Camper sign language for "There is some cheese."

Camper sign language for “There is some cheese.”

Maybe when you went to summer camp as a child, you felt that there was more going on than you knew about. If you don’t know the secret camper sign language, you were right! In a series of posts, I’ll show how campers communicate without speaking. If you or someone you know will go to summer camp, it’s crucial to understand these signals, or you miss out on a lot.

We’ll start out easy, with just one sign. The diagram shows how to point out the location of cheese to another camper. With one hand, use your index finger to point to the cheese. The other hand makes a squarish curved shape with the thumb and first two fingers. You can think of this either as a letter C for cheese, or a grip appropriate to holding the curvy edge of a wedge of cheese. Either way, now you will recognize this symbol of cheesy deliciousness!

If you use this sign yourself, take care not to confuse cheese with soap. Before you direct your fellow campers to a tasty snack, do the test to make sure that’s what it really is. It takes only a few seconds and heightens your peace of mind.

If the cheese is soft, for instance if it’s cream cheese or marscapone, wiggle the fingers of the non-pointing hand, as if you were mushing the cheese a little. For practice, you might get a package of cream cheese, let it warm up, and massage it a little — still in the wrapper, unless you just like to make a mess. Pay attention to how your fingers move. This will help you give the motion a natural look.


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