What I Learned About Boys At Sleep-Away Camp Back In The Day

Sleep-away camp often ends up being one of the most memorable experiences of your childhood. These memories can span everything from making s’mores to canoeing to hanging out with boys and realizing they don’t all have cooties. A handful of wise women share their best stories about what they learned while in the great outdoors.

“I must say I learned a whole lot more about boys during sleep-away camps than I care to admit (or that my parents would have wanted). One lesson that has served me well through the years is not to trust a boy who utters the words, ‘Nobody will ever find out.’ For that matter, don’t do anything if ‘nobody is finding out’ is the criterion for deciding whether or not to do it!” – Kathleen Dougherty, Houston, Texas

“I learned that boys are as stupid at camp as they are at home, and they don’t understand that if you sneak a cigarette, you can’t put it under your cot when the counselor walks in your cabin. Because you’ll burn down the campground. Duh.” – Linda Johnson, Indianapolis, Indiana

“Never trust a guy that asks you to meet him in the middle of the night. He wants one thing and one thing only.” – Gwen Little, Tucson, Arizona

“I learned not to tell anyone if you have a thing for someone, unless you want to insinuate that you’re going to be hooking up sometime during camp. I never did get to meet up with the guy I liked at camp that year, but everyone assumed we had something going on because I vaguely mentioned he was cute to one of his buddies.” – Theresa Vaughn, Arlington, Virginia

“Even though it was a long time ago, I was disappointed to learn at camp that boys did not like girls with freckles! For some reason, boys thought freckles were ‘stupid’ and ‘ugly,’ and because I had no way to rid myself of freckles, it made me very self-conscious around boys. I made up for that, though, when I learned many boys could not bring themselves to bait a fish hook or take the darn fish off a hook if they caught ‘the big one!’ I loved doing both, and for me, it was a way to show off … freckles and all!” – Cathy Montville, Baldwinville, Massachusetts

“Boys are sometimes hard to figure out, but for some reason, we like them anyway. There’s no such thing as men, just grown-up boys.” – Kathleen Hill, Tampa, Florida

“Once we got a little older, the girls at camp seemed to enjoy sneaking out in the middle of the night to meet the boys, but I thought that was kind of immature on both parts. And a lot of those boys will never grow up; they will always be a little bit immature.” – Tonya Hillukka, Fargo, North Dakota

“I learned quite a bit, actually. One important point is that guys can be sweet, too. They aren’t all looking for a quick fling. I met a guy there and we became pen pals, which developed into much more once we were older. Starting the first summer I went to sleep-away camp until the day I graduated college (and we moved closer to each other), we sent letter after letter to each other talking about everything under the sun. He’s now my husband.” – Jenna French, Chicago, Illinois

“Stay far away from them or they’ll get you into trouble. Unfortunately, I only heeded the advice during camp.” – Shari Hill, Rochester, New York

“No matter how far away the camp for girls is from the one for the boys, at least one of the guys will try to sneak into the wrong camp. I went to sleep-away camp three times when I was younger, and it was the same scenario, but a different guy sneaking to some girl each time.” – Lynnette Rodriguez, San Francisco, California

“I never spent the entire time at camp as a child, but I did get to go on the special celebration days at the end. I noticed that after a week without parents and knowing they would soon go home, many of the boys were looking for a quick ‘camp girlfriend.’ I think it was so they could go home and say, ‘I got a girlfriend at camp,’ perhaps to look cool to their friends who didn’t get to go!” – Jolynne Hudnell, Athens, Ohio

“Feed them and they’re yours forever. Starve them and they’ll find another source of nourishment. That means their ego and their belly.” – Trina White, Englewood, Colorado

“They are amateurs, but I thought they were pros. They liked girls but showed it in some disgusting ways — slapping them on the back, pulling their hair, handing them a frog.” – Jan Corn, Midwest, Indiana