Erica Jameson runs a summer camp that’s been in her family since the 1930s. We talk about animals and how to kill them, as well as that old camp standard–Bloody Mary. In the last 10 minutes, my daughter steps in to ask some hot-button camp questions and to give “shout outs” to kids in her class.
Original McSweeney’s interview here.
1:09 Erica is a residential summer camp director. People come to her sustainable working ranch for two-week periods. They sleep outside, live without electricity.
2:20 On the first day of camp, the kids show up and the counselors rush the cars.
4:44 Suzanne is picturing kids being sullen and asks if there are a lot of them wearing hoodies. No, they are not, because it’s really hot there.
5:28 Do the kids shower? Every other day apparently. Some stand outside the stream of water, but most shower. When Erica was at camp, for showers, the kids lined up and would get sprayed with a hose.
7:42 The Jameson Ranch Camp was founded by Erica’s grandfather in Ft. Tejon, California, near Santa Clarita and Bakersfield.
9:15 Her grandfather started the camp to help wayward boys. Example: one of them stole a car. He wanted them to learn hunting, trapping, literature. Then met his wife who was also into camping. They ran camp for 40 years, then their children ran the camp for 40 years, and Erica recently took over.
11:52 They do not shovel manure there.
13:00 All of the buildings have been made by her family and the camp community.
13:50 She was a high school history teacher. But camp is her soul—it’s when she has the most hope for humanity.
15:00 Unfortunately she doesn’t know how to trap animals (trapping). She can drive a team of horses or butcher a cow though.
16:00 Details of butchering a cow. Ugh. Removing the entrails, taking out the heart. Cow hearts are bigger than human hearts.
19:45 They have a llama that is sometimes nice. She’s moody. Like Suzanne. If an alpaca dies you have to take it out with a crane. Also you can ride a llama if you’re under 60 pounds!
22:00 Discussions of rats and trapping.
24:10 They sing a lot.
26:14 They eat s’mores every Saturday. They’re going to branch out and possibly put peanut butter cups in their s’mores this season.
27:00 Wet Hot American Summer—any parallels? Not really.
28:20 How do they get the kids to go to bed at night? When the final bell rings, it’s bedtime. And it’s dark and you get up early, so you fall asleep.
30:00 Bloody Mary is still maybe a thing? Erica doesn’t think kids do it, she thinks it’s only adults who remember that. Suzanne had a Bloody Mary experience at camp as a kid. It’s about Mary Queen of Scots. Suzanne thought it was about Mary mother of God. You chant it three times and she will materialize in the mirror. No idea the origins of this.
At camp, they frown upon screaming in the middle of the night.
34:06 Suzanne’s daughter asks a few questions about camp. Has her camp ever had a bug infestation? Suzanne’s daughter is concerned. She re-counts the horrors of her camp experience. And asks what kinds of things people do to get sent home early.
She also gives “shout outs” to her various friends and kids in her class.
Go to http://www.jamesonranchcamp.com for details on Erica’s kickass camp.