It was a place of many firsts: the first time away from home, the first campfire and—for a few zillion kids—the first kiss. It began with the long trip on a school bus with puke-colored seats, and it ended with friendships that faded by fall but roared back the next summer. Ah, camp: the hot-weather ritual where cheesy singalongs, Popsicle-stick sculptures and swimsuit wedgies were totally awesome, at least until August.
If you're already feeling nostalgic, a quirky new book called "Camp Camp" is a "love letter" to the whole experience, say authors Roger Bennett and Jules Shell. The glossy book is stuffed with 301 pages—whittled down from thousands of submissions—of Polaroid snapshots, mess-hall memories, packing lists and diary entries from former campers whose recollections are so vivid you can practically smell the pine cones. Best are the tales of first-day jitters, the inevitable first-night homesick sniffles and, of course, the clumsy preteen sexuality: the purity tests, the bra-size competitions and the endless debates about what really constitutes going to second base. In one entry, a once chubby camper waxes about the girls he got to "actually French me at the Saturday night social."
"Camp Camp" is tapping into a larger yearning to revisit those days of cabin fever. There are hundreds of camp alumni groups on Facebook, and a Web site, CampAlumni, has built a business on re-uniting old buddies. The Web page for "Camp Camp," meanwhile, has become a mini-encyclopedia of bunk brothers and counselor crushes. "There's a vast army of former campers out there who are still braced for a color war at any moment," says Bennett. How about right now?