Friday, August 11th, 2022
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. There it is. We did it. Another successful year of not dying or having a nervous breakdown before the end of camp. My car didn’t crap out and have me on the side of the road with the all the equipment. No child was lost or got struck by lightning. My father didn’t die. I didn’t discover my wife having an affair. We did not have a monkeypox outbreak. I did not get COVID and have to turn the camp over to the Vaccine Angel.
These are just some of the things that keep me up at night. When I’m not awake at night looking at the ceiling, I’m dreaming about Wiffle ball. And freeze pops.
The other night on PlutoTV, my favorite of the TV apps because it’s like old time TV where you can only watch whatever is on live, I caught some of the film “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”. It was about a man who runs a small sushi restaurant in Japan. He’s 86 and has been going through the same routine everyday for most of his life. He rides the train everyday and makes the sushi, striving to make it a little better everyday. And at night he dreams about sushi.
I keep thinking about that movie. I’m no Jiro, but every year, for 20 years, I’ve been doing this same camp, the same way. Obsessing over the little details, repeating what works, and trying to make it a little bit better than the year before. But will I be out there in the Village lugging coolers of freeze pops when I’m 86? Will I be pitching Wiffle balls your grandkids? My grandkids?
I hope so. I really hope so. I tell my wife that this camp is putting me in an early grave and she pushes me to do it every year because she wants to claim my pension. But the reality is more that this camp is keeping me young. “Forever Young”. It keeps me living the “Glory Days” of my youth. I may complain about how exhausting it all is but getting paid to play Wiffle ball is probably as close to “Heaven” as I’m gonna get down here.
You see what I did there? The 3 camp songs from this summer. Those songs are from the time when I was about the age your kids are now. I’ve held on tight to those songs — and the fun I had playing Wiffle ball, eating freeze pops, and buying candy cigarettes — my whole life. I hope the memories your kids make at this camp are the ones they hold on to for their whole lives. And I hope to get a crack at their kids some day too.
Thank you for all you do to support my camp. Year 20 is over today. Year 21 starts tomorrow. But tonight it’s Miller Time!
Thursday, August 1
Just when you think it can’t get any better, it does. Today I opened up the wallet again and treated the whole camp to a ginormous Hawaiian Shave Ice. Barack Obama and I love Hawaiian Shave Ice. We had good old Steve from Kona Hawaiian Shave Ice come out in the truck and run up an a la cart tab that now has me underwater. I was planning to take the family on our annual 2-day vacation to Milwaukee, our big trip of the summer, but that’s canceled now. Not in the budget. It all went to feed your kids shave ice.
At one point during the shave ice buffet, some members of the community got in line and started ordering. I ran over to the truck like my pants were on fire and said, “Hey! Hey! Steve!! Those people aren’t with us!! Don’t put them on my tab!!” The community members turned around and the spokesman for the group said, “Chill out bro. I’m paying for this myself” and he gave me a cold glare. I said, “Hey bro, I’m not trying to pay for everyone walking by this truck, you know what I mean?” He just continued that cold glare.
Such is life in the Village. We’re not behind the fence of some country club or athletic complex. We’re in the park. The other day an old gal walked right onto the field in the middle of the game and stood there as if she were lost. Like a seasoned umpire I yelled, “Time!” We all just stood there for a while and watched as she got her bearings and ambled off. Then yesterday as we were walking to the cul-de-sac for pick-up, we walked past a couple people under a tree, rolling around and making love with their clothes on. Without my glasses I couldn’t tell if they were part of our group. I said to one of our counselors, “Hey, are those two with us? He said, “No, they’re adults I think”.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Wait, I do. It will bring more of me peeling off twenties for the big Championship Friday Hall of Fame Banquet. We’ll dine in the rough with D’omino’s of Italy and celebrate our newest members of the Hall of Fame. So don’t pack your Wiffler another depressing lunch, it’s on me. I’ve seen these lunches you pack them and they are de-pressing. White bread sandwiches and Cheez-its. I was embarrassed by them when my friend, Gordon Ramsey, the famous chef, stopped by the camp today. He was not impressed with your lunches either and decided to show one boy how to make a proper lunch.
One Day to Glory (And My Date with Chivas Regal),
I asked my wife just now, “What time do you want to leave for the Cubs game tonight?” “Honey, I didn’t want to say anything to you and stress you out, but the Cubs game was today”. Ahhhhhh. During these weeks of Wiffle the rest of my life seems to suffer. My daily ablutions are neglected. I fall asleep on the couch n my filthy clothes. I get lots of parking tickets. I eat most of my meals at 7-11.
Small prices to pay for keeping the only Wiffle ball camp in the world still in business. Actually, I heard about a rip-off version of our camp they were doing over at Horner Park. Ah, I’m flattered. Good luck to them (If any of you patronize that camp and I find out I will never speak to you ever again). But my camp has one thing the other camp doesn’t. You. I have the best parents of any camp around. Today, one great benefactor of the camp arranged for former professional baseball player, and current sports agent, Jayson Hernandez to visit with the kids, tell some stories, hit some balls and sign some autographs. It was awesome.
Monday night, after The Great Debacle, I wrote about it being “Chivas time”. Within an hour, a Wiffling parent had a bottle of Chivas delivered to my door. I didn’t know what Chivas was at the time, but after two nights in the easy chair, I do now. It’s a wonderful libation that soothes all that ails me.
All summer another parent has backfilled me with seeds, candy, pickles, and other treats for the Wifflers. Last week we had a parent deliver hot dogs and ice creams to the whole camp. There are countless other acts of generosity I’ve received from parents over these many summers.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself, it only being Wednesday, but as we wind down this 20th year, I’m feeling very wistful. And grateful. Thank you. Thank you, not just to the ones that deliver celebrities, booze, and treats, but to all of you that support this camp. You send your kids year after year and tell all your friends. We fill up fast and I’ve never once had to advertise. It’s not me, It’s you.
Tomorrow though, it’s me. I’ve got a special surprise coming to camp that the Wifflers are going to love. It’s not as good as today’s other surprise — me getting down on bended knee and presenting my wife with an enormous poster of herself that is now attached to the outfield fence — but it’s pretty good.
Forever In Your Debt (As Well as My Own Debt),
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was like opening night on Broadway. Critics called it “a flop”. The “ham-handed” actors flubbed all their lines. The stage design like something “dragged out of the alley”. But today we rebuilt the stage, the actors hit their marks, and Rex Reed calls raves “Bill’s Wiffling Camp ‘The Playoffs’ is a tour de force!”
I never realized how much of a control freak I am. That rain really threw me off my game. I like things a certain way it turns out. I might be anal retentive even. Well, I wouldn’t go that far. The anal retentive wouldn’t last an hour in the Village. Balls flying in every direction, music blaring, gum stuck to everything, wrappers everywhere. It looks like Jake Ryan’s house the morning after in “Sixteen Candles”. If we had a record player it’d be spinning around with a pizza on it.
It’s supervised chaos. I’m the supervisor. Whenever any adult approaches the camp, they make a bee line for me. “Are you in charge here?” How’d you guess? Is it because I’m wearing golf cleats? Is it because I’m the only adult in this sea of children? Sometimes I feel like Indiana Jones in “Temple of Doom” after he frees all the children slaves. Some kind of Pied Piper but with a bag of candy instead of a flute. I’m like an old spinster in the park feeding the pigeons stale bread, but instead of bread I’m tossing Nik-L-Nips on the ground. And instead of pigeons they are your children. And instead of being a spinster I’m still remarkably married.
Tomorrow is All-Star Wednesday! It’s been referred to as the Wiffling Quadathlon. Four rigorous events designed to test the mettle of the strapping Wiffler. Strength, accuracy, speed, and of course, home run prowess. Each Wiffler will compete in their respective divisions — Small Fry, Medium Fry, and Metabolic Disease/Large Fry — to determine who is the Jim Thorpe of their generation. A fifth unofficial event — The Dope Jersey Fashion Show — will also be held to determine who has the finest youth sports couture and Derek Zoolander runway chops.
It’s a lot. But lest we take these waning days of summer for granted. Let’s get it all in. Let’s go full Bowie.
The Man Who Gives Candy to Children,
I was just in the bath. Not a sitz bath, a full water bath. Floating around in the bath was some flotsam from the day that must’ve been stuck to my body — gum wrappers, sunflower seeds, blades of grass, a baseball card. I’d been in wet clothes and shoes since about 7 this morning. It does something to a man, standing out in the rain for 8 hours. Add 75 children to that man’s charge and it does something else to him. All the mediation and vegan food couldn’t help me today.
You might’ve heard the song “Heaven” by legendary vegan rocker Bryan Adams being played this morning as you pulled up. I chose “Heaven” as our camp song this week. It completes the triumvirate of wistful 80’s ballads, along with “Forever Young” and “Glory Days”, that serve as our camp songs for the summer. Oh sweet irony! If there is a heaven I hope it’s nothing like the Village today!
The poor Wifflers. They had to stand out there in the rain all day too. They seemed to be enjoying themselves though. At least those who didn’t have medical trench foot. What a lark for them. A camp in the rain? With a middle-age man trying to manage it all! Oh they must’ve been amused. It’s hard to command the attention of a group of children that are standing in the rain during a meeting. Can you imagine having a staff meeting, or teaching a class, with everyone standing in the rain while you plod through your agenda? Oh mama!
Well. I hope anyone new to the camp doesn’t judge us by the debacle that was today. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we may actually be able to sit down without soaking our drawers. That does something to a man, having wet drawers all day. Chaffing. Moistness. But no amount of chaffing, swamp butt, or trench foot will ever stop this show. I thought considering it said 100% chance of rain all day on the weather app that many of you would keep your children home today. But no! We had a 96% attendance rate! Your car could be floating down Stockton Avenue but that kid is still getting out at Cafe Brauer!
Alright then. Time to climb in my La-z-boy and have a glass of Chivas. I don’t even know what Chivas is. But it is Chivas time.
Cheers to the Sun, We Take Ye For Granted,
Phewwwww. One more week in the books. I didn’t have a heart attack or nervous breakdown or, worse yet, get murdered by my wife. Services have been rendered! That’s always my number one priority during these camp weeks, staying alive to render the services for which you have paid. You may not like the service or the product, but it has been delivered. Now, for me, it’s Miller time.
A few days respite for the old boy before going on heart attack/nervous breakdown/murder watch again next week with our finale, “The Playoffs”. This week was terrific. One of the counselors unknowingly paid me the highest compliment today saying, “Bill, this is the most even the teams have ever been.” Trying to keep everyone happy and on teams that they want to be on isn’t exactly easy. But doing that and achieving parity is as rare as meeting a stranger with your birthday. Usually I muck it up and one team is unbeatable, another team is terrible, and the rest are middling. This week they were all beautifully even. And the Wiffling gods sorted them out from there.
Speaking of compliments, I got maybe the best one ever this morning from a random woman walking her dog through the Village while I was setting up. “I just wanted to say that you guys do such a great job. Every day I walk by here and these kids look like they are having so much fun”. Once and awhile, when I stop to smell the freeze pops, I can see it too. The counselors, all long-time former Wifflers, really do a great job of maintaining the camp ethos. It’s really evolved into a neat little culture we resurrect each summer. I’m lucky to be able to do it, so thank you keeping us going by sending us your children and checks.
And now it’s time I ride off into the sitz bath, address my athlete’s foot, and go catatonic for a few days. If I don’t see you next week, I hope to see you next summer. Or sooner should our paths cross at Jewels or Ross Dress for Less or Binny’s Beverage Depot. If they do cross, please don’t judge me on my purchases. It’s been a rough couple of years!
“This camp is unhealthy”, a Wiffler said to me as he dipped his hand into the freeze pop chest. Hmmm. He didn’t seem to mind too much, but I’ll disagree with him. Sure, dietarily this camp is a disaster. Hose water is the healthiest thing I have to offer. But nutrition is just a small part of our health and well-being, isn’t it? What does joy and laughter do for our health? How about exercise? Self-esteem? I’d rather have my kid rounding the bases with a Pixy Stix in their mouth than at home on their phone eating carrots. And I bet your kids are sleeping better this week than they have in a long while. Studies show that a mid-day sugar crash leads to a great night of sleep.
I came to realize this week that I am like the mother-in-law that watches your kids while you and your lover go on a breathy weekend in Galena. While you’re gone getting your groove back, I let them eat junk, watch bawdy movies, and pretend I don’t hear them cussing. I buy them Chinese throwing stars and let them light stuff on fire in the backyard. We order pizza for dinner every night and make prank phone calls. When you get home you can fix that all up.
Maybe that’s not what a mother-in-law does. And I’m really not that kind of fella either. But I want these kids to have a good time and it was nice that today I had some help in throwing the party of the summer. Thanks to two generous families, and two August 4 birthdays, your Wifflers were treated to a donut breakfast, hot dog lunch, and ice cream truck dessert. Let Fred, Steve, or Kate try and top that.
You’ve got to take care of dinner tonight though. I can’t ask these families to pay for that. But tomorrow I’ll take the check. Lunch is on me. That’s right, Bill O’D is treating the whole camp to an al fresco Italian lunch catered by the exclusive D’omino’s Ristorante on Lincoln. I know, I know I’m too generous. Just enjoy not having to pack your child another depressing lunch and think to yourself, “That Bill O’D really does a lot of good for people.”
Ahhhhh, what a day. All-Star Wednesday was really going well there and then the monsoon. One of the Wifflers, with a mischievous glint in his eye, reminded me as the dark clouds came rolling in, “Rain or shine, that’s what you say, right Bill?” Right you are lad, right you are. But I draw the line at lightening bolts. We saw one of Zeus’s finest and headed to the farm, post haste.
I think the kids had as much fun in the barn as they did on the field. They took in all the exhibits, rode the mega John Deere tractor, fed the goats, got a plenary lecture from a retiree on how rabbits court each other, and even pumped some walking around money into the souvenir coin machine. One of the counselors was mensch enough to help a Wiffler out who was short a buck. He ran his plastic through the machine only to find out the Wiffler had hit the pay button about 8 times. The machine started shooting out doubloons like they hit the jackpot at Binions. Poor counselor was on the hook for about 30 bucks.
For 20 years I’ve been walking the high wire with this camp. The Wallendas operate with nothing underneath them, my daredevil act is running a camp with nothing overhead. No roof for when it rains. I’m like a homeless guy who operates a camp. For the longest, I was just squatting out there in the Village, hoping no one would ask any questions about a permit or permission to run a camp on park turf. The city bean counters eventually caught up with me and have been taking their cut ever since. But my shiny permit only affords me a patch of grass. What I wouldn’t do for an indoor-outdoor Wiffling complex with bathrooms and an 80’s style snack bar. Can’t you see it?? But until that day comes it’ll be me and your kids dodging lightning bolts out in old Lincoln Park.
Now, on to tomorrow. “Throwback Thursday”. If you’ve got an old T-shirt from a previous Wiffling season, throw that on. If it’s a little tight, that’s okay. We call those “young shirts”. Some may even choose to cut the bottom off the shirt and go all in on the bare midriff. OK. You won’t see me showcasing my muffin top, but okay. I’m all about being retro, but I like to leave something to the imagination. You won’t catch me in those polyester Bike coach shorts with the 5” inseam either. I’m too shy for that.
Before I get too far afield, just some actual pertinent information. Tomorrow is All-Star Wednesday. What’s that about? Most of you know the drill, but it’s a day designed to give you a breather on the laundry. We give that funky camp shirt the day off and the kids wear what we call “dope” jerseys. They got a plenary lecture today on what “dope” means, but if they are fretting about what to wear, point them to something in the closet (theirs or yours) that is either a) a cool sports jersey or b) weird.
Today, Tuesday, is always my favorite day of the week. I like it ‘cause it’s not Monday, when I’m usually an anxiety bag. It’s not a Wednesday, when I’m mid-week depressed. It’s not Thursday, when I’m worn hard and put away wet. And not Friday, when I’m back to being an anxiety bag. It’s good old, never-bothered-anybody Tuesday. The most regular and unremarkable day of the week. And today couldn’t have been a better Tuesday really. It was, as my Dad would call it, a “10”. Pretty much perfect weather. And the perfect low-key day to enjoy it.
Not that much of what happens down in the Village is low-key. It’s always pretty amped up. Today was no exception as one game was decided by a very controversial home run call that sent one team into an apoplectic fit. We also introduced a new feature to the camp, Tone’s Dance Machine, similar to “Janet Reno’s Dance Party”, that led to some Lolla-like moshpitting when Miley’s “Party in the USA” came on. It even got me out of my chair and on the dance floor like a reluctant lad at a mitzvah.
This is all old news to the folks that subscribe to our Twitter app (@everybodywiffs). Listen, I’m not chasing followers and likes here, but this counselor-run feed is going to give you a window into our world in a way nothing else can. News, highlights, pics, and videos. I will warn you, you’re going to want to turn off your notifications. Because it’s run by the kids, you’re going to get a ding about every 6 seconds. But really, some of the finest SPAM out there today.
King of All Social Media,
What a glorious day back in the Wiffling Village. The sun was shining and the balls were flying again. In many ways it felt like we never left. Literally, there were still some gum and freeze pop wrappers dug into the ground from back in June. We try to follow the John Muir ethic of “Leave no trace” but this really isn’t a environmental crowd I’m working with here. It’s more along the lines of “Leave no absurd piles of garbage”.
I hope your Wiffler came home flush faced, pooped out, and happy. We put them through the paces today. In addition to two full games of Wiffle ball, we learned about the 4th (unwritten) rule of Wiffling Camp. No Hucklebuck. Hucklebuck is when kids start wrestling around and grabbing at each other. No hucklebuck is especially important in this new age of monkey pox. I don’t want to be the first camp that has an outbreak of monkey pox. I don’t need a deer-in-the-headlights picture of me on the cover of the Sun-Times with the headline “Monkey Pox Spreads at Local Youth Camp. Owner Claims He Discouraged ‘Hucklebuck’”.
If it’s not one thing to worry about it’s another. I used to like to take a nice nap after camp, but I read over the weekend that naps are now bad for you. A recent study says they cause high blood pressure and stroke. I thought naps were supposed to be good for you! Maybe it’s not the naps that cause the high blood pressure and stroke. Maybe it’s that people who need naps are stressed out to the gills and they are taking them in hopes that they don’t have high blood pressure and stroke out.
I do hope your young children had a good time today. We had the big fun. And I hope they sleep like babies tonight. I know I will. I’m skipped my nap and took my Lipitor. Gonna get to bed early, supposed to be good for you, getting to be early. Until the next study that says, “Going to bed early causes shingles.”
Yours in Wellness,
Well, we saved the best for last, as we always do. Was that fun? Did they say it was fun? I hope so. Though every week is a little different, it’s also really always the same. I like to think I’ve created a secret formula for running a camp, but the truth is there is no formula, no secret. Kids today just love the same things we loved when we were kids. Being outside. Playing a sort of organized, low stakes game. Big kids and little kids playing together, just like in the neighborhood.
And, of course, freeze pops. And sunflower seeds. And gum. And baseball cards. And a little old tymey candy. I’m getting a little sentimental here, but I, I’m having a realization just now. I’m just realizing that I may be doing this to keep my childhood alive. Oh my god, I just had a Freudian breakthrough that 5 years of psychoanalysis never produced. By enlisting your kids, and recreating my childhood, I am nurturing a Peter Pan complex. Why don’t I want to grow up?
I think that despite understanding more and having more control, the world is a scarier as an adult than it is as a kid. I don’t think I want to know any more about technology, climate change, my aging body, social media, pandemics, or never ending inequality. I want to play plastic baseball and shake up cans of root beer. Can we just keep doing that? Forever?
Phew. That was intense. I just worked some stuff out here on paper. It’s also true that I’m not just keeping my childhood alive, but I am keeping my children’s childhoods alive as well. Not by preserving this 1980’s nostalgia, I mean literally. This camp is paying for my children’s food. it’s helping keep them alive. So thank you. Thank you for that. In full disclosure, it’s also paying for my Cubs tickets.
I look forward to seeing you and your Wiffler next time. Next session. Next summer. Next time we see each other awkwardly at Mariano’s. I hope this week was a great end to spring and a k/a start to summer. Let’s get weird this summer.
Thursday, June 1
Hey. Me. Again. You getting tired of these yet? I don’t get much feedback now that we’re on this Google Group. I don’t even know what a Google Group is really. The Vaccine Angel said “It’s the way to go” so I just type this up and hit send. I honestly don’t know if you all are even getting these emails.
Or the Twitter. Do you see the Twitter? I don’t until the day’s over when my kids show me stuff. We were looking at it last night and I saw a video of me down dressing the kids about bad language. I couldn’t believe it! Not the down dressing, but the way I look! I’ve really let myself go! I look horrible! Greasy. Bad hair. Unshaven. Shirtless. The paunch. I switched to veganism a couple months ago thinking it would make me more svelte but not so! It must be because as a vegan my diet now consists mostly of Twizzlers.
And my attention to hygiene and grooming has gone to the tulips. Nose hair. Barbecue sauce around my mouth. Fizzy teeth. And if you could smell me! Now, in fairness it has been 100 degrees all week and I am outside all day in the sun trying to manage your thousand children. I’d like to see how you look on Twitter putting on this show in the devil’s backyard. But still, I’ve got to do better.
It’s not doing anything for me on the home front either. My late adulthood wife wants no parts of me. She down dressed me last night when I got in bed unshowered. She walks on egg shells these Wiffling weeks cause I’m like the Hindenburg and could plotz at any minute. But still she let me have it. “You’re in the bed and you haven’t even showered? And I just changed the sheets?! You’re a real turn-off”.
No matter. This is no week for lovers. Especially as we come down the to the final grab at glory, “Championship Friday”. Tomorrow we determine the winner of the Mullany ‘Cuum, our version of the Stanley Cup. It’s a twenty year old stick vacuum that I had when I lived in a flop house studio apt. over on Lincoln. Still has the dirt in it from way back then. If only that dirt could talk, it would tell you tales of ribaldry. The vacuum is now painted gold and has been signed by all the winning teams over the years.
It’s the final bacchanal of the what has been a really great and sweaty week. To show my appreciation for your patronage, I’m opening up the checkbook yet again and springing for a high-end Italian lunch. The artisan pizza chefs at Dominos Pizzeria will be catering our Hall of Fame banquet so you don’t have to stuff another depressing sack lunch. I know, I know. I’m too good to you. But you’re too good to me.
Quid Pro Quo,
Wednesday, June 1
Today we celebrated All-Star Wednesday, and this never-ending sweat fest, in fine fashion. Literal fashion, I mean, as the Wifflers took to the grass catwalk in their finest, “dopest” jerseys. There were a lot of dope jerseys out there, but my favorite wasn’t even a jersey, it was a hacked up t-shirt. One child had cut off the bottom of his USA shirt with a pair of scissors, creating what school officials would call a “bare midriff”. In our high school student policy manual, these were strictly prohibited back in the early 1990s.
Why? What’s wrong with a bare midriff? A bare midriff never hurt nobody. Did they think that exposure of the belly button would create an Elvis Presley-like swooning amongst the student body? Where do schools stand today on the bare midriff? As a young man, you had to be really confident to wear a bare midriff. Captain of the football team or something. If you were a bone rack or had a muffin top you wouldn’t try to rock a midriff. You’d get stuffed in a locker.
I tell you all this because tomorrow we may see a slew of bare midriffs. See, tomorrow is “Throwback Thursday”. Wifflers who have attended this camp in the past are encouraged to wear one of their old camp t-shirts. And since these kids grow so much from year to year, the old shirt ends up riding up on them. What we call a “young shirt”. It ends up being an inadvertent bare midriff. Like a pair of sweatpants they’ve outgrown but don’t realize are total floods.
So if your Wiffler has one of these young shirts, have them go whole hog on it and cut the thing at the middle. Own it. I can’t wear one myself though. One year I decided to join the fun and wore a midriff at camp. It didn’t go well. I looked like Philip Seymour Hoffman as Scottie in “Boogie Nights”. It made for a real awkward conversations with parents as I tried to cover my paunchy, hairy belly. Plus, a middle-aged man in a bare midriff running around in the park with kids raises a lot of red flags.
The Wifflers are also welcome to wear normal clothes tomorrow. The midriff is not for everyone. If they are new to camp, or you’ve donated the old Wiffling shirts to the thrift, they can wear their 2022 camp-issued team jersey. Which they shouldn’t have outgrown in three days. Though our Rainbow Cone gut bomb today make my shirt feel a little smaller.
I mean….c’mon. I might not live through the end of writing this email. I may pass away mid-email from stroke or dehydration. I must’ve drank 300 gallons of water today and I still haven’t made urine once. Today was a new kind of hot. Not a dry heat, more like a dishwasher heat. You know when you open the dishwasher after its been running awhile, cause you want to jam one more thing in there, and the steam envelopes your whole head? It was like that.
Temperature said “Feels Like 106” today. I think I saw the Prince of Darkness himself rounding third in the afternoon game, but am not positive. One kid, playing in a slice of unshaded outfield, turned into a Kenny Roger’s roaster chicken in the middle of the game. He looked delicious and we were going to eat him but you really don’t have an appetite when it’s this hot.
We achieved a couple of firsts today. Not only was it the hottest day on record in the history of Chicago for June 14th, it was the first day in 20 years of camp that I had to hose down campers. We sniffed out a hose at the Park District building and blasted the kids like Rambo in the police station scene in “First Blood”. They loved it. And in our shared misery, we brokered a deal with the good folks at Rainbow Cone across the street for tomorrow. I’m dipping into the war chest and ponying up big bucks for all the kids to get legendary Rainbow Cones for All-Star Wednesday.
And for the first time in twenty years we had no choice but to double the freeze pop per diem. I called my wife at lunch and she was mensch enough to run to Jewels and backfill us with another 320 freeze pops just to make it through the afternoon. I realized when one of our younger Wifflers said, “I think I’m going to stroke out” that I had to do something. Later, on the walk to pick-up, I overheard one Wiffler say to another, “I’m goin’ where there’s air conditionin’”. Amen.
Remarkably, we had only a handful of kids miss today. Our retention rate, even in extreme weather conditions, is impressive. Either all these kids really love this camp or there are no circumstances in which you would keep your kids home with you. I get it. I get it. There could be a twister coming down Stockton Ave at drop-off and you’d lay a patch at Cafe Brauer, “See you at 2:30pm! Have fun!”.
We’ll run it back in the hot, hot heat tomorrow for All-Star Wednesday. Give those camp t-shirts a good washing and dig out your Wiffler’s favorite “dope” jersey. They know what they need. If it’s not a jersey it can be something unusual from your closet. Cabana wear. A romper. A dickey. Whateves. We’ll get weird with it at the fashion show.
I made it. I survived today and this email. If I die peacefully tonight in my sleep the Vaccine Angel will be there tomorrow to receive the children. No refunds. Even though he’s only 16 trust that he will do a good job the rest of the week. He was on the “Today” show!
All Livin’ Like Frosty,
Spring Training has sprung! I hope the Wifflers are basking in the afterglow of a glorious day in the Village. I’m myself am basking in a sitz bath. I haven’t been this tired, or chaffed, in a looooooong time. I’m not a man who likes to work hard. I got into the education game for the massive amounts of time off. I like to rest. Watch TV. Read Stephen King novels. Eat fried stuff. Rinse and repeat.
So this annual spazzfest is something of an undertaking for me. All these kids. All these counselors. All of them talking to me. I’m bushed. I feel like a Wichita lineman kicking off his boots after a hot day on the pole. I put in a hard day’s work boy. I can feel it all over. I hope your Wifflers are just as gassed. If I’ve learned anything in my 20 plus years as early childhood educator it’s that kids need to be outside all day whenever possible. It wears their gears down and they don’t have the vim left to give any lip. And they don’t mind hitting the rack early, giving you a little extra time with your lover. A long day breathing sun is just what the doctor ordered for these screen addicted lil’ devils.
Speaking of sun, and devils, the devil himself might make an appearance tomorrow when the thermostat hits near 100 degrees. I can’t even fathom it right now. A high of 97 tomorrow. How many more signs of the rapture are we going to get? Just lift me into the clouds already! When has it ever been this hot in Chicago in early June? Tom Skilling must be having a seizure on WGN right now. I used to worry about the rain, now I’m hoping I don’t have a heat stroke in front of these kids. You know what, there might be something to this climate change people keep talking about.
But worry not, this Broadway show will go on. I don’t care if my hair spontaneously combusts, douse me with freeze pop juice and prop me up for camp meeting like “Weekend at Bernie’s”. Nothing is stopping this 20th Anniversary train. It rolled today, it’ll roll tomorrow. Everybody Wiffs. Even in oppressive heat.
Forever Young (Our Camp Song),
773-837-5401 (24-hour Wiffling Hotline)
P.S. It goes without saying, pack extra water tomorrow. We’ve got some hose water on site, but you can do better than that. Luckily the Wiffling Village is the most shaded of shangri-las, but hydration is key. And sunscreen. Slather it on them real good. I can re-apply if necessary, but I’d rather you doubled-down as it grosses me out to rub cream on people.