Summer Camp Memories

by POPSIE 1956

A couple of days ago, my oldest grandson Chris came back from a week away from home, for the very first time.

He had gotten an invite to attend Summer Camp, organized by the New York State Sheriff’s Association, through the local Boy’s & Girl’s Club.

Not only was he going to be away for a week, but he was going to be away for a week at a camp a few hours away from home!

We weren’t sure who was going to need extra support more; Chris, or my daughter/his mother Megan!

This WAS her first born after all..

One of the rules of this camp…NO electronic devices!

No internet, no online games…NO PHONE!

Oh the humanity.

Additionally, EVERY morning at 6, all of the campers got up, and the first thing they did was wake up by jumping in the lake.

Well, at least if he had a bad time, he’d still be clean.

Even as a nearly 11 year old, Chris has always been a bit of a sensitive kid in real need of quality one on one, especially with a male role model.

The birth father of Chris and his younger brother Zach is by and large out of the picture, and even if he were, he’s still a dumb f*c* to me.

His only true value as a human being is helping create those two very special boys.

My son in law Eric has stepped up to the plate and has become a fine “real father” to the boys, I admire him for that.

So a week with a bunch of guys, and guys who enforce the law to boot was nothing but a plus.

We were there the day the campers came back, and nothing could wipe that big ole smile off Chris’ face.

I knew he would do great.

Took me back to memories of when I was his age, well maybe a couple of years older.

Hi, I’m Mike, and I’m a former Boy Scout.

(Hi Mike)

It started for me at 11, in Troop 64, based at Southgate Elementary in Loudonville, NY.

Our Scoutmaster was a teacher at the school everyone called “Mr. D.”

He was one of the most kind and understanding men I ever met.

It was Mr. D who gave me my lifelong nickname…Moose.

A friend of mine from high school STILL calls me Moose to this very day (Thanks Ed).

We did occasional weekend camp outs around the area, which were fantastic, but we lived for the Summer..

That’s when the Troop (or most of the Troop) headed to Stratton Mountain, VT for seven full days at an honest to God Boy Scout Summer Camp.

Today, Chris and the rest of the kids his age had to suffer without electronics.

We never had them to begin with at that time, so there were no withdrawal symptoms.

That said, I never went ANYWHERE without my pocket size transistor radio, complete with a fresh stock of nine volt batteries.

The seeds of being a broadcaster were being sown even back then.

Like other Scout Camps, we all had campsite duties, typically, three times a day, one of us strapped on the backpack and hiked to the Main Cabin to get supplies to make our meals..someone else cooked, another cleaned.

The bulk of the days were spent earning Merit Badges; in canoeing, swimming, first aid….

For guys like me racking up blisters trying to cut down and saw trees for firewood..they didn’t know I should not be allowed to handle sharp objects…

I was the practice dummy when it came to making splints.

And I still have water on the knees for trying to operate the damn canoe.

The big event of the week was the Order Of The Arrow Ceremony, where a select few from the massive group of campers were “tapped out” by a handful of white guys dressed up as American Indians..back then we didn’t say Native American…and hauled off into the woods for a 24 hour “live with nature” session….and we couldn’t speak A SINGLE WORD!

Consider it the Mohawk Indian version of “Today I Am A Man”

I’m lucky enough to say one year I was “tapped out,” and I consider being a member of Order Of The Arrow one of the best times as a Scout.

I loved being a Boy Scout.

True story, I was OHSOVERYCLOSE to becoming an Eagle Scout

Then I was introduced to girls and beer…and that idea was flushed down the drain.

But Scouts allowed me to meet my best friend Mike M., for that I will forever be grateful.

So the next step with Chris for me, if he wants it, is to try and save some money up in case he wants to go to Summer Camp again.

And in a few years, it will be Zach’s turn if he wants.

And a few years after that, their baby brother Mason’s turn if he wants.

Retirement money…what’s that?

Screw it, if it makes them happy, I’m ready to live at the City Mission.