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Summer Camp, Day 1

An $11 billion seasonal industry has just gotten underway: summer camp.

This morning, my wife and I sent our kids off to their first-ever day of camp. They are too young for sleep-away camp, so they’re going to a day camp that’s a short bus ride away. All over the city of New York, the summer-camp rhythm has struck: nervous kids getting on new buses with other nervous kids; parents getting caught up on all the things they’ve left neglected; countless triumphs and traumas will unspool on ballfields, in swimming pools, on anthills and berry patches.

In honor of this great day, I reprint below the lyrics of one of the best songs ever written, “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” by certified genius Allan Sherman. (If you doubt me, listen to “Hail to Thee, Fat Person” from this album.) “Hello Muddah” is sung to the tune of Ponchielli‘s “Dance of the Hours,” from La Gioconda.

We didn’t go to camp where I grew up, in the boondocks of upstate New York. We worked in the garden, baled hay, painted the roof, maybe went on a long bike ride. Of all my adult friends in New York City, I think I am the only one who never went to camp. I envy them their experiences. Please feel free to share your own camp experiences, good or bad, in the comments section.

Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am at camp Grenada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining

I went hiking with Joe Spivey
He developed poison ivy
You remember Leonard Skinner
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner

All the counselors hate the waiters
And the lake has alligators
And the head coach wants no sissies
So he reads to us from something called Ulysses

Now I don’t want this should scare ya’
But my bunkmate has malaria
You remember Jeffery Hardy
They’re about to organize a searching party

Take me home, oh Muddah, Faddah
Take me home, I hate Grenada
Don’t leave me out in the forest where
I might get eaten by a bear

Take me home, I promise I will
Not make noise, or mess the house with
Other boys, oh please don’t make me stay
I’ve been here one whole day

Dearest Fadduh, Darling Muddah
How’s my precious little bruddah
Let me come home if you miss me
I would even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me

Wait a minute, it’s stopped hailing
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing
Playing baseball, gee that’s bettah
Muddah, Faddah kindly disregard this letter.