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The closest thing I ever had to summer camp

The Chicago Tribune asked me to describe my most memorable summer camp experience. Are you kidding? There was no way in the world that I ever would have gone away to summer camp as a kid. The closest I could come up with was the following story, which my Aunt Liz will appreciate because she just taught my six year old girls how to play chess:

I was way too much of a sissy to ever seriously contemplate going away to a sleepover camp. But one summer I did work up the nerve to attend a computer-programming day camp. This was back in a time before PCs, when data were stored on punch cards and 20 kids had to share two computer terminals. I was the youngest kid, by far the smallest, and extremely timid. Thus, I didn’t get much time on those precious terminals. To pass the many idle hours waiting for terminals to free up, we played board games. Even though I was pretty good at chess, the kids who played it were too intimidating so I never asked to play. Finally, on the last week of the camp, I got up the courage to challenge the self-appointed chess champion to a match. When he realized I was going to beat him, he grabbed the board and threw it violently toward me, scattering chess pieces across the room.

I told my father what happened. I don’t think he has ever been prouder.


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