Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were filled with summer camp fun for me and the children of Hopkins County. I'm sure there are a ton more camps happening this summer, but my favorites are WonderKids, YMCA and the Summer Arts Academy. Those are the three that I visited as part of my job this week.
That's right. My job lets me go hang out with kids and, for a couple of hours at least, pretend I'm at summer camp. They were all day camps, but I was only there for an hour or two anyway, so I didn't really feel the absence of fun evenings in rooms with all your friends and a super-cool counselor. Those were the highlights of my middle school camp days at Poggio.
These camps all have something special about them. Camp WonderKids is a semi-educational, semi-entertainment camp for children with asthma between the ages of 6-12. The YMCA day camp provides free breakfast and lunch for kids who might otherwise not have access to that. And the Summer Arts Academy is a 9 a.m.-4 p.m. two-week camp where campers put together a performance. This year's performance is "Fiddler on the Roof."
Each day offered its own excitements and stresses.
On Wednesday, I couldn't find the camp in the midst of the not-exactly-sprawling Madisonville City Park. I drove around in circles until I caught sight of a few horses, and boldly (and terrifiededly) approached the people with the horses and asked for directions. After I got over that little hurdle, though, I got to talk to kids about how much the camp had helped them overcome any obstacles their asthma might provide, and then take pictures of them riding horses. For some of them, it was the first time they'd ever done that.
On Thursday, I struggled with having over 20 kids to photograph and needing names and ages of each kid who was going to be features in the paper. As soon as I managed to get a couple of names and just follow those kids around, though, it all went smoothly. I started snapping pictures of the kids at one table, and immediately got swamped with small faces and big smiles asking me if they were going to become famous once I put their picture in the paper. Tiny hands grasped mine and it felt like I had the hopes and dreams of a pile of kids in my palms. I think the camera hyped them up, because as soon as they finished their meal they started running around, squirting each other (and their teachers) with water. I almost didn't want to leave ... Oh, but the good news is, six of my photos are taking over the Community Pages of the paper on Sunday.
On Friday, I dealt with bad lighting on the stage and, of the dozens of pictures I took, got about one useful photo. But I got to watch a bunch of middle and high school students explore their budding passion for the arts. Although theater and music are far from my areas of expertise, almost nothing excites me more than hearing a sixteen-year-old wax eloquent on Victor Hugo's explanation of the arts and why they're important. BUT I got a decent video of the talented kids rehearsing.
All in all, it was a great week. Yeah, there was some down time where I sat at my desk and stared at the screen, but I got to meet a lot of people. The best thing about journalism is that every day contains a new adventure, and you get to have a taste of all sorts of different lives and jobs.
Yeah, it just might be the best job in the world.