Pointless amusement

7 things you can do in Brooklyn that you can’t do at Canadian summer camp

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 2.01.14 PM
They say Brooklyn is like summer camp but it’s actually way better.  via  @gabriellaregina / IG

Even amidst the ghastlier headlines in the news these days, you can wipe the sweat from your brow knowing that you decided to live in Brooklyn: land of progressives, personal freedoms and Pokémon bar crawls.

And these are just a few items on a long laundry list of small pleasures you may take for granted as a Brooklynite. Lucky for you, I’m working a brief stint at a summer camp in Northern Canada! I am writing to you from this vantage to remind you of a few things you can do in Brooklyn that you can’t do anywhere else, and especially not at Canadian summer camp.

Sleep with someone without anyone ever finding out

You had sex? Great, good for you. In Brooklyn, you get to wake up in the morning after a lay, slip out the door quietly (or not), and go about your life.

Not so at a Canadian summer camp, where one sexual exploit marks your forehead with an indelible “I FUCKED” sign. Your business is everyone’s business. People wink at you at mealtimes, you fall into some kind of sexually active inner elite, and someone will inevitably leak all the private texts you’ve ever sent because privacy is a fiction anyway, y’know?


Brooklyn, land where babies roam. via flickr user Tim Young
Babies should be unseen, unheard. via flickr user Tim Young

Openly hate babies

Brooklyn is your stomping grounds, and nothing threatens that territorial confidence like a screaming creature in a stroller. When a baby starts its godawful whine in a coffee shop, you can share a knowing glance with a stranger, because you both hate babies. You can probably even get away with saying “I hate babies” out loud, and no one will mind.

But at Canadian summer camp, babies are everywhere. Why? Because summer camp is a family affair where generations upon generations of folks are born, raised, sent as campers then hired as staff. So between the various thirty-something camp directors, their oft-visiting relatives, the camp doctors and their families, there simply happens to be a large baby/toddler contingent at all times.

Nevermind that these urchins wreak havoc by running around your ankles, and scream incessantly at all hours, and behave as if they were raised by wolves. You can’t say any of these things out loud, and no stranger is on your side. Hating babies at Canadian summer camp is essentially like being the only Republican at a party; you’ve just got to keep it to yourself.

React to regular occurrences with the word “Fuck”

If you’ve got a mouth like a sailor, let me tell you, you might want to re-think that application to a Canadian summer camp. It’s teeming with impressionable children, apparently.

New York is full of glorious swearing and general DGAF attitudes about who might be listening to you rave! Canadian summer camp is a place where profanity actually discouraged as an effective means of dealing with your feelings.

Whereas in Brooklyn you can hurt yourself and scream “Fuck,” at a Canadian summer camp you have to go get ice from a nurse and smile like “What can ya do?”


Avocado toast at Milkbar. via Flickr user cherrypatter
Avocado toast at Milk Bar: never forget. via Flickr user cherrypatter

Revel daily in the jewel fruit that is the avocado

Avocados are $1 in Brooklyn. This is an amazing thing. The jewel fruit that is the avocado belongs on nearly everything — breakfast burritos, salads and sandwiches, a simple toast (though this is still foreign to some), and even occasionally as its own dessert mousse.

At Canadian summer camp, avocado isn’t even a whisper. Nobody is whispering sweet avocados into each other’s ears. Forget putting avocado on anything forever, really, because feeding a dining hall of 800 people three times a day in a country where avocados are much more expensive than $1 just doesn’t make sense.

Get drunk on a Saturday, or any other day for that matter

Sure, we all have jobs. But if you’re having a rough go of it in Brooklyn, it’s fully within your right to go and have a drink. On weekends, that freedom is even more apparent. Drink all day! Do it at breakfast! No one cares!

At Canadian summer camp, there’s zero tolerance for intoxication of any kind on camp property. There’s also no such thing as Saturdays. So the only way to unwind from a day spent dealing with babies, wasps and your sex being everyone else’s business is to go for a cleansing walk in the woods. Ugh.

Put 70 percent of your income towards your rent

Rent, rent, rent. It’s a conversation starter, a conversation continuer, a point of commonality in a sea of hustle. Yeah, it’s too damn high and you should probably get out while you can, but walking into your Brooklyn apartment that you pay for, even in exorbitant amounts, is also one of the best feelings in the world.

At Canadian summer camp, the cost of your room is presumably included in your salary figure. There’s a borrowed bed and a bunch of rickety wooden shelving and you’re really only going to live here for two months so there’s no getting cozy. Certainly nobody wants to talk about how much you’re paying for your log cabin, or whether your landlord (i.e. employer) is a slimeball.

Conversations are, unsurprisingly, limited to who’s having sex with whom and whether you are getting sick/stung by bees.

Enjoy regular bowel movements

Ah, Brooklyn, land of all things fermented! You never realize how much all those sour beers, tap kombuchas and sides of kraut are helping your gut until you leave. Or, more specifically, until you go to Canadian summer camp.

Nine out of 10 summer camp employees agree: it’s very, very hard to shit here. As wonderful as it may seem at first, having tater tots and french fries make up 20 percent of your daily diet eventually puts a strain on your digestion system. The coffee is instant, which means you also never enjoy those “instant” effects.

Most folks are visibly writhing in pain for first two weeks until their bodies adjust. So do yourself a solid (bowel movement) and count your briny blessings in Brooklyn.

Sam is Brokelyn’s senior Canadian bureau chief. Follow her other commentary on America’s Hat: @ahoysamantha

Leave a Reply