If you are a parent, you understand the summer camp concept. As a kid growing up in Windsor Terrace, I attended two camps; one was a sleepover that was located in upstate New York – we did everything from A to Z. The second camp I attended was a basketball camp, non-stop basketball, also located upstate.
This morning as I saw Taylor off at 8:30, I thought back to my days as a young, naive camper.
As an eight grader at Holy Name, I recall packing a travel bag with my shorts, socks, underwear and of course a few t-shirts. I met up with Jimmy and Frankie Cullen along with Glenn Thomas sometime around six a.m. and we boarded the Manhattan-bound ‘F-Train’ to 42nd street; destination Grand Central Station.
We were 13 and 14 years old.
Sixty minutes later, at Grand Central Station we caught another train that took us two hours outside of the city. But not before we walked from Avenue of the Americas to Vanderbilt avenue – you know how far that is, especially when you are carrying a bag filled with clothes!
We all met up on Windsor Place at the 15th St./Prosp Park Subway Station with our US Army dufflebags filled with all of our gear. We could barely carry our bags for we were freshmen in H.S. and those bags were heavy and huge!. I remember that we took the F train to 34th street thinking that we had to go to Penn Station when in fact we had to go to Grand Central Station on the east side to 42nd Street. We were struggling down 34th street with our bags and a NY Daily News driver who had already made his runs saw us and let us hop in to his truck and we were holding on for our lives as we had to stand in the back of an empty truck with the back door open as he sped crosstown to drop us off at Grand Central Station. We were rolling around in the back of that truck. (Thanks GT)
Jack Curren, the long-time boys basketball coach at Molloy high school conducted his overnight camp at Marist college located in Poughkeepsie, New York. Trees, green grass and fresh air, just what everyone needs.
At camp, I was able to meet a lot of kids from different parts of New York, eat tasteless food, drink watered-down lemonade, learn some basketball and stay up late at night.
The best part of camp was the very light supervision when the sun went down, every kid’s dream, especially at camp.
Two years prior to that as a 12 year-old, my landlord at the time, Fanny Hyman thought it would be a good idea to send me to Phythian Camp – a predominately Jewish camp. You know the old, ‘maybe getting Stevie away from the city and into the country will help him’ type stuff. (FYI, it helped)
After the first full day at camp, sitting on my cot right before bedtime, looking around the bunk at the other kids, something didn’t seem right.
Everyone looked different. l came to realize I was the only catholic boy there. Everyone but me had a Yarmulke on top of their head! But at that age, 12, you didn’t see all that religious belief type-stuff. You just had a great time!
This camp was different – we did everything from arts and crafts to fishing. (And the food was good!)
On the last day of camp we had a competition to see which bunk was the best at sports; basketball, track and football. We had played a little whiffle ball during the week but nothing else – I never had a chance to show off my athleticism.
Our bunk cleaned up. We won every contest. The best part of the day was the huge relay race we had at the conclusion of the day. All the campers were ordered to stand and cheer along-side the track while our bunk went against another bunk in a 4-man 880.
Good night Erin! Give us the Gold medal, where’s the podium, get the National anthem cued up!
We smoked ’em! I’m talking Big Brown at the Derby!
It was a great two weeks at the camp – the other campers were outstanding as were the camp counselors. I recall a boy who I became friends with, his name was Avi. We spent so much time together – I regret not staying in touch with him. (Avi, if you are reading, hit me up with an e-mail)
When Taylor asked my wife and I if she could sign up for camp, I thought it would be like Soccer, Basketball or even Volleyball.
“What kind of camp is it Taylor?” I asked.
“Zoo camp.” she answered.
I gave her the strangest look. Thinking to myself, Zoo camp like elephants, lions, and zebras?
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“Yes”, she said.
That’s the first time I had ever heard of a camp being held at a zoo.
Yesterday, after the first day of camp concluded, I picked her up and she told me she had such a great time!
Oh well, I guess camp is camp.