January 26, 2010
My childhood is a blur. Uneventful at best; yet laced with the seeds of my future actions and behaviors. I look back upon my memories with the eye of an observer. Even my most recent images of what I've done receive the scrutiny of an unbiased judge that views each remembered moment and then gives it verdict. Though some periods of time and their filed blocks of memories take precedence over others in the shaping of who I am, the other minor events and mundane times can not be discounted. For if these miscellaneous happenings are forgot then there is little to give hope to. Little to refer to as blissful times were life takes on the ignorant stance of having no meaning but that of happiness. With out these simple moments one's life seems dull, and quite depressing. My recent depression, that clouds my Junior High years, also seeps its venomous fingers into my memories, but in my attempt to restore myself I mustn't let these cynical feelings take over my every-thought like they once did. Those depressing years were actually only a small chunk of my life in its entirety. Odd how so little a time can haunt me still to this very day. But enough ranting. I deviate from the task at hand.

Summer Camp, it is a prison for some, and an escape for others. My parents had found this camp called Arts Alive! (I would never be forgiven if I forgot the exclamation point) through the jumble of non-profit bureaucratic mess that is the YMCA childcare system. It stems back to my years at that god-forsaken elementary on the outskirts of the North Thurston School District. It was there, upon my leaving the daycare of a nice old woman, that I was to find South Bay Elementary's after school Y-care. Strange and awkward as this new environment was it was there I met Dave.

Dave is a most lovable man whom I have now befriended. He was the site-director at the little school that never passed any levies. To cut out the childcare mumbo-jumbo I've learned over the years of working at the Y, he was the site's leader. When he was to leave the Y-care there was to become a dull shell of its former self.

To my great fortune, and at first to my young disgust, my parents were to work during the summer. For lack of my old daycare to take care of me they would need to find another place to keep my young wonder-lust restrained. Dave had found the ingenuity, and the stoic stubbornness needed to fight through the echelon of YMCA management, to found a summer camp with a theme to it. It was no longer a cage meant to watch children well their parents payed the bills, but now it could be a place for young creativity to blossom. This is was the making of Arts Alive! Held at a small Elementary school, it was here that a almost second life would begin for me. A timeless place, those summer days are. It was a world apart form my life at school. My summer friends, my summer life, and later my summer job.

Arts Alive! began as small and unknown little Y-camp. When I was first to go there it was filled with a few children who had a heart for art and theater, but most of the children were there because it was the closest camp to where the lived. I, however, entered the building that fine summer morning, when the clouds of spring rain were just beginning to depart the blue sky and give way to the glorious rays of summer sun, on the only standing basis that my favorite counselor, and mentor, Dave was to be running the show.

The gym was wide and the sky-high ceiling seemed even more gargantuan to a small boy of seven. I gawked a bit as I rounded the awkward corner that was created by the protruding stage. Two flag poles sat atop the carpeted stairs up to the stage. The drooping flags' colors were bright against the off-white, almost gray, retractable wall that hid behind it the stage. The carpet of gray-blue, like the sky outside on this summer morning, seemed to flow down the steps and out onto the gym floor. I was quite enthralled by this simple little factor because I had never seen a carpeted gym before. From this floor walls of cream, a cream that had seen better and less weary years, flew up from their perpendicular connection to the floor and tapered off into a cross-beamed roof of the same color. Up near the looming cross-beamed ceiling were windows, large, square, and evenly spaced. They sat staring down with a gloomy impartiality to the going-ons below. Across the wide room that seemed so large and spacious sat a clutter of arts supplies, board-games, cabinets, first aid, and random miscellaneous items atop a squared-in box of tables. This was the staff corner, and the mass of odd junk was their tools of trade.

A chaotic scene, chaotic but controlled none the less, threw itself before me. Near myself was another jumble of tables. The foldout kind with benches. The mess that catered to these tables was that of living kids and their random attempts at games and crafts. Scattered among them, quite calm in the chaos that loomed just below their chins were the young 'greener' staff that the Y is so well known for. Away from the seated chaos of the tables was another kind of hullabaloo that seemed to be its own world though so close to the crafts and table-top games of their peers. A few kids played with the available sports equipment, making up their own little games without true rhyme or reason. And the rest of the kids who made up the site were the wanderers. They were the older kids who sat in clicks and chatted or the wandering space-cadets that were truly someplace far away. Standing among a group of older children, the group, that I would later join, of children who practically worshiped Dave and would follow and pester him, stood the man himself.

There he stood surrounded by kids in an almost prophetic picture of the days to come. His glasses sat upon his nose without a care. They warped around his face to curl over his ears and hide in his black round hair. His chin was stubble that would later form a small black beard. He stood there with the back of his hands on his hips in his characteristic pose. His eyes bore into the gray wall that covered the stage as he imagined his theater for the year. He wore his classic attire of shorts and a white t-shirt covered by an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt that sported a summery blue with green stripe and his protruding belly. At the time it seemed to early in the summer for such a dress, but it was an outfit that would soon become a commonplace characteristic of the man himself. He stood and bit his lip his eyes enlarged by the thick glasses. This was the man I'd come to befriend, know, and love. There stood Dave, like a statue that bore the a plaque reading: “Welcome to Arts Alive!” It was a welcome sight indeed.

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