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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Summertime

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Originally published July 21, 2006

This column is reprinted with permission from The Hills Newspapers.

When you are a kid, anything seems possible.  You are certain the Fourth of July fireworks set off across the Bay will explode over your own back yard. You believe that this year, summer will never end.  And when you grow up, you will act in television and film, design and build bridges, and compete in sports on a national level.

As it happens, kids can get a head start on their plans for the future by attending the summer camps offered by the Piedmont Recreation Department.  In reviewing the Recreation Department’s current catalogue, there is an impressive array of choices that can make the carefree days of summer a thing of the past.  There is one that teaches acting and auditioning skills in front of a camera – a former student is an Emmy award winner.  In another, students learn how to design and build houses, pyramids, and bridges.  Then, for the sports enthusiast, there is an advanced fencing class focusing on fencing parries, strategies and footwork that will prepare students to compete in tournaments of the United States Fencing Association.

Throughout the East Bay, organizations are offering summer camps of similar ambition.  At Camp Galileo in Rockridge, kids can learn to imitate the sculpting techniques of the renowned 19th century French artist Auguste Rodin or to construct an international space station for future missions in space.  For aspiring young scientists, Mad Science of Mt. Diablo teaches kids to create model human cells and build a life-size geodesic dome.  If kids have an interest in photography and cooking, they can attend a summer camp at Oakland’s Aurora School, where they take and print photographs on their own handmade paper and make organic tomato soup for a crowd.

By the sounds of it, local kids will have all sorts of extraordinary experiences this summer.  It brings to mind, though, extraordinary summer experiences of a different sort.  The summer experiences that I shared with friends when I was young did not come out of a catalogue, but out of free time and imagination.  They did not come from acting in front of a camera or learning to sculpt like a famous artist, but from long summer days spent playing outside, swimming at the local pool, and reading books from the library.  With much less going on around us, there seemed to be endless possibilities before us.

Even with the differences between summers of yesterday and today, they share some striking similarities.  Just as there is a camp to suit the taste of everybody, the activities and games we played all summer long offered something for everybody.  In fact, many of our activities from back then make up camp activities now.  Long before these camps, kids like us spent summers acting in our own plays, building houses (in trees), and raising the ire of mothers with cooking projects in our kitchens at home.  Just like camps today, we could never envision a project too big to tackle.  Their life-size geodesic dome was our circus tent patched together out of old bed sheets.

In looking back, perhaps the details of those past summers cannot hold up to the grown-up visions of camps today.  But like kids today, we had the same ambitious dreams.  We too believed we would grow up to act in television and film, design and build bridges, and compete in sports on a national level.  With the summers we created, we knew anything was possible.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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