100 bottles of beer on the wall. 100 bottles of beer. Take one down, pass it around, 99 bottles of beer on the wall. 99 bottles of beer on the wall……..
Ah, those tunes we sang around the campfire. As the school year winds down, parents prepare to gleefully embrace the next season, sending their children to summer camp. Yipee! Time to clip the apron strings.
I went away to overnight camp twice in my childhood, and there’s one thing I learned that stands out among all other lessons: I hate camp.
Learning survival skills in the wilderness with mosquitoes buzzing around my ears while I was trying to get some sleep was, well, sleepless. Where do I plug in my hair blower? You want me to dig a hole and do what in where?
We swam in a scummy lake and took timed swimming tests. I excelled only in treading water…because there was no damn way I was going to let my feet touch the muck on the bottom. Frankly I had been perfectly happy at home doing Weeki Wachee mermaid routines with my younger sister in our big swimming pool in our back yard.
At age 12, I was a junior counselor for a cabin of 6 year-olds. It was the first day of horseback riding class. Everybody mounted a horse and entered the ring. The trainer announced, “If anyone feels afraid, you can just walk your horse to the center of the ring.” The senior counselor and I did just that.
There was an Olympics day. The entire camp, probably 500 kids, divided into two teams, blue and white, and competed in every sport imaginable. I wanted to be on silver, as in the silver airplane to fly me home.
But lest I forget, I was a competitor…in playing jacks. The game with the bouncing ball and metal spiked things. You throw the ball up in the air and pick up as many jacks as you can while only allowing the ball to bounce once. Hours upon hours I practiced. I got so good I could pick up about 20 jacks in one toss. What a remarkable accomplishment for my parents to have made such a huge investment in, unknowingly.
And, in trampoline class I got the “Most Likely To Succeed” award.
And, I won the “Neatest Cubbyhole” award (where we kept our clothes) for an entire month.
Since I hated those two camps, I decided to launch the best camp ever: Camp Sheryl. I corralled the boys and girls in my neighborhood for one week. Parents about kissed my feet as they plunked out $5 per kid. At my house, from sun-up to sundown, I created a schedule that was a ton of fun. The kids all laughed a lot, especially when Debbie R. fell into the swimming pool with her go-go boots on.
Looking back on my camp history, the moral of the story is when you’re not having fun, you have to create your own.
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