Prank Wars

Written by: Hayley Fowler

Designed by: Hamza Butler

There is almost no place in the world where folly is as much appreciated as it is at summer camp — in fact, it’s encouraged. And more often than not, the masterminds behind it are your camp counselors. Beloved by all and feared by many, they’ve invented the most creative payback for all the times you refused to sleep during rest hour, tricked them into thinking you’d showered and snuck an extra dessert.

Here are some of our favorites submitted by readers:

“My campers and I once took all of (my co-counselor) Ana Leija’s stuff and distributed them all over the (senior) hill with notes on them that required her to do an act to get her stuff back… for example, she had to trade clothes on her body for her guitar.” – Adrienne Wood, counselor at Camp Kahdalea Brevard, North Carolina

“Prelude: Traditionally at camp there is a mud day thrown by the outdoors department, when all of camp spends the afternoon getting dirty and ending it by sliding down a giant tarp on a hill into a moat of soap-water. This was during my CIT (counselor in training) summer — It was in protest to admin’s banning of mud day that year. One night a friend woke me
up at 3 a.m. In between two of our cabins in a 10-square-foot area, I joined four others outside throwing shovels into the dirt and excavating what would become a great mud pit. I took
a hose and showered it. We did our work under the moon, no interruption. In the morning, 36 of us gathered around the pit. We took a group vote of whether to jump in, which would surely get us in trouble. Obviously we did, and our counselors didn’t care. Thoroughly bathed in mud, we marched through camp. By the time our demonstration had rolled downhill, camp’s admin pulled up on us in golf carts. Our punishment ended up being short and fun; we just cleaned up some trails. Our handprints from that afternoon are still visible on the sides of cabin #1 and cabin #2 to this day, three years later. Mud day has returned every summer since.” – Eric Schwartz, counselor at Camp Airy Thurmont, Maryland

“Some of my favorites: leaving pizza under someone’s bed all summer until it started to mold, having my bed filled with ketchup (which I hate), and putting the camp director’s dining hall table on the raft in the lake.” – Annie Pancak, counselor at Sandy Island YMCA camp Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

“We filled our director’s cabin with balloons so when he got out of the shower, he was completely surrounded by hundreds of balloons. Also, we woke up the boys’ cabins in the middle of the night with a megaphone shouting (and we may or may not have thrown eggs).”
– Caroline Warburton, counselor at Camp Henry Canton, North Carolina

“The girls were at church camp, way up north near the Eel River, about six hours from home. The night before they left, they were at campfire very late — with several emotional rituals. So they were exhausted. Sleep came easily, and they knew they would have to wake early for the buses. Suddenly, drawing them out of a deep sleep, the counselors were screaming at them that they were LATE and that the buses were about to leave. Not only did they have to throw their stuff together FAST but they had to drag it up a hill and through a stream to get to the buses. It was still dark but they didn’t want to miss the bus! They finally get to the top of the hill, with the counselors all snapping at their heels, when the counselors all broke into hysterical fits of laughter and the kids noticed there weren’t any buses. The kids had only been asleep for an hour. It was only 1 a.m. and the buses, of course, weren’t leaving until 10 a.m. At least they had a few hours left to sleep.” – Barbara Ganias, camp parent Pleasanton, California