Friday, October 18, 2013

#363 Doctor My Eyes

I am newly 45 and I don’t wear glasses. Real glasses, anyway (more on that in a minute).  Hooray for me!  It’s surprising since both of my parents wear glasses.  My dad has worn glasses since he was a kid.  My mom needed glasses after giving birth to me (she went into labor and couldn’t read her phone book to call the doctor).
My oldest brother, David, is 50 and wears readers.  Paul will be 49 in September and last year got prescription bi-focal “readers”.  I broke down last summer and bought readers with a 1.0 magnification.  I only need them to read in bed at low light.  Or when I need to read a label with really small print.  (What is up with the labels with really small print?)
One day I was joking around with Megan (my niece who is 20) and mentioned that, along with having to hold things further away for me to read them (menus, phones), I can no longer see the hair under my arms when I am in the shower.  (As background, every day I shave my legs and under my arms.  I have learned that some women do not do this every day for various reasons.  It takes me a minute.  I do not like stubble.  End of story.)  I used to be able to see the little hairs and know that I got them all.  Now I am shaving “blind.”  I have no idea if I miss any, so every once-in-a-while I look at my underarms in the bathroom mirror to check.  I told Megan, “One day you won’t be able to see your underarm hair either!” and she just laughed.  I will remind her of this when she is 45. 

Last week one of the story lines from Modern Family was about Gloria not wanting to admit that she needed glasses.  She was constantly holding things far away to read them better.  Her husband Jay pretended to eat rat poison and asked her to read the emergency directions on the poison box.  She couldn’t do it and he finally said, “And I’m dead.” 

Lately I feel like Gloria (without the great rack).  I have noticed in the past couple of weeks that I need my readers to read the newspaper at the table.  In full light!  And I am holding things at arm’s length with more frequency.  (I have really long arms.) 

My workplace has a yearly health fair with several vendors where you can learn about diabetes, cancer, sickle cell, fitness centers, etc.  One fun station let me see inside my ear.  Ewww…hair and wax!  At another station I checked my eyesight.  I was able to read the smallest line at the bottom and the woman said I had 20/15 vision.  Cool!  I mentioned that I am holding things out further to read them and she said that’s normal and asked my age and my next birthday.  I told her I was 45.  Today!  She expected me to say I was 40 because that’s when most people start doing that.  I’d like to think it was because I am so youthful looking. 

Yesterday I bought a second pair of readers at Goodwill (they were only $4!).  They are a really cute style and I thought it would be good to have a more fashionable pair for work when it comes to that.  My next dilemma will be how to carry them around.  I refuse to wear them on a chain around my neck.  Maybe a cute glasses case. 

Yes, my eyes have seen the years.  I hope to see many more. 

#362 Pay Me

I have held my tongue long enough.  It seems that every day there is an article saying student-athletes should be paid.  Occasionally there is an article that says otherwise, but then that person is called “old school.”  I call them smart.  (I’ve always liked Jim Boehim; my friends think I’m weird because I think he’s really cute.) 

I am a former student-athlete.  I come from a middle class family with a father who was a registered nurse and a mom who stayed home and managed the house.  We did not have tons of money or a big house, but we had everything we needed.  I learned from the best (my mom) how to stretch a dollar.  I still go directly to the sale rack and have even started shopping mostly at consignment stores.  But I digress.  In college I saved my per diem for gas money.  I ate at a training table with other student-athletes.  I had a roof over my head and tutors to help with my classes.  No, I wasn’t a big-time football or men’s basketball player, or even an all-American, but I played basketball in one of the most competitive women's basketball conferences and we were a darn good team.  We got our fair amount of press and TV time. 

I was happy that I could help out my parents, who had already paid for one of my brothers to go to college (I think the deal was they paid half).  I graduated in four years (plus one quarter) with a marketing degree. 

I recently read an article about a football player from the University of Oregon who is complaining because he couldn’t host a party with a cover charge.  He ranted on Twitter on how unfair that is because the NCAA makes millions from student-athletes and how he lost $1,500 from planning the party that he had to cancel. 

First of all, yes, the NCAA does make money.  Most of that money pays for per diem and travel for teams that participate in its 89 championships. 

Second, student-athletes from Divisions I and II institutions get their education paid for (Division III does not provide athletic scholarships but do have academic scholarships).  In reality, not all get a full ride, but they do get assistance.  That is worth its weight in gold.  I always wonder about those high-profile football and basketball players who complain about not getting paid.  If they did not excel at their sport, would they have gone to college at all?  If they come from such a poor background as they say, I would guess not.  Where would they end up?  They are currently getting all or some of the education paid for.  They are playing a sport they enjoy.  Some are gods at their school.  And hopefully they are taking advantage of their time at college to earn a degree.  Some (a small percentage) will go on to the pros. 

Yes, there is talk about injury.  What happens if they are injured in college and then don’t make it in the pros?  Do they get nothing for their work as a student-athlete?  No.  They get an education.  They could get injured in the pros after making tons of money and they still have to figure out what to do with their life and how to sustain their lifestyle.  That’s where that education comes in. 

Third, this guy is ranting about how he has no money, yet he spent $1,500 on a party.  Not food or gas.  A party.  Where did that money come from? 

If they are so upset about not getting paid, they can always go overseas for the allotted amount of time and then enter themselves in the drafts.  No one is forcing them to play in college. 

Last, most athletics departments do not turn a profit.  So do some student-athletes get paid while other do not?  Do you only pay the football and men’s basketball players?  They are not the only ones bringing in money. 

Who knows what will happen down the road, but I will stand firm in my belief that the student-athletes are students first and athletes second.  And they are already getting paid. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

#361 45 Candles

Today I am 45.  I’m officially middle aged!  Wait, I just found this article that says otherwise.  I like how the British think! 

How will I celebrate this momentous occasion?  Let me reflect on some past birthdays. 

When I turned 37, I decided to splurge on a destination concert.  The trip came together quite unexpectedly.  I overheard co-workers talking about taking a trip to see U2, which was on my list of bands to see, so I expressed my interest.  Sometime later I asked one of the guys if they were really going.  It turns out the others couldn’t go.  I half-jokingly said I was still interested in going and after more discussion, and him getting permission from his wife (whom I had met), we went.  Just the two of us.  Flew to Philly.  It gets better. 

My co-worker had enough hotel points for a free room.  He offered to let me stay in his double room for free (also cleared with his wife) to help me defray my cost of the concert and plane tickets. 

The weekend of the concert also happened to be the weekend of the Hilly Hundred, which is a bicycle ride in southern Indiana consisting of 50 miles on Saturday and 50 on Sunday.  It’s very hilly down south, hence the name.  I usually ride both days unless it’s raining.  This particular year I rode 50 miles Saturday, caught an early flight to Philadelphia Sunday morning, had dinner at a great restaurant (Cuba Libre) and saw U2 that night.  We got up early the next morning and flew home.  I think I even worked a half day. 

U2’s opening song was City of Blinding Lights.  Every time I hear that song I recall my whirlwind, un-romantic weekend with my married co-worker, what a great show it was and what a great time I had. 

For my 40th birthday I decided to get my nose pierced.  I had a conversation with a co-worker about nose piercings and she mentioned she had hers pierced in college.  She had to take it out at her previous job and thought about getting it done again.  One night after work we went together to a tattoo parlor/piercing shop.  We had to sign waivers and as I filled mine out I sneaked a look at hers and saw her age was 25.  Sigh.  She let me go first.  They marked the piercing spot with a marker, put a metal tube up my nose and then WHAM.  “Owwwwwww!”  I sounded like Will Ferrell.  My left eye immediately teared up.  I looked at her and she said, “That’s why I made you go first.  If you’d heard me yell I thought you wouldn’t do it.”  I’m not that much of a scaredy cat. 

I got the tiniest stone possible and was pierced on the left nostril.  My thinking was the same as when I had my ear double pierced - Left is right.  Right is wrong.  A year later I read something that said a nose piercing on the left nostril means you’re a lesbian.  Great!  Maybe some tall, single guy saw my nose and assumed I was a lesbian!  I really don’t put too much into what others say, and since reading that I’ve seen other women I know are straight with their left nostril pierced. 

I also experienced my first surprise party for my 40th.  My friend Julie set it up and I had no clue.  I did a bike ride that morning/afternoon and she volunteered at the ride.  Afterward she asked if we could stop at another friend’s family gathering at McCormick’s Creek State Park.  As I walked into the building where the other “party” was supposed to be, I got a big “surprise!”  Unfortunately I had taken longer on the bike ride than Julie thought and one of my friends had to leave immediately after I arrived.  We ended up having a nice time – a cookout and corn hole out in the woods. 

This birthday will be pretty low key.  No big trip.  No holes in my nose.  No big surprises (that I know of).  I will probably get together with close friends/family and have some laughs.  It’s alright with me! 


Friday, October 11, 2013

#360 Where Are They?

That is a common question among us singletons.  “Where are all the good men/women?”  “Where do they hang out?”  “Where should I hang out?”

I have always believed that you should, first and foremost, do things and go places that interest you.  Don’t do things just because you think you may meet someone.  More often than not, you will be disappointed and will have wasted your time.  I find things that I’m interested in and figure if I happen to meet someone, it’s a bonus.  If I don’t, I’ve done something I enjoy. 

I recently came across this brilliant quote:

Don’t waste your time worrying about “where” he is. Worry about what you can control: who are you BEING that will make a guy want to ask you out and fall in love with you wherever you go.

It’s all about you being the best you, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.  If you do that, you can never be disappointed. 

Another quote I love is from one of my best friends.  She and I used to commiserate about men when we were both single.  Once she told me about her prayer, “Lord, prepare me for the man you are preparing for me.”  Sometimes two people seem perfect for each other, but the timing is wrong.  You both have to be at the right point in your lives at the same time.  She is now happily married with a soon-to-be four year-old daughter. 

That brings me to my last point.  At the end of the day, I believe that I am where God wants me to be.  If I was supposed to be with one of the guys from my past, I would be with them.  If God wants me to be single the rest of my life, I know I will still have a great life.  He has never let me down in choosing a college, finding a job that was right for me or in finding a great house.  I know he will be with me whether I find Mr. Right or just a few more Mr. Right Nows.  All I need to be concerned about is where I am. 

#359 Escolar...Beware!

While listening to the Bob and Tom Show one morning this week, the conversation turned toward the escolar fish.  The description of what might happen when you eat this fish brought back unpleasant memories. 

In 1999 I had dinner downtown on a Saturday with my brother, sister-in-law and their kids, then around six and seven.  We adults ordered the mahi mahi.  It was a typical dinner out and the food tasted great. 

Sunday came and as the day went along I felt fine.  Later that evening I went to the bathroom and made a startling discovery:  there was a bright yellow-orange spot the size of a silver dollar on the back of my underwear.  I don’t remember feeling gassy or having any kind of intestinal distress.  I was living at home at the time and mentioned this to my dad (he was a registered nurse).  This continued throughout the day and I decided to call my doctor the next day to make an appointment for an exam to see what the heck was going on and how long I had to live. 

My brother called me that evening and his first words were, “Do you have yellow stuff coming out of your ass?”  Well, as a matter of fact, I do!  He woke up that morning and found bright yellow-orange spots on their sheets.  He finally decided it may have been what we ate the day before and called me.  I was a bit relieved that he had this problem too, and that I had not left a message on my doctor’s phone (how embarrassing!).  This relief, however, did not stop the yellow-orange stuff from coming out of my ass. 

The next day at work I wore khaki pants.  During the morning I went to the bathroom and noticed more anal leakage had occurred (this is the phrase that peaked my interest while listening to Q95 this morning).  It was visible on the back of my pants and we had an all-staff meeting off site that afternoon. What to do?  I drove home, changed my pants, put on a liner and came back to work.  I had just enough time. 

By Tuesday the leakage was done.  Whew!  I wanted to call the restaurant and let them know what had happened, but how do you explain that to someone?  I had already suffered enough embarrassment so I left well enough alone.  (If it happened now, I would ask them about the escolar).  This does not mean I didn’t mention this to close friends (we still laugh about it).  After Googling the fish I sent a link for an article I’d found to my brother.  I am certain the restaurant passed off escolar as mahi mahi.  Bastards. 

I will admit putting this story “out there” for the world to read is very embarrassing.  But I have always been the first to laugh at myself, and I will also admit, this is really funny stuff.  (You can’t make this yellow-orange stuff up!)  And if I can save just one person from the experience of having yellow-orange stuff coming out of their ass, my embarrassment is well worth it. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

#358 Aloha Judy

I happened to see a friend at the gym today.  She played at a local high school and was a senior when I was a sophomore.  We run into each other now and then.  I don't remember how it came up (I don't remember much these days) but she said that she had been a women's basketball graduate assistant for one year at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  Then she mentioned a former Hawaii player that had recently died, Judy Mosley

Judy fought breast cancer for three years and died at age 45. She leaves behind a husband, who my friend (also named Judy) said is devastated, and four children age six to around 13 (?) 

My memory has been going downhill lately, but I do remember Judy.  Tall and lanky, like me, she was my teammate on the 1991 World University Games team.  She was really nice and had a great smile.  And she had really long arms that could grab lots of rebounds (it's funny the things you do remember).  She was one who stuck out as being a really good player, a hard worker and a really nice person. 

I have had many teammates on various teams over the years.  I hear about some of them now and then.  I do keep in touch with others.  It's a big world and we all get busy.  Maybe I will get busy and try and track some of them down. 

Ke Akua pu a hui hou, my friend. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

#357 My Bike Story

Check out my bike story on Bicycle Garage Indy's blog site.  If you like it, click Like.  The person with the most likes gets a $100 gift card.  You can also enter your own bike story if you have one.


#356 Flight of the Hummingbird

I have written about hummingbirds before (Post No. 103).  Last night I walked to my backyard vegetable garden and saw my hummingbird buddy perched on my feeder.  I hadn’t seen many this summer.  Last week I changed out my colored hummingbird liquid mix with plain old sugar water and now I have three or four buzzing around. 

I froze in my tracks when I spotted him and stood there for several minutes.  He sat very still, finally drinking the water.  I continued on my way to the garden picking cherry tomatoes, green peppers and banana peppers. 

On my way back to the house I sat on a step on my deck and watched the show.  They are so small, delicate and quick.  They made me jump a couple times as they buzzed by my head, sounding like a drone from a Star Wars movie.  I sat there for maybe 10 minutes just watching them and enjoying the warm night. 

I found this small paragraph somewhere and cut it out.  It now lives on my refrigerator.

Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration.  The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation. 

Life is short.  People sometimes fly in and out of your life as quickly as a hummingbird.  Take time to enjoy even the tiniest of moments and remember that no matter how long someone buzzes around you, they can still bring a smile to your face long after they are gone. 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

#355 Head Up Young Person

I walk with my head up.  Maybe it’s because as a kid, my mom always told me to keep my head up and my shoulders back so I would have good posture.  Another reason may be that I like to look around when I walk.  I like to look at the plants, birds, buildings.  It’s also helpful to look for cars while crossing the street, or even bikes speeding down the sidewalk (a few weeks ago I almost got plastered by a bike). 

This morning as I walked the short distance from my gym to work, I saw a colorful moth on the side of the gym.  Beautiful markings!  A few steps further I saw my friendly praying mantis (I saw him last week too).  These are so fascinating, yet kinda creepy at the same time.  This one is huge, around five inches long.  In the bush next to the praying mantis I noticed a bright green beetle, maybe the size of a thumbnail.  I felt like a kid outside during science class.  ‘Oooooh, look at that!” 

As I got closer to my office, I saw others walking toward the front door.  One in particular was looking at his phone.  He continued to do so after entering the building.  I see people like this everywhere.  Walking around, sitting at restaurants, sitting in their cars.  They get one second of nothing to do and immediately grab their phones.  I admit I do this once-in-a-awhile.  I do try really hard to resist the urge and just sit or look around.  And think.  Ahhh, remember when people would sit and think?  Imagine?  Now we cram our lives with phones, constant music and TV. 

I challenge you the next time you have a lull during your day, instead of reaching for your phone, look out the window for a few seconds and look at your surroundings.  Look at the trees blowing in the wind.  Look at the pattern of the freshly-cut grass.  Try to see a shape in the clouds (hmmm, that one looks like a duck).  Enjoy your surroundings.  I promise you will see some really cool things.  And maybe come up with some really good ideas. 



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

#354 ...And Justice For All

Check out this story about a woman who stole her own bike back.  I agree that taking things into your own hands is not always the best thing to do, but in this instance it worked out.  Hooray for her!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#353 Avatar

I have yet to see the movie "Avatar."  Today a friend mentioned he is going to the AVP Beach Volleyball tournament in Cincinnati this weekend.  The last time (the only time, really) I attended an AVP tournament I was still in college.  My friends and I went and had a wonderful time watching Karch Kiraly, Sinjin Smith, Steve Timmons, Ricky Luyties, and Kent Steffes.  Great players, great to look at, and all very tall.  My kind of event! 

As I looked at the current AVP roster my friend pointed out 7'1" Ryan Doherty.  His nickname is Avatar.  A former baseball pitcher at Notre Dame, he switched to volleyball in 2005.  Very cool!  Too bad he was born when I was in high school.  :-) 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

#352 I'm Just Wild About Harry

Harry Connick, Jr. is one of my favorite performers.  I first heard of him when the movie “When Harry Met Sally” came out in 1989.  I saw a music video and was hooked.  Such a smooth voice!  (Ok, he’s pretty hot too, but that’s not the only reason I like him.) 

I first saw him in concert in 2000, and again in 2003 for a Christmas show.  He rolled through town last weekend promoting his new album, “Every Man Should Know.”  Lucky us! 

If I remember correctly, he didn’t play that long in his other shows.  Ninety minutes maybe?  This time he played for over two hours with no break.  He always puts on a great show, but this one was extra good.  After singing a couple songs he began his audience banter and said we were the best crowd he’s had so far.  (Yeah, they say that to all the crowds.)  He then compared a concert to a date.  “You know when you’re on a date and it just clicks?  The person sitting across from you is really hot and you know it’s going to be a great date.  You’re my hot date tonight.” 

He had a show in Nashville the night before but had to cancel due to a technical issue with the stage.  It was an outdoor theater.  He said they never cancel shows and he felt sick about it but wanted to be safe so felt it was best to cancel.  He then stressed that he is a stickler for being on time.  When the clock hits 7:30 he is ready to go.  He hates to be late.  Unlike other performers you hear about lately who are 30 minutes or more late in coming out.  He said he knows how much the tickets are and that we work hard for our money (most of us) and he wants to give us the best show he can.  And he did. 

He sang, he danced (man, can he move), he talked and told funny stories about his grandmother calling him a jackass when he was a boy.  He brought his oldest daughter Georgia out on stage.  (“My Georgia peach!”)  He has a great interaction with his band and a few of them had solo parts.  Lucien Barbarin plays trombone and Jonathan DuBose, Jr. plays the “gospel guitar.”  Jonathan started playing and wow, was he good.  Then he played “The Old Rugged Cross.”  A woman in the front kept raising her arm up like she was in church.  Check out this YouTube performance from earlier this year. 

A bit of trivia – Harry’s stage production crew is local - Jonas Productions.  And it just so happens that one of my friends is a relative of the head Jonas.  Back in 2003 I was lucky enough to meet Harry and get a picture with him.  It’s a little blurry (I didn’t have a digital camera back then) but still good.  When I met him I said, “I am literally your biggest fan.”  He didn’t really say anything back.  Oh well. 

Music has a way of inspiring me, especially at a live concert.  I start thinking of things I want to do, places I want to go.  Before Harry played his “When Harry Met Sally” medley he said that Liza Minnelli once told Georgia about the importance of luck.  You practice and prepare yourself for when luck comes calling.  That movie was his luck.  I’ve had plenty of luck in my days and feel that I have more yet to come.  Although I like to think of it as being blessed and being ready when God puts something in my path. 

Thanks for a great show Harry! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

#351 Raise A Little Hell

Last month I went to summer camp.  It had all the typical activities – horseback riding, woodshop, archery, boating and fishing, arts and crafts.  But it was unlike any camp I had ever been to. 

This camp focuses on safety, respect and love.  And they mean it. 

I did not attend as a camper.  I attended as a volunteer counselor.  This camp is The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, founded in 1988 by Paul Newman. 

I heard about Hole in the Wall from seeing a segment on CBS Sunday morning last year.  After watching it I thought, “I want to go to there!”  I submitted an application in January (got my three recommendation letters and required shots) and was accepted in April.  There is an 80 percent return rate for female volunteers so I was very lucky to get in.  The camp director mentioned this at the camp volunteer breakfast, comparing a new female volunteer at camp to seeing a leprechaun.  I muttered aloud, “I’m no leprechaun!” and everyone laughed. 

Hole in the Wall accepts kids who cannot attend any other kind of camp due to a diagnosis of cancer, a serious blood disease, acquired or hereditary immune disorder or metabolic disease.  Camp runs Fridays to Thursdays for nine weeks in the summer.  My week was Session 2.  Campers attend for free, and siblings are welcome.  One hundred sixteen kids, age 7-14, were in Session 2.  My cabin had eight girls ages 9-10.  Some of my girls were siblings of other sick campers and no medical issues.  We received information about our cabin kids the night before they arrived so we knew what to look out for. 
Even though you understand that the vast majority of kids have medical issues, you wouldn’t know it by looking at most of them.  They look like regular kids at camp, and we treat them like regular kids at camp.  That is why they love this camp.  Yes, we pay special attention to their medical needs and have nurses around, and an infirmary, but the focus is on them having an awesome time.  How appropriate that the 2013 camp theme, is “The Road to Awesome”. 

Each day is structured fairly the same, with some variation (and deference to weather). 

  • 8:30 a.m.               Breakfast.
  • 9:30 a.m.               Cabin cleanup – each girl rotates doing a chore. 
  • 10 a.m.                  Morning programs - each unit goes to a different morning program each  day.    For background, there are five units within the camp structure and each unit is a different color.  There are three cabins per unit. 
  • 12:30 p.m.             Lunch.
  • 2 to 3 p.m.             Rest hour.
  • 3:30 to 5:30           Kids choice of activity.  They write down their choices at lunch and are randomly picked. 
  • 5:30 p.m.               Dinner. 
  • Approx. 7 p.m.      Evening activity (campfire, stage night, awards). 
  • 9:30 p.m.               Bed time (older campers at 10 p.m.).  The bedtime routine consists of the usual brushing teeth, etc. and then playing some calm, quiet games.  Then cabin chat (I will explain more about this later). 
Meal time is very structured.  The kids sit at assigned tables at the dining hall and stay there.  Their cabin counselors bring their food to them.  Great idea, but tiring.  You finally sit down to eat and someone needs a drink or a bagel (they love bagels!).  I am a slow eater but learned to eat quickly this week.  On a side note, I was able to try every kind of Newman’s Own cereal, salad dressing, and juice.  I didn’t try the popcorn.

Paul Newman died in 2008, but his spirit definitely lives on at camp.  Before meals, “grace” is a song that everyone sings together:

This camp’s been good to me.
This camp’s been good to me.
Thank you, Paul, for this hole in the wall.
This camp’s been good to me. 

A collage photo is on the side of the sports and recreation building, comprised of the hundreds of kids who have attended camp.  He is watching over us all. 
I heard a story that he used to visit the camp and sit with the kids at meals.  I’m sure they didn’t know he was a famous actor, just a nice man who started the camp.  During one meal, a kid looked at a juice carton on the table (with Newman’s face on it) and then looked at Paul and asked, “Are you lost?”

I do have to mention that after each meal there is singing and dancing.  Popular songs are “Ice Cream and Cake” and “Stars In The Sky”.  Most of the songs have hand motions.  I find it interesting that they dance around after filling bellies with food, but I did not see anyone toss their meal.  I enjoyed the after-meal festivities for the most part but admit after about three days I refused to dance or sing the “Ice Cream and Cake” song.  It got to the point that one night, while walking back to LuLu’s Lodge, I found myself walking to the beat of “ice cream and cake cake cake”.  OMG. 

The morning programs make up the bulk of the activity at camp, and every camper gets to participate(weather permitting).

Adventure (for the older campers).  This includes a rock-climbing wall and zip line. 


Arts and crafts, woodshop and the cooking zone are in these buildings. 

Boating and fishing.

Horseback riding. 


In the afternoons the kids can choose from the main programs and some others:  guitar, music, sports and rec and theater. 

One of the most popular programs is the pool.  It’s heated to around 85 degrees to accommodate the sickle cell kids, who are not supposed to be cold.  I soon learned that if the air temperature is too low, the pool is not an option for the entire unit.  They wouldn’t make the sickle cell kids sit out or do something else, they have everyone do the same thing.  Luckily for us, Saturday was a warm, sunny day.  One of the girls who didn’t even get in the pool last year due to her skin allergies was like a fish this year and ended up swimming in the deep end (from one end to the other) to get her official swimming bracelet.  That’s a really big deal for the kids. 

Boating and fishing is another fun program.  That’s where I met Marshall, another volunteer, who has been at camp for many years and is the boating and fishing expert.  He used to run his own camp in Michigan before he started volunteering at Hole in the Wall.  We were able to have a nice chat while the kids patiently fished.  He had finished law school when he got the opportunity to buy land in Michigan along Crystal Lake.  When he asked his father for a loan, his father asked him when he was going to grow up.  Marshall replied, “Never.”  He is true to his word, helping kids of all ages catch fish at age 75. 

The oldest age group of campers is the only one that is allowed to do the rock wall and the zip line.  Camp does allow volunteers to do this one morning each week.  We met at 7:30 a.m. Sunday for our adventure “baptism.”  Safety is No. 1 so after donning the safety equipment, I made it up the wall.  I had never done a zip line before.  It was incredible!  Definitely worth getting up extra early. 
Unlike the morning program, where the unit goes together with all counselors, in the afternoon everyone divvies up and goes to separate programs dependent on what the kids selected.  One day I had a choice, without knowing which girl I was going with, and chose guitar.  One of my girls chose that and when we got there she was the only camper.  Usually the counselors do not participate fully in the program, they just help the kids out as needed (we do get in the pool).  Since she was the only camper, the “guitar guy” asked if I wanted to play too.  Of course!  He gave us each a small, three-string guitar with color-coded stickers for the notes.  After two hours, we had learned four songs (and I had one sore pointer finger).  We went back the next day for more practice and were asked to play with the guitar guy in stage night Tuesday.  Just my girl, me and another counselor who would sing. 

Let me back up a bit and say that the girl (I will call her Susie – not her real name) had backed out of two activities with her cabin mates already.  The girls are big on playing cups and she had practiced with them, but backed out of the kids campfire show Sunday night.  She also backed out of the clown skit for stage night.  I admit I would not have been surprised if she had backed out of the guitar.  We went backstage to get our guitars and get ready to go onstage.  She asked, “What if I mess up?”  I told her to just keep strumming and catch up on the next song verse.  She said she was scared and I told her I was too, but that we had practiced and knew the song, and we would be fine.  We made it onstage and she was great!!  We played The Lion Sleeps Tonight.  We weren’t perfect, but we had fun and I was incredibly proud of her.  The smile on her face as we walked off the stage was priceless.  I pulled her aside before we went back to our seats and told her to remember this moment.  She was nervous, but she had practiced and prepared herself and look what she did!  I told her not to let fear keep her from doing things like this, that she could accomplish a lot by just getting out there and doing things.  Definitely my highlight of the week. 

I have to add that some of my other girls played the cups and sang the cups song, and were awesome as well.  I admit I had never done the cups nor heard the song.  I can now kind-of do cups and whenever I hear the cup song on the radio I smile thinking about all of my girls. 

I could write all day about this camp, but will cover just one more topic – cabin chat.  Once the kids are in their beds and calmed down, we turn down the lights and light a candle that is placed in the middle of the floor.  Each time the main counselor goes through the rules of cabin chat (it sounds like the rules to fight club). 

  1. What is said in cabin chat stays in cabin chat. 
  2. One person speaks at a time. 
  3. Challenge by choice (you don’t have to talk if you don’t want to).
  4. The response to any comment is either snapping your fingers or rubbing your hands together. 
Then the counselor asks a question.  Ours ranged from “If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would you have dinner with, where, and what would you eat?” to “What was the most fun thing you did today?”  Lots of girls wanted to have dinner with Taylor Swift. 

It’s very cool to listen to what these girls have to say.  The voices pop up from all over the room and some girls end up with multiple answers.  During the last night of camp, the question was, “If you could create a world, what kind of world would it be?”  More than one said they would create a world just like camp.  Others said they wanted a world where no one was sick or sad. 

Cabin chat lasts about 10 to 15 minutes or however long it takes them to say what they want.  After they are done, the counselors say goodnight to each of the campers.  The “rule” of saying goodnight is that when the counselor comes around, they kid can give them a hug, a high five or a thumbs up.  Whatever they are comfortable with.  Each night I got a hug from all but one, who gave me a high five.  I was cool with that.  On the last night, I got a hug.  Yes!! 

I had an early flight the next morning so I missed the parents picking them up.  Maybe it was for the best.  I may have been a bit emotional.  As I walked down the concourse to my gate I did tear up a little.  I missed them already! 

There is not much time to socialize with other counselors, but I did meet some wonderful people.  My cabin counselors Steff, Charlotte, Joanne and Hillary.  Kelsi, Stef, and Brandi.  Nurses Rachael and Wendy.  My roommate Jackie.  My suite mates Michelle and Nancy.  Jeffrey the Fart (we got clown nicknames during the week).  John the bicyclist (check out the Angel Ride).  Bink and Moo Cha Cha (from Big Apple Clowns).  Ellen the volunteer coordinator (“don’t be creepy”).  Matty the camp director – if anyone has passion for their job, it’s him.  And my hat is off to all the full time counselors.  These “kids” are in or just out of college and basically run the place.  They have extensive training and it shows.  Simply amazing.  I still can’t believe they do this for nine weeks.  In-a-row.  They must be singing “Ice Cream and Cake” for months after camp ends. 

I feel truly blessed to have been a small part of this camp for one week, especially during its 25th anniversary year.  I want to be part of the 80 percent of women who come back.  This camp has definitely been good to me and I pray that it continues to be good to kids of all ages for many years to come. 

Thank you, Paul, for this hole in the wall.