My hot, rowdy Indian summers at Hindu youth camp

Sujata Day in Salon:

When my parents first told me I was going to Hindu camp, I was not happy. And, to be honest, I was more than a little scared. My parents claimed they knew what was best for me, vom. Most of my summer vacations were spent back in India with family, so it was almost a treat to be able to stay home for once. I’d miss swimming at Park N Pool, riding bikes to Dairy Queen and picnicking at Idlewild Park. Why would I want my perfect summer in the ‘burbs to be interrupted by some stupid camp where I wouldn’t know anyone? Would there be bears? And even more terrifying, would there be cute boys?

I pouted in the backseat while my dad drove our family up the 79, past the Grove City outlets, through Meadville and finally reaching Lake Erie. I was also bummed because the temple sent a list of things we should pack and a lehenga was one of them. As a tomboy who lived in jean shorts and T-shirts, a girly ‘fit wasn’t on my list of favorite things.

Wearing my best frown, I walked past squealing reunited campers and shuffled my way to the girls’ cabin. Its tragic emptiness was a perfect match for my pathetic, Eeyore state of mind. I wanted to run after my parents and beg them to take me home, but instead I tossed my bag on an unoccupied bunk and begrudgingly unpacked. Then, the cabin door sprang open and Mishti bounced in. She peppered me with a barrage of questions. Where was I from? What school did I go to? Was I any good at softball?

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