Michael Comes to Camp (or First Day of Camp; I’ve seen both as titles for this episode)
Okay, so I love Salute Your Shorts. If you read my post Top 10 Reasons Salute Your Shorts is the Best Camp Show/Movie ever you know that. I’m a superfan and give this show five out of five stars on the whole. It’s got everything to love about camp, and I will be *first* in line to buy the DVD set if they ever come out with it (and it will live blissfully on a shelf next to my copy of Clarissa Explains it All, Season 1).
But I’ve gotta say (and this pains me, it really does) that the first episode wasn’t the best. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still awesome, just not the most awesome.
The episode opens with our first glimpse of Camp Anawanna as the crew is putting up a Welcome to Anawanna banner. The bus arrives, and Michael (our show’s protagonist) exits. He’s immediately greeted by Sponge, camp’s token nerd, who goes on a rant about all the things that “bite” at camp (the food, the bugs, the activities, etc). He also meets Bobby Budnick and his sidekick Donkey Lips, who promptly pick on him, knock him over, steal a pair of his boxers out of his duffle bag, and send them up the flagpole. This is when Sponge tells Michael that all he can do is “salute your shorts,” which, I believe, is the only reference to the series’ title.
During a hilarious baseball game, Michael and Budnick get into a fight, and thus, get in trouble with their counselor Ug (who happens to be just about the only counselor we ever see). Budnick encourages Michael and Sponge to join their secret society. To join, they must perform a dare, which turns out to be stealing items from the girls’ cabin.
Camp being camp, word spreads like a wildfire, and the girls get wind of the prank, so they set up an elaborate trap, including trip wires, eggs, and feathers. The boys avoid the traps, for the most part, and end up making off with Dina’s make-up (which is stored in a Caboodle because . . . ‘90s), Z.Z.’s secret diary, and Telly’s glasses (they originally try to get her mitt but that set off one of the traps). Counselor Ug notices something suspicious going on, and he enters the cabin, sets off the traps, and gets doused in eggs, feathers, milk, and other disgusting substances. In the race back to their own cabin, the boys end up losing Telly’s glasses. Michael feels terrible, so he and Sponge retrace their steps, searching for them. Michael ends up stepping on them and breaking a lens.
At breakfast the next day, Budnick claims a dorky, younger kid is responsible for the thefts, and he demands an “awful waffle” for payment of his crimes. Michael watches as the entire camp gets into it, chanting, “Awful waffle! Awful waffle!” It appears as if an awful waffle involves lying the offender on a table and dousing him with syrup, although we never find out exactly what it entails, as Michael puts a stop to the mob and fesses up.
The girls are angry with him and declare they thought he was different from Budnick and his cronies. Michael goes back to his bunk in shame and stays there for days. Sponge tries to snap him out of his funk, but Michael feels too badly about what happened.
Then, Telly pops up in his cabin and tells him she forgives him since it had been an accident and he had tried to make it right. She’s also gotten his boom box back (Budnick stole it earlier) and has contacts, which she says her doctor has told her will help her see better. They go out to play basketball, and Dina and Z.Z. enter the bunk to do some pranking of their own—toilet paper decoration.
SYS Classic Stuff:
- The classical music.
This episode featured music from the opera Carmen (during the ballgame/fight) and the Can-Can (when Ug was getting soaked with booby-trap gunk).
“Roasted, toasted, and burnt to a crisp!”
- Where is Camp Anawanna?
I always wondered where the magic that was SYS was supposed to take place. According to Wikipedia, the show was filmed at Griffith Park Boys Camp and Franklin Canyon Park , both near LA. But I don’t remember any mention of where the fictional Anawanna was supposed to be.
At one point in this episode, Michael says he’s from Springfield, but since there are thirty-some states which boast a city named Springfield, this isn’t much help.
Mystery: Ongoing. Maybe a future episode will provide more clues.
- Why does Telly wear goggles?
When her glasses are stolen, Telly wears a pair of swim goggles. I’ve spent more time than I want to admit trying to figure out why. Goggles cannot help you see better. Maybe if she was underwater…but not on land. I don’t get it…even though I’ve tried.
- When Telly tells Michael she got contacts, she says her doctor claims she’d be able to see better. But contacts can’t help you see better than glasses, right?
At first, I thought this was just as ridiculous as her wearing goggles. But then I did a little research into this and found out that, in fact, peripheral vision IS improved with contacts, since the contact wraps around your entire field of vision, wheras with glasses, the lenses only sit in front of the eye, making just what you see straight-on clear. For many, contacts can also be less distracting (no glares, no physical apparatus to get bumped and knocked off, etc) for athletes, which Telly is.
Mystery: Solved! And I learned something new, which is always good.
- Where are all the counselors?
This is a mystery that goes beyond the first episode. Ug is the only counselor we ever see or hear about, except for “Kim” who is mentioned by Dr. Kahn over the loudspeaker. There are no other counselors watching the baseball game or supervising breakfast when the poor kid almost gets awful waffled. No counselors in the cabins. Where are they all???????
- When did camp start and why are some kids there before others?
All the kids showed up on the same day for all the camps I ever counseled at. Occasionally, a kid would arrive a day late or leave a day early, but this was for special circumstances. In this episode, Michael arrives at camp on a bus. The girls are hanging a welcome banner, which would imply that some kids had been there already because it would be silly for campers to arrive and immediately make a welcome banner for other campers.
Okay, okay, I know there are some camps out there that have varying session lengths, and some kids sign up for one session and others for two, but the characters themselves contradict their own length-of-stay at camp:
For example, Z.Z. says that since she’s gotten to camp, she’s “already made a gimp lanyard, gone on a nature hike, and learned two new songs on my guitar.” The way she says it, it sounds as if this is supposed to be impressive, as if she’s only been there a short time. But later it’s revealed that she wrote about there being a new kid at camp (Michael) which also makes it seem as if she’s been there for a while, since she considered him a “new kid.” However, this is said to be recorded on a page called “Day one.” If she has been there for a while, why would she title her diary entry as if it were the first day?
Dr. Kahn announces over the loudspeaker, “After your first full day here at camp . . .” So is he referring to the entire camp? Or just the new kids?
Unbelievable SYS Scenarios:
- The one counselor-for-the-entire-camp thing. That’s just not an acceptable camper-to-counselor ratio for any camp. In fact, the American Camping Association recommends one counselor for every eight campers of this age. Usually, we see our seven main camper characters and Ug, so that would be fine in those cases. But what about the ball game with dozens of campers but just one counselor? Or breakfast with the whole camp minus counselors?
- The kids seem to be of late junior high age, but as they go to bed (in a cabin without counselors), the camera zooms in on the digital clock which reads 9:11. So three unchaperoned teen girls chose to go to bed at 9:11? Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay . . . not buying it.
“That is SO camp” SYS Moments:
- Nothing stays a secret at camp.
The boys make their plan to steal the girls’ stuff, and the girls find out almost immediately. They even go through the chain of gossip which got the information back to them. That is SO camp. Everyone finds out everything in record time! You know that expression, “Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead?” That applies majorly to camp. Very few secrets survive for long.
- The kids are wearing the same clothes two days later.
After Michael admits his part in the prank and gets chastised by Telly, Sponge sprays Budnick with ketchup, then the scene cuts to Michael and Sponge hanging out in their cabin. Sponge mentions that it’s been two days. The boys are dressed in the same clothes they were wearing at breakfast in the previous scene. Then Telly appears, also wearing the same clothes, as are Dina and Z.Z. At first I had this in the “unbelievable” section, thinking it was a continuity blooper, but then I got to thinking . . .
At camp, lots of kids wear the same clothes several times throughout the week. Once, my friend Bree had a camper in her cabin who didn’t change anything until Wednesday, and that was a girl! The boys are much more notorious for this. Granted, usually the campers don’t ALL wear the same clothes for two days (or happen to ALL put on the same clothes two days later) but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
I do take exception to Dina doing this. As the fashion-conscious, rich girl concerned with appearances, she’d be the kid who brought three suitcases to camp and wouldn’t repeat an outfit. That was a bit out of character.
This episode’s rating: (out of 5)
Camp Themes **** 1/2
Characters **** 1/2
90s style ****
So there you have it. Salute Your Shorts episode one. I love this show and look forward to sharing more episodes with you!
If you solve any of the “ongoing” SYS mysteries, please comment below!