All of my childhood summers were spent at summer camp. With the exception of one summer of overnight camp and one summer of a community center camp, all of my summers were spent at Banner Day Camp.
Banner was the most organized, inexplicably fun mix of sports, music, dance, gymnastics, team building, swimming, arts and crafts and general fun.
My parents sent me to Banner young (my first summer I had just turned 3) because they both worked full time and – in a stroke of “luck” – my sister, who was 15 at the time, was working there. I’m not sure if this had an effect on the cost of my going there, but it did make my mom feel safer sending me away for 8+ hours a day.
Banner is a full-service day camp. They provide lunches if you choose to not bring your own. They have buses that pick everyone up and drop everyone off including staff members. I’m not getting paid to say this, but I loved Banner. I ended up working there during the summer of my collegiate years…but I digress.
Don’t I always?
At the young age of just-turned-three, my sister and I got on the bus for my first day of camp. I was scared and excited, but I had my sissy, so nothing could go wrong.
The second the bus started moving, I learned a very important rule about dynamics, movement, and weight. When you weigh about 25 pounds and go over a bump in a bus, you don’t just bounce up and down like the song “The Wheels on the Bus” says…
You fly up in the air and slam your whole body into the window of the row you’re sitting in.
This happened over and over until my sister put her arm over my legs and basically held me down. She became my human seat belt for the ride there and then the ride home.
My sister filled my mom in on what had happened and my mom called the camp to make a very smart, but super embarrassing, request: I needed to sit in a bus seat that had a seat belt. At all times. This went into effect the very next day.
This was not ideal. Even 3 year old me didn’t like this. (1) I was the only person on the bus who had to wear a seat belt. The. Only. One. (2) The only seat with a seat belt was in the very front – all the fun on a bus happens in the back. Everyone knows that. (3) This meant I couldn’t bus surf.
What on EARTH is Bus Surfing???
Sounds dangerous… I like it already…
Bus surfing is a challenge that kids – extremely unsafely – used to do on the bus rides home from camp. Basically the driver would tell us when we were about to get on this super bumpy and pothole filled road and kids would stand up in the aisles and try to stay standing without using their hands or bodies to touch any seats. If they bounced and hit a seat or fell, they were out. The last one standing (literally) was the winner who got extra bus snacks. I should note that there was an age requirement for this. I don’t remember at what age the threshold stood.
Oh, yeah, there were snacks on the buses. Every day the camp would give a bag of snacks to the bus driver to hand out to the kids. Keep in mind this was in the early 90s, so no one cared about being gluten free, low calorie or sugar levels. What a glorious time. I remember Mondays were always pretzel rods. Tuesdays we got sunkist jellies. Wednesdays were old school Laffy Taffy. I think Thursdays were smarties and I have no recollection of what Fridays snack was. I think Pixie Sticks??
Anyway, obviously being seat-belted was the worst.
Worse than smashing my head against the bus window.
Worse than the possibility of falling and getting seriously injured while trying to surf in the bus aisles.
Worse than the high fructose corn syrup all soccer moms are trying to prevent their kids from these days.
I can bus surf now. I’m an adult.
A possibly reckless adult, but an adult.
I have bus surfed and train surfed a number of times since being an adult who can make my own horrible decisions. My best friend, Erin, has a video or two of me doing so trying to prove that it’s all core strength.
Did you go to summer camp? Have you done anything crazily unsafe on a school bus?
Additional Note: I was always a small child. I was in a car seat until I was 10 because the requirements were that you had to be in a child restraint until age 8 or 40 pounds. And I wasn’t 40 pounds until I was in 5th grade. That was also the worst.