Martha Thomases: Not Your Children’s Camp


Do you like winter? I don’t. I mean, I enjoy the first few snow days when the city is clean and white, and I like to wear sweaters and other soft warm clothes. I like to curl up in a cozy chair with a book and a glass of whiskey.

What I don’t like is the darkness, and the gloomy skies that come with snowfall.

So I was delighted to discover this website, which promotes something called the Epic Nerd Camp. I need extra fantasy in my life, now especially.

Did you go to sleep-away camp when you were a kid? Did you get picked on and bullied because you wanted to read comics and science fiction instead of playing capture the flag?

I did.

But I also loved a lot of camp activities. I liked shooting arrows at the archery range and thinking that I was an Amazon warrior or a member of Robin Hood’s band. I liked paddling a canoe, and learning how to tip it over and get back in, because those seemed like useful skills if I ever had to escape from a super-villain.

And I loved making s’mores.

Epic Nerd Camp is a week-long event that takes place in Starrucca, Pennsylvania, a town with which I am entirely unfamiliar. There are two five-day programs (August 12 to 16, and August 16 to 20). Instead of the usual camp stuff that required team sports and traumatized me as a child, the emphasis is on cosplay, quidditch, swordplay, circus stuff (trapeze, high wire, unicycle, juggling etc.) and games.

Lots and lots of games. Several game publishers are among the camp’s sponsors. Since I’m not much of a gamer, this is where they start to lose me. However, at $499 for five days, four nights of food and lodging plus all kinds of activities, it seems like a reasonable price. You can also pay an extra $60 for the goodie bag.

Unlike the camps I went to as a kid, the bunks offer a certain amount of privacy. And even more unlike the camps I went to as a kid, there are co-ed bunks. And alcohol is allowed – although you have to bring your own.

Looking at the photographs on the website, Epic Nerd Camp looks like a great time. The people in the photos are overwhelmingly white, but they have all kinds of body types. The FAQ makes a point that it is an LGBT-friendly place.

On this overcast day, it is delightful to think about a week in the woods, making and using my magic wand or learning how to walk a tightrope. On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of any activities that require insect repellent.

I suppose I could take the cosplay construction classes, along with mask-making, and cover myself sufficiently to avoid any bugs. They have needlecrafts, which usually includes knitting, so perhaps there is a screened-in room for us to knit. I wonder if I could combine the knitting and the cosplay to make my superhero outfit, just like Martha Kent.

That was something my old camp never offered.