Several years ago, Amy and I spent a summer working at a summer camp (not in Omagh, for those of you familiar with that).  Amy worked as the cook (for her second year) and I was the canoeing instructor.  That summer saw me in the second best shape in which I have ever been.  It also gave me a zebra-footed stripy tan-line that is best left to the imagination.

Almost everybody wore a few hats at different times that summer.  Amy organized a rather well received theme day, I learned how to brush a horse (I will stick with bikes for riding, thank you.  A bicycle does not have any kind of mind of its own and is unlikely to spook at a sudden sound) and I also invented a game called Progressive Dodgeball.  It is similar to dodgeball or king’s court.  Two teams are on either side of a line and throw balls at each other.  The twist I added was that, instead of being ‘out’ when one is hit by a ball, one switches teams.  This results in the best players (and the ones most likely to be good sports about being hit) being the main targets rather than the slower players so it seems to be generally well received.

The couple who ran the camp lived on-site with their several horses, two dogs and 4-year-old son.  This son, whom I shall call Jehoachim (not his real name) and I got along very well.  He would often come down and do canoeing lessons with the campers, do crafts with them and generally hang out and be a cool dude.

One of the things we did from time to time was toss a frisbee around.  I have never been a big fan of Ultimate Frisbee.  Too much running around and purposefulness.  I would far, far rather just stand around in a field and toss a disc back and forth for amusement rather than imposing rules and goals to the activity.  Jehoachim wasn’t much good at the beginning of the summer but as he got used to the game he got better and better.  It got to the point that he could throw and catch from a pretty fair distance (maybe 20 metres or so, rather good for such a little guy). 

The trouble was, he tended to get bored of activities in a hurry.  This is not to say he wouldn’t play things for a long time.  He had staying power.  He would just very abruptly decide he’d had enough of [insert activity] and sort of wander away.  Since he wasn’t a regular camper, this wasn’t too much of a problem most of the time.  One sunny evening, though, we were playing frisbee and he went through one of his lighting attention span change ups.   While the frisbee was en route.  To his head.  I of course yelled his name to try to get him to move.  He looked around at exactly the right time to take the disc between the eyes.

It was about two weeks before he trusted me enough to play games with me and I don’t think we played frisbee any more that summer.

science and progress