Remembering fun times at the Gestapo summer camp |

Remembering fun times at the Gestapo summer camp

Heidi Rice
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

“Did you ever get farmed off to summer camp when you were a kid?” I asked Husband-Head curiously.

“No, my parents liked me,” he answered smugly. “But I’ll bet you did.”

He was right. I was sent to summer camp almost every year.

The first one I remember was a music camp in the Adirondacks on an island on Lake Placid, N.Y., that was run by a German couple who had emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1940s.

“They ran it like the Gestapo,” I informed Husband-Head. “I’m not sure if they were Nazis or not, but it sure felt like it.”

We were woken up each morning by the reveille bugle call, followed by instructions over the loudspeaker to tell us the dress code of the day.

“Longs, longs and hard shoes,” the Nazi-voice would boom over the loudspeaker.

Then there would be the surprise “drill” during the day in which we were required to drop everything we were doing and march around the camp. This may have explained why about 50 percent of the camp counselors fled in secret boats during the middle of the night before the season was over.

And I don’t recall ever playing any musical instruments. …

Then, while we were living in Germany, I remember my sister and I being sent off to an American tennis camp in Wurzburg for several weeks. And again, I don’t remember ever learning how to play tennis.

“You don’t know what you missed,” I informed Husband-Head. “Every kid should have to go to a summer camp.”

As I got older, I didn’t go to summer camps, but instead got summer jobs.

“Please tell me you at least had a summer job,” I said to Husband-Head. “Or did you just sleep in for hours every day and then hit your parents up for money when you wanted to go out?”

I asked because, as the baby in a family of six children, Husband-Head was, shall we say, a totally spoiled brat.

“No, I worked,” Husband-Head said defensively. “One summer I was a caddy at a golf course. I walked around carrying golf bags and looked for golf balls.”

I envisioned Husband-Head like Bill Murray’s character in the 1980 movie “Caddyshack.”

“Did you ever, like, eat a Baby Ruth bar in the pool that looked like a turd?” I asked, referring to the famous scene in the movie.

Another summer, Husband-Head worked in a garden center.

“I helped little old ladies load fertilizer to their cars,” he said proudly.

Then there was the job at the machine shop.

“I made screw parts,” he said.

No further questions.

I had a summer job working at a dude ranch in northwestern Colorado when I was in my early 20s. It was a fun job in that it really wasn’t much of a ranch at all. Sure, there were some horses and cattle, a log lodge and cabins, but these guests definitely weren’t roughing it.

We cleaned their cabins every day and left a basket of fresh fruit at the end of the bed and a chocolate on their pillow.

Let’s say that the guests were rich and the employees were young. And sometimes the two met in the middle of the night.

This was the cast of “Dirty Dancing” without Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray.

Speaking of which, we also had to have a staff show every Friday before the guests left. It didn’t say on the application that you had to be the equivalent of an American Idol contestant, but apparently you did.

And because I could not sing or dance, I came up with my own act. I put on a black bikini, covered with a long black coat with a sign on my back that said, “The Maidenform Woman – you never know where she’ll turn up” and walked around handing out cocktails.

Of course on our off time, the employees made their own fun. For example, the girls would all go on a topless horseback ride, galloping through the beautiful mountain scenery. Yee, ha!

Although, I think it was kind of painful for some. …

Whatever your vacation plans are – whether it’s summer camps or seasonal jobs – hopefully it won’t involve Nazis or dirty dancing. …

Heidi Rice is a staff reporter for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Her book collection of columns, “Skully Says SHUT IT!” is available for purchase at the Post Independent or through her website at, or

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