Summer camp is not the ideal situation for nerds.
I went to summer camp for the first time in the summer of 1994, the summer before my 8th grade year. This was a rough time in my life because Star Trek: The Next Generation had just finished two months earlier. I also didn’t know any of the other guys very well; I was uncomfortable interacting with people I didn’t know and it wasn’t easy for me to make friends. I was also wary of leaving home for a week; would all my action figures come to life and resent me for abandoning them? I ended up having a great week but summer camp can still be rough for nerds. Here are a few reasons why.
Obviously not all nerds are socially inept but a lot of them are. To this day I still have trouble interacting with people I don’t know; if I’m alone at a party I make like Jakob Dylan and become a wallflower. The problem with summer camp is that it’s full of social interaction; there are literally people everywhere at summer camp. This can create a lot of anxiety for nerds who would prefer to sit quietly by themselves and wonder how long it’s going to take to catch up on all of their dailies in World of Warcraft.
A steady diet of Doritos, Hot Pockets and Cactus Cooler doesn’t really contribute to a great physique. Most nerds would rather spend their time indoors playing games, reading comics or obsessing over their most recent Harry Potter fanfic, than outside participating in actual sports. Why play a team sport when you can get together with your guild and smoke some noobs? A large part of summer camp, though, involves team competition and physical recreation. That kind of physical competition is not the forte of nerds, unfortunately, and usually ends up with a pair of glasses broken by an errant dodge ball.
Summer camp is like a volcano of teenage hormones. It’s impossible to avoid summer romances and “Defining the Relationship” talks at camp; they go together like Mt. Dew and pizza rolls. Even nerds have the opportunity to find summer lovin’ like Danny and Sandy did. I myself never found summer love, but I have seen plenty of nerds find that special someone. In a youth group, a nerd boy may not be able to find a female counterpart; but at summer camp, the fish bowl gets bigger and the prospect of finding another nerdy fish goes up. In this newly expanded bowl, the nerd boy and nerd girl, who swim alone at home, may find each other and begin their summer romance. This is a rough experience for the nerds, though, because once the week is over, it’s back home to the smaller fishbowl and each of them ends up hanging around the bubbles by themselves. If the nerd couple is lucky, though, they’ll get to reenact the scene between Han and Leia on Bespin from The Empire Strikes Back.
(Nerd Boy looks longingly at Nerd Girl, gives her a hug and gets on the bus. Nerd Girl runs down the outside of the bus until she stands below Nerd Boy’s window.)
Nerd Girl: (Looking up) I love you.
Nerd Boy: (Like a pimp) I know.
(Bus rolls off into the sunset.)
Summer camp is great, even for nerds. I have been to summer camp every year since 1994 and I’m already looking forward to it this year. Even though I enjoy it now, I still remember what it was like that first year as a shy, scared nerd. It was a little rough but I ultimately had a good time, even though I spent some of my free time sitting in the cabin reading the Star Trek Encyclopedia.
What made summer camp great or difficult for you?