Almost Southern: The Devil went down to Girl Scout Camp

Never, ever, ever go to this camp.

by Meredith Mulhern, Staff Writer

A few days ago, I was searching through my sister’s room for a pair of socks when I came across a souvenir that I had taken home from the worst week of my life.

On her dresser sat a small stuffed moose with his face torn off wearing a red t-shirt that read “CAMP MINTAHAMA”.

A flood of memories gushed through my brain (which I’m pretty sure is concussed), and let me tell you, those memories are definitely not good ones.

When I was eleven, my dad drove me down to southern Missouri to a small, disgusting plot of land shortly outside of Joplin. This plot of land is called Camp Mintahama. I met fellow seniors and grade school friends Audrey Carroll, Gwen Robertson, and Honour Sollars at this decrepit place.

The place looked like it hadn’t been updated in at least thirty years. I’m serious, imagine Camp Greenlake from the movies Holes, add in Girl Scout cookies and young tween girls instead of lizards and boys, and place the camp in the Ozarks instead of western Texas. Welcome to Camp Mintahama.

As we waited in line to check in, we stood by some very shady people. If I remember correctly, the girl in front of me was named Mercedes, and she turned out to be extremely rude. Her daily wardrobe included neon-colored tutus, fishnet tights, tank tops, and Converse high tops that went up past her knees.

Anyways, we checked in, and I went to my “cabin.” I use the term “cabin” loosely here. It was a tent pitched on top of a wooden deck with five small cots inside of it. I roomed with Audrey, Gwen, and Honour, and we each said goodbye to our parents, hung up our mosquito nets, and went to the main grounds of the camp.

That first night there wasn’t so bad. We played tag and did relay races with the other girls, but our time down at camp soon turned sour.

After playing tag and such, we went to vespers, which is basically a church service in the woods. I remember it being kind of cultish, to be honest. Vespers included our first bouts of homesickness and an accident involving an animal, a tree, and urine (I won’t go into detail).

When the four of us arrived back at our tent, we discovered fifty of our new closest friends in our “cabin”. That’s right ladies, more than fifty daddy long legs had joined us for the night, and were apparently going to join us for the rest of the week. Our counselors assured us that they were harmless, so we lied down in our cots and named every single daddy long leg with a name starting with “F.” I’m sure Freddy, Felicia, Ford, Farrah, Ferris, etc., are all dead. RIP.

The next day, the homesickness hit hard. We woke early to go to Polar Bear swim, which I’m sure the devil himself created. Basically, you wake up at 5:30 and go swimming. We only went in order to get rid of the smell of pee off of Audrey since there was an unfortunate mishap with an animal.

After Polar Bear swim, we ate breakfast in the nasty as heck dining hall. All of the food was inedible, except for the never-ending supply of Girl Scout cookies. Little did I know that this food would trigger one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.

Later that day, we were all done with this disgusting camp with its disgusting food and weird people. Unfortunately, homesickness hit Gwen the worst. I remember sitting against a tree, watching Honour and Gwen walk towards the bathroom, and seeing Gwen throw up.

A wave of terror and anxiety washed over me as I watched my friend vomit up her breakfast and lunch. I hate vomit, and I hate being around people who vomit, so that’s what caused the anxiety. I physically could not be around Gwen without having a panic attack. This is when I became homesick.

I cried for hours upon hours. I wanted to go home, Gwen wanted to go home, Audrey wanted to go home, and Honour was kind of just chilling. I think she kinda liked camp.

Gwen and I became so hysterical that they locked us away in the nurse’s office for four hours. I remember entering the office in a tearful haze and begging the counselor that brought us there to let us call our moms. She said we could not call our parents under any circumstances. Looking back on it, she probably didn’t want us to call because she thought that our parents were going to report the camp or something.

The rest of the week continued as such. We were expected to build rafts out of sticks in the woods by the end of the week, so I spent most of my time wandering around aimlessly and shedding silent tears as I collected large sticks. Everyone was unhappy, everyone wanted to go home. Except Honour.

Our experience at camp ended with a canoe trip, which actually wasn’t that bad. When my mom picked me up on the following Friday, I was so happy that I cried, to which my mother said, “If I had dropped you off here I would’ve taken you back home, this place is disgusting.”

And so ended my experience at Mintahama. You could not pay me a million dollars to go back to that sham of a camp. I endured Gwen’s fits of vomiting four whole times, hours upon hours of crying, hundreds of daddy long legs. wandering around in the woods alone searching for sticks all day, canoeing several miles in two days, using a latrine as a bathroom, and ingesting dozens of Girl Scout cookies.

So ladies and faculty, do not ever send any of your loved ones to Camp Mintahama unless you want them to be emotionally traumatized for the rest of their young adult life. If you went to this camp and loved it, I’m not sorry for bashing it. It was a hellacious experience.