What was so bad about camp? Let Russ count the ways: "I'll never forget the first night I had to sleep in a tent. I hated the public showers, I hated sharing a room with several other girls, I hated the anxiety of packing and saying goodbye."
For Kelsey Tomascheski, 48, of Santa Clara, Calif., camp memories center on bad food. "I will admit that I was a picky eater, but the problem was more on quality," said Tomascheski. "I could only handle so many bland spaghetti feeds, too-salty chicken strips, and soggy fries. Usually halfway through the week I gave up and only ate PB&J at all three meals."
Some unhappy campers hated bunk life. "It was dirty," recalled Gerry Cotten, 25, a website developer in Toronto. "I was always into computers, and some sort of computer camp probably would have been fun, but sleeping in an ancient old wooden cabin, with disgusting washrooms a five-minute walk away, wasn't really appealing."
The great outdoors didn't hold much charm either: "Taking a dip in the lake each morning instead of having a shower wasn't really for me. They called it the Polar Dip."
According to the American Camp Association, nearly 9 million kids under the age of 18 attend one of the country's 7,000 overnight camps each summer, with stays ranging from a week to two months. Research on the association's website suggests that going to camp can build confidence, self-esteem, social skills, independence and a sense of adventure.