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summer camps

When I Was a Camper...

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February 10, 2008

Sam Yoon, Boston city councilor
At the logic camp I went to at Franklin & Marshall [College] during the summer between seventh and eighth grades, I learned a lot more about girls than I did about math. I had my first kiss there, behind some door, just before lights out. Her name was Jen, and she had red hair. I remember thinking, “This is what everybody talked about.” It gave me confidence as I was entering my teens, a sense of being accepted even though I was somewhat of an outsider at my high school.

Ming Tsai, chef-owner of Blue Ginger
I went to the East Coast Chinese Family Camp every summer for about a dozen years starting at 4 years old. Whole families would go – fathers bunked in one cabin, mothers in another, and kids grouped by age in other cabins. One summer [at the age of 18], I’d just returned from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and everyone assumed that meant I was a full chef, which I wasn’t at all. But, since everyone kept saying, “Hey, Ming, you’re a chef now, show us what you can cook,” I relented and gave my very first public cooking demonstration. I made chocolate mousse – very French. That first glimpse of bringing happiness to people [who were not my own family] through my food spurred me on to pursue the career I have now.

Jeanette Ives Erickson, chief nurse and senior vice president for patient care services, Massachusetts General Hospital
“When I was 10, I was sent to sleep-away camp, a Girl Scout camp, in central Maine. In the middle of the night, a cabin mate got very sick and I went right to her. She was vomiting and burning up with a fever. There was a fair amount of chaos. I told another camper to get a counselor. I took charge and gave comfort without thinking about it, definitely the role of a nurse, even at that age.”

Paulo Stagnaro, junior, Berklee College of Music
I went to a percussion camp in Vermont the summer I was 14. It was the first time I’d ever been with so many people who were into what I was into. That’s when I realized my desire to play was for real. One of the most important moments for me came when I was asked to play at a clinic with this Latin jazz drummer. He asked me to play some simple stuff . Then he took the same drum set and the same basic rhythm and showed me how to make it sound better. That was all I needed. I am still awed by that day.

-Interviews by Janice O’Leary

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