Having Wonderful Time

May 13, 2012 § Leave a comment


A couple years back I came up what I thought was a genius idea: summer camp for adults. Just imagine it: all those happiest, most carefree summers of your youth, packed with swimming, arts & crafts hour, and s’more-roasting under the stars . . . only this time with alcohol and sex. (Well, more sex. My sleepaway camp adventures ended in middle school, and took place at a church camp to boot, so the closest we got to sexin’ was en masse crushes on the boys from Cabin 6 with Devon Sawa hair and names like A.J. and Jonathan. But Little Darlings, Meatballs and Wet Hot American Summer make it clear I missed out.) What could be better? And how exactly was I the first person to think of this? We have adult kickball leagues, adult Chuck E. Cheese . . . how had nobody invented adult summer camp yet?

Then I watched the Ginger Rogers romance Having Wonderful Time and realized they had.

Ginger Rogers plays an overworked typist who’s been saving all her pennies for a vacation in the Catskills: at Camp Kare-Free, to be exact, which is . . . you guessed it, an adult summer camp. She shares a bunk with a handful of comic relief friends (including Lucille Ball), she eats breakfast in the mess hall where Red Skelton provides the guests with comedy routines about the proper way to dunk their doughnuts, and her days are spent horseback riding and canoeing on the lake while nights involve dancing and star-gazing on the camp’s veranda. The camp canteen is even fully stocked with liquor. Dream vacation, right? But Ginger’s got bigger dreams: her reason for taking this trip was to land a husband who can rescue her from her busy working girl life and the noisy family she lives with. Despite a rocky beginning, Ginger does manage to win the heart of camp waiter Douglas Fairbanks, but he, naturally, is penniless and in no shape to be rescuing anybody from anything. Misunderstandings lead to the usual romantic comedy hijinks, which are solved, 1930s-style, at the last possible minute before the fade-to-black.

I have no idea what happened to adult summer camps. Maybe they only ever existed in the movies in the first place. But one thing’s for certain: it’s time for a comeback. Anybody want to put a down payment on a little lakeside place in the Adirondacks with me?

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