I Survived The Alamo Drafthouse Sleepaway Camp Weekend

A week’s worth of living in just two days.

Header image by Heather Leah Kennedy

Camp is wasted on children. Their feeble bodies are weak and puny. They don’t have jobs, so getting away from it all means nothing to them. They can’t even drink.

But bring a thirty-year-old office jockey with student loan issues out to the woods. Give them some beer, a bow and arrow and an open lake. You will see a level of happiness only available to those accustomed to the misery of adulthood.

I was lucky enough to enjoy such happiness as I experienced the full offerings of The Alamo Drafthouse Sleepaway Camp Weekend, one of the Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow events. Having never been to a typical American sleepaway camp during my childhood, I was more than a little excited to finally see what this was all about.

Friday evening we arrived at Camp Champions, a full-fledged summer camp located outside Marble Falls, TX. The grounds has pretty much every accoutrement you’d expect - a ropes course, a climbing wall, a baseball diamond, archery targets, a mess hall, a pool and - naturally - a beautiful lake featuring rope swings and the Blob - an inflated log you jump on and (if you don’t slip off as I did many times) get launched off in turn. It looks like this:

That’s just a sample of what the camp had to offer, but getting into all of it wouldn't come until Saturday. Upon arrival, we checked into our cabins and began the long, painful process of making new friends and ferment weekend rivalries. This was aided by the first of many organized events - a karaoke contest - and beer. By the time we got to the dance party - or movie marathon if that’s more your jam - the relationships that would take us through the weekend were already established.

Saturday began with a slight sense of worry that I wouldn’t have enough time to enjoy the many features offered by the camp. But I had no reason to fear as the experiences were structured around an ongoing competition between the four camp teams - blue, yellow, green and red. While you were welcome to visit the various activity stations as you chose, following the various contests across the camp ensured nothing got missed while also strengthening the bond with your teammates and offering gloating opportunities, which is its own kind of fun. There’s nothing quite like sharing weighted, hateful grimaces with people who were complete strangers only twenty-four hours before.

There was so much activity Saturday that I almost remember it as three different days. After a busy morning, everyone took a timeout to swim in the pool at 2 pm before getting back into it with the climbing wall and archery and the Eagle Swing, a high rise human pendulum that I fucking broke:

The third leg of the day took place after dinner with an incredible pajama party followed by a mildly chaotic game of Capture the Flag that was crazy enough without rebellious rascals throwing water balloons at us from behind trees. You know who you are.

When we awoke Sunday, a sense of melancholy about leaving was in the air. But before it could take hold, a lively game of dodgeball, a balloon-stomping game and an extended last dip in the pool made sure we were all too spent and worthless to even think about being sad.

In other words, my weekend was perfect. I had a blast and made new friends, just like you’re supposed to do at camp. And so far no one has found the body. It’s an experience I can’t recommend enough, and I wish I were there right now.