with that I wanna say check yourself religiously for ticks, and if you are sleeping in Boys bunks two or three or any of the girls bunks do not under any circumstances use the plumbing until I get someone in there, which I sincerely hope is sometime tomorrow, but again, we are just about in the middle of nowhere. Meeting adjourned.

If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out:

The Very Last Summer Vacation Ever!

Reader Comments

Certified Meat-shield
Jul 30th, 2008, 03:56 AM
Wow.....strange.Also first.
after enough bourbon ...
Jul 30th, 2008, 05:09 AM
The "Ad's by Google" on the right-hand side of this piece include a "Fat Camp", a "Kosher Camp" and a "Computer Camp" (perhaps for asthmatics?), all conveniently in my geographical area. Thank you, Max for indirectly bringing these concepts to my laptop.
Retardedly Handsome
Jul 30th, 2008, 10:01 AM
I have "H2O Polo camp in Pardise", "Septien Summer Music Camp", and "Summer Camp Outsoucing" (we really are sending everything over seas).

Great piece Max. I think they used to take those kids on busses down to Northern PA where I grew up. You're right they would pretty much get of the bus and it would turn into a 1960's teenage orgy. The girls were easy pickin's though.
Retardedly Handsome
Jul 30th, 2008, 10:02 AM
Camp Galil - Bucks Co. PA
Jewish Camp Modeled on Kibbutz 2, 3, 4 & 7 week sessions. Kosher.

This popped up when I posted.
Jul 30th, 2008, 10:15 AM
Hahahaha! Seriously, in all friendship, you give me hope for the future of internet comedy.
frappez le cochon rouge
Jul 30th, 2008, 12:02 PM
Pregnancy & Water Skiing Accidents, nice.
Just this guy, you know?
Jul 30th, 2008, 01:34 PM
Ha -- I worked in a summer camp in Northeast PA for a few years, and have to say -- yeah, you're pretty much right on with this article here.

Always love your stuff Max!
Forum Virgin
Jul 30th, 2008, 01:36 PM
As a former camper at Camp Silver Lake for the Arts, I'm shocked and appaled s at the mockery of the seriousness of being a counselor at this fine institution. Just be glad I didn't come out pregnant and tarnish the camp's reputation.
The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
Jul 30th, 2008, 01:41 PM
Okay, Penguin lover, fess up. Are you one of my old campers?
Forum Virgin
Jul 30th, 2008, 02:48 PM
Why, I don't know what would implicate me? Could it be my knowledge of the horrific swim test requirement, endless amount of dance recitals, or that smell of the horses over by the sports fields?
The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
Jul 30th, 2008, 06:05 PM
that could be any camp
The Magnificent Bastard
Jul 30th, 2008, 08:05 PM
This article makes me wish I went to camp.

But, it also really really makes me want to be a counselor!
Forum Virgin
Jul 30th, 2008, 10:17 PM
Perhaps I can give the Townie perspective since I grew up near such a camp in the great state of New York. While never outwardly mean or rascist, we oft wondered what strange, mystical things went on "up the jew-camp". Now I know, thanks max.
grants but one wish
Jul 31st, 2008, 06:00 AM
haha, ahh the stories i could tell you all about the various hikes and camps ive done, good times all of them... and a superb effort as usual max
Forum Virgin
Jul 31st, 2008, 10:06 AM
The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
Jul 31st, 2008, 02:36 PM
Okay, so penguin lover has used a secret password which reveals he or she knows me from a previous life.

Which is fine.

Because I was always as carefree with the truth as I am now.

So pm me or get in touch some other way or even unmask here.
Greasy Bacon of Villany
Aug 3rd, 2008, 05:51 PM
Fitness Camp for Girls and Camp Young Judea Midwest. Also Teen Acting Camp and Girls Sleep Away Camp. That is all.
Forum Virgin
Aug 9th, 2008, 06:45 PM
"Okay, so penguin lover has used a secret password which reveals he or she knows me from a previous life."

I'm intrigued. Did penguin lover ever come forth?

I didn't know Max was actually a camp director. Read through the whole article thinking it was just a hypothetical sort of thing.
The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
Aug 9th, 2008, 10:24 PM
Not a director, just a long time counselor and teacher. Penguin Lover has not revealed his/her secret identity, but they must have been either a camper or colleague of mine.

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