Notes on Camp

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

I never attended summer camp, but from reading Notes on Camp, by Kay S. Hymowitz, I think I can conclude that things have changed:

One steamy night last July, while sitting at my desk in Brooklyn, I got a phone call from the head counselor of my daughter’s camp in the Adirondacks. “Anna’s fine,” he assured me immediately, “but there’s been an incident.” During an overnight canoe trip, he continued, a 15-year-old girl from her cabin had downed a vial of the antidepressant Wellbutrin, left the lean-to where eight other campers were in their sleeping bags, and drowned in the shallow water of the lake. The counselor put my distraught child on the phone, and she chokingly told of a night far worse even than what he had described. Four other girls had also popped some pills: two of them had spent the night hallucinating; the two who were still lucid screamed threats when several girls in the next lean-to, including Anna, wanted to call a counselor for help. Three girls woke at dawn and stumbled upon the corpse facedown on the muddy beach. To cap the experience, the girls spent the next morning making a statement to a state trooper.

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