Another summer at camp has come and gone. It was my twenty-seventh. The mouth-watering smells and tastes of a campfire cookout. The life-long friendships. The hikes in the woods. And before I knew it, I was sitting back in my chair at school. The old saying is true: "Good things never seem to last"; though the memories last forever.
I teach high school technology. An oxymoron if there ever was one from a camp veteran such as myself; one of my favorite cabins doesn't even have electric lights.
As it often does in my classroom, the conversation shifted to talk of the latest gadgets, gizmos, and electronic media. Today's most popular topic: the latest edition of a popular video game.
"It's amazing," a student gushed. "They really utilized every button on the controller!"
"How many buttons are on the controller?" I queried.
"Twelve," the student replied.
I couldn't help myself. "I know a controller that has 639.
"The student shook his head with disbelief. "Nuh uh. For what system?"
"The muscle system of the human body," I replied.
The student rolled his eyes. He said, "Anyway, back to technology, Mr. Lebby . . . ."
My students know about my double life. I'm Outdoorsman, with a hidden life like Batman; only instead of a cape, I wear a flannel.
Sometimes I just can't help myself. I was leading a heated in-class debate on the new bumper crop of 3D televisions and movies.
"My friend just got a 3D TV," a student exclaimed. "And by friend I mean that I clicked 'accept' when he 'friended' me on Facebook — I don't actually know the guy . . . ."
My heart cries out for those summer days when friendships are earned through trust and real conversation on a canoe trip through the winding backcountry wilderness.
The student continued, "Anyway, the TV is amazing. He says you can practically touch the leaves on the trees."
It was almost too easy to respond, like hitting a softball pitched right down the middle during inter-camp, but I was beaten to the plate before I could.
"Or you could just go outside and touch a real tree," a student smiled. Another chimed in, "Real life: presented in 3D since . . . forever."
I nodded, satisfied. Maybe I have been teaching these kids something after all.
Garrett Lebby is a twenty-seven year camp veteran, most recently as a territory director at the YMCA's Triangle Y Ranch Camp. During the off-season he is a high school career and technology teacher and head soccer coach. He also owns and operates American Angleball (www.angleball.net ), a sports equipment manufacturing company that promotes an active youth lifestyle. In 2004 he published his first camp-themed young adult novel, A Destiny That Made Us Brothers. Contact the author at email@example.com.