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Julie Moore: Bill’s excellent adventure

August 16, 2013 

Julie Moore


Each year as my child grows, my husband and I must make decisions regarding his care and feeding, not to mention his physical, mental and spiritual development.

It’s a lot of responsibility, but like it or not we’re the deciders. Is he eating enough? Should he play video games? What school is best? For this one… as much as I admire parents who homeschool, I don’t mind telling you that I would NOT feel comfortable doing this. I like having trained professionals in charge of my son’s education. We love his school and the progress he’s made academically.

Similarly, the summer is a time that could be all on me. I work at home, so it would be no problem for him to be here – or it could be left to, again, trained professionals. That’s where summer camps come in. The choices available are staggering, but not all are of equal caliber or affordable for us. That said, we’ve been over the moon about the choices we’ve made this year.

In June Bill spent a week at the DSI comedy camp in Carrboro, which was right up his alley. In fact, I moaned to Facebook that it might have been a shortsighted decision on my part, as how could I stand it if he were to be any funnier? Anyway, at this week-long camp, the kids spend the day doing improv exercises designed to build their funny bones and help them think on their feet – something that I wish I had learned as a kid. On the camp’s final day, parents watch a little show of their darlings improv-ing like pros. The whole thing’s just good, silly fun. Bill ADORES it and demands an encore each year.

Mostly, though, he’s spent his summer at Camp Clearwater. He loves this camp. I love this camp. It’s so ... classic. It’s hiking and nature and canoeing and archery and BB guns and arts and crafts and nature lessons and swimming – the outdoor-being-a-boy stuff he really craves and needs.

Run by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA, Camp Clearwater is a muggy little paradise round a lake that offers five sessions per summer to kids of all kinds. Sure, it’s bit of a drive, but there are buses that leave from and drop off at convenient Chapel Hill-Carrboro locations. The kids clamber on the bus each day and sing silly camp songs and clap and just generally make a lot of noise – always with a rousing chorus of “I-I-I LOVE CLEARWATER!” as they turn down Clearwater Lake Road each day.

The kids and counselors spend their days engaging in, as I mentioned, utterly camp-like activities, along with trips to the pool at the YMCA or Meadowmont. It all kind of reminds me of the small town summers I experienced: traipsing through the woods, shooting homemade arrows from homemade bows, aiming BB guns at rotten produce from the garden, playing tag, climbing on the pipes down at the sewer plant, making fairy villages out of moss and sticks, visits to the pool…

It’s the kind of summer I want my son to have – but it’s completely impractical for me to pull off. Hence, my reliance on “the professionals” at Clearwater. While we ran around the woodsy neighborhood barefoot – probably clutching scissors – with no formal instruction, safety guidelines or supervision, the kids at Clearwater, though, have instruction, guidance and top-notch supervision from excellent counselors. That is, before they shoot arrows and BB guns, they have to learn the rules. They wear lifejackets when they canoe, and sunscreen all day long. Plus, I’m pretty sure no one runs with scissors.

And they get – BEADS! Yep, you heard me right. Beads. Each camper gets a cord at the beginning of the session, then earns a bead with certain accomplishments, like, say, earning a canoeing rank. Or performing an act of kindness. And then there are the vague achievements like “scaring Logan,” or “winning a staring contest with Colin,” or singing Happy Birthday to Joey. For that one you get a special bead that looks like a baby kangaroo – I KNOW!!! Hilarious!

Anyway, all the beads – which sell for $2.75 per 650 – are highly prized by the kids, and your kid’ll accrue a string of’em, along with the stories of how they were earned. Stories are definitely one of the rewards of a session at camp. Bill comes home with a ton of them. Did you hear the one about the haunted bathroom? Big Bob and Enormous Ernie the turtles? And all through the year, he brings up these tidbits.

He’s makin’ memories, is our Bill. And I’m so glad he’ll have these fond flashbacks of a sweet old-fashioned summer to warm the rest of his days. I couldn’t have done it better myself!

Julie Moore can be reached at

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