Ethnic Bummer Camp
Remember those weird Eastern European kids in your primary school class? You know the ones who smelled like greasy kielbasa, had a consonant cluster-fuck for a last name, and parents who were likely defected Soviet physicists? Ever wonder why they weren’t as gleeful when summer came rolling around? While all of you were busy creating the memories that make you look back on childhood as a marshmallow dream world of candyfloss and pink lemonade, Eastern European kids were laying down the foundations of their future PTSD. Instead of escaping into the Swiss Alps like a pack of von Trapps, their families handed them over to the Gestapo running the gulags of their respective ethnic summer camps. Several of our interns went to those camps, so we asked them to wistfully look back on their days of fucking mattresses, prepubescent marriage, and “knocking motherfuckers out”.
Throughout the 90s, Estonian camp Kasvatajad “encouraged” campers to keep their bloodlines as pure as possible by making them play creepy marital games they secretly hoped would eventually produce blonde-haired, blue-eyed children. It all started with the annual female auction. Leaders would herd us young girls onto the docks to be sold to adolescent boys. The boys sat on the adjacent bank to examine the specimens, choose an attractive match, and rage bidding wars using camp currencies like bubble gum and Ring Pops. The leftover girls were given paper bracelets with their names scrawled across them then turned loose into the forest where remaining suitors were unleashed for the hunt after a ten minute head start. The idea being that whoever rips your bracelet off owns you. I was one of those girls. I fell property to a dirty, paprika-faced boy who not only managed to sniff me out from behind a huge piece of granite, but also got past my trusty makeshift spear to rip the bracelet from my wrist. After the courting and capturing was over, the leaders made us get married in a mud pit outside the barracks. We recited vows and kissed while on our knees, covered in shitty, cold muck. I was seven.
Jewish Camp isn’t really the mysterious cabal some gentiles would make it out to be. Maybe back in the Middle Ages it was full of blood libel and devil worship, but these days it’s mostly an excuse for hormonal heebs to immerse themselves in a summer of sexual experimentation. The camp that I went to followed suit in much the same way as the others, barring a particular unspoken tradition well known by all the male campers. Sticking your schmuck in or around a girl was ideal, but every now and then you would take what you could get. That’s why most of the bunk beds had holes dug out of the mattress – some carved decades prior – and had been loved softly and/or violently by an entire horde of teenage boys. For some reason this seemed normal and everyone stuck to their respective cots, because sharing mattress fuck-holes is rank. That is why we’re the chosen people.
POLISH BOY SCOUT CAMP
Unlike those other camps, this one wasn’t designed to breed pure Polacks; it was to produce motherfucking nationalistic badasses like Witold Pilecki. After WWII, the Soviets literally told my Dziadzia they were going to cut his head off if he went back to Poland, so yeah, he booked it westward. Living in peaceful Canada, reminiscing about garrotting Nazis and infiltrating death camps, he and other ex-pats decided that if war ever broke out again in Father Poland they wanted to send their seed off to murder some dirty commies. To convert their sons from North American pussies to Polish guerillas, they created a militaristic boys camp in Northern Ontario. In a month-long indoctrination, campers were routinely forced to sing Polish war chants about ferocious resistance to the Russian invader for two hours a day, wake up from their wood plank beds to run 10km, and march in the harsh Canadian Shield where they were purposely denied water. Fighting was encouraged to root out the weak and as one camper told me he used to straight up “knock motherfuckers out, I was bad as shit.”
SOVIET POWER-SKATING CAMP
You don’t have to be Slavic for this one, you just have to be poor, white and living in Canada with parents delusional enough to think you’ve got what it takes to become an NHLer with a multimillion dollar deal. Think again, assholes; your kid will probably flame out in Junior C like the rest of the landscaping snowploughers of Canada. Day in, day out at the hottest time of the year, I trudged my hockey bag two kilometres from the industrial parking lot of Ottawa’s RA Center to the rink, only to then be humiliated by a Ukrainian skating coach who made us do ‘Russian Circles’ for three hours straight - which is enough to make any hockey player yack. That was followed by endless amounts of pseudo-gulag-pylon-hopping-weaving until you felt your knees would fall off, and when that was over it was time for a friendly game of helmets and gloves, which is street fighting on skates. This wasn’t the kind of fun sports camp that are all good times, sportsmanship and high-fives. This was an internment camp for shithead kids with bowl cuts that wouldn’t shut up about Rock’em Sock’em Don Cherry videos. The only thing you could look forward to was waiting for some asshole to get elbowed in a game.
BEN MAKUCH, KARA-LIS COVERDALE, MIKE BLOOM