It’s only Tuesday night, but it feels like the boys have been here forever. I met some of these kids only yesterday, but it seems like much longer. We already know so much more about them, from favorite foods to baseball skills to hidden talents. It’s been two days, but already a coach will start telling a story about something funny that happened with a boy that day and we say, “That sounds like something he’d do.” In 36 hours we’ve gone from strangers to family.
Tuesday is team day here at Run Home Camp. The coaches use what they observed on Monday to split the group in two as evenly as possible so the red versus blue games are fun and close. All of the campers found out their team assignments this morning and got their baseball uniforms to wear. Their hats and socks show whether they’re red or blue, but the jerseys are all the same since we’re really all on the same team. We’re still going to cheer for everyone who makes a great play and encourage whoever is up to bat.
Decked out in full uniform, the boys headed to the field for a morning of various rotations. While some hit in the batting cage and off the tee, others got their pictures taken and printed their hands on new boards for the home run fence. At the end of the week, each camper will get to take home these professional-quality photos of themselves and their coach. Their fence boards remind staff and future campers who has come before. The kids love looking back at the fence for handprints and names of friends and siblings and even their own boards from years prior.
Baseball instruction was about base running today, and good thing, too, because the boys were getting hits left and right in the simulation game this afternoon. It was the first time some of them really played baseball, and many plays were followed up with an explanation of why that would be an out or where the ball should be thrown in that circumstance. I’m glad the coaches remember to explain all the details of the game to the kids because they get so good so fast I forget that they don’t already know everything.
It may be strange to say that day two seemed like just a regular day at camp, but it’s true. Campers and staff alike adjust so quickly to the routine that doing it even for the second time is perfectly natural. We stay at the field until mid-afternoon and then gather for team meeting. There’s downtime for corn hole and games of catch before and after dinner. The boys jump up to run to their bunk when it’s time, excited to see if they get to come back out for evening reward.
A regular day with this group means kids that are ready. All of the boys were up earlier than they had to be, waiting for breakfast well before it was planned to start. They paid close attention and answered questions amazingly during the pre-game pep talk after lunch. That’s just typical for this group. Even something new to Run Home Camp fit in naturally. For an after supper activity today, the boys got to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow and practice their newfound archery skills by popping balloons. It was a lot of fun and exciting to see the kids trying something new.
A regular day at camp doesn’t mean everything is perfect, of course. There are going to be times when a boy gets upset about not catching a fly ball. First-year campers sometimes feel homesick. Kids get a little too comfortable and start pressing the boundaries with their coaches. This is normal, too, and we expect it. The fact that the typical staff response to any type of outburst by a camper is patience and kind words is something I love about the RHC environment.
When I started to think back on the day to write this, I could hardly think of anything at first even though so much went on that morning seems like ages ago. “It was just a regular day,” I said to myself. There were lots of baseball drills, it was Taco Tuesday, and I saw one boy do a really neat card trick. The more that I thought about it, I realized that regular is not a bad thing. It’s amazing that this is our idea of typical this week – a day spent out in the sun, filled with fun and laughter and encouragement. My hope for these boys is for lots more regular days like this in the future.