It’s the last night of Run Home Camp 2021. The week has gone by fast but also slowly, just like it always does. It’s crazy to think that we’ve only known some of these boys for four days. Tomorrow is going to be a hard goodbye for all, especially the kids we’ve known for four years.
Thursday is always the longest day up on the field, and the campers felt it. They’ll be sleeping well tonight I’m sure. Two simulation games were played, the second with actual strikes as a final practice for the big game tomorrow morning. If the hits and catches from today are any indication, it’s going to be close between red and blue.
Today was also the birthday party for everyone. The rookie campers were especially excited when they saw the huge bounce houses, cupcakes, and presents. They all got new gloves, and the veterans got three-quarter zip-ups that had them looking like professionals. I don’t really understand how some of the boys had enough energy to go through the inflatable maze as many times as they did. It seemed like all the hustle was left out on the baseball diamond, but they found more this evening. For their final evening reward, the campers got to watch a show outside on a 20-foot inflatable screen. The twelve-year-olds then continued the tradition of staying up later than the other kids to hang out with the staff a bit more and pack snacks for all to take home tomorrow.
So far this is sounding like a great day, and it was, but that doesn’t mean that every boy saw it that way at every moment. It can be easy to get caught up in one small thing like a missed catch or a strikeout. One kid especially was struggling to give himself grace and follow the camp rule of cheering for everyone.
Each year at camp we have a theme, and every four years that’s based around the summer Olympics. We have a color of the day from one of the Olympic rings that denotes what the huddles, pep talk, and skit at team meeting will be about. Today’s color was green. Lots of things in nature are green, so it makes us think of growth. We talked about not being discouraged but instead encouraging each other and helping each other grow as baseball players and as people.
This is easy to discuss, but much harder to put into practice. It’s one thing to say encouragements for the other campers during group huddle in the morning and another to not be discouraged if you feel that your team isn’t doing well. What I love about camp is that even if one of the kids gets really down on himself, the staff doesn’t stop encouraging them. The amount of cheers is so overwhelming, it can’t be drowned out by one or two people’s negativity. The hope is that we can help the boys see the positive improvement they are making and help them realize they’re awesome whether or not they make the play at shortstop.
Tonight is the last night ever at Run Home Camp for our four senior campers. That can be discouraging to think about. It’s sad to know we won’t see these familiar faces next summer. I don’t want the boys to have that mindset, though, so I’m trying not to have it either. Instead, I want to focus on all the fun we’ve had with these kids for the two, three, or four years they attended RHC. It’s amazing to look back at their first year and witness how they’ve grown and matured as athletes and people. All of our boys have grown this week, and I believe they’re better off because of it. We still have one day left to encourage them to be the best they can be both on and off the field.