After what feels like a long hiatus, Run Home Camps is finally back. We had a one-day camp last summer only for returners, but there hasn’t been a full week-long camp since 2019. A lot of the staff has been saying how long ago that feels. The world has changed so drastically since then, it might as well be a different era instead of two years ago. Everyone was excited to get back into the world of camp.
All of the boys arrived bright and early this morning, ready to go. The seniors, our twelve-year-olds, set the tone each year, and 2021’s group of four is keeping things calm. They’re excited but chill, creating a low-key first day that none of us expected but all welcomed.
Even after one day, I can tell we’re going to have a great game of baseball on Friday. The boys got into catching and throwing as soon as they met their coaches and were itching to hit soon after. They got some batting instruction after lunch that helped some kids crank line drives into the outfield within their first five hours at camp. Their improvement is obvious already. The handful of nine-years-olds we have this year, some of whom have never put on a glove or picked up a bat before, are learning and growing at a rapid pace. With a little teaching and a lot of encouragement, it’s crazy how fast these kids turn into athletes.
Last night near the end of our staff training and final prep day, we talked about how we want to direct all of our focus towards the kids this week. Work, school, and anyone outside of camp basically stop existing for these five days. That’s easier said than done, of course. It takes effort to stay focused on what’s happening here when it’s so easy to let our minds wander. At the same time, it’s sometimes weird to think that other things besides Run Home Camp happen this week.
The boys seem to have this concept of focus down better than some of us adults. In my six years at camp, I’ve never seen a group this attentive. It’s a rare sight in nine- to twelve-year-old boys in general. Many different volunteers have commented on it throughout the day. Every activity had the kids’ total attention, from our first Olympic-themed lesson from Ms. Patti this morning to the baseball drills throughout the day to the songs and skit during team meeting. Evening reward was no exception. It’s become a tradition to watch part of the MLB Home Run Derby since camp falls during the all-star break. The boys have enjoyed it in the past, but the level of focus on the competition tonight was unmatched. The cafeteria was near-silent as the professionals on screen hit HR after HR – except for the occasional question about the contest and guess about how many the guy would hit, of course. Even bedtime was smooth after a tiring day in the sun.
One of Run Home Camps’ values is kids first. It’s all about the kids, all the time. The focus stays on their needs and making the week the best it can possibly be for them. That being said, a lot of times these boys end up blessing the volunteers just as much or even more than we care for them. These kids are determined and funny and sweet. You can’t help but learn things from them. They’re already showing us how to stay in the moment and focus on what’s happening here and now. I can’t wait to see what they teach us tomorrow.