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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

Foos Fighters

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Hey, Foosball Fans!

Bound to be included in many summer camps’ rec rooms, Table Soccer (also known as Foosball) is a huge sport turned indoor game, much like its distant relatives of Billiards, Darts, Ping Pong, and Air Hockey. Surprisingly enough, this popular summer camp activity doesn’t have just one origin story…it’s got three!

Soccer itself dates back 2000 years—which you can read all about on a previous Blog post when you click right here. But the invention of the ‘pocket version’ came within the same 13 years from three different countries! Check out the stories of each inventor for the odd history of Foosball!

First Come, First Patented
Who registered the first confirmed 1923 patent for a foosball table in London? It was Harold Searles Thorton. His favorite among London’s Soccer teams of the day was the Tottenham Hotspurs. He got the idea from a box of matches. The box with an open top made for the perfect ‘table’ and the matches were fashioned into rods and players. It was only the size of a matchbox, but Harold Searles Thorton made the very first foosball table.

And the Next Inventor Is…
It is said that Lucien Rosengart of France in the 1930s invented the foosball table for his family. The story seems more than credible as Rosengart was a brilliant and capable inventor who had patented an early seatbelt design as well as artillery shells that exploded in mid-air. He had a really big family with many grandkids that lived with him. The Foosball table was a game to help stave away boredom for kids in the winter during the Depression.

Final Foos
Alejandro Finisterre was a soldier in the Spanish Civil War during 1936 who was wounded in battle. While he recovered in the hospital, he saw children with severe leg injuries. A big Soccer fan, he immediately considered that these children would never be able to play football. This thought inspired him to contact a friend of his who was a carpenter and, together, they made a foosball table.  

So, there you have it: the three men from London, France, and Spain of no relation who each invented their own primitive Foosball tables right around the same time. How crazy is it that Foosball should have three different inventors from three different countries with no connection? Just goes to show how much people love their Soccer! Enjoy a game of Foosball if you have one handy and, as always, thanks for reading, Camp Folks!


- John

The Rowling Following

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Hey, Camp Fans!

Writing is one among many of the creative arts to be offered as an activity at summer camp. In fact, if you’re like yours truly here, you seek out the summer camps with a big focus on writing to attend—like I did when I was a summer camper. 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 record setter in the field of Writing than the author of the ‘Harry Potter’ series, J. K. Rowling?

We’re going to take a look at some of the records she holds along with other achievements she’s conquered through her fantastically popular children’s series about the boy who didn’t know he was a wizard.

Being a published author doesn’t suddenly grant you wealth beyond your wildest dreams. Unless you’re J.K. Rowling, that is. After finishing the fifth book in the series, ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’, Ms. Joanne Kathleen Rowling became the first and remains to be the only billionaire author.

J.K. Rowling’s seventh and final book in her series, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ set a new Guinness World Record in 2007 as the fastest-selling book in history. This novel sold more copies than any other book in the first 24 hours of its release! That’s some serious sales!

Excluding religious texts such as the Bible and Quran, the novel at the top of the list for most copies sold is ‘Don Quixote’ at 500 million copies. The ‘Harry Potter’ series—all seven books together—have sold over 450 million copies. That’s an average of roughly 65 million copies per book. The first book, ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ was by far the most commercially successful, selling over 120 million copies worldwide!  

 When a book is translated into different languages, it’s a pretty big deal. It means it can reach the populations of other countries! The ‘Harry Potter’ series has been translated into 67 languages. There are certainly other books that have been translated more, however, it’s impressive that Rowling’s series has been translated more than double other books including classics like ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

This tale of wizards and witches went well beyond what most people ever expected a children’s book series to do, seeing amazing popularity, film adaptations, and crazy sales! You can bet it feels good to be J.K. Rowling, reaping the benefits of a little story she decided to start writing down one day! Maybe you’ll go on to beat Rowling’s records someday. And, as always, thanks for reading.


- John