The 9-year-old Hurricane boy made his first trip to an overnight camp this past week. He’s spent the night away from home for 10 days before, but that was with out-of-state relatives. He’s done many overnights with friends but never has he been away with all strangers.
I signed him up for Auburn’s football camp, a three-day camp to learn proper football techniques. Maybe they’ll teach him proper table manner techniques as well.
We left for the trip with the whole family — mama, the 10-year-old Princess girl, him and me. Mama and both kids are in a play production in July called “Carousel,” so mama decided this two-hour trip would be a great time to practice all the songs and lines.
By the time we got to Auburn, I was ready to join the football camp and would have gladly slammed my head into a concrete pillar if it would stop the singing from this 1950s musical. All three sing extremely well, but I can only hear about fisherman and squabbling women for so long.
When we arrived, they processed the Hurricane and assigned him to a dorm room. He had 30 minutes before a horn blew signaling the first practice.
Panic set in. Not about the practice but the fact he still does not know how to tie his shoes. It is a longstanding Gamble tradition, as I wore cowboy boots until I was about 12 and still would be wearing ‘em if the high school basketball coach had not insisted I couldn’t wear boots on the court. Thus, at 13, I learned to tie my shoes.
But, some good came out of a camp. Early, as in about 15 minutes, he learned to tie his shoes. Amazing what a little potential embarrassment can do to motivate a kid.
Then came the moaning/weeping/I’m scared/what if something happens/maybe we should just go back home moment as we walked to the practice field.
But enough about mama’s reaction. The Hurricane was a little unsure, too.
Then, like Dorothy first seeing the golden road, the Hurricane entered the new indoor, artificial turf football practice field for the Auburn football team. His eyes lit up like fine jewels and daddy became a distant memory.
Mama fretted about food, clothes, deodorant and every possible calamity which might strike, all to no avail. The Hurricane had left port and his ship would not sail back in until Tuesday. Mama, I’m sure, will welcome him with open arms — and shoes tied to boot.
Email columnist T. Gamble at firstname.lastname@example.org.