Saturday, June 9, 2007

Day Camp

As the weather is getting hot and sticky, I recall the two years I went to CYO Day Camp. Looking back, I realize I was railroaded into going. Kids nowadays would have an attorney look at the brochures and negotiate the situation with their parents. Realizing their parents really wanted them to go , it would mean text messaging for two years and a new skateboard in return for attendance at day camp.

Those were simpler times. I woke up one morning and found out we were going to Day Camp orientation. I guess my mother was tired of spending summer with her whiny bored son.

The whole thing ran on tired old school buses ran by seminarians, men studying for the priesthood. They drove the buses, taught us how to swim, made sure we drank our milk at lunch and generally supervised the sessions. They were rather long days. After being carted to Paramus pool, the afternoon consisted of arts and crafts in a stifling hot parochial school or baseball in a muggy baseball field.

The treat was the field trips. Every Wednesday was field trip day. Some of these were okay. We went to Bear Mountain, Lake Hopatcong Amusement Park, and Van Saun Park. One day we went to Teterboro Airport and saw Arthur Godfrey’s plane.

Little by little we got into a routine. I always sat next to the developmentally disabled kid on the bus. I was that popular. On Wednesdays’ we would sing drinking songs on the bus. I always remember, “I want a beer just like the beer that pickled dear old Dad.”

The big thing came towards the end when we would start rehearsing for “the show”. We spent hours rehearsing skits; one kid tried to do a magician act. One of the seminarians actually wrote original songs to climax the show. I can still hum “Good Evening Friends”.
In one skit, I played a secret service agent accompanying John F. Kennedy. I didn’t have any lines.

The night of the show they gave out awards. I won “Camper of the Year” for my age group. My mother was quite surprised.

The last day was sad. All the seminarians decorated the buses with signs and balloons. We drove through the streets of Bergen County and wound our way to the various corners where different kids lived. Nobody is more sentimental than a group of Catholic kids ending their summers on the bus. Or young men bound for the priesthood.

No comments: