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What does Boymeat and Gene Kaplan have in common?

We're both Jews with potentially big hair? We both dabble in poker? We both grew up in NYC? We're both respected yet mocked often? Ha ha! Good guesses!

We both spent the summers of our youth at:

Camp Sussex, located in Sussex, NJ, was where I spent a good amount of time - I think 7 consecutive summers starting from the age of 6 or 7. It was a camp specially designed for low-income families - they subsidized camp entries through various donations from businesses and individuals. It was the only way my parents could afford to give me lengthly summer vacations when I was young.

Every year, I would show up to the camp, crying my eyes out. Not wanting to leave my parents, my home, my friends, my bike, etc. Every damn year. And then, when it came time to leave, I would cry for my last 3 days at camp, not wanting to leave the counselors, my friends, the lake, the beautiful trees, and grass.

Because this was a low-income camp, all kids had to wear camp-provided clothing. Blue shorts, and white t-shirts, with or without logos, seen above. I looked just like that, every day. The man in the dark blue shirt on the upper right is Mike. He was a part of a great Sussex family, his two brothers, and his sister Nancy (more on her later) worked at the camp as counselors. A little digging reveals that Mike has since won a Silver Medal at the Gay Games in 1994. How cool is that?!

This was the camp where I had my first kiss - Wendy. She and I started to hang out towards the middle of the camp session. We got "married" at the Fair, with lovely bended metal coated with colorful plastic as rings. I never took it off that summer. We adopted a younger kid, who's name I completely can't remember, as our son. He was a really cool dude, about 3 years younger than me. I remember him shocking the hell out of me when I went to visit him outside his cabin down the path from mine... "Hey Phil, look at how big it is!" And down went his shorts. The little black kid had a dick 4 times my size, at 3 years younger than me. I walked back to my own cabin sheepishly.

Here is a not-so-great photo of our lake.

The lake served as a combination swimming pool/boating spot. The buildings you see in the far distance was the camp across the lake - it was completely deserted back then, with some burned down cabins. Of course, the story went that a counselor went crazy, and burned the camp, killing all the kids. Then he went into a rowboat, punctured a hole in the floor, and sunk, killing himself by drowning. That boat was on the upper right of the photo, sunk next to the trees. We were terrified out of our wits from stories on how every summer he rises to eat a Camp Sussex camper now and then.

Wendy and I had our first kiss in a rowboat on that lake. A rowboat being piloted by her older sister.

We had our second and third kiss there, too.

I saw her one last time after that summer... she lived on Staten Island, right next door to a Wendy's. Her chihuahua bit my ankle. I punted him across the room - Wendy wasn't very happy with me for that.

The woman on the left is Nancy. She tried to teach me, and the rest of the campers, to swim. She succeeded with just about all of the rest of my fellow campers. I didn't turn out that great... mostly because of the amazingly huge crush I had on her and how when she would hold me to assist with my floating, I would lose myself in her touch. *sigh*

This is Quentin. He and I befriended each other during one traumatic summer when my parents sent me to a different camp for a trial. That camp, who's name I have thankfully forgotten, was sponsored by the Knights of Pythias. Our Rabbi had suggested it, and I remember going up to the camp director one day and asking him if this was a camp for Jews. He turned to me with a scowl, and hissed out a "No." reply. When I read the Harry Potter, it was always that director's face I thought of when reading about the Slytherin.

Anyway, Quentin worked there as a counselor. He and I became friends, and he invited me to sleep over one night in his cabin. While he was away, I hid in my specially made bed in the middle of his cabin as all his campers proceed to pile up on top of each other and hump away at the person beneath them. I mean, they were stacked 4 to 5 high on some beds. I had to be at least 3 years younger than any of them, and just hid beneath my blanket until Quentin came back to rescue me from the great possibility of death through other people's puberty.

Quentin eventually got fed up with that shitty camp, and I suggested he come over to Camp Sussex. Throughout the year we talked, and he even visited me at home. I got to have him as a counselor once he came to Sussex, and I got away with complete murder that year.

I wish I had photos of some of the other characters, like Sergio, the counselor who wore nothing but bathrobes all the time. Or Tyrone, the big black man who sung the Oak Ridge Boys' Elvira at the top of his lungs whenever we was in the communal showers.

One thing that definetely struck me about Camp Sussex was the emphasis on the second syllable - sex. I mean, it was everywhere. Counselors were constantly sneaking out to fuck other counselors. Campers were always playing show-and-tell. Even during the great climax of each camp session, The Camp Olympics, sex was everywhere. We would have competitions of all sorts, and one of them was group singing of fun little camp ditties. Every year, there were songs about which counselor was caught with another. I didn't understand what I was singing then, but they were fun little ditties. "Her bologna has a first name... it's N-I-C-K-Y..."

To the two of you that made it to the end of this, thanks for taking the trip down memory lane with me. 


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 4th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
I sort of envy people who had this sort of experience when they were young. The whole being sent off as a kid to camp was always something that excited me. I never had the experience.

The closest thing was Govenor's Institute for the Arts when I was a Junior in High School and we stayed in college dorms. It was more like college than camp.

Maybe that's why I enjoy the whole "camp" experience when I go to LR.
I get to do what I always wanted to do as a kid. :)
(Deleted comment)
May. 4th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)
I couldn't find any photos of me on the website - thank god.
May. 4th, 2007 03:52 pm (UTC)
I really liked this one. :) I'm glad you had such nice experiences. :)
May. 4th, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
I know we spoke about this before...

I went to Camp Sussex too! I was there for 3 summers (always first wave).

We should have our own support group.

Lining up by the flag every morning. Those horrible showers. That stupid duck song. The lake, with biting turtles. The awesome nature trails. The Fair! I forgot about the Fair! How excited I was when I got moved up to the older group with the bigger cabins (oh that's right, I got to stay in the big ones down at the end of the girl's camp), sneaking out at night to do.. well.. all sorts of things. Not having to leave my cabin to do.. well.. the same sorts of things.. :)

You know, I never made it into that game room they had in the main office. I would rather do painting or swimming or something else besides board games. I think I looked into it once when I passed by..

Ugh, Camp Olympics. I remember a ditty too.. no idea what I was saying then, but now.. can't believe we got away with that stuff: To the tune of Biz Markie - Just a Friend

"Oh baby you.... got a diseaseeee
But you say it's just a rash...
But it's crawling up your ass..."
May. 4th, 2007 04:35 pm (UTC)
1993-1995, btw.
May. 4th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)
Did you know they shut down? In 2006. They're trying to reinvent themselves as a sports camp.

Still, sad.
May. 4th, 2007 04:47 pm (UTC)
I read that on the website after I saw your post. It is sad.
May. 4th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)
I love that we have this shared experience!

Now, the Olympics weren't that bad. I always loved the rope burn competition. That one rocked every year.

I should go scourer the website to see if there are any photos of you up there...
May. 4th, 2007 04:56 pm (UTC)
I was always on the back of the tug-of-war rope. My team never lost. :)

The Olympics were a lot of fun.

And HA! I already looked, no pics of me up there! (though I do have some in a showbox at home....)

I've forgotten which years I went to camp, and I called my mom just now. That needs its own LJ post.. writing it now.
May. 4th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC)
*howling with laughter*
May. 4th, 2007 05:44 pm (UTC)
Giddyap a boom bop a boom bop a maw maw
I LOVED that song when I was 5...

Hmmmm, it seems like you asked ALL the girls to marry you when you were younger....
May. 4th, 2007 06:43 pm (UTC)
I should SO spank you for that one.

With a hairbrush.
May. 5th, 2007 12:13 am (UTC)

May. 7th, 2007 03:31 pm (UTC)
*widens eyes cutely
May. 4th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
I made it to the end of this post.

I went to a theatre camp: musical theatre, sex, dramatic plays, sex, Stephen Sondheim, sex.
May. 4th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
And you thought only two people were going to read this all the way through. LOL

Silly Bear!
May. 4th, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
What a lovely reminiscence and a pleasure to read!
May. 4th, 2007 07:01 pm (UTC)
That was a great post, thanks. It totally reminded me of my own camp experience: lining up at the flag, rowboats on the lake, camp plays, lip sync nights, picnic table under the willow tree, hikes out to the Bear Caves or Rock Quarry, the smell of horses, Color War, strange friendships, first kisses, first other things. I had an amazing camp experience (I went from 1982-87 as a camper, then 88-93 as a counselor, then it closed) and I could go on and on, but I won't. I'll just say that the place shaped me in ways I don't think I'll ever totally realize. We called each other "camp family" - it was a really small camp (maybe 120 people total, some years) and people would go for years and years, so you really got to know everyone and it did feel like a family. I'm still in touch with several of those people today, including my friend Lisa, who I've known since I was eight. I own a piece of the camp now - just a couple of acres, with no house on it. I probably won't keep it, but I love knowing that I can go back anytime (even though I have to stay with my friends who live on the property, the former owner's daughter and her husband.)

anyway, thanks for giving me a reason to reminisce.
May. 4th, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC)
I never got to go to camp as a child.. I am totally bereft. I had to spend all summer long with nothing to do but tie up the neighbor children.
May. 5th, 2007 12:09 am (UTC)
Gee, and I thought it had something to do with both of you having been boytoys for John Travolta.
May. 5th, 2007 12:25 pm (UTC)
Aw so cute! I never got to go to sleep-away camp as a kid.
May. 6th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
Camp Sussex, located in Sussex, NJ

Never heard of it...the camp, not the town, which is quite familiar since it's less than 20 miles from where I grew up, and the location of my high school!
May. 22nd, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
Did you go to High Point?
May. 22nd, 2007 01:04 am (UTC)
May. 22nd, 2007 01:08 am (UTC)
Small world! My dad's an English teacher there and my sisters went there ('89 and 91 I think). The name Dolce ring a bell?
May. 22nd, 2007 01:40 am (UTC)
Yeah! Not too much more than ring a bell, but yes. :)
May. 22nd, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
I went to 4-H camp myself, the next town over, in Stokes. I'd never heard of Camp Sussex though. Sounds like it was a great program though!
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )