It was 2 a.m. and myself and other adult campers were lying in the grass in front of our cabins. The "non-counselors," as they called them, had turned off all of the lights so that we could see the stars. I was lying in what the seasoned adult campers called a "cuddle puddle," and it was exactly what it sounds like. There was awkward sexual tension; people told weird stories. This cuddle puddle came after a day, so that summer romances had time, in just 12 hours, to start and end, just like in Wet Hot American Summer. And that wasn't the only similarity to the movie that I noticed. There were a number of ways Camp Shock Top, the name for the adult summer camp I attended, was just like Wet Hot American Summer.
First, Camp No Counselors is an adult sleepaway camp with locations all over the country. The one I attended was at Southwoods Summer Camp in the Adirondacks, and it was sponsored by Shock Top (thus the name), which only made the weekend more interesting (I wouldn't have been surprised if I had seen someone talking to a can of vegetables). At adult summer camp, there were a few rules and a few "hard asks." For example, the camp requested that campers not use their cellphones and that they avoid talking about what they do for a living.
This means that, like in Wet Hot American Summer, camp was a complete separation from reality. Campers could reinvent themselves, wear a crop top with knee-high socks (and people did), and shamelessly make out with someone they probably shouldn't make out with (not talking about myself). Here are 12 ridiculous ways adult summer camp was exactly like Wet Hot American Summer.
1. Three Words: Knee-High Socks
Every camper was given a pair of white knee-high socks with bright orange stripes to wear for parts of the weekend. They were a staple at the '90s-themed dance party (yep, there were themed parties). It was the first thing I noticed, and it immediately took me back to the memorable toolshed scene with as Ben (Bradley Cooper) and McKinley (Michael Ian Black).
2. There Was Way Too Much Bubble Text On Retro T-Shirts
We were divided into teams for the Color War, and I was on the Gold team, whose t-shirts just happened to be the worst mustard or dehydrated pee color that I've ever seen (pictured above). We had to come up with a name for our team, so we maturely chose "Golden Showers."
3. There's That One Effortlessly Cool & Nice Camp Counselor Who Doesn't Get As Much Love As He Should
Yes, I'm talking about J.J. in Wet Hot American Summer. I think he was the most underrated and cool counselor in the film, but he never gets any support or love from his friends. There was a J.J. at adult summer camp who was the greatest at rallying crowds and cheering people on during the Color War. Adult summer camp J.J. even did a skit for the talent show, and he also knew all of Camp No Counselor's greatest and weirdest stories.
4. There's A Lot Of Making Out
I mean, come on. You're getting a bunch of adults together in the woods and telling them to revert back to teenaged versions of themselves. (Personally, adult me is already prone to make out with people when competitive sports and woodland adventures combine, but maybe that's just me.)
Adult summer camp combines alcohol, sports, the sweat and dirt that accumulates from staying in cabins and playing sports — all of these things make people want to make out. Add to that the fact that everyone's acting like they're 13 again, and a hormonal switch can't be denied.
Plus, the campers who had been to a few adult camps organized "cuddle puddles" at the end of every night, where everyone would bring blankets or towels outside and lie in a blob together. There were elbows by faces, butts by faces, and, of course, faces by faces. The cuddle puddle was a prime time to make a move on your camp crush, and it definitely led to a few makeouts (and maybe more?).
5. There's That Guy You Shouldn't Make Out With, But He's Incredibly Attractive
It's confession time. There was one guy at adult summer camp who probably spent a bit too much time at the gym, but he was beautiful. He had blue eyes, he was chiseled, and he seemed to be allergic to shirts. He also would make it very obvious when he was walking from the showers to his cabin in only a towel... you get the picture.
Everyone at the camp had a crush on him, and I may have snagged the prime spot next to him in the cuddle puddle. Then, it got cold while we were lying next to each other, and he said "Hey, do you think you could lend me some of your body heat? It's freezing." Adult me might not make out with someone like that usually, but adult summer camp turned me into teenaged me, who only saw his abs and his pecs and his eyes and his request for "body heat."
So, at the end of the night, we made out in front of my cabin, and the awkward teenager that I used to be was finally avenged.
6. Camp Relationships Get Way Too Complicated Way Too Quickly
What you think is just a make out is way more complicated at camp. I ran into Mr. Shirt Allergy persistently, and I never knew how much we were supposed to talk, when I should walk away from a group if he was there, what he would expect the next night, or just what in the hell I was going to wear for the dance party where I would see him. We even had a serious conversation about my lack of communication that adult me thought was really unnecessary, but teenaged me definitely found the drama of the whole thing really exciting.
Like in Wet Hot American Summer, a lot can happen in just one day.
7. There's That Guy You Should Make Out With, But You Don't Because He's So "Nice"
Adult me knows better than to make out with the attractive guy instead of the really nice, cool guy. But, adult me did not win in the hormonal battle against summer camp me. I met one really nice guy who I would've liked to spend more time with, but he never joined the cuddle puddles and he spent most of his time with friends (which is totally underrated and awesome).
Though we didn't make out at camp, nice guy did get my number. So maybe nice guys don't all end up like Coop?
8. There Are Sports, But There's One Team That's Totally Uninterested
There was a color war at adult summer camp, complete with capture the flag and a tug of war, but my team, Team Golden Showers, just didn't really care about winning. Like Camp Firewood did with its baseball game against Camp Tigerclaw in Wet Hot American Summer, we essentially forfeited tug of war because we didn't feel like playing. I'm sure it had something to do with the drugs in Wet Hot American Summer, but, for us, it was definitely all the booze. If there's one thing adult me knows better than teenaged me, it's that being coordinated after a night of drinking is impossible.
9. Inanimate Objects Do Come To Life
I didn't see anyone conversing with a can of mixed vegetables, but if I had, I honestly wouldn't have been surprised. One thing I forgot about summer camp is just how sleep deprived you become. And sleep deprivation plus alcohol could definitely lead to hallucinations. After the second day of camp, I woke up to find one of my bunkmates sleeping outside on the front lawn.
10. There Were Lots Of Coordinated Dance Numbers
There was a lip sync battle and a talent show at adult summer camp, which meant so many good and bad coordinated dance moves. In this instance, a photo is really the only way I can describe it:
11. There's That One Person Who Refuses To Shower But Definitely Should
In Wet Hot American Summer, Arty, who is played by Liam Norton, runs Camp Firewood's radio and also acts as the narrator for parts of the film. Arty doesn't shower for the entire summer, until the counselors pull him out of the radio booth and force him under a shower head.
For some unknown and perplexing reason, there were a few people at adult summer camp who adopted Arty's strategy, and it was not cool. The bunks we slept in housed roughly 15 to 18 people, and if a few of those people decide not to shower, it gets smelly. Thankfully, I was only stuck with them for a long weekend and not an entire summer.
12. The Friendships Are The Best Part
The people I met at adult summer camp reminded me that camp — and Wet Hot American Summer, too — was fun because of the people. Campers and camp itself are easy to stereotype and satirize because people's personalities seem to come out in extremes, but that's why it's so challenging and enlightening. The group of women I ended up spending most of my time with reminded me why putting yourself out there is so crucial.
Camp might end in you being rejected by someone you think is the love of your last 24 hours, but your friends will be there with plenty of knee-high socks to coordinate an embarrassing dance number with you, and remind you that there's always next camp.