Reid Harris Cooper (lordrexfear) wrote,
Reid Harris Cooper

Come sit around, don't get burned, and listen.

Memory can be a lot like a tale told around a camp fire. Each year it changes, it expands, at one point it might've been based on something completely true, but as time goes by and the story is passed on, it evolves. Some years the story will have this or that element, other years it'll be told almost completely differently. It'll get jumbled so that it goes from story to epic and at times back again. It'll become hard to even be sure the order in which the story happened, so a counselor will just do their best or even create a brand new story but somehow down the line, that story will get intertwined with the original story being told about that particular camp and thus classic boogeymen are born.

This is much how my brain recounts all my adventures at summer camp as a whole. I know some facts, I have memories, but years, order, it's all one mishmosh. A fun collage of select happenings that if forged together would be just as good as any Meatballs flick.

My first recall of a summer camp is a simple day camp. I honestly don't remember anything of it other than maybe it was called bide-a-wee? This doesn't seem important since I don't know what I did there or who I met or even what year I went, but I remember going which is... something. My first sleepaway camp provides me with glimpses of kayaking, learning some minor computer programming, horse riding and stepping on a bee and being out of commission for a week as the stinger got stuck deep and caused severe ankle spasms. Lesson here? Do not walk barefoot on grass in the woods or campgrounds. Just don't do it.

The truest memories of a summer camp I have though come from Peter Sklar's. A specialized program of intensive workshops in acting, singing, dance, commercial work. Everything in the gamut of being a child actor, while still being an actual camp too. There was tennis, cabins, cafeteria food, romances, those friends you may never see again. A big bonfire and that final dance. It was a strange, unusual, crazy couple of weeks. Some of it exists on a video tape produced by the camp. I was a weird crazy kid. On the video there was this one day where people were paired up to be coming down in line dance, couples, best friends, etc. just outside in the grass. Just silly camp stuff. The kind of stuff we needed because the workshops were like actually being in a class. For whatever damn inexplicable reason that I can not and shall never fathom other than... I'm Reid Harris Cooper, I did something else.

It's one thing for me to talk about this though and another for you to see it.
So here's the description I wrote about this incident 7 years ago when I also posted a video of it.
Here is some footage of me spliced together from 22 year old worn down beat up VHS tape which has lost footage, tracking and clarity over the years. It showed me at 9 years old in the summer of 1987 at a performing arts camp.
The middle repeating section was a bit I remember having to FIGHT to be not only allowed to do, but allowed to get on camera. I was very into (and still am) abstract physical comedy. Everyone else was going down the row as happy couples. I even had a female friend who wanted me to do this. I wanted to do a bit where I had an imaginary abusive girlfriend. I don't know why, this was just what I wanted to do. In the end I was lucky enough to have this short clip of that on the video, so I decided to have it repeat constantly, like something you'd see on Jack-Ass.
The ending shows me at our final showcase singing "Little Shop of Horrors". The entire beginning of this got messed up on the tape, that's why only the ending is there.

Reid Harris Cooper at Peter's Summer Camp 1987 from Reid Harris Cooper on Vimeo.

Now the main thing here is when I said 9 I could be wrong. I was maybe 10? Maybe I was 11. I honestly don't remember because my summers were crazy. In one summer I'd be at the camp, doing auditions, going to Florida or Denmark or California and the age of 8-12 kind of merge into a when, where, what, how? Was that all the same summer? Were they different summers?

The year I went to Peter Sklar's I also went to a winter camp he ran. It was as equally a weird and crazy experience. Peter was a jerk to me at this thing, attacking the weight struggles I had started experiencing at that time and have juggled with since. Yet, I also found myself with many friends, an amazing time, and having the older girls thinking I was the best which was a plus and maybe meant I peaked too early cause I could never capture the same magic back in school. Or I did and I just didn't know, but that's a story is for another time. It like summer camp mergers and flows and becomes like a campfire tale.

The absurdity of my life, or at least how my brain remembers it brings me to one more summer camp story. I like everything else can't recall when or where this thing was and the evidence of it also seems to have disappeared forever, unlike the evidence of the Sklar camp (it's in this apartment SOMEWHERE on some tape). It was an intensive media program through someone else that taught me how to operate a camera, how to write a script, special effects. All that kind of stuff. My class or group or crew or whatever you want to call us made our own version of War of the Worlds, focusing on the idea of people believing a fake news broadcast. Yet with a twist... we thought we were lying about aliens... but then... aliens do come down and start killing us all and the public doesn't realize because moments earlier we told them that everything we had said and shown them before was fake. It was brilliant and I really wish I could find it and share it again with the world. Or maybe... maybe it's a campfire tale... maybe it never happened... but I damn sure remember it.
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