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On the Run

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Hey, Runners!

A fantastic activity that plenty are very passionate about, Track (also known as Cross Country or…Running) is a competitive sport that’s based in mimicry of predators in high-speed pursuit of their prey. It wasn't called Track or Cross Country to start. it went by 'Hare and Hound'. It originated during the 1800s in England with at least one runner taking the role of the Hare and getting a head start, and another runner or more acting as the Hound and chasing after the prey.


Alterations of the game involved the initial runner dropping pieces of paper or other markers on a random course and the hunter would have to TRACK the prey. This came to be known as ‘The Paper Chase’. Nobody really knows who invented these games. They just got started among kids of a neighborhood who were building upon the most basic of childhood games: Tag.

Public schools started holding events of these games, the first one being Rugby School in 1837. They called it the Crick Run. Soon enough Oxford and Cambridge Universities joined in on the fun and the popularity soared. Within four decades, England had officialized their National Cross-Country Championship in which the game became a long distance race along a course that was laid out in advance.

While we owe the invention of ‘Hare and Hound’ as well as ‘The Paper Chase’ to kid’s games, the United States owes its interest in Track to one New Yorker named William C. Vosburgh. It was William who got wind of this English Sport. He took a great interest in it and introduced it to schoolboards of his local community.

The same as England, it didn’t take long for the popularity of Track to rise here in the states—plus it was starting out as in a much more official capacity than its beginnings overseas. In 1887, just ten years’ time, the National Cross-Country Association was founded in the United States and the first championship event was held.

It wasn’t long before Cross-Country Running was offered at Harvard in the Fall Semester as a training event for Track and Field Distance Runners. Plenty of other colleges followed Harvard’s example. City College of New York, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania were the initial three to take part in the first intercollegiate meet in 1890.

Let Mr. Vosburgh teach us all a lesson about speaking up when we see something we like. Chances are other folks will like it too! Enjoy learning the ins and outs of Track this summer and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

Just Kick It

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Hey, Kick Baseballers!

Kickball is a pretty big staple to any given recess session, gym class, and summer camp activity! Loved by many kids as their twist on America’s favorite pastime with ‘a little kick’ to it, Kickball came along about six or seven decades after the rise of baseball’s popularity in America. And it was all thanks to one man who invented it in 1917, named Nicholas C. Seuss.

Mr. Nicholas Seuss (who has no relation to Dr. Seuss) was the Supervisor of the Cincinnati Park Playgrounds in Cincinnati, Ohio. He saw kids in the park playing baseball despite being short on equipment. After all, back in those days, it was uncommon for everyone to have their own catching mitt, bat, and ball. Nicholas wondered how you might cut back on the equipment needed to play the game.

He introduced a new, oversized baseball to the park and taught the kids there a game he called ‘Kick Baseball’. It only took three years for it to grow in popularity and it spread like wildfire! By 1921, it started getting used by phy. ed. teachers in public schools in order to teach the basic rules of baseball to young students.

Through the early 20s, Kick Baseballs simply borrowed a ball from soccer or volleyball. And the rules weren’t quite the same as they are now to begin with; there used to be no pitcher—the ball was simply set in the ‘home base’ area waiting to for the next player to come along for their turn to kick. But as time went on, the name got shortened to ‘Kickball’ and changes were made to make it even more like baseball.

If you’re a fan of Kickball, get a group of your friends together for a friendly neighborhood game and let them all know about the inventor of the game, Nicholas C. Seuss. As always, thanks for reading, everybody! Till next time.

- John

The Art of Fencing

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Hey, Fencing Fans!

And I’m not talking about that white picket in the yard. I mean Fencing—the sport! From a distance, you could mistake this sport for the centuries-old dueling practice of sword fighting. Fencing players are dressed in padded gear which is loaded up with sensors that are designed to mark points scored by your opponent each time they strike it.

While people are naturally concerned with the safety of a sport that looks so similar to sword fighting, Fencing has an incredibly low injury rate compared to other sports like soccer or gymnastics. There’s tons of padding and a full facemask that players wear. And Fencing swords come to a blunt end without being sharp in the least. The only injuries that happen are ones that would with any other sport.

So who was the daring pioneer who saw the art of sword fighting and said to himself, “I’d like to have fun in a swordfight without the risk of serious injury or death”? It was Domenico Angelo from the 18th Century. Sword fighting was part of military training back then, but Domenico considered the enjoyment one could derive from studying the strategy and skill involved in sword fighting without actually fighting.

It was in 1763 that Domenico established Angelo’s School of Arms in London where he taught a class called ‘The Fashionable Art of Swordsmanship. He established the basics, giving rules to posture and footwork that are still taught in modern Fencing. While his class was meant to prepare the students for real combat with a sword, he always reminded and encouraged the health and sporting benefits in Fencing above its use as a weapon.

Domenico’s family—experts in the art of Fencing—ran the school for a following three generations. They would also remain the reigning champs of European Fencing for nearly one hundred years!  

Fencing is an awesome and adventuresome activity! If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, look into your summer camp’s activities. Do they have a Fencing class available? Maybe your school offers a Fencing class. Otherwise, there’s likely a class you can find elsewhere not too far outside your local area.  Have fun with Fencing and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

On the Ropes

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Hey, Adventurers!

Summer camp is full of adventure. Thrilling times abound whether they be in the water, in the woods, or high up in the air! Just about every camp boasts a Ropes Course. It’s sort of a summer camp staple—these structures of wood, cables, and rope that are strung between trees and poles. And yet, Ropes Courses are much older than summer camp. Much, much older.

No one knows who created the first Ropes Course, nor do we know when or where the first one was constructed. What we do know is that they go at least as far back as ancient times when early civilizations created advanced obstacle course challenges for their military training.

Despite not knowing the original inventor of Ropes Courses, physicians and specialists give credit to Georges Hébert for the ‘modern’ Ropes Course.

Born in 1875 Paris, Mr. Hébert became a naval officer of France in the early 1900s. During his service, he was stationed on the Martinique island in the Caribbean Sea. A major volcano eruption in 1902 caused disaster for one little town. The first officer to arrive at the scene, Hébert orchestrated the evacuation and rescue of more than 700 residents!

This experience stayed with him the rest of his life and cemented his concept that soldiers must meet their athletic skill with altruism and courage for their best performance. Along the way he came up with his own personal motto: Be strong to be helpful.

After his time in the Navy, he became a pioneer of physical education in the French military. His naval background gave him a unique idea of an obstacle course—Navy troops would create obstacle courses on the decks of ships which utilized all the aerial exercises that we see in Ropes Courses.

Here he developed his own education system that worked on his three levels: physical training, morality, and fortitude. He called his program the ‘Natural Method’ but it has also come to be known as ‘Hébertism’. In fact, many European and French Canadian Ropes Courses are commonly referred to as Hébertism Courses.

Be sure to test your skills in the ‘Natural Method’ or ‘Hébertism’ during your next opportunity at summer camp. Bring your bravery and, remember: it’s not just a challenge—it’s a lot of fun too! Till next time, Campers! And, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

Photography Aficionados

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Hey, Phans of Photography and Deliberate Misspells!

Photography is one among many of the creative arts to be offered as an activity at summer camp. If you’re interested in…*ahem*…DEVELOPING your photography skills, you can seek out the summer camps that offer photography as an activity. On this Blog, we like to zero in on some of the record setters and pioneers of sports, crafts, and other summer camp activities. And who else to highlight as a pioneer in the field of photography other than the master himself—Ansel Adams?

Ansel Easton Adams was born well over a hundred years ago just past the turn of the 17th to the 18th Century in 1902. When he was just 12 years old, he was handed his first camera while he was away, seeing Yosemite National Park and he never really put it down. Needless to say, he was rather taken with this art form and went on to become one of the greats in the history of photography.

Focusing mainly on the landscapes of the American West, Ansel fell in love with producing black and white images that often evoked some kind of message or emotion upon viewing. His work advocated a style referred to as ‘pure photography’ which is prone to sharp focus with clear definition and using all accessible tones in each photo.

He is quoted saying “Photography is not about how something looks, but how it feels.” In other words, Ansel was never simply trying to just show us a mountain, but trying to evoke how it felt to look upon one. Exploring techniques in his photography, Ansel’s work always encouraged minimalism, introspection, and a calming effect.

Ansel lived to be 82 years old and died in the year of 1984. And though color photography had existed throughout the active years of his career, Ansel stuck to his black and white productions. Have fun exploring your own style in photography and enjoy developing your skills in this form of art whether it be at summer camp, school, or some other available class. As always, thanks for reading!


- John