Summer camp early morning swimming lessons felt like death

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

Something about the damp crispness of this morning made me think of summer camp as a 3rd and 4th grader– and the year when we had swimming lessons in the lake first thing in the morning. The memory comes with a smile, but can’t shake the chill.

It was under the direction of the day camp’s fine 15- 17 year old counselors that I really learned how to swear. My language and discourse became so vile and curse laden there at the age of 8 or 9 that there was no turning back. My pal Jarin and I also became best friends as we skipped tennis lessons to sit in the woods and read aloud from The Truly Tasteless Joke book; memorizing and laughing at jokes we surely didn’t understand— but we knew sounded really adult and dirty.

Had it not been for summer camp, I might have stayed on the straight and narrow and become something important or won a Nobel Prize.  Instead, I can use the eff-word as at least nine different parts of speech and can tell you a litany of ethnic jokes so politically incorrect that I’m surprised I’m not being arrested for even thinking them.

And while I’m comfortable in the water and can move around OK, I still, after three summers, can’t really swim.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.