The last day of camp is always a whirlwind. The boys leave around 1 pm, and those morning hours seem to go by in the blink of an eye. I was impressed by how quickly everyone got up this morning and how fast they packed all their things up. They were eager to get to the field for the big game.
The Friday morning baseball game is what the whole week is building to. Everything is official, from starting lineups to the anthem being sung to real umpires calling balls and strikes. There’s no more rotating positions every inning or hitting through the whole team before switching. This is the real deal. It’s exciting for the boys, especially those that aren’t able to play on any sports teams outside of camp.
Even though the game only lasted around an hour, the campers played six full innings. They packed a lot of great baseball into a short amount of time. There were lots of good plays in the field and hits as well. It’s always great to see the teams come together and show off the baseball skills they gained over the past five days.
Before we knew it, lunch was over and it was almost time to go. The last thing we do each year at Run Home Camp is have a little awards ceremony for the boys. They’re each highlighted by their coach who says something kind about them. Each kid gets one of the soft toss baseballs we’ve been using throughout the week, a souvenir ball signed by his coach, and a photo album filled with pictures of the week. I was excited to see photos of some activities we did like archery and the Curve game along with the official uniform photos and baseball action shots.
Once that’s over, the unofficial tradition of everyone signing everyone else’s stuff starts. The campers rush around trying to get every staff member to sign their hats and baseballs while the coaches collect signatures from the kids. It’s the last little thing to remember each other by before the boys get in the van to head out.
The ride back was loud as the campers absorbed their last few minutes together. Most of the parents and guardians were already at the pickup location when we arrived, so it wasn’t long before the boys were gone.
Stepping out of camp is weird. It seems like ages since I’ve been in the outside world thinking about anything but these kids. At the same time it’s crazy that a whole week has gone by so quickly. Even though these five days seem short in hindsight, today especially, it’s still something that the boys hold onto all year. It doesn’t take long to make great memories and form new friendships. Every year after camp I talk for hours with other people who were there and outside family members about stories from the week. I’m sure the kids are doing the same to anyone who will listen.
Many of our campers are eligible to return next year, and some twelve-year-olds were calculating how old different volunteers will be in six years when they’ll be 18 and can come back to coach. Boys who were in their first year, who have only been here for five short days, were talking about returning just as much as veteran campers. Time spent here is treasured and remembered no matter how long it was. It’s sad to see everyone go, but we’re already looking forward to seeing them all again. Until then, we have Run Home Camp 2021 to remember.