We Build Character

I’m not sure why, but my brain has a little flat spot when it comes to the seasons. Saturday morning while riding my bike I realized that it was November. Granted, it’s the second week of November so this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me. To be quite honest though in the moments before I realized this I was trying to figure out if it was Spring or Fall. This happens to me more often than I care to admit.

Fall kind of flew by when I wasn’t looking. Perhaps it had something to do with how busy we’ve been since the kids got back to school. It seems as if our every evening is consumed with the kids’ activities. First it was coaching Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect’s soccer team. Then it became 20 Prospect Jr.’s hockey practices, and now Lil’ Miss 20 P is swimming, and playing basketball. At what point in the past 30 years did the lives of middle class families begin to center around youth sports?

Last week I booked a hotel room in Duluth for 20 Prospect Jr.’s upcoming Hockey Tournament. When I was a kid, I played Pop Warner Football, and Little League Baseball, and I don’t ever recall having to leave town for a tournament. Even in little old Batavia (population 16,000 SALUTE!) we somehow managed to field enough teams that we could play all our games on the same ball field.

Of course, I could just shut up with the complaints. There’s no law that says kids need to play youth sports is there? (checks MN Dept. of Ed. Website) No, there isn’t. So why do we do it?

Well, the kids like it, but they’d like playing with matches in the garage too, and we don’t let them do that. No the real reason is we feel the need for them to do these things so that they can “develop character”, “build relationships”, and “learn life lessons”. Also because it feels pretty damn awesome when they win. (Kidding!)

It’s an unwritten code that all “good” parents put their kids into youth sports. Only the parents with neck tattoo’s, facial piercings, and rap sheets don’t. OK, I lied, they do too as last summer’s adventures with the Ritalin Rangers proved.

This is the point where I insert a long diatribe about society, and how we are so afraid of “danger’ that we lock the kids indoors, and refuse to let them be kids.


OK, now that I got that out of the way, I can continue. (Puts on Grandpa Simpson voice) Why back in my day we didn’t have none of this organized stuff. Our folks just signed us up for little league, gave us a bat and a glove, and sent us off on our Schwinn’s to take our damn selves to practice. They had better things to do than dote on us, and worry about sexual predators, or bullies. Why bullies, and pedophiles were just a fact of life, like head injuries, and exploding Pinto’s. It wasn’t playing the sport that built character, it was learning how to maneuver your way past these sorts of dangers that prepared you for a life on the assembly line. That and sadistic nuns with rulers.

The result was a level of freedom and liberty that no longer exists anywhere in our world. So our childhoods were spent in faded, earth toned, glory; Sears Tuffskins with holes worn in the knees from sliding into the rose bushes that served as third base, scabs up and down our forearms from crashing our Huffy in the gravel driveway as we tried to jump over 3 garbage cans like Evil Knievel.

Concussions weren’t something to be feared, they were something to be celebrated! (ask Dufmanno)

It was formative experiences like this that prepared us to be the well adjusted adults we are today!

This is why I am opening a new summer camp for children. It will be called “20 Prospekt’s Kharacter Kamp”, and it’s mission will be to prepare children for the future through a rigorous curriculum developed by leading cognitive psychologists, and child behavioral experts.

Tuition for 1 week of room and board will be $1,500 per child. Your children will be guaranteed many lifelong memories and friendships as they experience:

Healthful Lodging – Your children’s immune systems will flourish in our state of the art, cootie cabins. These carefully designed plywood sheds come complete with open air ventilation, and bare incandescent light bulbs. Our full time staff scientists select only purebred vermin of the highest pedigree to place in the mattresses. The combination of fresh air, insect stings, and the resident skunks living underneath the floorboards, will help them to develop robust cardio pulmonary systems.

Aerobic Fitness Training – All of our ball fields are carefully constructed with challenging, aerobic training equipment. Catching a fly ball is easy, but only the best can do it while leaping a rotary push mower, and landing in the neighbors thorn bush.

Cognitive Development –  Sudoku may be a good developmental tool, but nothing compares with the cognitive intricacies of our barn, where your children will learn to play hide and seek among cans of lead paint, rusty garden tools, jars full of strange flammable liquids, and unidentifiable engine parts from a 1967 Nash Rambler. For the older children, we also offer lung capacity challenges through the random placement of old refrigerators in the dark recesses of our century old barn.

Marine Biology – Your children will learn marine biology and develop excellent wilderness skills as they hunt for crayfish under the rocks of the nearby creek. The challenge is further enhanced by the strange coloration of the water leaching into the creek from the nearby sewage treatment plant.

Strategic Deployment – Just because the sun goes down, doesn’t mean the learning stops at Kamp Kharacter. Our campus is equipped with a solitary street light, that serves as home base in our nightly games of Kick the Can and Flashlight tag. Our kamp kounselors will instruct the children in the finer points of strategy as they hide under the front porch swatting mosquitoes in the loamy darkness, developing a game plan for victory.

Kamp Olympiks – The joy and pride of personal achievement will last a lifetime as your child builds confidence through our Olympik competition. The children will compete daily in a series of athletic events designed to help them develop body and soul, such as:

Horse Chestnut Fights – Teams of children will collect fallen horse chestnuts in paper bags during the morning field trip to Centennial Park. The spiky chestnuts are then used as projectiles in running battles throughout the afternoon. They will learn basic first aid and medical skills as they tend to bruises and lacerations, while under hostile enemy fire

Wheelie Competitions – Each child is given a chance to shine during our weekly wheelie competition, where they will peddle rusty, banana seat Stingrays down our asphalt test track, seeing who can ride a wheelie the longest before crashing.

Pick-em-up, Mess-em-up – Whether you know it as “smear-the-queer”, “kill-the-man-with-the-ball”, or “pick-em-up, mess-em-up”, who can forget the age old struggle of one kid against the mob? What better preparation for a life in a corporate office can there be, than an every-kid-for-himself scrum to see who can hold the ball the longest, before losing their teeth?

Nightly Ghost Stories – Here at Kamp Kharacter we end each night with a bonfire, and the screening of a classic R-rated slasher flick. Just like your childhood memories of watching late night cable TV after Mom & Dad went to bed, your children will never forget their introduction to Jason, Freddy Kruger, and Michael Myers. Especially once their counselors spring into their cabin in the middle of the night wielding a bladeless Husqvarna Chain Saw!

So don’t hesitate, enroll your children today. Space is limited, and you don’t want Suzie and Johnny Madison and Holden to fall behind their peers in that all important quest to get into a prestigious Ivy League University.

Operators are standing by.

4 thoughts on “We Build Character

  1. What kind of camp uses a bladeless chainsaw? Amateur.
    You also forgot the “obstacle course” which has a leg consisting entirely of children dropping from a second story window onto three piled mattresses! It’s the reason I have no cartilage in my knees!

    • I also left out Big Wheel demolition derby.

      I played football from 2nd grade till college, and I never had bruises bigger than the ones I got playing demo derby with wagons and big wheels.

      Sent from my Android phone using TouchDown (www.nitrodesk.com)

  2. My daughter was on a soccer traveling team until it interfered with her true love, music. It could have been worse, I coulda had a boy. My bro-in-law, Big Dummy, was a defenseman for Thief River and encouraged his boys beyond all reason to play hockey, even to the the point of sending one of them twice to a goalie camp in Canada taught by Canadian and Russian Olympic goalies. $$$? and the other lad was chosen by his team to read the H.S. League disclaimer at the state tournament. Anyway, they both survived all that bullshit and went on to become productive members of society, although the one who is now a grade school teacher still plays in an old men’s hockey league. Much to the chagrin of his wife.

    • The Minnesota Hockey Cult never ceases to amaze me. By any measure I would consider us to be pretty well off, and even I blanche at the ridiculous cost of hockey. I see so many parents who live week to week blow extraordinary sums of money of the sport.

      I’m thinking of taking 2 weeks each summer to have my Kamp cater to Hockey kids. I have a unique nutritional regime involving Charleston Chews, RC Cola and Pop Rocks that is clinically proven to increase performance by 76.5%

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