Monday, August 11, 2014


-Voltaire, on the first day of his basketball camp

“It’s always a good day when it’s the first day of your basketball camp,” I said my my wife, Claudia Richards, while we were setting up all the stuff at my basketball camp at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver in Vancouver, WA. I was quoting the famous French philosopher as I was saying this, he said it before one of his basketball camps for French children in the 17th Century. Claudia knew this, because during the “On-Season” she is an adjunct professor of Political and Social Philosophy at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, WA.

Like Voltaire, I am a writer who was putting on a basketball camp. Unlike Voltaire, I am a writer who writes about basketball, which meant that there was a lot of extra pressure on me to make it a good basketball camp. But I wasn’t worried; the space we were using had enough space for basketball hoops and several blenders, for making protein shakes with PureGreen brand vegan and soy free protein powder, which is a protein powder that is the exact density of human muscle. It’s the closer even than eating powdered human muscle, because of all the additives you need to make human muscle into powder, and a lot more moral than that because in my opinion and the opinion of my family, which is comprised of Claudia and our leather bound copy of Animal Liberation by the utilitarian philosopher Peter SInger, eating meat is an immoral act.

I wasn’t going to bring a whistle because I didn’t want to scare the children at the camp and I wanted my basketball camp to be a safe space but Claudia told me that these kids probably were used to whistles and it would be really shocking and unsafe, spacewise, if I didn’t have one. So I figure I will have a whistle at the beginning of the week, but then when we’re in a structured space already I will get rid of it and really promote a space for communication.

Most of the campers had already paid for their tuition over a paypal that my nephew James Stauffer (his mother took her husband’s name, which my family didn’t do for political reasons) but some of the campers’ parents had to pay with a check, which I took and put in a copy of a book I bought to read during down time (The book was “Salt: a World History”). I answered some of their questions like “Hey do you guys serve lunch?” (Yes, we have protein shakes all the kids have to eat) “What time do I need to pick my kids up?” (3:00 PM, or four, but we need ten more dollars) “Hey, are you absolutely sure my kid will be able to dunk after this?” (Yes) “Even if she is a girl?” (Oh yeah, especially if she is a girl)

Then we handed out the shirt we give to the campers that they wear as a uniform all week:

(hey guys be cool and don’t tell Amar’e Stoudemire or like anyone he’s friends with we put his picture on the shirt, I don’t even think he would notice because we blotted out his number and stuff)

So then I blew my whistle and said “Hey sorry if that scared anyone or hurt anyone’s ears. I need everyone’s attention. Sit right about here” then I pointed to the middle of the gym, “I am going to read you a poem:”

Children gathered here
With lofty dreams of basketball success
I am going to give you everything you need
To dunk a basketball into the net

Then the children clapped because they liked the poem so much. I looked at Claudia and she gave me a little fist pump because it was so golden. “Alright kids, settle down, you have to stop clapping for the poem because I am going to motivate you. This week, you’re going to learn to dunk a whole basketball into a ten foot rim. I don’t care if you’re a boy or a girl or a human or a dog or whatever. Guys, this is going to be such a good week because you’re going to dunk a basketball this Friday.”

“See, over there, see those glasses full of smoothie? Those are smoothies with PureGreen Protein powder, which is the, and repeat after me here, kids, the exact density of human muscle”

“The exact density of human muscle” (Some of the kids mispronounced some of the words, but on the whole they pretty much got it.)

“When you drink this protein shake your leg gets the big bounce it is going to need to really dunk a basketball. So make sure you REALLY drink the WHOLE shake, even if you feel full and stuff. We paid a lot of money for the shakes, it was probably 50 dollars a piece of the 485 dollar fee, so it’s really important.”

“Anyway, it’s time to get to work,” then I blew the whistle again “Hey. sorry, really loud, I know. You know what” I took the whistle off and threw it in the garbage can “We’re gonna ditch the whistle because I’m scared it will probably hurt someone’s ears and give them an authority complex.”

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