You know where you learn to be a man? As in, how to truly fend for yourself out there in this cruel, postmodern world? How to live off nothing but dry Ramen and Cap’n Crunch, ride a horse, shoot a gun, and trick a girl into letting you stick your hand down her pants?
Not college. Not boarding school. Not even those extended road trips with the varsity lax team that always ended with some underclassman crying to Coach about the inordinate number of towel-whip welts he sustained over the weekend. You learn those skills at summer camp.
Sports camps, sleepover camps, fat kid camps, camps sponsored by the local church that fix gay kids: they’re all essentially the same. You may be there for some nominal reason (“to improve my backhand and develop a more aggressive and confident serve-and-volley game” I wrote, years ago, under the “objectives” section of my personal Nike Tennis Camp player packet); but really, you’re there to learn how to survive in the same non-chaperoned social scenarios that you’ll be confronting for the rest of your life.
It’s time to give credit where credit is due. Here are 10 lessons most bros probably learned at summer camp, whether they ever realized it or not:
1. How to Hide a NARB (No Apparent Reason Boner)
Man, what I would give for the old circulatory system to pump blood to my loins the way it did when I was twelve. I used to get fully torqued flipping through National Geographic. Now five whiskey sours renders me impotent and somewhat flaccid for at least the first 25 minutes of a blowjob.
My NARBs (No Apparent Reason Boners) were a source of constant anxiety back in the day. Luckily, I quickly learned such maneuvers as the waistband tuck and the “it’s perfectly normal to walk around brandishing a Trapper Keeper across my groin.”
2. How to Pack 10 Lbs. of Junk Food into a Bag That’s Already at Capacity
Because the soft-serve machine never gets powered up until lunchtime, and everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
3. How to Sneak Out of Your Room/Cabin/Lean-to Without Making a Sound
This is one you will continue to hone throughout your adolescence, and even into adulthood. But long before testing your old man’s patience or making a desperate dash out of some war-pig’s sorority house, you’ll test your Houdini skills on some Eagle scout camp counselor who has a total chub for Lake Weenamaka and the surrounding wilderness (“My15th straight year of attendance!” he says during the introduction, two thumbs held up in front of him).
4. How to Masturbate Without Waking Up Your Bunkmate
To quote virtuosic stand-up comedian Dave Attell: “Hey, what are you doing up there?” “I’m having an asthma attack ... now watch your eyes!”
5. How to Spit Game at a Girl a Head Taller Than You
Remember that awkward period from like fifth grade to seventh grade when half the girls in your class looked like Amazonia, at least relative to you and your scrawny, falsetto-voiced friends? I remember the shortest dude in my class used to pull double the tail of any of us; it wasn’t until years later that I finally realized this was probably because they had planned on eating him at some point. Anyway, this is probably a skill that you’ve fallen out of touch with in recent years, unless you’re a WNBA groupie.
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