Overnight tennis camps were quite an experience. There are tons of them and they vary in quality greatly. I did this for over thirty years and survived financially because of “summer money.” I also survived the camps thanks to “Camp Mom Margaret” and a great staff. Resident camps are the way to make money (the parents wanted to get rid of ‘em) but there is a lot of tension. There’s no telling what 10-11-12 year olds will do the first time away from home.
Camp week begins with real concerns. Kids feel it too. One “first morning” in the cafeteria line I asked a disheveled 10 year old his name? “Huh?” “What’s your name? Again. “Huh?” I finally said, “…tell me your name son.” The reply (slight speech impediment, plus 6:30am) “my name is Hunt. How many times to I have to tell you?”
Toughest kid at our camp? No question, Jessica Covington, 9 years old, from Rockingham, NC. Though cut off age was ten, Jessica had an older sister coming and her mom was confident Jessica would be okay. Okay? In one hour everyone in the camp was afraid of Jessica. Me included.
A young girl, faculty child, named Lucy, approached me in the Pavilion tower. It was hot, the Pavilion was cooler, and in all honestly I was “hiding” up there.
Lucy figured this out at age 10, “what are you doing up there?” Her tiny head poking from the stairwell. “Well Lucy, I’m preparing our next session’s lesson.” (I’m 60 years old at the time) Lucy: “Haven’t you been doing this long enough not to have to write it down?”
Stunned at her perception, I felt my shorts had dropped. I couldn’t rebuke her. As she turned in disgust she finalized, “… we need some help down here.”
We had to can one camp tee shirt. Our shirt featured a blazing racket with a ball on mid-strings. “Keep it in the hit-spot” came out “keep it in the hot-spot” Back to the screen printers!
One of Jessica’s cousins, Marty Covington, aged 11, gunned down a Canadian goose, roof shingle to neck. That was my only visit from the S. P. C. A.
We had a sign up sheet for a night tournament. As I read out starting matches, only as it came out audibly did I get the joke: “ Court #3, Bobby Johnson vs. Hugh Jass”
Lee Gilarmis, he of Dick’s Hot Dog Stand in Wilson, sent Grandson Nicklas to camp at age 11. Nicklas’ first ever match was the last one on the courts, 9:00pm, after a full, full day. And then the proverbial last match tiebreaker. Nick called for help. I figured the tiebreaker had stumped them, and I hurried to help my friend’s grandson.
“Yes Nick, can I help you guys?” “Will that arcade still be open when we finish this stuff”, was his concern.