When my 11-year-old son went to his first overnight camp in Akron, the counselors encouraged my wife and I to write a reassuring letter that he could read on his first night.
For reasons I now find inexplicable, I decided to write a “humorous” letter from 10 years in the future. In it, I described his little brother’s college experience and his little sister’s new driver’s license. I also told him we had moved to a new house in Westlake. I thought he’d find my creativity amusing.
By his own account, he cried for three nights.
I never went to camp. I know nothing, obviously, about what kids might be thinking about being away from home and next to nothing about what kind of camps kids would really enjoy attending.
If my wife designed a camp, it would be some sort of Little House on the Prairie/Freaky Friday hybrid – chock full of horses, campfires, and lots of sing-alongs. If I had a choice, my kids would attend a camp where they learned to make Becker’s Donuts, Herb Burgers and King Wah’s Orange Chicken.
If my fifth-grader could envision the perfect camp, it would resemble the MLG Counter-Strike Global Offensive Major Championship, where teams “battle it out over three days.” Of course, this means nothing to any of us, other than other fifth-graders. But for a visual, imagine an Ohio State football game being played inside the Hallmark store. Then add flashing lights, wild team introductions, cheering fans and the kind of movie-theater volume that makes parents freak out.
In the end, any brainstorming I engage in about a cool camp ends in a giant hometown hallucination – a thrilling, unrealistic, and mostly litigious X-Games adventure that puts my inner-child in traction just thinking about it.
The Hilliard Bridge would be my camp headquarters. There, campers could get scientific and try to design parachute pods that could carry messages from the bridge to team mates on the bike path. After a short rollerblade race north along the Parkway, the hill leading from Detroit Road to Sweetwater Landing could host a soapbox derby. After the races, campers could repel down the cliffs across the river, before kayaking out to the lake.
In the end, Fairview Lanes could host a giant Cosmic Bowling tournament, followed by a School of Rock concert/swim party at either city pool. All 47 of our local hamburger joints would deliver, and dessert would involve a Guinness World Record attempt at Mitchell’s Blue Cosmo consumption.
Of course, my plan is pure madness, redeemed somewhat by the fact that not one electronic device made the cut.
Tim Piai is a freelance writer living in Rocky River.