Finally Signed My Kids Up for Summer Camp

May 6, 2013

A short excerpt from the Camp Fail S’More Spring Brochure

Parents, do you live in dread of raising spoiled, whining, coddled brats like those insufferable tennis-champion Cogburn twins down the block? Are you worried that your children will graduate from college only to buckle at the least whiff of challenge and come running to you for health insurance, like Sam Flatley’s kid?  Is America’s obsession with success threatening to turn your children into excuse-making losers?

Do questions like these make you feel negligent, guilty, and self-righteous all at the same time?

If so, you are in luck, for you have discovered Camp Fail-S’More, the camp designed around the newly discovered old school truism that a tincture of failure is necessary for success. If your child’s school has been building her confidence too assiduously, send her to us for a summer of unabated abject failures that will infuse Little Miss Candypants with the life-altering power of that “Grit” thing everybody keeps talking about at cocktail parties.

Why, you ask? As experts have blogged, New Research has utterly disproved the Old Research.  The Old Research, which everyone believed between 1983 and last week, demonstrated the importance of building children’s self-esteem through attention to their feelings and needs.  But now, parents everywhere are shocked to discover that they have raised a nation of whining ingrates with this well-meaning, utterly discredited approach to parenting.

So bring on the character-building chagrin!  Your child’s date with defeat begins the moment she boards our smelly, rickety old Camp Fail S’More bus at Gate 47 at Port Authority. For six long weeks, we guarantee that your child will be confronted with pointless challenge and inevitable loss.

Each child is assigned to a daily “Don Quixote” morning activity to build persistence by thwarting his or her strengths, learning styles, and interests. Successful physics students will push large boulders up Sisyphus Hill (no levers allowed!) while talented athletes spend their days playing Solitaire with a deck of cards missing all the “3’s.”  Budding naturalists can languish in a photography darkroom with no developing fluid, while hearty swimmers make crafts out of glue and macaroni, followed by critique by bitter assistant professors recently denied tenure from the Rhode Island School of Design.  

What is childhood without some bumps and bruises? At Camp Fail-S’More, our motto is Safety Kills (Children’s Ambitions.) When our maintenance staff determines that something around camp is likely to cause a hazard, they leave it exactly as it is.  You’ve heard of the Blessings of a Skinned Knee: just imagine the blessings of a leg broken in two places!

While ordinary camps these days seek to help children build lifelong friendships around their campfires, our camp philosophy insures that any fleeting connection kindled in the crucible of your child’s repeated defeats will be crushed. Peevish feelings among campers are stoked with Mistrust Falls and a faulty belay system at the rock-climbing wall.

Outward Bound’s life-changing expeditions start at $1,200 a week; Camp Fail-S’More’s version is more affordable and more strenuous.  For just a hundred bucks (and a special waiver), we will drop your child on a remote island with a baked potato and tell her we are leaving her there for a week. But the magic of the Fail S’More Solo Adventure is that we never return. All because your child needs to learn that, in real life, when you get dropped off at a remote island with a baked potato, nobody is coming to get you.

Years of experience have helped us to develop our unique staffing policy. We hire counselors from a carefully selected pool of narcissistic, entitled college Queen Bees and Alpha Males who will spend the day mocking your child’s physical or emotional shortcomings when they are not sexting one another or drinking shots in the Staff Lounge.  Because nothing helps a child develop inner resources faster than the utter disregard of those who should care.

Speaking of role models, there’s the camp across the lake.  As far as your kids know, Camp Winnamuck is our sister camp, with a rivalry that has persisted for decades.  But in reality, this is where Nickelodeon trains its 30-year old actors to portray shockingly attractive and poised high school students. This camp exists solely to show the children of the world (including our campers) exactly what they are not, and never will be unless they grow a pair. Camp Fail S’ More campers paddle weekly across the lake in leaky canoes, using broken paddles, bailing miserably all the way. Exhausted by their journeys, they then play the much more talented hired guns from Winnamuck in games like Alamo Tag, Gallipoli Tetherball, and Light Brigade Capture the Flag. Handily defeated each time, our downtrodden campers head back to the Fail S’More shore, singing our camp songs, all of which resolve unsatisfyingly into a minor key.

And speaking of full-grown actors portraying high schoolers, don’t forget our most popular program, The Full Disney. Taking our cues from the heartwarming tales of plucky orphans like Bambi, Nemo, and Simba, we will withhold your letters and care packages from your child, gradually convincing him that you are probably dead and it is probably his fault.  Once your child is convinced of this harmless misunderstanding, he will be sent on a pointless errand through the wilderness, accompanied by a cartoon sidekick with the voice of a sassy African-American actor. Hilarity — and valuable life learning — will ensue.  

You may wonder, “Isn’t this exactly like the summer camps I attended myself?  Back in the bad old Lord of the Flies days when adults ignored us and we played cruel pranks on the losers?”  To which we say, “Yes!”  Except at Camp Fail S’More, everyone gets the gift of failure.  Just look at those dorks whose underwear you ran up the flagpole at Camp Chingacreek; now they are all running multimillion-dollar software companies!  How do you think that happened?

So, it’s up to you: overindulge your children towards their eventual ruin, or  sign them up for a summer with us.  Because, as we know, even orphans have a better chance in our success-driven society than those one-trick pony Cogburn twins!  Sure, they might win at tennis, but what will become of them once their knees give out?     

Camp Fail S’More: six weeks of failure, for a lifetime of success!

Lynn in Europe May 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Hilarious, Launa! Reminds me a little bit of our having signed up our youngest for “donkey camp” in the Alps south of Grenoble.

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