This week in Tablet magazine: 13 Signs You Attended Jewish Summer Camp in the ’80s. It’s getting a ton of hits. Because JEWISH SUMMER CAMP IN THE 80s. No-brainer.
I came up with 63 signs in about five minutes (what can I say, the topic resonated) and took a lot longer to edit it down to 21, and then my editor Wayne (seen here teaching Israeli dance at Camp Moshava in the ’70s) further whittled it down to 13. Behold, 9 that got cut:
1. We learned responsibility! We bussed plates in the chadar ochel (dining hall), wrote regular letters home (on Ziggy or Garfield stationery), applied our own sunscreen and participated in bunk nikayon (clean-up) every farshtunkiner day. If you went to Camp Ramah in New England, you chanted “ni-ka-yon, ni-ka-yon, we all hate ni-ka-yon!” to the tune of the prayer Mi Pi El. We may have been annoyed, but we cleaned up.
2. We passed around Flowers in the Attic and were simultaneously aroused and horrified.
3. Why was that baton-passing race called the “Apache Relay”?
4. Le Sportsac… before it was retro.
5. Slouch socks, Reebok high tops, oversized tees with denim minis, giant plastic hoop earrings, Swatches. Below, please examine the semiotics of this costume in the legendary 1986 production of Free to Be, You and Me at Camp Yavneh (in which I channeled Amy Poehler in Wet Hot American Summer) (that clip makes me laugh so hard things come out of my face). It’s the “Ladies first! Ladies first!” girl, rendered as a JAP (I know, I know).
6. We had inchoate fear of what might be under the surface of the Agam.
7. Cool girls wore lace gloves like Madonna to the edah dance. Klassy.
8. We communed with the Ouija Board and played “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” in the middle of the night, starting off all giggly and getting increasingly creeped out.
9. “This isn’t a hickey! I burned myself with the curling iron!”
The end. Unless your kids are in my kids’ edah.