Dirt or Wheels?

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I feel like Macbeth . . . “To be or not to be . . .”

I have spent weeks without number at summer camps on the ground, in a specific place . . . on the Brazos River at Worth Ranch Boy Scout Camp.  Magic times, absolute magic, with laughing and singing around a fire or murmured  conversations around a glowing, coruscating heap of red-orange embers under more stars than any human can number or under lead gray skies that ruptured and all but flooded us away.

I have spent weeks I probably could number tenting overnight across the whole North American continent on the way to Mount Rushmore or Cape Canaveral or the Smithsonian Institution . . . never sure where we were sleeping the next morning or what for sure we were having for dinner that evening or what we would see tomorrow.  I will never forget the photo-op with Company K of the Florida Volunteer Infantry around a cannon on a Civil War battlefield somewhere.  I still have the photo somewhere.  Lord, but that was wonderful.

I have even run a couple of activity-camps building sumobots or rockets or battery-powered cars in my shop (normal people have garages) and jumping in the van for a pizza run or a burger raid.  Or running out to the river Thursdays for a canoe paddle down the Brazos or the Trinity.

To be a sleepover camp in one place with all the incredibly cool stuff that gets built into traditions . . . gawd, that’s fun.

To be a travel camp in a fifteen-passenger van or a small school bus and see something new every day . . . gawd, that’s fun.

To be a stay-in-town-and-do-stuff-in-the-shop camp with relatively cool stuff in a set up show .. . gawd, that’s fun.

For the last three or four weeks or more I have been burning the tires off the truck looking for the right piece of ground within two hours or so of Dallas.  I can smell the place I’m looking for.  A functional house so there’s a kitchen to cook in.  A workable barn or shop to set up bench tools.  The house will work as well; walls can be done away with.  Open acres to fly rockets and airplanes in.  Woods to walk in, to set up small tent camps in.  Hey, a pond or a creek would be nice.  I am looking at stuff within half a mile of the Red River.

I want to set up a session for the Indian kids and their families that I know.  They have a different set of dietary needs, and we’d have to operate the kitchen differently.  It makes my heart ache to see these sweet kids miss this incredible experience.

We have forty-five acres in Missouri, but, damn, that is so far away, and it’s a real pain to try to get up there for a weekend to mow or bush hog the place.  (And some of my Asian parents are afraid of wild animals in the forests.)  Our cultures are so different.

I’ll find the right place.








Thinking About Camp

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What is Camp?

Camp is dozens of things.   Maybe hundreds.  Possibly thousands.  It’s all those myriad exciting, quiet moments or experiences that bubble up in your veriest soul and give you a reason to smile . . . if only for a moment.

I have a “Kodachrome Moment” seared into my brain of a young redheaded boy — after we’d trekked this sandy island during a canoe trip — standing up in the bow of his canoe and peeing over the side into the river.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.

I remember standing atop a bluff overlooking the Brazos River and looking down to see the buzzards circling in the air below me.  Then I bent over and picked up a fossil crinoid from 65 million years ago.

I remember chasing a rocket across a grassy field to catch it by the parachute . . . and missing . . . and watching the egg that was the payload ooze out between the nose cone and the rocket tube.

I remember the counselors who were six feet tall and the color of oiled teak who could do anything in the world and wishing I could be like them.

It’s watching kids eyes focus like lasers and light up like your mom’s house at sunset when they get their bot to run the routine they just programmed into it for the third time.

It’s sitting quietly under a really old oak beside a slow creek reading a really good book.

Summer’s coming!

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I have been waiting so long for this summer it is hard to believe it is almost here.

Forty-four days now plus final exams . . . 6 June is the last day.

What is happening?  CAMP! is what’s happening.

Robots!……Bristlebots, BEAM bots, Sumobots . . . This stuff so incredibly cool.  And there is no grading involved from either side.  We’re going to build them and play with them.

Rockets!……I have discovered a whole new manufacturer, and I’m working my way through their design line.  There’s a tiny little boost glider, even.  These birdies are smaller than the Estes brand birds that everybody knows about, so you have to develop a lighter touch.  It’s really very exciting.