June 20th, 2013

Camp: Staff Meeting


One of the best things about spending my summers at an overnight camp is the staff. Of course the campers are fun (that’s a given) and we live on a lake (nice) but the staff—well, there’s nothing like being around a bunch of people in their 20’s. At home we don‘t see much of that age group. They‘re mostly working or at college. But when camp time rolls around, our lives are inundated with Generation Y and I love it.

When I first started dating my husband, I was only about 10 years older than most of the staff so I could hang. I didn’t party with them, I’m not a total loser, but the gap wasn’t so wide that they didn’t invite me. Now, after many years of being here, I’m old enough to be their mom.

I’m not really sure how that happened.

I’m old enough to be their mom, but I could never be their mom. I’m not there yet. I’m still telling my kids to wash their hands after they pee. How in the hell could I be a mom to a freakin’ 21 year old? I still think I’m 21! If it’s true that you “grow with your kids” (and I don’t know if that’s true or not, I just made it up right now) but if it is true, that is very good news for me because my kids are still little.

I am currently in a good place in my life so I don’t mind that I‘m getting older (outside of the fact that my back hurts all the time and my forehead has more lines than a legal pad) but for the most part, I don’t mind. What’s more, I still remember my past lives—especially my 20’s.

Sure, the styles have changed, the music is different, and the world is more technologically advanced—but on balance, things really haven’t changed all that much: Kids still get tattoos in places that are going to look scary when they’re 70, “Beer Goggles“ still have the same prescription, and the girls all have “a very serious boyfriend” until someone hotter comes along.


Nothing’s changed.

The counselors here are fun because they are also (from what I can see) loving their 20’s.That makes me happy. I want everyone to love their 20’s. It’s such a fun time. You’re in this sort of unsteady place of “elongated childhood.” You’re not quite an adult (but you think you are) yet you’re no longer a child. You don’t have to completely commit to anything because time is on your side, but if you do commit, and you bail, that speaks volumes so hopefully you overcome that kind of behavior because this is when you start to build character.

Your 20’s are a time of “Adult-Prep.“ What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of person do you want to be WITH? I, personally, don‘t think your 20‘s is the time to pick the person you‘re going to be with forever (at least not if you’re in your early 20‘s). I think your 20‘s is a time for figuring out what kind of person you want to be with. How can you commit to someone in your 20’s if you’re not completely sure of who YOU are yet? If you’re convinced that the person you’re with is so perfect, he or she will still be there when you’re done doing what you need to do—and there is a lot that you need to do, because you’re in your 20’s. Oh, you’re 22 and you already know exactly who you are? You’re right, I’m sorry. You do. (No, you don’t).

I remember my 20’s as a time when I didn’t need a lot to make me happy. I needed my friends, “Stupid Movie Night,” and a Bill Knapps cake for my birthday. My needs were very simple.

Thankfully, I am reminded of my 20’s every day during the summer because I’m surrounded by a ton of kids who are that age. Our camp staff rounds out to mostly kids in their 20’s. Some of them we have history with so when my girls and I see them after a long off-season, a huge hug and a game of “Break the Pickle” makes it seem like just yesterday. Some of them are new and we love when they introduce themselves, but we understand when they don’t. We’ll get to them sooner or later and we will undoubtedly adore them (unless they suck and then we won’t). But what a life for us to be surrounded by this group of 20 somethings, these people of tomorrow who chronologically make up the perfect age split between me and my kids…

How lucky are we?

When I’m at camp, I never have to schlep my luggage or carry my bags because if “V Rockin’ Cool” sees me, he will always offer to do it. When I’m here, my kids are always included on boat rides because the Waterfront staff knows how much they love being by the water. And when I’m here, I love how safe I feel letting my kids and Floyd Coden roam around because there is always someone around who has an eye on them.

staff vinnie

My 4 year old daughter currently has two “boyfriends” at camp and they are both in their 20’s. A 20 year age difference might normally be frowned upon in this country, especially if one of the kids is 4-years-old, but camp has its own set of rules. One summer, in fact, when my other daughter was four, she almost made it down the aisle to marry her longtime “boyfriend,” ScottyG. He was around 26 years old and he was a Unit Director (She likes guys in power positions.) Unfortunately for ScottyG, my girl bailed at the last minute and ran to her daddy—but that wedding, at the flag pole, with a full wedding party and the whole camp in attendance, was an event to be remembered.

Wedding 1

wedding 2

wedding 3

During our time here, I get two nannies. (Stop it. I know that sounds fancy but it’s really not. They’re like “counselors” for my kids. I would never have them at home but I need them here so I can work.) Anyway, I have been unbelievably fortunate in the nanny department because almost every single one of the girls we have had have done nothing but enrich the lives of my girls and my family. They are our family. I can’t even begin to explain my love for these girls. Thankfully this season we are completely in love again. I’m just not sure if they were hired for my kids or for me.

Actress Nanny: (standing in our cabin, wearing really cute boots, kicks up a leg and shows me the boots): Aren’t these boots cute?


Me: Yes, SO cute. Where did you get them? (A little skeptical because she is in her 20’s and, as it should be when you’re in your 20’s–her ass is broke).

Actress Nanny: I got them at one of those dollar stores in Kalkaska (the town outside of where camp is).

Me: No, you didn’t. I want them.

Bama Nanny: (My other nanny. She’s from Alabama.): So cute right! They were only 20.00!!

Me: 20.00?? Take me. NOW.

And they did. We begged and pleaded for my kids to come with us, but they had no desire to leave camp, so we left them there. The store didn’t have my size but an 8 is close to a 7 when it comes to 20.00 boots and you better believe I bought them and I’m going to ROCK them (but probably only once because they will likely fall apart shortly thereafter).


The Kitchen Staff is also very important. The K-Staff needs to be fun, not just for camp, but for me. I spend a lot of time in the Mess Hall and in and around the kitchen. I love food, especially camp food. In fact, I like food so much that over the past few summers I have been recruiting “Finishers.“ (A “Finisher” is the one I go to if I only want a few bites of something and then he takes over and eats the rest–I don’t like to waste. I love my “Finisher” this summer and I hope he enjoyed his Choco Taco.)


Anyway, The K Staff needs to know me and they need to love me. Actually, they don’t even need to love me, they just need to put up with me.

There is always action at the trapeze so it never fails to be a good place to hang out. (We have a trapeze at camp, crazy right?) One of the trapeze guys is named Spencer. This is Spencer’s 3rd summer at camp. When I tell you that Spencer is ripped, he is RIPPED. So, of course I am all over him about it. He’s a bit older than the rest of the staff so it’s not quite as gross and perverted as it would be if he was 22, but still, where else but camp can you sexually harass an employee EVERY SINGLE TIME you see him, and not only does he not care, but he doesn’t even notice? My own kids are so immune to my bugging Spencer that they honestly believe his given name is “Spencer-Take-Your-Shirt-Off!”

And then comes our Camp Driver. I mean, where do I start? For as long as I can remember, the Camp Driver (aka “Thinggetter”) has been a part of our family, even before we were a family. One of our past Camp Drivers (also a “Finisher” by the way) is getting married (at camp—to one of our former nannies!!) in August and my girls are his flower girls. Another one of our old Drivers was just at our house playing “school” with my daughters, and another one of our Drivers still thinks he can beat me at rummicube after all these years, but he’s wrong. Our current Driver is so special that I wish he was my son and I’m ready to fight his mom anytime, anywhere.

staff max

Anyone who owns a business knows that your business is only going to be as good as your staff… and I want our current staff and past staffs to know how much I appreciate all the hard and “heart” work they do for us. I love you all.

Unless you suck.

And then I don’t.

staff blog 2

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profile 2


Categories: Camp Life, Society


  1. Jamie says:

    Robs– you have the best life. And, send me a pic of trapeze guy! xo

    • Robyn says:

      For sure I will. I just need to get him at a time when his shirt is off!!! :-) xoxoxo love you!!

    • Spencer says:

      Hahaha…..Good luck with that Robyn:-)

  2. Karissa says:

    I’d like to know what the age cap is for campers? I haven’t been a camper for a couple of decades, but I want to go! And bring my kids and hubby. How much stuff do we bring for the summer? I’ve never been one to pack light.

    • Robyn says:

      You’re funny, Karissa!! I have never been one to pack light either so I understand. It took 3 trips to get our stuff up here (and that was just the stuff for me and the girls). Bring your kids and your hubs. We’ll make them carry everything!! :)

  3. Demoree says:

    seriously, Robyn, you have to figure out a way to have adult camp.. i’d totally go! i have a pretty great basset hound that would be a perfect companion to Floyd Coden.

    • Robyn says:

      I love basset hounds! I know Floyd Coden would too. We need one at camp. Come here right now!! I will put a Tanuga bandana on your doggie and make him our mascot! I bet he is so cute…OMG, I love him already.

  4. Becca says:

    Awesome post!! Forget the abs, I want to see the boots!!

    • Robyn says:

      Love it!! Love YOU! You’re so funny and I’m so dumb. I forgot to post a pic of the boots!!

  5. Sara says:

    I wanna go to camp! I bet they all LOVE you too! By the way, aren’t you 41?

    • Robyn says:

      Nope, 42. You just sent me the Eminem sticker as a present!! Aren’t you sending me Eminem next year??

  6. Awww…Robyn,

    Now I am feeling like I missed something huge by not going to a sleepaway camp as a kid. All those awesome adults around– compared to my crush on our Outdoor School counselor, “Toad”, that sort of sleepaway camp crush would have been epic.

    Your glowing review of the 20-somethings has almost negated the last 13 years of complaints I’ve heard from my HR friend regarding that same set, ha ha.

    Somehow, reading all of this makes me thankful for maturity and being settled in life. They don’t make Beer Goggles in “bifocal”, do they? There’s a reason drunk love is for the young… too much older and it’s not cute, it’s just a Bukowski novel.

    Great to read you again! Have fun and enjoy your nannies.:)

    • Robyn says:

      Hazel!! I think you are on to something!! Let’s make Beer Goggle Bifocals!! I am cracking up. You are too funny. I think you should come work here. We could use you! Are you busy? I will make Spenser take his shirt off…

  7. ericka says:

    you are too too funny! this is my favorite post yet, i love it! i think i’m 20 too :) how old i felt to find out our family camp counselors were born the year i graduated high school. eeks! sorry we didn’t have a chance to hang more last weekend. xx

    ps. i wanna see the boots too :)

    • Robyn says:

      This was an odd year for us but we should ge here earlier next year! You were absolutely one of the reasons why I was so bummed that we didn’t get here earlier. I wish I saw you more. We could be 20 together. Xoxo so happy you are a part of this world with me…

  8. julie says:

    Let’s see some Spencer-take-your-shirt-off! (btw – I don’t even know where to start with your finishers. Only you. And I love you for that!)

    • Robyn says:

      You know me well, Malks. I think I will probably never change. I miss the hell out of you. I’m still not over you leaving and I probably never will be.

  9. "Julia" says:

    The Coffee Table
    Bad Jeff
    Boring Jeff
    Frankie (not fj) and Brandon
    Jeremy and Brandon
    Thomas and Tim
    Glenn and Michael
    Dennison and Hubbard
    French vanilla cream
    “I’ll do your nails”
    Skittles and wine
    “Get Lost” cakes
    50 Lincoln
    Bob and Elaine
    Where are my shoes?
    Stupid movie night. In a snowstorm
    Purple sweatshirts, purple vinyl pants
    Ricky and Alan
    South Beach…and eye liner

    What am I missing?? Besides you…and our 20s…

    Love you. XOXO

    • Robyn says:

      I can’t even deal with how much I love you right now. South Beach.. and eye liner is making me laugh so hard right now. Yesterday Cody and I took the girls to Chx for the day and as we walked into The Villager for dinner, all I thought about was you. And then when we drove by the 7-11, I busted out laughing because I couldn’t help but picture you walking up the hill with the “kid” we bought at the fair…the one with the baseball hat turned backwards and you were carrying him. I’m still laughing. I love and miss you so much. You were such a big part of my 20’s and my 30’s and now and forever. LOVE YOU. Going to get my coffee right now and you know what kind of cream I’ll be putting in there!

  10. katie zack says:

    Robyn….is it ok to say that i might have peed a little reading this one?You are so hilarious and so succint.Oh and i have those $20 boots and they totally fall apart after you wear them one time!!!I often wonder where my 20s have gone,not in such a funny way as you…but i do wonder when did i grow up? I still feel like im 22.You know i am your biggest fan(in a not creepy like that Kathye Bates/<ames Caan movie kinda way)im so happy youre blogging again…..oh and i was at Bendels yesterday-i might almost be in as deep as you…..have so much fun at camp!xoxoxo

    • Robyn says:

      You “MIGHT” be in as deep as me? Um, Katie…I think you are in DEEPER. Although, I have to tell you that yesterday we were at the beach with the girls and after I put their wet bathing suits in a plastic bag I decided that the Bendel Bikini Bag is indeed a necessity and I will be getting one ASAP.

      I’m so happy that you liked this one. I know it’s preachy at times but it’s ultimately for my girls and I want them to know my tone when they’re reading it one day) and believe me, they will KNOW my tone). :)

      Thank you so much for your support. I hope you have a great summer with your poochie (I think his name is Louie..?) I also hope I see you soon…maybe at the mall again???

  11. Adina says:

    That was AWESOME!!! Wishing you the best summer! Enjoy every minute!

    Btw… Need pic of boots!!! :)


    • Robyn says:

      Adina!! I miss you!! Thank you!! I heard the bracelet is amazing. (Not that I thought it wouldn’t be). I’m bummed I didn’t get to see it. I hope my little munchie is good and that he remembers us when we come home. We will have a whole new kitchen for him to crawl (or walk..?) around! Love you!!!

  12. Fish says:

    I was 21 when I spent my first summer at Tanuga and can’t think of a better place to be in the summer. Even then I said that camp was really for the staff and the kids were something to keep you busy during the day. At this point, I have spent parts of many summers there and I am looking forward to getting back there and seeing how much everyone has grown over the past year as we chase them with cameras.

    • Robyn says:

      Can’t wait until you guys get here!! We miss you all!!!

  13. Jeri says:

    I totally agree you should have adult camp! Lol or a family weekend camp! Lol

    You always make everything fun! Hope to go lunch at Shirley’s before dinner ends!

    • Robyn says:

      Lunch at Shirley’s for sure! Just let me know when. I’m always ready to go there and I always want to see you!!! Xoxoxo

  14. katie Zack says:

    if you need me to grab a few Bendels plastic bags and send them up , just let me know. And as for being in deeper-shhhhhhh, a lot of people read your blog, im not as out as you are!!!Oh who am I kidding , everyone knows just how deep I am in, its bad, like rehab bad. I love love love that you write this for your girls, how cool that they have a mom I who is documenting their awesome childhoods. And you are not preachy at all. I am sure we will bump into each other soon and I will once again impose my presence on you. Have the best time at camp…..I may send some old school stickers your way, keep your eyes peeled……xoxo

    • Robyn says:

      Katie!! We love stickers! I still have the heart one on my laptop that you sent a few years ago! See…I’m always thinking of you even if I don’t get to see you a lot. (Oh, and of course the bracelet. Don’t think I didn’t bring that up to camp with me, because I did!) XOXOXO