• Hil Hoover

The Real Summer Camp Horror

Gravel road turning to dirt just as it enters the grounds,

fences half-mended, carved moose with one antler broken,

cut flowers woven into crowns and tossed onto the remaining

points, some early-started game. This place seems at first

glance both run-down and innocuous, because don't

stories usually start with the grime hiding under glitz?


The counselor giving the tour is named Bobbie Sue,

wears lipstick the shade of bubble gum, peach nail

polish, shortalls with polka dot cuffs, jelly shoes

that must be a nightmare to keep free of stones

out here. Her voice is rich, deep, and soft,

her hands move quickly, gesturing almost

too fast to follow: here you will sleep,

there you will eat, shower, play, swim,

sing, tell stories, make arts and crafts.


And then, the friendly first-year warnings begin,

and yet somehow her tone doesn’t change,

she’s bored, she’s given this tour a million

times, don’t swim too far out, sometimes

the girls who drowned in the lake reach for

your ankles, don’t leave your belongings

outside the cabin, the starvelings in the

woods will take everything, don’t cry

for your mother at night, you don’t

want to put anything on her scent,

don’t breathe the name of your crush

too loudly if you sneak out to visit,

or long-gone star-crossed lovers will

steal their breath in jealousy, don’t -


Is this hazing?


oh no, hazing is far scarier than this,

we haven’t even gotten to talking about

how to appease the older girls who are

certainly going to have something to say

about how you wear your hair and whether

someone like you really ought to come to

summer camp after all because aren’t

you allergic to literally everything, darling,

you’re going to spend half your time

in the nurse’s office, which is so far

away from everything worth seeing

I didn’t even put it on the tour, that’s

the real summer camp horror, isn’t it?


though, you might be able to catch

a tiny glimpse of our very own

creepy child twins, if you’re lucky!

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