Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Memories From 4-H Camp.

I just got in from taking my first swim of the season. I spent an hour stretching, moving my arms and legs, floating and generally just trying to relax. As such, I'm fairly tired. My blog will be brief today. I don't have much to say -- just a few random memories tangentially related to swimming that you might find interesting.

The beach at Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center

I first learned to swim at 4-H Camp, specifically the Holiday Lake facility in Central Virginia. It was during the summer after my fourth grade school year. The swimming instructor at the camp was a kind, patient man. Unfortunately, I don't remember his name. What I do recall is that he was covered in severe burn scars. Some of the other campers were frightened by his appearance, but I wasn't. He took his time to help me calm down. I'll readily admit that I am not a strong swimmer, even to this day. The vast majority of my swim catalog is encompassed by the doggy paddle! But, I know enough to get by thanks to the man who taught me.

The rest of my stay at 4-H camp was quite memorable. I've spoken of the abusive incident with the girl who attacked me before, but that's not all. While walking to the dining hall one afternoon, I found a fifty dollar bill on the ground. It was a good thing I did, because I arrived at camp to learn that my folks had only deposited ten bucks in my commissary account. Without that fortuitous fifty dollars, I'd have run out of money really quickly during my full week stay.

My favorite class while camping was first aid, which happened to be lead by a really cool college girl named Tina. She taught me the Heimlich Maneuver, as well as CPR. One evening, we sat by a fire and talked about college after all the other kids had gone off to enjoy their post dinner recess time. She treated me like an adult and didn't talk down to me. Maybe she was tired of being surrounded by idiotic kids and just wanted someone decent to talk to... who knows?

One of the days at 4-H camp was extremely wet -- a massive thunderstorm moved through the area. I got caught in a big downpour on the way to a camp wide event. All of the campers and the staff were gathered in a large outdoor covered arena. I was late to the assembly and the last one to arrive. As I did, all of the other kids had already taken their seats. While walking along a side aisle-way looking for a spot to sit down, I could have swore I heard someone call my name. Remember that rain storm I got caught in? Well, the rain water had run down my ears and completely clogged them. My ability to hear was heavily distorted. Upon believing I heard someone call my name, I shouted out "YEAH?!" Though, because my ears were blocked, I unknowingly shouted extremely loudly. The entire arena turned to stare at me and laughed profusely. Realizing that I had one chance to not make a fool of myself, I walked up to the stage and got on the microphone.

"Saved the best for last... now who is holding a seat for me?"

A couple of kids' arms shot up. Needless to say, I had a place to sit!

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