Summer Vacation. I wish I still got one! I remember the first days of vacation. In those days, we didn’t get out of school until the first week of June. (In related topics, we also didn’t have air conditioning. In third grade, we got ceiling fans! And, in sixth, screens on our windows! Until the screens were installed, windows were not allowed to be opened more than three inches, lest we fall out and kill ourselves.) Those first few school-free days went by so quickly, as I rushed to get everything in- swimming at the pool, riding bikes, going to the library, and just playing outside. As much as I thought it would never get old, and that summer vacation should last forever, those long, hot days did have an expiration date. And, after a couple of weeks, I. Was. Bored. So, to save her sanity, my mom sent me to Summer Camp.
Summer Camp means different things to different people. For some, it means the outdoors, tents, camping, bugs and swimming in a lake… but, not for this girl. For others, it means arts and crafts- God’s eyes and Macramé bracelets, and sit-upons- I didn’t discover my Martha calling until later in life. Regardless of the camp- Girl or Boy Scouts, church or school sponsored, or sleep-away camp, ALL camps had swim lessons.
I wasn’t a huge fan of most camps- until my mom found a camp that was for ‘gifted’ (nerdy) kids, and then I loved it! Even though it was Nerd Camp, we still had some of the traditional camp activities- God’s eyes, NO, swim lessons, YES.
Swim lessons were easily one of my most favorite parts of camp because I was the best (of course), and any time I can use my smug sense of superiority- and be right about it- is a great time in my book. I joined a swim team in second grade- I was eight or so- and swam year round competitively until I graduated from high school. To be fair, as I discovered what other activities one could do while in high school (as my daughter will one day read this blog I am censoring this part, but use your imagination and remember I went to a Catholic All Girls school) my swimming career suffered. Back in the day, I was good. Swim lessons always went the same way- all of the kids would be categorized by age, and then asked to do certain things like tread water, and swim ‘crawl stroke’ (I knew it as freestyle because I was Big Time). I loved this day because I got to show everyone up, and be a smart ass about it. When asked to tread water, I would ask “With my hands in the water or out of the water? How many minutes?” When asked to do ‘crawl stroke’, I would first correct the clearly stupid counselor and then ask if they wanted a racing start or a start in the water. Clearly, they all loved me and my quick wit, as was evidenced by the other kids’ blank stares and the counselors’ not so discreet eye rolls, which I took as a victory.
After I wowed everyone with my superstar swimming performances, the question became “What do we do with her?” I didn’t need the lessons as I had proved my superiority, and I was going to take every opportunity to show off in front of my peers instead of try to help them or the instructor. I usually got more free swim away from everyone else. This further cemented my awesomeness in my mind.
I wish I could wrap this post up with something inspirational, like realizing the value of helping others instead of showing them up. Not so much… I blame my smugness in totally inappropriate situations on swim lessons. As I mature- hopefully gracefully- I am learning to keep my inner belief in my superiority more inner and less outer… most of the time anyway.