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From the Archive

Summer Camp Quiz [by David Lehman]

Camp Paradox

1) Bug juice is

a) an experiment conducted by the nature counselor
b) insect repellent for canoe trips
c) the fruit drink that is served at meals
d) none of the above

2) The song beginning "Great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts"  has all these words except

a) "mutilated monkey meat"
b) "chopped-up little birdies' feet"
c) "beetles and beets and other things unsweet"
d) "and me without my spoon"

3) A marine is

a) a John Wayne-type
b) a strict counselor
c) a humorless head counselor
d) a camper who occasionally has an accident in bed

4) When a waiter drops a full tray, the campers spontaneously sing

a) "You'll Never Walk Alone"
b) "What Kind of Fool Am I?"
c) "He's a hero (he's an all-American jerk)"
d) the Notre Dame fight song

5) OD means

a) off drugs
b) on duty
c) O Delice, the name of a cheap condom stashed in a sleeping bag
d) an ordinary day

6) Color War is

a) an extension of finger-painting in Arts and Crafts (for the youngest bunks)
b) a week when the camp is divided into two teams competing in athletics, dramatics, music, and art (posters, stage scenery)
c) a recreation of a Civil War battle with everyone in either a gray or a blue uniform
d) the summer camp equivalent of war games in "advanced" basic training (army)

7) Arts & Crafts was popularly known as

a) "Faigala Fiesta"
b) "Arts & Farts"
c) "Farts & Crap"
d) "A one-hour time out"

8) On Palm Sunday

a) the girl campers wear grass skirts and carry a palm branch while they dance to Neal Sedaka singing "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do."
b) even the irreligious attend services
c) the counselors (shirts) play the waiters (skins) in basketball
d) parents visit and counselors stick out their hands for tips

9) General Swim is

a) the nickname for the chief lifeguard
b) the time when everyone is in the pool,(or lake) except the lifeguards
c) any group activity that is mandatory for all except those in the infirmary
d) the required weekly test of the buddy system

10) To keep bottles of Coke and Pepsi cold,

a) campers pool their resources to buy a mini-fridge
b) counselors bribe the cook for use of the kitchen refrigerator
c) campers stash the bottles in the back of the toilet
d) see (c) above

Lifeguard 2021As a counselor, the author of this quiz

a) excelled at no sport other than ping pong and archery
b) once received a letter consisting entirely of the complete lyrics of "To know know know him / is to love love love him"
c) wrote the songs and plays for his team in competitions
d) broke curfew twice and was duly punished
e) gained weight by drinking a nightly rum collins or two at the local bowling alley slash cocktail lounge, where they had Tommy Dorsey's "Marie" (Jack Leonard, vocal) on the jukebox
f) lost weight by swimming daily and drinking skim milk
g) never had a serious girlfriend though he had a crush on Norman's sister Anna
h) read Hemingway and Norman Mailer
i) listened to Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Patrick Sky because Norman brought a record player
j) edited the camp newspaper slash yearbook that was distributed to everyone on the bus going home
k) wore hooded sweatshirts before they were the rage
l) was friendly with guys majoring in English and philosophy
m) played second base and caught a line drive to end the game
n) learned to drive
o) sneaked into Grossinger's on one memorable day off
p) wrote rhymes about the kids in his bunk
q) learned the words and music of all the songs in Guys and Dolls
r) made Norman and the other guys laugh by saying that The Old Man and the Sea was "shallow"
s) was counseled, by a potential girlfriend (Barbara), to wear cordovan penny loafers with cream-colored socks
t) disdained the universal gesture for "big deal" (a finger held up and slowly rotated)
u) got letters from his father with clips from the New York Times on the exploits of Koufax and Drysdale
v) saw Viva Las Vegas on a day off
w) felt that the best TV and radio jingles were for Buick cars, L & M cigarettes, and Schaefer and Rheingold beer
x) accompanied friends, after camp ended but before school began, to Yonkers racetrack, Freedomland (an amusement park in the Bronx), Shea Stadium to see the Mets play, and the Gaslight cafe on MacDougal Street where we -- Norman and I and maybe Milty -- drank champagne cocktails and heard a waitress sing Jerome Kern's "Cleopatterer"
y) watched Larry pin Norman in an impromptu wrestling match
z) felt solemn each sunset when the flag was lowered and "Taps" was played

from the archive; first posted March 2016. As a lad, the composer Richard Rodgers attended "Camp Paradox."

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Best American Poetry Web ad3
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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