"When I was in second grade, my mother sent me to an all day sports camp. The rec-center near our home in Ann Arbor, Michigan did a yearly camp providing a general rinse education to the town’s youth on how to play all different kinds of sports. All kids were welcome, regardless of their athletic ability, or desire to play sports, or even their desire to attend the camp. I for one, who had already chosen baseball as my sport and was already playing it competitively by that age, was not excited about going. This is the first real memory I have of summer camp.
Upon showing up to camp I was placed in a group two years ahead with the fourth graders. Being born at eleven pounds, eleven ounces, I always was much bigger then all the other kids my age, and this being a sports camp, they thought it was safest if I was kids more my size. Truth was, even at the fourth grade level, I was still one of the biggest, and being forced into an age group where I knew no one did not do much to improve my attitude about camp. Nor did the fact that baseball was not even offered at the camp. To my disappointment, slow pitch softball and kickball were the closest I would get to exercising my true talents.
At the end of each day, campers were taken to the indoor pool to go swimming. It was treated as somewhat of a reward by most of the counselors. But to me, it was just another reminder of my inferior age. Because I was younger then the other kids, they had all already passed the necessary swim test allowing them to swim in the deep end, while I only qualified for shallow swimming. The lifeguards, however, did not realize that I was much younger then everyone else, and I was not about to call attention to the fact. So, I was left with a choice, endure the humiliation of standing alone in the shallow end with my float-ies, or take my chances in deeper waters.
To this day, I still don’t fully understand why I chose the deep end. I can just imagine my mind screaming, “No! No! You idiot!” as I shuffled to the edge of the pool. But my heart was set on being just like everyone else, and I took it upon myself to take a leap of faith, hoping that in the half second before I hit the water that I would magically learn to swim. In the moments that followed, two sets of hopes were dashed. If you didn’t guess already, I did not magically learn to swim. And as I hit the water and immediately began screaming and flailing, everyone in the pool, or perhaps everyone in the greater Ann Arbor area, discovered that I was indeed younger then the rest of the campers. Because of my hysteria, I had to be pulled out of the water by two female life guards and examined by the rec-center EMS (Emergency Medical Services). The feeling of drowning was terrible, but compared the humiliation I felt afterward, I may have been willing to negotiate a trade.
Why did I jump in the deep end knowing I couldn’t swim? I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that people, including myself, have done crazier things in hopes of being accepted into the crowd. For the rest of the week however, I was not allowed to be part of the crowd as I was forced to stay, humiliated and alone, in the shallow end of the pool. My worst nightmare had come true, save for the float-ies."