Eileen White Jahn lives in Rockville Centre. It's the Fourth of July, and I'm working in a lockdown facility surrounded by 200 shrieking lunatics. I am not an asylum administrator, though I do think I lost my mind back in 1990, when I agreed to take a job as a sleepaway camp director. I was on the North Fork attending a reunion at the camp I'd attended in my youth when I was invited to return the following summer to help run the place. So the next Fourth, instead of sipping mai tais at the cabana, I was at camp. What a summer! That first year I lost an entire cabin in the woods until midnight (bad compass), a hurricane stranded 150 of us in the lodge for hours with no lights or bathrooms (bad karma), and the assistant cook tried to mow down the head cook with his car (bad clams?). But at least we had a great Fourth of July! This year we'll start the holiday with a ceremonial flag-raising and "The Star-Spangled Banner." We'll sing "Yankee Doodle," even though it makes absolutely no sense. Who calls a feather "macaroni"? There's always at least one kid who can recite the Declaration of Independence, and at least five who can sing the names of all 50 states in 30-seconds flat. Inevitably, it will go downhill, as someone cups his hand under his armpit and plays a flatulent version of "It's a Grand Old Flag." The campers will spend the morning in themed groups: the "Washingtons,'' the "Minutemen,'' etc. They'll get ready for the noon parade by composing cheers and painting banners. We always have to make the "Sam Adamses'' take the beer off theirs. Some little boy in the "Red White and Blues" usually paints his entire face and torso. He'll look great and feel fine until the paint starts to dry and contract, generally about halfway through the parade. Then he'll shriek maniacally until we scrub him down. One year the "Jeffersons" ended their cheer with the boys whipping off their shirts to reveal painted letters on their chests, proudly spelling S-N-O-S-R-E-F-F-E-J. In the afternoon color war, we'll adjust the scores a bit to make sure that the "Patriots" beat the "Loyalists" at least once. We'll try to make it all end in a tie and say, "At camp, we are all winners." The kids usually don't buy it. At night there's a homemade carnival with shave-the-balloon, sponge-toss at the counselors and palm reading. One year a counselor told everyone that their lifelines revealed soon and gruesome death, so we reassigned him to the marriage booth. There he predicted soon and ugly divorce. We sent him to the wrap-the-counselor-in-toilet-paper booth. At the end of the night, we refused to unwrap him. As the campers head back to the bunks, I won't be thinking wistfully about mai tais at the cabana. I know that I've found a better way of celebrating the Fourth.