If you were a kid that went to camp you know that camp life is rife with embarrassing moments. I went to camp from aged 9 - 14, so as you can imagine I’ve had my fair share of them. Like I time I decided to “french” (reality: jab my tongue down his throat) Corey Litvak behind my cabin or the time I had a farting war with another camper.
When I was a kid, these moments were torturous, but as an adult, I hold them with fondness and share them at parties to show how good I am at laughing at myself. It’s all worked out rather nicely. However, there is one memory I have from my camp days, that has stayed with me and had quite an impact on my life.
Picture this reader: I’m 10, maybe 11. Les Miserable is, like, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I haven't actually seen the play or read the book (hello, I’m 11 and it's long as fuck), and the Hugh Jackman movie is about 20 years from being released, but I do have the soundtrack and I’ve listened to it...A LOT. So naturally, when the camp Talent Show is announced I know that I am going to sing Cosette's Castle On A Cloud. I know it word for word, and I’ve acted it out many times in my head. I’m going to fucking kill it.
" I am going to sing Cosette's Castle On A Cloud.
I’m going to fucking kill it. "
I practise, a lot, even though I don’t really need to. I sing in front of my friends - but they don’t seem so enthusiastic - they’re just jealous. Talent Show day comes and I’m so excited. I sit in the audience with my boyfriend Mark Feller (Side note: I was still super immature at 11, so by boyfriend I mean we both agreed we liked each and then promptly avoided each other as much possible). He’s one of the cutest boys at camp and if I actually had the courage to talk more to him I’d probably say he’s really nice too! But really, I just remember that he was cute and that other girls liked him, which was enough for me to want to make it official.
When it's my turn I get up on stage, the music begins and I start singing. But I start noticing something: there is an incredible amount of movement coming from the crowd. I look up and see that people are shifting around, smirking, grimacing and some of them are even laughing. They are deeply uncomfortable and I have this moment of realization: I am a terrible singer. I finish up as quickly as possible, my cheeks burning with shame and go to sit with my sweetie. Except that he’s ashamed too and he’s ghosting me. BUT FOR REAL and not because we are awkward pre-pubescent weirdos, but because I’m too lame to associate with. He literally doesn’t look at me for the rest of the summer.
" I have this moment of realization: I am a terrible singer "
And you know what, I haven’t sung publicly since. And here’s the really sad part: I really like signing. It’s fun. Who doesn’t love belting out their favourite summer jam while driving with the windows down? Fucking everyone. You know what else people like: Karaoke, but I can’t bring myself to do it, cause I’m terrified. Whenever I go to karaoke, I am so impressed and jealous of all those fun and easy folks who get up and sing, especially the people who don’t sing well. They are the best. They own it, don’t care and just want to have fun. I want that to be me! I fucking lived in Taiwan for a year and NEVER SANG KARAOKE - WTF? As I’ve gotten older, my anxiety has waned a bit.
I have two kids and singing is sort of a prerequisite. I’ll be honest though, both my kids have told me to stop singing - that’s literally how bad I am. A fucking child who thinks Dora is hot shit thinks I suck. I’m not bitter about it - they’re just jealous. I’ve been trying to let the anxiety go and just have fun, so when, a few years ago my friend Heather invited me to her birthday party at one of those private karaoke bars, I thought, fuck it, I’m getting drunk and singing. I literally thought about it for days before, ok...I also practiced. Hotline Bling was hawt at that time, so I chose that and my awesome friend Bronwyn said she’d come up with me. So, when it was time, I got up there, sang the first line - heard my own terrible voice echo back at me and discreetly turned the mic off. I stayed up there and pretending to sing, while Bronwyn carried it off for both of us, but I just couldn’t continue.
I hope one day to finally act like a big girl who gives zero fucks - who knows, maybe by the time TIW2017 rolls around I’ll have gotten there. In the movie version of this story, I get up on stage at the Two Islands Talent Show, belt out Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. The crowd goes wild and I feel as awesome and beautiful as Freddy himself.
Share your own awkward camp stories in the comments below!