What I Left Out

The spring I turned twelve I begged my mother to send me to Camp Fuller By The Sea. My best friend Palmer had gone the year before and his summer had sounded like the best summer a boy could possibly hope to have. He was allowed to shoot BB Guns and a paddle a canoe, and he played basketball and Capture the Flag all day and goofed around with his new friends all night. It would be fun from sunup to sunset, and if there was one thing I always wanted more of, it was fun. My mother eventually caved and signed me up for two weeks. Unfortunately, Palmer had neglected to mention that I would spend every moment, from sunup to sunset, in the company of other boys. I liked them all well enough, but I was used to having a door I could close when I wanted to be alone. At camp I slept in a tent with twelve other boys, and I played games with other boys, and I ate meals with other boys.

I was intermittently miserable. I liked BB guns and canoes and Capture the Flag, but I needed to be alone. I didn’t know why I needed to be alone, I just knew that there was something with which I was used to being in constant communication that was harder to hear while in the company of other people. It got so bad that during one game of Manhunt I hid myself in some dark ravine and did not emerge until well after the game was over.

I couldn’t wait to get home. However, once I had a door to close, I looked forward once again to spending time with other people. Now, I had a bunch of stories to tell about my two weeks at Camp Fuller By The Sea, about how we called Kool Aid “Bug Juice,” and how I learned to love French toast, and how we were made to go alone at night into an abandoned house. It was great to have so much new material, and it pleased me for reasons I could yet name that I could choose what I put in those stories and what I left out.

My mother would be surprised to learn several years later how unhappy I’d been at camp. “You got so excited telling those stories,” she remarked. “Listening to you tell them it had sounded like the best summer a boy could have.”


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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