Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer camp tickin' away

"Ashley Madden, 16, is helped over "The Beam" during a team effort rope course."

There is nothing that makes me miss childhood like visiting a summer camp. Whether it's a general camp with kayaking, swimming and climbing, or a sports camp - The carefree lifestyle of a kid is the summer I desire.

When young, we had little to no responsibilities aside from grade school. When summer rolled into town, those minimal responsibilities vanished and life was simple. Sleep, play, eat, swim. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Fortunately, I got to experience at least one camp each summer. Whether I wanted to or not, I was shipped out to soccer, lacrosse or climbing camp. I'll admit I never really wanted to go the first day. However, I loved it all week and didn't want to go home at the end of the week. All I really wanted was some better food by the following Saturday.

It's been eons since I've been to week-long camp, and everytime I visit one, I want to tell these kids to enjoy every minute they have there.

In the past two weeks I've visited three camps while on assignment. The first one I visited had the most memories for myself.

I was sent to photograph a new building in Harford County on the 4-H campgrounds. Not only were the grounds close to home, but I had gone there for lacrosse camp a couple times while in middle school.

I bumped into old teachers whom help run the camp and fellow coaches from high school. But aside from the personal, I reminisced of my fun times had there. The hot nights sleeping, the thrilling games, the nervous hours not wanting to box other camp mates between practices, and of course, the horrible food.

Later in the week, I was sent to a different camp for inner city children who wanted to get off the city streets for summer. They signed up with the help of a family member or mentor and got paid to help restore the areas surround the park.

While working seems like the last thing a kid would want to do, these kids were excited to get to be with others like themselves that wanted to get off the streets and learn some skills that could help them later in life.

The last camp was my dream camp. Boats, climbing, swimming, zip-lines, biking, and more. Camp Lett's was celebrating over 100 years and the older campers were learning leadership by participating in team building challenges.

But as you may or may not know, any camp, working students, sprinting lacrosse players or canoing campers, is generally located in forest areas. And yes, my name is synonymous with the word tick. As in the disease transmitting insect.

To keep it short, I had Lyme Disease last year and it was no fun. So one could only begin to think what is this guy doing in the woods? I figured, OK why not, send me anywhere, it was a one time thing. But go figure, I picked two of those suckers, no pun intended, off me last week.

I got joked on in jest by some of the other staffers when I told them I found ticks on me, but I learned my lesson last year, I am lucky to have found these two ticks.

And now that I know these insects like my blood, I got some bug repellent.

Odd how all my years in the forest I never got bit by a tick, yet, now whenever I go back into a wooded area that's all I can think about. Ticks, ticks and more ticks.


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