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Welcome to Camp Sugar Cereal

For two years Miss Behaved appeared in a local paper – I know, a real paper.  Now I want to periodically share some of her here in my blog.

Spoiler Alert:  You will learn nothing.

The Brochure

“At Camp Sugar Cereal, your child will be treated with the utmost respect and indulgence since Grandma loves every camper the best.


  • Water activities
  • Outdoor activities   
  • Nutritious Meals
  • Enriching and educational projects

She was sold.

This particularly grateful mother sent her children up to grandma’s for “camp” even though she knew perfectly well that the sum total of her mother’s athletic experience consisted in appearing dressed as the third tree from the left during the Stanford University Senior Class Interpreted Dance Recital. But, the mother of the two children reported that as she contemplated the camp offer, the youngest was cutting large patches of hair from the cat, physical prowess did not seem so critical.

After three blissful weeks alone in her own house, experiencing uninterrupted work, faster commutes and a clean kitchen she reluctantly arrived to retrieve the happy campers since she was their mother.  Upon her arrival, she discovered that, like all brochures, the actual experience at Camp Sugar Cereal was a bit different from what was advertised.

Water Activities.  Her mother, referred to here as the Camp Director, drove the campers to her best friend’s pool every afternoon.   Grandma’s friend found a whistle and called herself the Aqua Activity Director. Pool activities include complimentary lemonade for the boys and in-depth conversation for the  Directors who occasionally glanced up to admire death-defying twists and jumps off the diving board. No one bled, not even once.   

Outdoor Activities. The Camp Sugar Cereal Director swore that every day she suggested a hike or walk in the bucolic surrounds of Camp Sugar Cereal. And every day she was greeted with the typical response to a request for outdoor exercise: both campers fell down on the ground with mysterious cramping around the head, shoulders, and torso that would seemingly prevent them from any forced movement beyond painfully but successfully crawling to the television.  Early in the program, the director was fresh enough and energetic enough to insist on one little walk.

She lured the campers into the car with the promise that fish, snakes, lizards and a few dead animal carcasses would be discovered during their “outing”(never call it a hike). The director had to check the instruction sheets to figure out how to disengage the Game Boys from the campers hands. After that, it was just too much effort.

Nutritious meals.  As far as the mother could determine, no fruits or vegetables were injured during a Camp Sugar Cereal meal.  Breakfast selections included; Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Rice Crispy Treats, Captain Crunch and a donut or two. The campers ate their vitamin-fortified treats straight from the box while watching poorly animated Japanese cartoons. For lunch, the happy campers wolfed down corn dogs, microwave burritos and more cereal. Dinner featured such delicacies such as macaroni and cheese, or pizza. It was,  in other words, a child’s culinary paradise.    

As it turned out, late night television was one of the more popular activities at Camp Sugar Cereal although not advertised in the brochure.  Every night, the Director ventured upstairs at about 11:00 PM to firmly say, “I don’t think your mother would want you to watch that.”

To which the senior camper guilelessly replied: “Oh, of course, she does, she just doesn’t know it yet.”

Then both campers tired to explain to the Director that the knife-wielding ax murder in this particular movie is actually a profound metaphor for something and they’ll know more if they are able to watch the film to its conclusion. But not even the Camp Sugar Cereal Director fell for that one. But as part of the obligatory camp activities, the campers tried again the following night.

Like the campers themselves, the Camp Director decided that the daily dip in an over-chlorinated pool was sufficient replacement for a real bath.   Fortunately, when the mother picked up the children from camp, she remembered the tongs.  She donned her hazmat suit and carefully place every article of clothing into air- tight containers.  She kept the car windows open the entire three-hour trip home despite the rain.   

It is reported that Sugar Cereal Campers emerged from the experience unharmed and in fact, quite happy. They immediately showed off the new vocabulary words learned when the Camp Director accidentally hit her thumb with a hammer.

The campers regaled their parents with talks of marathon monopoly games, cartoon film festivals and afternoons devoted to a single book. The most important feature of Camp Sugar Cereal is something the average American Child simply can’t get enough of at home: benign neglect.

At this camp, the Camp Sugar Cereal Director assured the campers that they may return, as soon as she makes a warehouse run for seventeen more boxes of cereal.   

Camp Sugar Cereal- True story, ask my mother about the fire.


Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach and author. She has published over 300 newspaper and magazine articles in publications like Modern Maturity (AARP), SF Chronicle and Santa Rosa Magazine. She was a contributor to two Chicken Soup Books and has published anthologies of her work, non-fiction works and novels. Her work has also appeared in a number of poetry and fiction anthologies. She has experimented with the self-publishing world since 2001. She has published and self-published seven books through companies like Author House, author assist companies like 3L Publishing and through traditional publishers like Write Life. Her poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise, will be released in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press and her mystery novel, In Good Faith will be released by Write Life in 2011. Catharine holds a BA in English from UCSB and a MA in English from Sonoma State University. She is a 25 year member of California Writer’s Club. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix. She works with authors of both fiction and non-fiction to make their dream of producing a book come true. For more information on that, visit her at Catharine has lived in Sonoma County for 25 years and considers wine a food group. She is married to an adorable and very patient man who complains he’s never featured in any of her books. Her grown children who are featured in a few of her books have fled the county.

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