Covered In Camp

I don’t know where I got the courage. But as my week of science camp in the north woods of Wisconsin moved along, I finally mustered the courage to ask my counselor if we could go fishing.

Like the great guy he was (and probably still is), he said “yes.” But, we’d have to get up early and hit the lake before breakfast--the rest of the day was packed with science activities.

No problem. Everybody knows the fish are always hungry in the morning.

So, the next day, the boys in my cabin woke early, headed to the lake and paddled out to catch a big northern (pike) or a small sunfish. We weren’t picky.

The air was brisk, steam rising off the water as the sun worked to warm things up.

We paddled, casted, talked, laughed and caught … nothing.

But, we made some good memories. And, we enjoyed the kind of peace you seem to only get outdoors.

It’s the kind of moment Chris Thurber talks about in his article on Spirituality at Camp (page 34). As he so eloquently states, camp provides campers and counselors the opportunity to slow down and enjoy a deeply, spiritual experience, one that includes “sharing, reflection, natural beauty and a connection with the past.” I think you’ll enjoy it.

I think you’ll also enjoy Greg Parker’s article on Safe Shooters (page 18). When I read it, I couldn’t help but think of my own camp experience. Like the rest of the boys in my Boy Scout troop, I hoarded my money all summer so I could buy lots and lots of ammunition at the rifle range during our troop’s annual visit to scout camp.

Our goal was to earn the much-coveted, sharp-shooter rifley patch, but we were willing to settle for simply blowing up a lot of targets--which is why I’m still working on it--and so are the rest of the boys in my troop.

But, we had a blast, which is what camp is all about.

Just ask Eric Tucker, executive director of YMCA Camp Jewell in Connecticut. A Wiffle Effect (page 26) details how the camp staff incorporated an all-time, summer favorite, Wiffle ball, into the camp program--and used it to upgrade a “boring” camp tradition (one that had been in place since 1901) to the most popular program.

The article gives me a lot of ideas for upgrading my backyard Wiffle-ball park. I thought we were on the cutting edge when we installed permanent bases, a pitching mound, base paths, foul lines and a manual scoreboard on the tree house that overlooks the field. Now I see we have some work to do.

Thanks Eric!

The list of creative ideas goes on and on and on.

So, quit wasting time here … turn the page and dig in. You won’t be disappointed.

Till next month …

Rodney J. Auth


PS: And if you’re looking for a quickie “green” program that’s lots of fun, create your own fertilizer-free veggies by following the plan laid out by Mel Bartholomew in his book All New Square Foot Gardening.

My nine-year-old daughter and I are anxiously watching the seeds we planted in our boxes; we’re actually starting to see sprouts. Our next step is to try to keep everything alive and protect it from the critters who live in my backyard (and the three-year-old twins who live in my house).

I’ll keep you posted on our progress via our Web free to visit and comment.

Bryan BuchkoComment