Saturday, July 12, 2008

Oh Camp Tel Noar

A few days ago, I received dozens of forwards because good old Camp Tel Noar was in the news. Before I post/respond to what happened, those who are unfamiliar with summer camp need to know the following…

I spent 11 summers (7 as a camper, 1 as a CIT, and 3 as a counselor) at a Jewish summer camp in Hampstead, New Hampshire called Camp Tel Noar (since it was in New England, you drop the "r" so it’s pronounced Camp Tel Noah.)

Summer camp was a very special place…it was where I saw my 1st Playboy (Penthouse, Perfect 10, Hustler, Swank, Chicks over 80, etc.)…it was a place where I had my 1st romances…a place where I made out with cute Jewish girls behind the library, in front of the infirmary, and on haunted mine rides…it was a place where I flourished as an athlete…although I was athletic, it helped that the competition was thin since I was competing against other Jews…it was a place where I was cool and could pick on those weaker than me…it was a place where I learned to stay up all night and gamble…to play trumps (a game outside of camp nobody else knows)…to compete in color war (and be bitter about not getting picked as a captain)…a place where I learned the brilliance of pranks (like nailing bunkmate’s drawers shut, dumping Ajax on someone while he was on the toilet, or swiping someone’s mattress and leaving it on the 3rd dock in the lake)…a place where I learned to be funny by pointing out other people’s flaws…a place that made me hate eggs…a place where I memorized hardcore rap music…and finally a place where I made some of my best friends.


But one of the things I never learned in camp was how to deal with townies. Townies were not the biggest fans of the suburban Jews who invaded their 03841 zip code every summer. But in our defense, we usually stayed within camp grounds, chilling by Sunset Lake, playing softball in the “big diamond” or getting drunk across the street (ATS.) We respected their domain. We left them alone. They left us alone. It was a simple non-verbal agreement. But there was one night where my friends and I broke the pact, and the townies responded swiftly.

Summer, 1995

It was my 1st summer as a counselor or a JC (Junior Counselor.) It was orientation so none of the campers had arrived yet. During the day, we set up the camp, did stupid team building games, and were lectured by a man named Morris not to touch children in the bathing suit area. Me and the other JC’s (guys I’ve been attending camp with since I was 8) were welcomed in as counselors, and bonded with some of the seasoned vets. They went over some of the basics, and called dibs on which female counselors they wanted to get with.

When darkness hit, that’s when the fun began. Since there were no campers, we were all free to leave camp grounds. Although we left numerous times for trip days to Canobie Lake Park and Water Country, we had never been out of camp on our own. This was a very exciting time for us.

The Cast of Characters

JW: Larry David meets Alfred E. Newman

EA aka Smurf: a nice kid who looked 13

ME: same as Smurf but I looked 10

MM: the cool guy; hooked up with lots of girls including one sans eyebrows, but that was just for practice

SW: a strange, scrawny kid who either made you laugh or made you want to kill him

(For the 2 guys above that are reading this; hope my descriptions were accurate and not terribly offensive.)

Big Night Out

The five of us hopped into EA mother’s gray 1988 mini-van. We blasted Ice Cube’s The Predator from the CD player and felt wicked cool. We drove to the local Chinese Food hot spot, Grand China. (This place was a dump, but when it’s all you have, it then becomes a hot spot.)

At Grand China, we found the older counselors drinking Scorpion Bowls (or as we called ‘em Tiki Bowls.) According to wikipedia, the Scorpion Bowl may be considered the "mother of all drinks" due to its size and presentation in a large volcano bowl, a 48 ounce vessel with a ceramic volcano in the center. I remember feeling a little uncomfortable because it was my first visit, I was not invited to join in, and I had a fear of lava. And even though Grand China was lenient with drinking, there was no way they were serving me because I looked like an infant. In fact, all 5 of us (except maybe for MM because he was cool) felt a little intimidated. We had some chicken wings, cracked a few jokes, and decided we would find our own hot spot.

We found an even crappier Chinese restaurant, ate some terrible crab rangoon, and proceeded to cruise the streets of Hampstead, NH. We were giddy over our freedom, and anxious because we really had nothing to do. That’s when SW noticed a familiar car behind us; it looked like Otter’s car, one of the older counselors. SW had an epiphany.

SW: Let’s moon them!

SW believed mooning them would earn us respect as well as give us something to do. JW, the paranoid guy, warned us of the consequences and even suggested that might not be Otter’s car. MM, EA, and I were indifferent. Whatever.

SW pressed his skinny ass against the window. We chuckled as we slowed down at the stop light. Good times. Little did we know, things were just getting started.

The horn blared from Otter’s car, and then a large tattooed, skin-head type creature unfolded from the car. It was not Otter. He shouted obscenities (mostly you’re dead and we will kill you type-of-things.) To quote the Ghetto Boys: “I swear he stood about 6 or 7 feet, now that’s the homeboy I be seeing in my sleep.” But my mind was not playing tricks on me. He was very real and so were the 3 other angry, giant townies in the car.

We shouted for EA to step on it. His mother’s mini-van peaked at 40 mph, and the townies were gaining on us. We all took turns screaming at SW and his hair-brained scheme. We were all gonna die.

And then JW came up with a great idea. EA followed his advice, and we pulled into a nearby police station. The townies coasted by and we were free.

We had our excitement. We had our brush with the townies and ended up victors. It was time to go back to camp and tell our story. We pulled into the camp lot which was located in the back woods. As EA slid into his spot, we noticed flashlights coming from across the woods.

The townies were not only angry people, but they were also pretty smart. They deducted we were going to the Jew camp, and knew exactly where we were parking. They parked on the corner, walked through the woods, and now were 10 yards from our car.

We saw them coming. JW panicked and spouted out absurd instructions which we all ignored. EA didn’t have time to re-start his car, and he thought about locking the doors, but feared that would just provoke the townies into smashing up his mother’s mini-van. I ducked in the front seat, and clutched a stack of CD’s that I prepared to hand over as a bribe. SW, and his skinny white ass, curled up in the fetal position in the backseat. MM sat calmly by the sliding door.

The skin-head guy slid open the door and was face to face with MM. Skin-head guy chewed us out and his comrades rooted him on. Something flashed from the side of his pants…it could’ve been a gun, it could’ve been a mag-light. We didn’t know, and we didn’t want to find out.

MM was in charge from here on out. He remained calm and apologized several times. The most memorable part was that MM kept calling skin-head guy sir.

MM: I’m sorry, sir. You were right, sir. We are assholes, sir.

It seemed to confuse skin-head guy. MM was not fighting back .That’s when skin-head guy went to Stage 2. He wound up his right arm and clocked MM right in the face. MM didn’t curl up in pain, shed a tear(an amazing feat considering he was the same kid who cried a few years earlier when he was not allowed to have ice cream on July 4th), or even flinch. Instead, he looked skin-head guy right in the eye and said:

MM: I deserved that sir. I’m sorry, sir.

This was a complete mind-fuck for skin-head guy. It was kind’ve like Gladiator when Maximus wouldn’t fight back. The other townies started to get antsy and convinced skin-head guy that it was time to go. They turned around, trudged through the woods, and vanished into the night.

We hugged each other in jubilation; we were alive. MM was declared the hero for the night. We didn’t know how he mustered up the courage to take on skin head-guy, but he did. How the hell did he do that?

The truth was revealed to me at the end of the summer. During our brief visit to Grand China, MM had snuck away from us for a moment and partook in some Tiki Bowls and some other "extra-curricular" activities. He was so “out-of-it” that by the time he was struck on his face, he didn’t feel a thing. So it turned out that MM's irresponsible actions actually saved our lives.

The five of us made our own pact after the experience. We agreed to leave the townies alone and to never moon another car in Hampstead, NH ever again.

I tell this story because, 13 years later, another counselor-townie battle ensued this week in Hampstead, NH.

The War Continues…

Police Taser Naked Camp Counselor

HAMPSTEAD, N.H. (AP) - A camp counselor in Hampstead, New Hampshire, has been charged with attacking a police officer after a resident found the man in his home. Police say it took several shots with a Taser to bring down 26-year-old Michael Feld of Brooklyn, N.Y., early Monday.

It all started when a resident found Feld in his house around 5 a.m., wearing only pants. Police said Feld ran outside, took off his pants and refused to stop when confronted by Officer Kathleen Boulter.

Investigators say Boulter zapped the naked man with her Taser and that he tackled her to the ground, breaking her elbow, and then tried to choke her.

The homeowner knocked Feld off the officer. Other officers caught up to Feld, and Tasered him again before getting him in custody.

Feld was an employee at nearby Camp Tel Noar.

In court on Tuesday, Feld said he had been awake all night before the incident and started having hallucinations. He asked for mental help.

Inside Man

I spoke to an inside source who told me this character was not a direct camp counselor, but was the head of the drama department which definitely explains something.

Some of My Favorite E-Mail Responses

That's what they get for hiring counselors from New York.

Feld stayed up all night playing Trumps, and while sitting in the Lerman, lost a huge pot, and was never the same again.

Yankees fan goes nuts after his team doesn't win the World Series for 8 years.

Feld was not related to Feldy, of Bunk 6/1991 fame. But coincidentally enough, Feldy was on the scene watching and hiding in the bushes. He said it was the best arrest eva'.

The article forgot to mention that Norma (the founder/great-grandmother of Camp Tel Noar) was also seen running from the scene pulling her pants up.

As a punishment, Feld lost lights and bunk activity for a whole month. He also lost trip day and will not be allowed to go to Israel.

And Finally, My Personal Favorite

Can't a naked man tackle a female officer while getting tasered anymore without having to worry about going to jail? America needs change.


Monika said...

This is an interesting read...I guess I must be a Townie. Never thought of myself that way though.

Your Daily Vitamin said...

I went to a similar type of camp - one for Christians. Ironically enough, I became agnostic the moment I got back from my 8th summer there. That's interesting...

Your posts are hilarious. You writing style, in particular is very endearing and the voice you give off is both comical, awkward, and unbelievably personable.

As per your last post, I've got to give you some serious kudos for the cell phone bit. My summers just got a hell of a lot more interesting - especially considering that the Regal and AMC guys bumped up the prices (sure we're in a recession, but do I really want to pay $9.50 to see Wall-E? No insult to Pixar is intended - I actually loved the movie). I agree about Hancock - it got a little sloppy in the second half. It did, admittedly, have a fantastic score. Who did the music in that movie? I'll look it up later. It gave it a very classic super-heroic vibe that contrasted beautifully with the very modern superhero himself.

Your blog is very interesting. I plan on continuing to read it.
I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my own.


Anonymous said...

I was a camper at Tel Noar back in the '70's and early '80's.

I was bored at work this afternoon and I googled Tel Noar and this interesting blog appeared. It brought back some very fond memories.

I have a rathe ironic bit of trivia. My father was the chef at Tel Noar form 1950 to 1981 (the year he died). I attended camo from age 7 to 15 then I became the maintenance man. There was one glitch. I was catholic. I wore a yamica and after a while I spoke very broken hebrew. It took me a while to figure out why they called me "goyum"!!!

I had some great times there. Smoked my first joint with the kitchen boys.

I also got most of my bunkmates in Bunk 8 in serious trouble because I took them to McDonalds and we ate non kosher food while at Hampton Beach.

So things have not changed a bit. Maybe I'll get circumcised as a tribute!! (just kidding my counselor did it for me when I was in Bunk 2 !!)

Joe Rochira

Anonymous said...

Hello!your site is very interesting!I was in Camp Tel Noar on summer 2007,worked as a stuff in the kitchen.Sorry for English-it's not really good.but still I can communicate.My name Olya.and I want to find old friends,and new also)))Maybe you know me-so

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight...You spent a couple of summers getting drunk and kissing girls behind the dining hall at Tel Noar and this makes you an expert on Hampstead and its residents?

Just to clue you in a little..Hampstead is a mostly upper middle class town whose residents mostly consist of engineers, teachers, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. It has a school system ranked as one of the best in the state and is one of the friendliest family oriented towns that I know of.

I won't dispute your story of a run in with a skin headed moron...Maybe he was from Hampstead, maybe he wasn't. But you might want to consider doing a little research before you deride and label an entire community based on one encounter. If I see a fat drunk passed out next to a bottle of Boone's on the sidewalks of Boylston Street, am I to assume he personifies a typical bostonian? Townies indeed. They do exist, but not in Hampstead my friend.

Anonymous said...

It appears Anonymous is offended by the term "townies". For those that live near Hampstead, the term used is actually "village people". The Village is a local bar that is full of drunken patrons that appear to be victims of a time warp. Maybe all of them are not from Hampstead, but rather part time residents that spend a good part of their life belly up to the bar in Hampstead's hot spot.

Anonymous said...

i found this article halarious and amazing. this past summer (2010) was my bunk 18 year. ever since the event of the crazy drama director (who i found creepy, not gonna lie) at least 2 counselors have been fired every year. Molly (Pearl Lourie Butters daughter, now the director of Camp Tel Noar) has threatened us many times she'd take away Israel, but has never done so, not that she has let us know at least. This year was the 1st time she had kicked CITs out. thougthh i would fill you in on the recent news of beloved Camp Tel Noah.

PS- this year was a record breaking year... the smallest amount of people to sign up.
-Nahariya Girls were unforgettable, eighteen ten

Anonymous said...

i found this article halarious and amazing. this past summer (2010) was my bunk 18 year. ever since the event of the crazy drama director (who i found creepy, not gonna lie) at least 2 counselors have been fired every year. Molly (Pearl Lourie Butters daughter, now the director of Camp Tel Noar) has threatened us many times she'd take away Israel, but has never done so, not that she has let us know at least. This year was the 1st time she had kicked CITs out. thougthh i would fill you in on the recent news of beloved Camp Tel Noah.

PS- this year was a record breaking year... the smallest amount of people to sign up.
-Nahariya Girls were unforgettable, eighteen ten

Anonymous said...

I searched "Camp Tel Noar" on Google and I found this. I'm a camper now at CTN and I was there when the creepy drama dude got arressted. He actually flipped out at me the day before he got arressted because I wouldn't try out for his play. I read this to my mom who was at CTN for 12 years and she thought this was great! It totally reminded her of her camp days.

Anonymous said...

I'm a camper at Tel Noar now, I'm 18'14!!!!! Finally.. It's funny to see the actual version of the story about mike the drama guy, because I have heard all the stories about him but got there is bunk twelve, so I was a couple years late... I got the very distorted version in which he was extremely high, caught eating a fudgesicle inside the house, and totally naked the entire encounter. It was funny- this year was the first year in a while that they kicked out a counselor, for smoking pot on camp grounds....

Anonymous said...

New Tel Noar NEWWWWWWWWS: All the CATS and CITS came back a week early because of all of the conflict in Israel, 5 CATS and CITs were hooking up with campers and the entire camp knew but admin didn't do anything about it, Molly was gone and we had a parent pleaser instead, Negev and Galil were both disqualified from drama fest for questionable content (I'll give you a blow.... pop), bunk 18 was known for our... HANDouts, one counselor got kicked out for smoking weed with 2 maintenance guys (and possibly hooking up with them), another was gone because he came back from a 10am free drunk, 2 more stayed even though they were caught hooking up, and bunk 18 was the best its ever been.
Bunk 18 '14 You Do You

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