“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” I spent my summers at Holiday Camplands. Our family started going there when I was 10 years old and rode a bike to one of the two swimming pools, the golf course, and the lake to fish. I was Huck Finn only without a raft or escaped slave/father figure or moral compass as good as Huck’s. Other than that, I was just like Huck and had the sweet taste of freedom.
Then, my family bought a mini-bike for me. Now, I had freedom with an engine! It wasn’t a Harley, but that Honda 70 SL was my ticket to coolness. I was no longer a kid on 20 inch rims and a banana seat. I was the kid with an Evel-Knievel style helmet guaranteeing me to be able to jump over all ditches. Unfortunately, the guarantee did not apply to clearing tree trunks. When I hit the tree trunk, I flew over the handlebars head first. Luckily for my children’s sake, the handlebars missed my groin by 5 inches. Then, the ground broke my fall.
When I wasn’t being a daredevil, I would drive by the campsites of all of the cute girls and give the nonchalant-yet-cool-biker nod to them. I knew they would swoon a little, tell all of their girlfriends about the cutest guy they had ever seen, and later they would look for me. In fact, all of these girls petitioned the management to make me a lifeguard just so they could see me in a swim suit. And, yes, the nasty rumor spread by jealous boys that the petition was actually created to prevent me from stalking these girls is totally untrue.
When I started making money as a life guard, I kept riding my mini-bike. Other teenagers were buying bigger dirt bikes and quads. However, I had my two goals: to buy a car and save for college. It was around this time that I started losing my coolness because I was a 6 foot teenager riding a little bike I could actually carry up a hill. After work, I would ride away into the sunset with my knees 2 inches over the handlebars. Today is not much better. Now, I drive away in an 11-year-old minivan, which is at least six degrees from coolness.
Today at Holiday Camplands, the mini-bikes are replaced by golf carts. Too many Evel Knievel riders forced management to ban them. Now kids may drive golf carts if the lot owner is in the front seat with them. It definitely would not have been cool to “cruise for chicks” with my mom or dad.
This past weekend, I took our family to visit my brother, who purchased my parent’s trailer and lot at Holiday Camplands. I planned out everything, like I do for my classroom. Friday, we stop by my parents house and have dinner with them. Then, we would get to camp and set up a tent and start a fire. The kids loved making hobo pies and s’mores in the fire. All went as planned…
Saturday morning’s plan was simple: go to the fire department’s pancake breakfast and go fishing. Breakfast was great! Fishing, well, was not so great. I should have known as I am probably the only person in the world to tear his Meniscus while fishing.
I signed my two oldest sons up for a fishing derby. We bought minnows and found a secluded spot on Pymatuning Lake‘s Ohio side. As I carried the poles, I managed to get all of the lines tangled together and in a tree. Once we untangled the lines, we began to fish. We had no bites, but I did cast a minnow into a tree. (Poseidon has to be laughing at me.) We decided to change the plans because what we were doing was not working. Thus, we returned to the campgrounds to swim at the old pool I use to guard. Funny, I always thought the pool was bigger when I was watching the water. Another funny thing was the lack of girls swooning over me in a swim suit. I noticed many looking my way, but they must have noticed my wife and realized I was taken.
So ends the first part of our weekend camping. I set a goal to share part of my past with my children, and had to adjust the plans as the weekend progressed.