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 is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.