This is a post by Mr. Flossip. He told me not to give him credit for writing it, but I think y’all would guess! Also, he LIES. I HATE TO CAMP.
In South Carolina we have three seasons: January, February and summer.
And if the oppressive humidity and eagle-sized mosquitoes haven’t given you a big enough clue we are deep into the throws of another warm and muggy stretch of our favorite gift from Mother Nature. But there is also a sub-season that occurs this time of year which provides parents across the nation with a wonderful opportunity to have someone else take charge of the happiness of our little bundles of joy. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you the season of summer camp.
For those of you still trying to teach your kids the importance of the two Ws (how to walk and how to wipe) summer camp is a long way off so I will paint a picture for you – go to iTunes and look up Mr. Allan Sherman.
In the time it takes to accurately heat a bag of popcorn Mr. Sherman and his good friend Lou Busch managed to describe the entire experience of camp life into a song that would go on to win a Grammy in 1964. By the way, if you can correctly identify the tune upon which this song is based you will receive an all expenses paid trip to scenic Camp Coker with Mrs. Flossip – she loves to camp. (Estimated value $50, depending on gas prices.)
All humor aside, there is a lot that goes into placing smiles upon the faces of legions of kids who are allergic to everything, miss their mommies, constantly need to pee, get bored when there are 10 seconds in which they are not given the most exciting time of their lives, and some who lack the simplest of manners. To accomplish this task requires a special kind of adult who freely gives of his/her time to create a protected and structured world in which a kid can be happy. If you want to see what one of these people looks like in real life all you have to do is drive out to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office and ask to speak to Lieutenant Wayne Howard and the others who make up the staff of Camp Pee Dee Pride.
Of course, they will probably not be there.
On some mornings they are standing underneath the large oak trees outside of the science building at Francis Marion University surrounded by a squirming and screaming army of smiling kids all wearing the same camp shirt. On other mornings they are getting this mass of children ready to attend a Redwolves baseball game or enjoy the gym and pool at FMU (complete with a high dive!) or take a few early morning frames at Southgate or take in the latest movie at the Julia 4. Towards the end of camp the children battle the staff during something called ‘Pie in the Face’ day. I don’t know about you but pie in the face day should definitely replace casual Friday at my office!
And the coup de grace, twice during the camp Lt. Howard and his staff arm themselves with gallons of sun-block and herd these children towards an invasion of the summertime Yankee stronghold at Wild Water & Wheels. In between these activities the campers are fed (no packed lunches!) and attend sessions in the auditorium. According to my kids the most memorable session involved someone called the hawk man…
Because this is not a spend-the-night camp all of these activities are thrown into a tightly packed seven or eight hour daily schedule.
We are now on our second week and my kids are exhausted every single night. There have been several days in which I would pick them up after camp and they would both fall asleep in the car before we reached the city limits. This morning they were asleep before we even reach the campus at FMU. If kids are this worn out that means they are having a blast.
The realities of being a parent in the Pee Dee are such that expendable income often determines a child’s ability to grow outside of the home. And if you are a single parent the cards are really stacked against you. So if you think you can’t afford an experience like Camp Pee Dee Pride, think again. The camp is free.
Thanks to the good people at Honda, Bojangles, QVC, Fatz Café, Julie 4 Cinemas, Southgate Bowling Alley, Francis Marion University, Chic-Fil-a, as well as those who participate in the fishing tournament each May, up to 90 kids per session are able to spend two weeks during the summer surrounded by staff and counselors whose main focus is to simply let kids be kids.
Now there are a few ground rules for camp. Each camper is expected to act in a respectful manner towards each other and the staff at any facility they visit, and they are expected to follow the rules at all times. This was made crystal clear in the first ten minutes of the opening day when the parents were given a strict set of rules to follow;
? If you are late picking up your child, your child will be in the lobby of the Florence County Jail in Effingham with me (Lt. Howard) patiently waiting for you to pick them up.
? If your child is disrespectful, bullies other children or uses bad language, we will remove your child from camp and deliver them to you at your place of work – at no charge.
? We work very hard to protect your children but if your child is injured during camp it is because they were not following our directions
I have to admit I chuckled at the last one. However, because I am not a quiet person my chuckle carried across the auditorium and was quickly picked up by a Sheriff’s deputy who was volunteering her time that morning to be at the camp. Her quick head turn in my direction followed by her disapproving glare caused me to instinctively sit up straight in my seat and remove the grin off of my face. She then nodded in approval, gave me a wink and returned to her supportive role. “You see son,” I said as quietly as possible, “that’s what happens when you do not have good manners in public.” Yeah boy, I never miss a chance to pass along some good ol’ fashioned trial-by-fire wisdom.
Because of the success the Florence County Sheriff’s Department has seen with Camp Pee Dee Pride the waiting list to attend the camp has grown every year since the camp began. This session, 64 of the 90 campers have never been before and I am very confident that most will want to come back, including mine. I even heard a rumor the other day that the staff has already received applications from Los Angeles to UCLA (upper Conway lower Aynor).
So pay attention and get ready to sign up your kids for one of the 2013 sessions.
On a side note if you see a Florence County Sheriff’s Deputy, politely and calmly walk up to them and tell them thanks for keeping our farms, businesses, homes, streets and more recently some of our smaller cities safe. Tell them thanks for using their spare time to give kids throughout the Pee Dee real life role models. Then give them a big hug – tell them Mrs. Flossip sent you.
Enjoy the summer – if you get too hot just follow the advice of my good friends Greg and Duane Allman and eat a peach!