lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Life Lessons in the Small Print October 26, 2018

There are certain things people don’t remember to teach you. Like don’t put the lash glue on your eye, put it on the lashes. Turkeys and chickens are not the same. Don’t give birds soda.

All kinds of little life lessons we have to stumble through as a right of passage on our path to true competency.

One lesson I had to learn the hard way was about sunscreen.

I was probably fourteen, so still a respectable age to be this dumb, and I was going to the ocean on a summer camp trip. The plan was to spend the whole day on the beach, including a picnic lunch. We had been woken up at some ungodly hour to be put on a bus and had all fallen right back to sleep. The counselors woke us back up when we were about five minutes from the ocean and told us to put on our sun screen now, then take only our beach towels off the bus since they were taking care of water and lunch.

I was young and dumb and followed their instructions. I slathered on my sun screen, left everything but my towel behind, and as soon as the bus stopped I ran right for the ocean. I kicked my shoes off and dove right on in.

Sounds like an idyllic scene from a movie, right? (more…)

 

The Twiggy Tornado August 16, 2016

I’ve slept some very strange places in my day. I slept on the floor of a tour bus for a few months, airports the world over, lean-tos, and even a VW van at a youth hostel. But the worst, or maybe best if you’re searching the annals of your life for new blog material, is the time I built my own shelter out of sticks.

It was an overnight camping trip from my summer camp in Maine that I signed up for specially. In camp we stayed in nice cabins with toilets and showers and all the fancy things in life. But this overnight trip was going to be roughing it. Real hiking, building your own shelter to sleep in, and cooking over a campfire. Out of the whole camp only two girls signed up, but I was super stoked to prove that I was just as outdoorsy as any of those boys.

We left camp in a rickety, fifteen-passenger van that was probably not safe for children to be in and drove out to the wilderness. We found a place to pull off the road and hiked around a bit. I don’t think we were really supposed to be where we were. There we no markers for trails or a sign saying we could camp there. I think we were illegally squatting on someone’s land and the camp hadn’t cared enough to ask the counselors where they were taking us before we left camp.

Once we found our less-than-legal home for the night, the head counselor started teaching us how to build our emergency shelters. You had to use a big stick to make the top, lay smaller sticks against it to make the sides, and finally pack it in with leaves for insulation. A decent concept in an area where there are no deadly bugs or snakes that might have wanted those snuggly warm leaves for their own evening shelter.

We all built shelters and went to make our dinner over the fire. The counselors told us wonderful stories of survival before setting up the tents they were going to sleep in for the night. That’s right. They were going to sleep in tents. And they had graciously brought one extra in case any of us couldn’t hack it for the night.

Of course, all the boys immediately started going on and on about how that would be the girls’ tent ‘cause the two of us wouldn’t be able to make it through the night in our shelters.

That’s when it started to rain. (more…)

 

The Underage Drinker July 16, 2016

Besides the closeted boys and the heart broken geek, I think the saddest post-Bug Juice tale was of the underage drinker.

She seemed so nice and normal. The whole season on the show she had been the happy, positive one who was always cheering her friends on and having a great time. The next year she seemed to be the one who had known that everything that had happened on camera was fake from the start. She was still happy and goofy and seemed to be enjoying running around under the summer sun. No hint of the confusion, secrets, and disillusionment the others were facing. She even had parents who sent her awesome care packages. Really, really great care packages. With fancy bottled water in them.

But… it wasn’t bottled water. (more…)

 

Boys in the Bunk House July 11, 2016

So back to Bug Juice.

Along with the poor boy who found out that his summer lovin’ hadn’t really even liked him, there were those who were told they couldn’t be who they were at all.

This is a short but sad story. There’s too much I don’t know about it to write anything lengthy.

There were two boys who had been on the show. It seemed like they were good friends. When they got back to camp the next year, they still spent all their time together. Registering for all the same activities, skipping those activities together. (more…)

 

Bug Juice Bummer July 9, 2016

Remember a while back when I promised I would tell you all the stories from my time at the camp where bug juice was filmed. Sorry it took me so long. I got caught up in being green, but now we shall begin.

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         It’s not easy being green.

For those of you who didn’t have the Disney channel in the late 90’s, there was a reality show about a summer camp. It had the usual kid drama: crushes, ruined friendship, and competition for team captain. When I went to the camp the year after it was filmed, I thought those were the sorts of things I had in store. Nope. Totally wrong.

There was a fair amount of drama I had to deal with (I’ll tell you about that next time), but those bug juice kids were worse.

See, the producers manipulated the situation, as you would expect. They told the kids who to be friends with, who to dance, even what personality traits they should show off. I mean, sure, you expect that kind of thing from reality TV, but these were kids. Super impressionable, hormonal teenagers. So when they showed up to camp the next year expecting to see their friends or frienemies, they ended up meeting completely different people, and chaos ensued.

I think the saddest was the boy who thought he was going to see his camp girlfriend again. (more…)

 

The Way of the Water May 28, 2016

I’ve never had the best relationship with water sports. I mean, I love water, and swimming, and boating. But the water seems to hate me. Either that or it’s trying to tell me I’m actually Poseidon’s daughter and is trying to take me home.

There have been a few head injuries on boats and one true near death experience, but while people start heading to the lake for memorial day, the waterskiing incident seems most appropriate.

For three summers in my early teen years I went to camp Waziyatah. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because of the Disney summer camp reality show Bug Juice. I wasn’t there the filming year; I started going to next summer, but a lot of the kids were still coming to camp and damn did that show mess with their heads! I’ll tell you all about it sometime, but for now, back to our story.

I had never been waterskiing before. My family is much more into canoes than boats with motors, but all the cool kids had signed up for waterskiing, and, my being thirteen, I wanted to try it. I went down to the boat, lifejacket strapped on, expecting a super intense lesson before we really hit the water. Nope. (more…)

 

Revenge is Wet July 26, 2014

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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I’m not usually an angry person.  I’m not the most couth, but it takes a bit to make me seek revenge. And when I do, it’s usually in an entertaining way. I think I may have watched too much of The Parent Trap when I was little. Or maybe I just had an overactive imagination. Either way, sticking my tongue out was never good enough for me.

When I was going to an eight week summer camp in Maine (and no, my parents weren’t that rich. My mother worked for the camp), there was a special trip in the middle of the two four-week sessions. It was supposed to be an added perk for the kids who stayed the whole time. I think it was really a plot to give the counselors some time off and the cleaning crews a chance to make sure no one had lice or bedbugs in their mattresses.

One year, we went on a special camping trip, during which the main event was hiking up a “mountain” and canoeing back down. There are a few stories from that ill-fated weekend, but this story is about crush boy. (more…)