Then Came

A Break for (and from) the Parents

And Grandparents

Of course, the daily grind of watching out for the kids, feeding them lunch, and taking them on activities got too much for most parents or grandparents. Thankfully for them (and us kids too) there were about 4 weeks each summer that most us kids in the hood went to Day Camp.

It was at a spot called Rainbow Lake, actually a really big water hole, where we sometimes caught the ugliest catfish imaginable (what disgusting fun!). I don’t think the parents ever really knew what went on there- - nothing bad, merely a “free for all” where a few teenage counselors tried to herd and control over a hundred wild kids running and chasing each other all over the place! Frankly, I don’t recall much of anything that we did once we got to the lake other than jumping into it, but I do remember that the best part was the 30 to 45 minute bus ride getting there.  

The camp attendees came from a wide geographical area, so we needed 2 large school buses. In order to keep the kids under semi-control during the long ride, one of the counselors on each bus led the children in song. And the particular song I most remember was a very meaningful one. You see, there was one, isolated 2 lane country road that we traversed during the last mile before the lake. And the two bus drivers seemed to time it perfectly so they both arrived at this road about the same moment. They then engaged in what I can best describe as a chariot race, with one bus passing the other back and forth several times regardless of oncoming traffic- - while the kids on each bus spit-balled each other or stuck their “moons” out the window! (Talk about child endangerment!). While all this went on, the kids on our bus sang loudly, over and over:

“Testa’s bus is best of all,

mommy, mommy! Testa’s bus is best of all babe, babe.

Testa’s bus is best of all ‘cause

Kasha’s bus can only crawl,

Mommy , oh baby mine!”

But the best thing about summer camp was the last day, because we always had a watermelon eating contest! It would start out mildly sedate, with everyone enjoying the great local produce, then would devolve into a seed- spitting contest (at each other) and inevitably wound up with everyone rubbing watermelon rinds into each other’s faces , hair, and clothes. What a delightful mess! After the first time I come home covered in pink juice, my mother got wise and had me wear my worst clothes to the last day of camp the following year!

The End of innocence?

Eventually, summer camp and summer school vacation had to come to an end. For me, this particular summer at age 12 stands out as sort of an “end of innocence”. The coming school year I began junior high and, all of a sudden my easy, happy go lightly life became really serious with all the homework, studying and competing for class rank against a lot of other smart kids coming from different elementary schools. And the following summers became my introduction into the “real” world after school, as I held one job after another- - from aluminum siding stock boy, to carpenter’s helper, house painter, door to door Hoover salesman (for 1 day!), pizza delivery boy, McDonalds manager, bank teller, and glass factory inspector- packer, to Good Humor man (my turn to contribute to other kids’ innocent summers).

Ok. I know you’re wondering where I’m getting to with all this. Here’s my point.

Participate in your children’s and grandchildren’s (or other young persons’) lives while they’re still in their innocent, wonder years. Take them to the park, go fishing, play ball with them, or even see a movie together, or ride bikes. Or, like I recently I did with my young grandchildren, take them for the first time boogie boarding at the beach- - and experience the pure joy on their faces.

Hopefully, you’ll also recall some of those precious summer moments of your own and share them with your loved ones. That’s the “stuff” we can never adequately pass down in your estate plan documents!
Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.