These Summer Camp Horror Stories Will Make You Cringe

If every children’s movie is to be believed, a stay at sleepaway camp is the key to a memorable summer. But, for every perfectly toasted s’more, artfully crafted piece of macrame, and stunning talent show performance, there are plenty of pranks that implode and color war catastrophes that you would never write home about.
Ahead, we’ve compiled a series of horror stories from a few R29 staffers that are sure to have current campers checking under their bunks for uninvited guests, and packing an extra set of everything to be prepared for whatever pops up. Please pass the bug juice and read on.
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1 of 13
"In sixth grade, I hated summer camp SO MUCH that I cried constantly and frequently begged the counselors to let me call my parents to ask them to come get me and take me home. I was so homesick! My folks wouldn't do it — I'm sure they thought it would be good for me to learn to let go a little and that I'd eventually calm down and have some fun.

"Instead, I packed my bags, waited for everyone to head to the mess hall for lunch, and snuck out of the cabin, with a grand plan to hitchhike home. Luckily for my personal safety (although that wasn't my attitude at the time), the camp director spotted me trying to make my escape and pulled up next to me in his truck, just before I made it to the exit. He drove me back to the main office, we called my parents, and they came to pick me up. I was grounded for the rest of the summer, but honestly, I didn't care — I was thrilled to finally be home! Camp sucks."

—Anna
2 of 13
"I was on a trail ride at summer camp and FELL OFF the horse when it started trotting, because the saddle wasn't on tight enough, and the horse had just pooped, tightening its stomach. Anyway, no one at camp believed I was in pain and I was forced to try to use my arm normally for two days until they told my mom to come out and try to give me a pep talk. Turns out, it was a broken shoulder."

—Marshall
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3 of 13
"One summer, there was a lice outbreak at camp. The camp nurses decided that over 300 people had it, and it caused panic in the camp. Some girl had borrowed my brush, and then realized she had lice. Before even checking me, they decided I had it, too. I spent two full days having lice treatments done. After the second day, the real lice specialists came in, looked at my head, and decided I had never even had lice. I spent two full days in lice quarantine, bored out of my mind, for nothing."

—Maya
4 of 13
"Summer of 2002, I had bats invade my bunk at sleepaway camp. In the middle of the night, my friend woke up to a bat on her pillow. She jumped out of bed and woke us all up, and we all cuddled in just a few beds to get through the rest of the night. We then begged camp to not make us sleep in the bunk until the bat was caught — which took multiple calls from our parents because they did not believe us. They ended up catching the bat in the middle of the day, which signified the bat could potentially have rabies.

"This all happened during our camp Olympics (a.k.a. color war). And we were told in the middle of a soccer game that we were being sent to the hospital for rabies shots! We also missed most of the Olympic closing ceremonies, which was devastating, and caused even more tears. This vaccine is a series of three shots, so the saga continued for about a month following camp to finish the series. Traumatizing experience, to say the least!"

—Melissa
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5 of 13
"I once gave a boy a blowjob in the woods and ended up getting poison ivy on my knees. Seven years later, and my camp friends are still calling me 'Knees.' I will probably never live it down."

—S
6 of 13
"I was at a summer camp in the Ozark County of Missouri where we all slept in perma tents for 10 days. Campers were not allowed to have food into the bunk for obvious reasons, but we liked to play by our own rules. One night, my bunk mate woke us all up with a bloodcurdling scream. It turns out she was dreaming about being at home snuggling her 20-pound miniature poodle, Buzz, but when she woke up, she found a 20-pound raccoon sleeping at the foot of her bed! Let's just say we didn't sneak food back to our bunk for the rest of the camp session...lesson learned."

—Jessica
7 of 13
"One year at camp, we made kites at the art pagoda and were running around in a big grassy area flying them. I decided to go barefoot for some reason, and as I sprinted down a big rocky hill (yes, a very intelligent choice) by the lake, I sliced my foot completely open on a rock. There was blood everywhere, I was sobbing, and I had to be carried up the hill by the lake director and put in a car to the nurse's office. I couldn't walk on my foot or participate in any fun activities for, like, a week after that."

—Sophie
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8 of 13
"This story is my sister’s and I'd be happy to lend it to anyone to tell.... The girl who was in the bunk above my sister was afraid of the dark and the woods. One time, in the middle of the night, she had to go to the bathroom but was too afraid to leave the cabin by herself, so she peed in a plastic bag she had up in her bunk. Well, my sister woke up to the urine dripping through to her sleeping bag."

—Beatrice
9 of 13
"At the sleepaway camp I went to, every summer you would have an overnight up in the woods. After playing manhunt and running around, my 13-year-old friends and I thought it would be funny to moon our counselors. The counselors didn't think it was funny at all. The next day, when we got back to camp, the director called us into the office to tell us that we were in big trouble. After a stern talking-to, we found out our punishment: We had to go back up to the overnight site and pick up all of the used toilet paper in the woods…"

—Christina
10 of 13
"When I was 10 years old, I spent my first summer at camp. We have an overnight camping trip every year, and during the day hike, the head of my age group told us that if we use the bathroom, we need to carry our toilet paper back to camp with us. That totally freaked and grossed me out, so I decided to try my best to not go number two for the rest of the trip.

"After we got to the campsite, assembled the tents, and had dinner, it was time to go to sleep. I was sharing a tent with two girls in my bunk at the time, and I realized while we were in our sleeping bags that I really had to go. Still traumatized from what my group leader said about the toilet paper, and afraid to get lost in the dark, I went in my sleeping bag and decided just to take off my underwear and throw it somewhere so no would know.

"Obviously, this quickly backfired on me. The next morning we wake up and our tent smells like absolute shit (literally). I make up a lie (because I am so embarrassed) that a stink bug must have come and stunk up our tent, just to get the attention off of me. My counselor came into our tent the next morning and knew something was up, and straight up said, 'It smells funny in here.' On the bus back, I sat on my sleeping bag to hide the smell, but it was semi-obvious someone had shit their pants. I get back to camp and my counselor takes me straight to the nurse. Bottom line: If you gotta go, GO."

—PK
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11 of 13
"My bunk mate had pneumonia, and our counselor wouldn't let her go to the infirmary because her mother was the camp nurse, and she thought she just wanted to see her mother. We ended up sneaking her out of the bunk in the middle of the night to bring her to the nurses' quarters. She ended up being sick for the next two weeks!"

—Madison
12 of 13
"I used to go to Nabby Day camp in Westchester when I was eight or nine years old. Every morning, the camp bus would come pick me up from home and drop me back off at the end of the day. Dodgeball was a super common activity at camp, and people who know me know that I'm extremely unathletic. I had a crush on another boy in camp, and while I was dodging a ball, completely ate it in front of him and everyone. My knees were bleeding all over the place, and I STILL have scars. Not my finest moment!"

—Kristin
13 of 13
"At the sleepaway camp I went to for eight years, there was a 'competition' between every guy’s and girl's age group to get the most 'hookups" that year. Sneaky makeout sessions were planned by friends down to the T, so as not to be caught, all in the name of racking [up] those numbers.

“Mine would be my second kiss — my 'first' was the year prior on a bumpy bus home from a field trip that did little to ease my nerves (I'll admit it, I was still terrified of boys) — orchestrated to happen during our late-night free time. Because we didn't want our counselors to spot us, I was told to sneak into the bushes outside the dining hall. So, what's a girl to do? In I went, to sit in the dirt and wait for my designated partner (who I had zero attraction to, by the way).

"Once he crawled in to join me, we proceeded to awkwardly, sloppily kiss until it felt like enough time had passed that it counted. When I crawled back out, I had dirt all over, a couple of leaves in my hair, and a realization that if THAT was kissing, I would never do it again. But at least I got our group a tally!"

—Kayla
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