RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Traveling around with all the comforts of home - commentator Frank Deford remembers a different kind of summer experience.
FRANK DEFORD: I was very lucky as a kid because I got to go away to camp two summers. We did all kinds of stuff at camp. We played baseball, and basketball, and tennis, and shot rifles, and arrows, and swam, and rode horses. We did handicrafts, too. That's never been my best territory, though.
I confined myself to making potholders, of which my mother accumulated legion during my fertile handicraft years. We lived in cabins and used outhouses, and, of course, this being camp, we camped out some in pup tents.
When the girls' camp from nearby came over for a dance, we put on a water ballet exhibition, holding candles in the stream, treading water to "The Tales of the Vienna Woods."
Back home summers, we improvised at games. People who are either Depression babies or war babies always boast about how summers, they just went out and played stuff, without any supervision.
It was the boomers who started getting all kinds of organized sports in the summer, Little League and what-have-you. The boomers needed parents to drive them places and coaches to coach them.
Then, by the time we got to gen X, summer play wasn't just organized. It had a specific purpose, resume-wise. You went to a baseball camp, or a cheerleader camp, or a body-building camp.
For the current generation of 21st-century kids, whatever they're called, the camps have become downright vocational. A boy who has parents who think he can win an athletic scholarship as a quarterback gets sent to quarterback camp, or pitching camp, or goalie camp. They probably have offensive left-tackle camps now because offensive left-tackles make a bundle in the NFL.
Summer for children now is a time of apprenticing. Nobody anymore is treading water with a candle to a Strauss waltz, no future in that.
After two summers at camp, I could've gone back to camp the next summer and been a junior counselor. I wouldn't have had to make any more potholders, but there was still that outhouse situation to consider. Besides, I wanted to make some money caddying. Caddies have all but gone now, of course, which is too bad.
Monday was Caddy's Day at most courses, so a lot of poor boys could learn the game that way. A lot of good golfers started out as caddies, but now, if a kid wants to learn golf, he has to go to golf camp. In fact, I suppose by now there are also putting camps and sand wedge camps.
MONTAGNE: Commentator Frank Deford pitches his tent here every Wednesday, joining us from member-station WFHU in Fairfield, Connecticut. This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
ARI SHAPIRO, host:
And I'm Ari Shapiro.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.