Sunday, April 17, 2011
I entered the room thinking to myself, "Oh my, this is wild." The multipurpose conference in the hotel has been transformed into a makeshift warehouse, a camp warehouse. The windows are lined with six foot high tents with racks of t-shirts, sweatshirts and sweat pants. In front of the tents are rows of identical folding tables, each one containing a laptop, three chairs on one side and a representative on the other. Along the back wall are columns of black metal showroom racks stacked with samples of water bottles, monogramed laundry bags, flashlights and backpacks. We have just entered the summer camp roadshow, a prerequisite when outfitting your kids with the required summer camp gear.
"Hello, may I help you?" Someone yells from the closest table. "Yes we are hear to order the camp clothes." I reply with a slight hesitation. I never went to sleep away camp so I was not sure what I was in for. The woman notices the brochure dangling from my left hand and directs us to the last table in the room. "We outfit most camps in the northeast so each table represents a different camp." She informs me as we walk past the other tables. I did not realize how big this camp stuff I think to myself as we finally reach the last table and we sit down. "Hi, welcome to camp outfitters, let me pull up your camp list and see what we need." The woman starts typing on the laptop, jots down a few notes, pulls out a plastic storage bin from under the table and proceeds to rattle off the "required list". "Ok, you need six camp shirts, three camp shorts, a sweatshirt, a basketball shirt, a swim shirt, and a hat." The woman then gets up are starts running around the room, grabbing a shirt from one rack, puling out a few shorts from another and comes back with an assortment of sizes and styles to choose from. After my son picks out his favorites, he heads into one of the tents to see how things fit. One by one we inspect the sizes, forecasting what will everything fit like in three months and deciding on the appropriate styles. After securing the required gear and adding a couple of laundry bags, we finalize the order adding two oversized canvas trunks to haul all of it to Maine.
"One last thing, do you want to order any additional stuff?" The woman asks. "Like what?" I reply. "Does you son need a lacrosse shirt, a soccer shirt, boots, mess kit, first aide kit, a sleeping bag, sheets, towels, pillows, a chair, flashlights, a shower caddy or a shoe rack?" "Is this stuff mandatory to get with the camp logo on it?" I ask "No" She replies. Thinking about all the stuff my son already has and the fact he is only going to be there for three weeks, My wife and I both say, "No, we are good."
The woman confirms the order and I hand her my credit card. A few painless minutes later we are walking out of the conference room, a few hundred lighter but geared up for a great summer...