Former Camper Concludes: ‘Father Made the Right Choice’

BY STEVE DINNEN

As a 12-year-old boy I set my sights on Lake Champlain for summer camp. My father thought a little soldiering sounded good, and so I found myself in Indiana, bivouacking alongside Lake Maxinkuckee at Culver Military Academy.

Camp seemed primitive to this city boy. We had canvas walk-in tents with planked floors, handling four campers each. Our nearby drinking fountain was well water, with a definite taste of iron.

Over three summers I acquired many skills, some of which were lifelong. I fired a rifle, shot an arrow mostly true and straight, sailed small boats, uprighted those boats once capsized, paddled a canoe. I dabbled with boxing.

I learned about flora and fauna. I learned not to mess with snapping turtles. This being a military school, I learned how to march, stand at parade rest, and make a bed with tight, hospital-cornered sheets. I sometimes bugled taps.

I competed for promotion. (I outranked both of my brothers, who also attended Culver.) I met my first Jew. My first Canadian. My first Venezuelan — Culver was popular with South Americans.

I knew loneliness. It was tough being away from friends and family for so long, while so young. But that, too, became a life experience, part of growing up. And decades later I think my father made the right choice.

You May Also Like

SHIIP Helps Sort Out Medicare Options

BY STEVE DINNENOur phone has been busy lately with people calling to wish my ...

Get a Refund on Value Added Tax

BY STEVE DINNEN If your bags brim with the finely crafted flannel shirts that ...

Taking Your Phone When You Go Calling Abroad

BY STEVE DINNENWhen I telephoned real estate agent Dave Ryan last month to talk ...