I figured it was time for another edition of Fat Camp Follies. If you haven't read my Fat Camp Follies stories before, I encourage you to start from the beginning:
- Fat Camp Follies: A Primer
- Why Fat Camp?
- Arrival and Setting the Scenery
- 100 Shades of Red
- Pop Star
- Sneakin’ Around Part 1
- Sneakin' Around Part 2
Fat camp was a safe place, food wise. There aren't many places on this earth that will prepare your food for you and serve it to you in exact portion sizes day in and day out. Talk about zero guesswork! You knew you had a set menu, and sucked it up. Didn't like the spaghetti? Tough cookies. Didn't like the nonfat fudge bar for night snack? You could trade ridiculous favors for people who would have cut off your hand for that fudge bar. For the most part, food was controlled and no one had any extras they could use for currency.
Of course there were those who would come to camp with candy and chips rolled up in their underwear inside their suitcase. Amateurs! Everyone knew you couldn't sneak it in! I don't remember any raids of luggage, but do know people got caught trying to bring it in.
However controlled the environment, however, you can't keep a fat kid away from the junk food. It's amazing to think back at how for many campers, it was an obsession. Were they trying to sneak junk food because it was against the rules and they wanted to look cool? Or was it that they simply didn't know how to cope without it?
I never really craved junk food as some people did. We didn't have junk food in my house. No soda or chips or cookies, however we did always have a plentiful supply of sweet tea, as all good families in the south do. Some of these kids, however, were so addicted to it they would complain like crazy at meal times about the “healthy” food they had to eat (which really was quite tasty at times). They'd cry to their parents to send them boxes of candy. And a few of the parents would actually come through and do that for them! Some parents would come to parents weekend with treats to reward their kids for good jobs. Talk about delusional enablers!
There was one mecca – one workaround, where campers could get their fix. Was it risky? Yes. Was it worth it? To some – abso-freakin-loutley.
Do you see what I see?
Do you hear the angels singing?
It's a VENDING MACHINE!!!!!!!
Seeing as we were on a college campus (UC San Diego), there were bound to be vending machines SOMEWHERE within walking distance. They weren't within sight of the dorms or anywhere else the campers interacted, however a secret was passed down from summer to summer- sharing the secret coordinates of the vending machines behind the boys dorms.
If you went behind the boys dorms and led away from campus into a wooded sidewalk area, if you kept walking a little bit, you would see the bright florescent lights of the vending machines calling your name. I say you could see the lights because no one would attempt a vending machine raid during daylight hours. When darkness fell and quiet surrounded the camp, determined, dare-devil campers would tiptoe out down the path, running towards the light of the highly processed food and sodas.
If you made it to the vending machines, you threw your cash into that bad boy as fast as possible and then quickly worked out the pros and cons of buying multiple Snickers bars or mixing it up and getting some salty stuff and some sweets. You would frantically hit the alphanumeric combinations, hoping to God that the bag of chips didn't get stuck in that round-dispenser-thingy.
The trick was that the vending machines were in an area with some bushes and trees. Counselors could hide behind some of them, watch people in the act, and then stop them on the way back to the dorms. I admit that as a counselor I did this a few times. Talk about shame of the kids who got caught. So close, yet so far away. What was that noise? Oh, it was the ZAP of the moth getting fried in the light.