Illustration by Sarah Lammer
My new friend and I were sitting on one of the benches surrounding the fire pit. This was her first year at Flying Horse Shoe Ranch, a fresh audience on which I could test out the latest in a long line of lies I fabricated just for camp: This time, my mother was a Miss America contestant.
“You’re so lucky.” She sighed as she braided my hair. “She must be gorgeous.”
This was a risky lie to tell at this particular venue, given the fact that my mother had worked at FHR as a nurse nine years earlier, while she was pregnant with me, but by this point I was a practiced summer camp liar. The previous year, I threw caution to the wind and informed the camp counselors that my birth mother was dead, and as a result, I had to carry around her photo with me everywhere, a pocket-sized picture of the two of us taken when I was an infant and set in a silver frame.
The three-week summer session at FHR always included a hike up a nearby mountain where we spent the night in the…