Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happy Campers

I hate that term. It's done to death, already. Seriously. Google it. There's not a product under the sun that doesn't have a Happy Camper brand attached to it.

It seems like some people still use it to describe just about anything and everything ("Oh, so-and-so just got fired and he's not a happy camper." Or, "so-and-so must be a happy camper...she just won the lottery!"). And anyway, if someone is genuinely joyful or upset, do they really want people patronizing them by referring to them as happy or unhappy "campers?" Of course not. Generally, I avoid the term at all costs.

However, when it comes to the Cyclones Baseball Camp, I make an exception, since it's literally filled with hundreds of, well, happy campers.

Each year, Cyclones players and coaches
work with kids on the fundamentals of the game, with a focus on fun. For me, the fun is in watching the interaction between the players and the kids. The kids get one-on-one time with professional athletes they idolize, and the players all seem to really open up around the kids - away from the pressures of the field, the media, etc. It's some of the most free and genuine interaction I see all summer. Not that i want to wax too nostalgic and have Ken Burns start doing a voiceover or anything, but it does kind of make you think about the purity of baseball, and how the game really affects so many lives.

Anyway, with that heartwarming fuzzy stuff being said, the Kids Camp also inevitably (and inadvertently) creates some pretty funny moments, too. Last year, Jordan Abruzzo started his batting lesson by saying three or four times that for safety purposes, no one was to swing a bat while they were in line -- only when they got to one of the appointed stations. Does everyone understand? "Yeah." I can't hear you! Does everyone understand? "YEAH!" No sooner did he turn around than one kid took a hack and accidentally clipped another, who, of course, hit the deck in a very dramatic scene (obviously, it's only funny because no one got hurt). The look on Jordan's face was absolutely priceless.

Yury Santana marveled at the talent level of the Brooklyn kids, as compared to camps he had done in other places. "These kids are no joke," he told me. "Some of them have better arms than guys on the team!"

And a couple of years ago, Edgar Ramirez became a Baseball Camp legend when he worked every day of the camp and created a cult following with his sense of humor, crazy antics, wacky nicknames, and phenomenal approach to teaching the kids. Because of the camp, that whole summer he was like the Pied Piper. Wherever he went, a trail of kids was following. "Edgar! Thanks for teaching me how to hit!" "Donkey! I was at the camp with you!" "I made the All-Star Team!" Those kids had a real connection to him, and vice versa. it was pretty cool to watch.

And now for the sales pitch:

Registration has begun for the 2009 Kids Camp. Check out all the dates and details, and get your kid in on the fun!

-- Dave

1 comment:

Lisa Gav said...

Don't let the Kids have all the fun - Bring back the Ladies' Clinic this summer too!