A Goin’ To Camden

As suburban parents, it's our duty to attend cheesy fund raising functions for the schools. I've sat through a crappy ventriloquist act, five-hour sit down dinners where I was stuck next to the mute moms, a contest where you make a sculpture out of discarded bread at a beefsteak social, and several reinterpretations of "The Night Before Christmas" as teary PTA presidents thanked the ladies.

Perhaps the silliest ritual at all these events is the Tricky Trade. You buy tickets and place them in a paper bag in front of a "basket o' shit". At the end of the evening, someone picks out a ticket out of the bag, and the winner gets the "basket o' shit." The basket o' shit is usually themed – "A Day at the Spa" or "Fun with Crafts" or "Build Your Own Future". It's often comprised of re-gifted items or T J Maxx specials.

Some people really get into the basket o' shit and screech with delight over their gift certificate for a French manicure at Nails R Us on the Route 17. They debate the pros and cons of the various strategies for winning – dumping all your ticket in one brown bag or targeting unpopular baskets.

Steve and I usually case the perimeter of the place and try to find the least offensive basket to drop out tickets. You have to participate or you look like an asshole, so we do our share. At the last Casino Night for Ian's school, I just handed the matter over to Steve and let him deal with the tickets. We never won anything before, so I chose to concentrate my energies on the blackjack table.

At the end of the evening, the PTA ladies started handing out the baskets to the winners and for the first time we won. But what did we win? We won tickets to a ballgame in CAMDEN. We're going to CAMDEN. Have you ever seen CAMDEN? This is CAMDEN.




This weekend, Steve and I sat down with a calendar to plan out the rest of the summer before we squander all that good time at the town swim club. There's a week down south. We want to go to the Jersey shore for a day. A water park. Oh, and we have to go to CAMDEN. 


21 thoughts on “A Goin’ To Camden

  1. Your snobbism — ouch! I thought you might be open-minded enough to be curious about the NJ State Aquarium there. It is supposed to be awesome. And have you ever *been* to a minor league game? Very fun. What would make me cringe is the long car ride there and back Maybe you could stay overnight and do something to explore our nation’s early history in Philly the next day?

  2. Yeah. We’ll probably stay over night in Philie. I’ve heard bad things about the Aquarium though, so I’m not that interested in that. Maybe they’ve worked out the kinks in it, since it first opened up. I’ll have to google the reviews. Never been to a minor league game. I’m not sure it’s my thing. To each to their own, right?

  3. Minor league games are nice because the beer is (usually) much cheaper than at major league games. I really can’t afford to get drunk at major league prices, but minor league games aren’t much more expensive than a bar.

  4. I love minor league baseball. Back in grad school, I spent many a happy summer night in the old Durham Bulls park (the one immortalized in Bull Durham) drinking cheap beer and eating burritos. It was the only place to get a breeze on a hot summer night. Nowadays we try to go see the Pawsox. We like to sit in the grassy area in left field, which gives E more room to move around.

  5. I’m dreading the two hour drive and then baking in the hot sun with Ian who won’t care about the game and will be frying like bacon in the hot sun.
    I’m sure that it will be fun when we get there. But a trip to Camden, which is consistently voted as the worst urban area in the country, is a funny prize.

  6. Long-time lurker, first-time commenter, and South Jersey resident. You might be pleasantly surprised by a River Sharks game — it’s a family-oriented, intimate baseball experience, and there are a lot of nonbaseball activities geared toward kids (including a carousel and a playground). My kids have really enjoyed the games there.
    The Adventure Aquarium has improved considerably since its first incarnation as the NJ State Aquarium; it can’t compare with, say, the aquarium in Baltimore, but you may find it an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. There’s also a children’s garden next door to the aquarium that might be worth a visit.
    All these attractions are located along the Delaware River; the riverfront area is reasonably well scrubbed and safe.
    I hope you have fun! I don’t think it will be as bad as you think.

  7. I disliked the Baltimore aquarium–I’ve since realized that I find museums/exhibits that require me to move linearly unpleasant. We were at the exploratorium, in SF last weekend, and it was wonderful, the antithesis of linear.
    I also saw the birth of Impressionism exhibit at the deyoung, and it wanted me to be linear, and I really didn’t like that. But, I guess that’s the problem with trying to move so many people through. I felt the same way about the Baltimore aquarium.

  8. The Aquarium and waterfront in Camden are pretty fun, really, and the ball-park is very pretty. I’ve not been to it, but on looks it compares quite nicely with most minor league parks and the games are usually fun. You can ignore most of them, drink beer and eat hot-dogs for cheap, etc. You can also go see the battle-ship New Jersey. It’s not a bad day. If you take the river-line train down from Trenton it’s also rather pretty. Or, you could just not go. No one will make you use the tickets, after all.

  9. OK! [laughing at myself and all of you.] I’m sure it will be great. This was just supposed to be a funny post, you know. Every time I tell someone around here that I won tickets to Camden, they laugh. Must be a north jersey v. south jersey thing.
    Now I definitely have to check out this ballgame. I’ll post pictures later.

  10. you know the rest of the world laughs in the same way if you say you’re going to jersey at all? But, of course you do, since you used to be in NYC.

  11. It’s the old joke: Congratulations, you won first prize, a day in Camden!
    What’s second prize?
    Two days in Camden.
    I chaperoned prom at the Aquarium. It was quite nice. Going to Riversharks later this year with the family. Maybe we will see you there.

  12. Camden definitely has its issues. When we first moved here and watched the local news a lot, mostly to get a feel for the place, every bad thing that happened happened in Camden. I can’t say that we’ve been there a lot, but we have been to the aquarium and it’s pretty fun. And if you wanted to head over the river and have a drink somewhere, just let me know. 🙂

  13. yay. A blog meet up in Camden. That could be excellent.
    I better watch what I say about Camden and other lovely Jersey vistas, because a glossy Jersey magazine wants me to start blogging for them. This could be a lot of fun.

  14. The Camden Riversharks are great. We go once of twice every summer — usually on a Friday night (fireworks night). It’s a beautiful stadium, with the Ben Franklin Bridge right over the outfield wall.
    The Aquarium is fine, but I’m from Baltimore originally, so it just doesn’t stack up. The place to take the kids is the “Camden Children’s Garden,” which is right next door to the Aquarium (and down the streets from the ballpark), especially in the summer when the weather’s nice.

  15. Oh, and the worst Bag O’Shit I ever won was “pasta themed.” It was, in fact, many many different types of pasta box, each of which cost someone $1.59 to buy and donate.

  16. Cooperstown meetup! We’re (probably) going to drive to Niagara Falls in late August and hit a few stops on the way, like Howe Caverns (went when I was a kid–probably very different now) and Cooperstown, and does Rochester have anything to offer?
    I love Bag O’Shit raffles with an unseemly passion. Soph and I look forward to Spring Fling every year so we can buy $20 worth of tickets; all the classes do raffle baskets. Some suck. Some, like the ice cream basket, are beyond awesome (I should know because one year I won!).

  17. Laura–The River Sharks games are really great. I have taken my eight-year-old there several times, and we always have a good time; the ball park is basically designed for folks with (fairly) young children — lots of entertainment & distractions. The rest of Camden, now…

  18. Cooperstown has the advantage of having some great breweries. Ommegang beers are really great. (It’s a pretty long drive from most of New Jersey, though.)

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