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Land of Summer Camp Stars
An outcast growing up, Rhea St. Julien is one of those San Franciscans who fit in only here.
By Rhea St. Julien
I was not a popular child. Incredibly strange, freakishly smart yet obnoxiously rebellious, I was a teacher's worst nightmare. I had already read all the books they assigned for the year, and rather than wanting praise for that, I wanted to tell them to go to hell. My peers in suburban Connecticut were not impressed by my wild hair and raucous attitude. They knew not to challenge me physically, since I'd bloodied some noses, but they gave me the worst punishment New Englanders can mete out: they ignored me. My crushes never liked me back, my friends were embarrassed by my outbursts, and, in general, everyone hoped I would just tone it down, already.
All that changed at summer camp. I was not looking forward to a week with my peers, especially with a Bible-themed stink to the activities. But what I could never have dreamed was that all the traits my small-town peers despised, were the same ones that made me a freaking superstar at camp. The fact that I could win at Trivia and get my cabin to the front of the lunch line? Totally awesome. My loud singing and crazy dancing at campfire time? Hilarious to them. To my utmost surprise, I collected several paramours, the cutest boys in camp no less, fighting over who would get to sit with me in a canoe, and sending me secret messages through the camp mail system.
As an adult, I've found myself residing in San Francisco, the land of misfit toys that seems to be made up entirely of people who were outcasts in their classrooms, but rock stars at summer camp. When I wear my faux-fur stole as a scarf on the playground while my daughter plays in the sandbox, people think it's fabulous. Singing and dancing on the street, just because I feel inspired? Completely acceptable, even celebrated. I suspect that everyone walking around on the streets in this town, with their rainbow booty shorts and asymmetrical haircuts, were total losers in their hometown and had so many penpals when they left camp each summer that their parents broke the bank buying stationery.
And we wouldn't want it any other way.
With a Perspective, I'm Rhea St. Julien.
Rhea St. Julien chases after toddlers by day and writes her blog by night.