My first summer of sleep away camp was at Frost Valley in Claryville, NY. I was eleven years old and I went with my best friend, Olivia. We met two other girls our age, Kaela and Carolyn, and became a dynamic foursome. Kaela is still my best friend. The four of us were average 11 year olds: still learning how to shave our legs, wearing clothes from Old Navy, and looking up to the 14 year old girls like they were Gods.
During the second week, we had a co-ed dance. Dinner ended early that night, and they had to clear us all out of the dining hall so they could get it ready for the dance. I could hardly eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, because I was so anxious about what the dance would be like. Some of us had “dates” that we found in the dining hall, but really it was going to be a free for all. The sun wasn’t even down yet, but they herded us back to our cabins to get ready for the dance. It started at 7.
The four of us ran upstairs to start getting ready. We pulled out all of our clothes from our tiny drawers under the bed. We didn’t have hair straighteners or anything, but we had a little mascara (the pink Maybelline tube with the green cap) and some lip gloss (probably LipSmackers). Between the four of us, we had a decent array of shorts, but for high-heels and tube tops, we had to borrow from the older girls. I remember washing my face vigorously with Clearasil. I had a few pimples, but mostly my face would just get shiny. I was pretty nervous. I hadn’t even gone to barmitzvah yet, so this would be one of my first co-ed “dances”. Real dances. We had one at school before, but no one really danced. This was different, because we wouldn’t know most of the kids there.
We had some accessories from Claire’s: head bandannas, friendship necklaces, toe-rings, Olivia had hoop earrings, but I didn’t have my ears pierced yet. We also had one last cool trick up our sleeve: mini glowsticks. I had never even seen a glowstick before, much less a little two-inch one. We got them at the camp store, because the older girls were getting them. They said you could put it in your mouth, and it would make your mouth glow. So we did it. We cracked the mini glowsticks and put them in our mouths- I had green.
Walking over to the dance, I was still so nervous. I played with the glowstick in my mouth. We could hear the music blasting from the dance hall: S Club 7, Ricky Martin, Sugar Ray, Smashmouth. We got into to the dining hall and there were tons of kids and their counselors there. We were sticking around our group, but wanted to ditch the younger girls once we got there, and make sure they didn’t follow us around the whole night.
I didn’t feel my glowstick was glowing enough, so I bit it, reasoning that when you break it, it glows more, so maybe I didn’t break it all the way. I held the glowstick between my back teeth and then felt a startling crack. Bitter glow-liquid filled my mouth and I wanted to spit, but I didn’t wanna gross anyone out.
“Oh my god, oh my god, Kaela. It broke! It broke. The glowstick broke in the mouth.” I said as I covered my mouth and caught the dropping, green spit.
Kaela ran with me to the bathroom and I spit out most of the green liquid in the sink, but my tongue was still covered in it and glowing. We ran to go tell our counselors. The head counselor, Lisa, laughed, but she said I definitely had to go to the nurse. She took me. I licked my hand all the way to the nurse to try and get the taste out. I didn’t want to go back to the dance after that. The nurse gave me some water and told me to brush my tongue with my toothbrush…and not to bite glow sticks anymore.