The camps I attended in the summers of my youth were merely week-long getaways, though I've always had the impression -- from movies and television -- that it is typical in some regions of the country for kids to pack off for a summer-long camp, filling the gap between school years.
I always did well with the crafts, and, with some apprehension, navigated the delicate social constructs of camp-society.
On the last evening of camp, we all went out on a hayride to a farm, where we'd have watermelon and (I don't recall specifically, but I'm guessing here) sing around the camp fire.
While frolicking at the farm, some of us spied a hay ring tipped up on its end like a spinning hamster track. So, I hopped on it and started walking up one side to roll it as though I were in 2001: A Space Odyssey or, in more current context, a Cirque de Soleil act.
Those nearby thought I had a keen idea and piled onto the hay ring with me. With several people rocking the ring in competing directions, I lost my balance and planted my hand on a jagged piece of the ring's metal structure.
It didn't hurt real bad, but it hurt. And when I got off the ring and held my hand up, it was rapidly filling with a pool of blood, like a dark wine seeping from my skin. That freaked me out a bit, but it also seemed oddly incongruous, because it looked really bad, but it didn't feel really bad.
I trotted over to a counselor, who seemed more panicked that I was. She rounded up some other counselors, and soon I was being whisked away to a hospital in the nearest town. First, we had to go back by the camp to retrieve my file with its medical information like the date of my last tetanus shot and a signed note from my parents that the counselors could seek medical attention on my behalf.
I got 12 stitches and a souvenir scar across the meaty part of my palm.
The whole ordeal took a long time. When I returned to camp, the other campers had completed their hayride/farm visit and were already in the big meeting hall for a dance on our last evening at camp.
When I walked in, lots of kids came over to talk to me and ask about what had happened. It felt nice to believe that they were genuinely interested or concerned, though it also seems likely many of them just wanted to get the lowdown on what happened, whether or not that had any interest in my well being.
Dad picked me up the next morning. "What happened to your hand?"
"I got cut. And I had to have some stitches, but it's okay."
Somehow, I felt adult-like by being able to explain something happened, but there was no real cause for worrying -- everything was going to be alright.