Fictional Camps: Camp Chataguay

None of the characters in Gilmore Girls went to summer camp on camera during the show’s seven seasons and 153 episodes but the show did have a handful of summer camp references, particularly in season 4 with the introduction of the character Jason “Digger” Stiles (Chris Eigeman), a business partner of Richard Gilmore who Lorelai (Lauren Graham) knew from her days at summer camp and ends up striking up a short-lived relationship.

Jason and Lorelai first make reference to their camp days in the episode “An Affair to Remember” when Lorelei questions him about his canceling a company launch party Emily Gilmore was planning and Lorelei was supposed to cater. “You never thought,” Lorelei tells him. “Back in summer camp, you never thought. ‘Hey, if I stand up in this canoe, maybe it’ll tip over.'”

JASON: You’re still mad about that.
LORELAI: I was fully dressed.
JASON: I remember – green T-shirt, no bra.
LORELAI: What?
JASON: Trust me, I was the hero of cabin five for the rest of the summer.

The camp gets named in “Die Jerk” two episodes later during a dinner conversation:

RICHARD: So, which camp was it where you two met?
LORELAI: Hm, it had a funny name and canoes.
JASON: They all have funny names and canoes. Was it Camp Waziata?
LORELAI: Doesn’t sound familiar. Which one asked me to leave?
RORY: You got kicked out of camp?
LORELAI: I tried to liberate the horses.
JASON: Camp Chataguay. That’s where we met.
LORELAI: That’s the one.
JASON: I enjoyed camp. I made some good friends. I met your father at that camp.
RORY: Dad, really?
JASON: We bunked together for a summer. Incredible athlete and a good guy – a really good guy.
LORELAI: He hated you.
JASON: What?
LORELAI: With a passion.
JASON: No, I don’t remember that.
LORELAI: I’m pretty sure. Didn’t he try to dunk your head in a toilet bowl after you heckled him during some campfire talent show?
JASON: No, I don’t. . .oh, my God, I’ve been repressing that!
RICHARD: Oh, that doesn’t sound like Christopher.
JASON: No, it’s okay, Richard. I’m positive I deserved it.

Lorelai’s getting kicked out of camp was previously referenced in the season 2 episode “Richard in Stars Hollow.” Lorelai explains that she was kicked out for refusing to call the camp counselor Peaches. “I thought the entire concept of the counselors choosing summer fruit names was stupid,” she explains. “So they called my dad and he came to get me and it was just the two of us alone in the car all the way from Maine with nothing to talk about but my camp failure. Luckily I had also flashed the swim team or even that subject would’ve gotten stale.

Camp Chataguay is referenced once more in season 4 in the episode “Tick, Tick, Tick Boom” when Jason’s parents pay a visit to the Gilmore house.

FLOYD: I’m trying to remember when we saw you last.
LORELAI: Ah, probably at camp.
FLOYD: Right, the day we came to pick up Jason. There was a talent show. You sang a duet with a pimply fellow.
LORELAI: “Crater Face” Cutler.
JASON: He’s a litigator now. Very bitter man.
FLOYD: Well, the pimply fellow stank, but you were wonderful — very charming.
LORELAI: It was from “Grease.”
JASON: How Crater Face got his pimples?
LORELAI: No, my song — “Summer Lovin’.” I had to sit on his lap. It was very uncomfortable.
JASON: Crater Face had very bony knees.
FLOYD: [to Jason] And you did a dance with somebody, if I remember correctly.
LORELAI: Oh, yes, he cha-cha’d.
JASON: Well, thank you for bringing that up.
RORY: [to Lorelai] And thank you for never sending me to camp.

While Rory never attended camp, her friend Paris says she was once  a camp counselor in an episode and her best friend Lane talks about the time her mother sent her to Korean Bible Camp because she bought perfume. Lane also dates a guy, Henry, who was a counselor at Korean Bible Camp for a short time and when Rory dyes Lane’s hair in an episode announces that it is “the most radical thing a Kim has done since my cousin Nam got caught reading Maxim at summer camp.”

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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