Summer Camps and the Plastic Coated Mattress

  • Mike McCurry
  • 04/26/18
From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, April 26, 2018
Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sleeping in cabins out in the middle of nowhere. Being a seasoned veteran of Indian guides and princesses camp-outs has allowed me to appreciate the many wonderful camps in our region. They each have their own unique setting and fun-filled outdoor activities for their campers, yet all of them have one thing in common terrible beds.
Some camps are quite proud of their beautiful, rustic, log bunk beds, and others have the flimsy Ikea-like 2-foot by 4-foot bunks. Don’t let the frames fool you into believing a good night sleep is ahead. The thin, broken-down, plastic-encased mattress is universal to all camps, and when supported by a knotty plywood board underneath, the human body almost becomes one with the wood below. Your back will never be the same. There is one thing for certain: these beds weren’t designed for adults.
Camps are certainly made for kids, and as we approach the summer, many families around the suburbs are planning to drop their children off for a long week, or even two. The benefits are mutual; while the parents get to take a needed adult vacation, the children get to spend quality outdoor time doing fun kids-stuff.
A look at the activities guide at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, Ind. (near Purdue University) show that there are many options for the camper to consider. Tecumseh, in my opinion, is the creme de la creme of camps, and has a wonderful, well-designed facility that is a favorite of many Clarendon Hills families. With more than 650 acres on the Tippecanoe River, campers could spend an entire summer exploring its trails and woods. Besides the typical water activities like fishing, swimming and canoeing at the river, lake and pools, there is an equestrian center and riding trails, a mini-farm with lots of animals, high and low ropes courses, zip lines, archery, riflery, climbing walls and a nature center. There are three high-speed, stomach-dropping slides, known as the bullet, arrow and black hole, the last of which travels underground until it pops the rider out at the end to see daylight. With all of these fun activities to do, why wouldn’t a kid want to go to camp?
This summer, my children are all attending camps through our church, Christ Church of Oak Brook. All the camps have a strong emphasis on Christian worship and fellowship, coupled with numerous fun outdoor activities.
My oldest son will finally be able to go with the high-school youth group to Roca y Aqua camp, a week in houseboats on Bull Shoals Lake, Ark. His days will be spent skiing, tubing, cliff-jumping and competing with the other boatmates.
My two middle children will spend a week at Camp Cow with the middle-school youth group, that takes them to Baraboo, Wisc. to climb rocks, play paintball, swim, kayak and spend a day at the Dells.
My youngest child will go on the “Rock ‘N Canoe” trip, also in Baraboo, where she will spend her week canoeing, playing outdoor games and rock-climbing.
Having my children go on these summer trips, especially with my church, is very meaningful to me, because I spent more than a decade attending every camp possible as a volunteer high-school youth leader. I’m excited to see them go away for a week to explore their faith, and to have an immense amount of fun.
This past weekend, my youngest son and I celebrated his last camp as an Indian guide at Camp Tecumseh. We had perfect weather, and a weekend filled with fun activities that we will never forget. The cabins were full of our friends from town. Each had their own bunk bed with that same thin, broken-down, plastic-encased mattress. Those beds are not made for adults, and my back will never be the same.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents, or maybe a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.

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