Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

'Camp Gyno' girl is back with a cautionary tale

By Kelly Wallace, CNN
updated 7:41 AM EST, Mon December 29, 2014
The "Camp Gyno" video took the Internet by storm, racking up 10 million views.
  • "Camp Gyno" ad starring Macy McGrail has been seen nearly 10 million times
  • In new video, McGrail's character makes some bad decisions during middle school
  • The video is a trailer for McGrail's father's new book "Surviving Middle School"
  • Dave McGrail hopes his video and book spark a conversation just as "Camp Gyno" did

Editor's note: Kelly Wallace is CNN's digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. She is a mom of two girls. Read her other columns on digital life and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

(CNN) -- The tween who took the Internet by storm last year starring in the hilarious and empowering "Camp Gyno" ad, about a girl who is the first at her summer camp to get her period, is back.

Nearly 10 million video views later, Macy McGrail, now a sixth-grader, returns, but this time her focus is on middle school and the consequences of some very bad decisions her character makes along the way.

In a unique twist, 11-year-old McGrail plays the character from tweenhood into adulthood.

In the opening scene, we hear a few gunshots ring out and then see McGrail's character racing out of a motor home wearing heels and a leather jacket. She hops into a car with a guy who looks like bad news, telling herself, "Look at me, 38 years old and I'm running out of this place in this dress to this moron.

'Camp Gyno' ad about periods goes viral
Women talk: Paging 'Aunt Flo'

"At moments like this, you can't help but do a little soul-searching and ask yourself, 'How did I end up here?' " she says, at which point we go back in time.

We see her when she was six months pregnant at 24 and took back her partner, a serial cheater, before taking a drag on a cigarette. At 15, when her friend told her getting high was "awesome." When she faced a choice, that very first day of middle school, between joining the group of kids sporting angry looks, dressed in black and smoking versus another group smiling and waving, carrying books titled "Language and Gender."

"I guess there's no way to pinpoint that one moment where it all started to fall apart, but if I had to do it all over again, you bet your sweet ass I'd make some different choices."

Period Power: Talking to girls about 'Aunt Flo'

Dave McGrail and his daughter Macy, who\'s now a sixth-grader in middle school.
Dave McGrail and his daughter Macy, who's now a sixth-grader in middle school.

Sure, it's a tad over the top, but don't you remember kids who went with the wrong crowd in middle school and never quite recovered?

The video, which I'd love to show my girls when they get closer to middle school, is a unique trailer for McGrail's father's new book "Surviving Middle School: An Interactive Story for Girls."

Dave McGrail said the book was in the works long before his daughter's viral fame, but the trailer was, in fact, inspired by that success.

The idea came from Tommy Henvey, a relative who is an executive creative director for the ad agency Ogilvy and Mather, during a holiday party about a year ago.

Teen likes: The '100 club'
Talking to teens about social media

"He offered on the spot to assemble a team, the best in the business, to try to create something that would star Macy, so how could I say no?" said McGrail, whose day job is running a two-person law firm from his home.

Replace the 'sex talk' with the 'tech talk'?

"It fit in really nicely with the book because it could convey the same point: that choices matter going all the way back to middle school."

The book, modeled around the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books McGrail enjoyed as a child, lets the reader decide what to do and tackles some pressing issues affecting today's tweens and teens, who are growing up in a digital age.

For instance, do you stick up for a female classmate from India who is being bulled in person and online by a mean girl who makes fun of her name and her Indian jewelry collection, or do you decide to stay out of it, knowing that if you speak up you might invite the attention of the bully?

"The idea was give them a decision that, at least, I think there's a right or wrong answer ... and then couch it in a way so it looks really tantalizing to them to do the wrong thing and then see what they do," said McGrail.

Another choice readers of the book face centers on getting an Instagram account and becoming friends with a sixth grader in Ohio, who turns out not to be a sixth grader but a grown man. Do you continue the friendship or do you cut things off once you learn the truth and start feeling a bit uncomfortable?

CNN\'s Kelly Wallace says while the video may be over the top, it sends a message about the impact of bad decisions.
CNN's Kelly Wallace says while the video may be over the top, it sends a message about the impact of bad decisions.

"You can make the wrong choice and you can be down this road and you're stuck, and it's not a great outcome," said McGrail.

What parents can learn about the Internet from Kim Kardashian

"I think that something parents have to acknowledge these days is that with technology and earlier puberty and a whole host of other factors, girls are forced to make really tough choices that have serious consequences at a much earlier age than when we were kids and I'm seeing that on a day to day basis with my daughter."

The father of two (Macy has a younger sister) says he hopes his book and trailer will both entertain and spark conversation about issues affecting middle schoolers just as the "Camp Gyno" ad got people talking about menstruation and girl empowerment.

"In my ideal world, kids are standing around the playground discussing how they chose or bringing it up with their parents or disagreeing with one of the outcomes in the book," he said. "The discourse that was created and generated by 'Camp Gyno' is the same sort of thing that I would love to happen and be generated from the book."

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

"I mean, these are heavy issues, and I think that the best way to get kids talking about them is to present them with something they enjoy."

Chances are, your teen has sexted

As for Macy, life is pretty much back to normal after her "Camp Gyno" fame. Her classmates have for the most part been supportive, with the exception of some snickering by the boys from time to time, and she's now focused on middle school and continuing her acting career, said McGrail

"She's clearly got a nickname for life. It'll probably be the beginning of her college essay as well," said her proud dad. "She's embraced it, but she's moved on."

Do you think the video about the consequences of bad decisions in middle school helps get the point across to tweens and teens? Tell Kelly Wallace on Twitter or CNN Living on Facebook.

Part of complete coverage on
cnn, parents, parenting, logo
Get the latest kid-related buzz, confessions from imperfect parents and the download on the digital life of families here at CNN Parents.
updated 12:49 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
While most parents think about having a 'sex talk' with their children, not as many think about talking about technology, and that is a big mistake, experts say.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Parents are too ambivalent about their kids' "privacy" online, writes Dr. Jodi Gold--they're either spying fruitlessly or afraid to shape their child's online footprint.
updated 8:55 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Is there an unspoken rule in Hollywood that celebrity parents can only pick unusual names for their kids?
updated 5:50 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The premise is simple: You can eat one marshmallow now or, if you can wait, you get to eat two marshmallows later.
updated 7:43 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
While most children wait and hope Santa visits them at home on Christmas Eve, this year dozens of Denver-area children went directly to the big man's arctic home turf.
updated 5:25 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Almost 300 students who had been rejected by Johns Hopkins University received a joyous shock over the weekend when the prestigious Baltimore school said they'd been admitted after all -- but they hadn't.
updated 5:09 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
There is no way around the topic of nakedness in front of your children without getting personal and slightly uncomfortable.
updated 6:55 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Teens might be shedding their rebellious reputations: A survey says they're doing fewer drugs, drinking and smoking less. But E-cigarette use is up.
updated 9:53 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Carol Costello asks whether American culture sends a message to girls that it's not cool to study math and science fields.
updated 12:44 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
It's that special time of year, when Christmas and Hanukkah toy sellers try to put children in a box.
updated 7:59 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
Foodies and travelers: They're adventurous, they have discerning tastes and they love to discover a little-known jewel. Here's how to shop for them.
CNN iReport asked families with children with developmental and physical disabilities to share what their lives are like.
updated 7:00 AM EST, Mon December 8, 2014
Don't know what to get parents who are always on the move or kids who seem to have everything? This is just the list for you.
updated 11:45 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
You probably know LOL and OMG -- but what about IWSN, CU46 or IPN. It's all about KPC -- "keeping parents clueless."
updated 9:17 AM EST, Wed December 3, 2014
Out of control parties, sex and alcohol are some of the dangers kids might get into when left alone overnight. But some are mature enough to handle it. How do you know?
updated 11:58 AM EST, Tue December 2, 2014
Across the country and around the world, synthetic drugs are tearing holes in families.
updated 11:42 AM EST, Tue December 2, 2014
There's no place like home for the holidays -- and for one little girl in Cleveland, it's the only place.
Girl Scout cookie sales are entering the 21st century. For the first time ever, Girl Scout cookies will be sold online through a national platform called Digital Cookie. This breaks the organization's ban on e-sales of Thin Mints and Samoas.
updated 9:19 AM EST, Mon December 1, 2014
Author/actor B.J. Novak
B.J. Novak is catering to kids. His first children's book tops the New York Times list of best selling children's picture books. But here's the catch: it actually doesn't have any pictures.
updated 7:20 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Hundreds of students walked out of their Oklahoma high school Monday to protest the school's response to the alleged bullying of three classmates who say they were raped by the same person.
updated 8:10 AM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
If it hasn't happened already, it likely will at some point: the moment you don't like one of your child's friends. What do you do?
updated 5:20 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. CNN's Michaela Pereira grew up in a family of five adopted girls in Canada and eventually reunited with her biological half-sister.
updated 12:35 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
If you think 'my teen would never sext,' you might be mistaken. Recent studies suggest it's more common than many parents might want to admit.