Headed back to summer camp

Published 3:50 pm Saturday, August 1, 2009

I didn’t find myself singing “Kum Ba Ya” this week or watching “Meatballs” a bunch of times.

But there is something about summer that reminds me of summer camp.

I went to camp six summers straight as a kid, three with the legendary Boy Scout Troop 219 out of San Jose, Calif. and three as a teen counselor at a non scout camp.

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At scout camp I learned to shoot archery, learned to swim a mile even when I didn’t think I could and pitched an inning or two on our championship softball team.

Troop 219 had a reputation. There were a lot of us. We were a little obnoxious. We worked hard to get our merit badges, but we played even harder.

One memory in particular stands out.

Our older scouts and scout leaders came up with a plan one morning. Every scout in our troop was given two water balloons to hide behind our backs as we marched to the mess hall for the raising of the colors.

The camp officials didn’t know what was coming.

Here they were, a half dozen or so of them, saying their announcements and the schedule for the day. Here we were, facing them in the eye — dozens of us — each with a pair of water bombs behind our backs.

There were probably 10 troops there in all, but we were the coolest.

Ask anyone who went to Camp Hi-Sierra in the late 1980s, and they would agree, a former member of our troop or not.

The key words were “Good morning campers.”

Every day for seven days straight, camp officials would say those words before the colors were raised.

We decided that was our cue.

Sure enough, one of the camp leaders said it. “Good morning campers.”

Just like that, we sprinted at the camp officials and launched balloon after balloon.

It took a day or so, but they got us back — sort of.

They moved our picnic table from inside the mess hall outside, forcing us to eat with nature instead of the other troops.

We didn’t mind much because we left an impression.

As a counselor, I grew up from the scout days, but still enjoyed having fun.

I helped put together the camp newspaper, put strategy to action in a monumental game of capture the flag and went on a bear hunt with a bunch of other counselors and came up empty.

After those six years, I thought my days of summer camp were over.

It turns out, they’re not.

This week, I’m headed to northern Minnesota to be a camp counselor again.

Will camp this time be as good as the Troop 219 days?

Don’t know, but I’m going to find out, and I’ll write about it next week.

Good morning campers.