Camp Cho-Yeh, Livingston, Texas

Summers in the mid to late 90’s for me were filled with a week long trip to Livingston with high hopes of adventure and a week of respite for my mother. Summer Camp meant that in a week outside of my routine I was able to pursue activities that I otherwise wouldn’t have had access to out in the Piney Woods. The most notable activities in my opinion were a large tarp like balloon on a lake called “The Blob” as well as a multi site ropes course.

The Blob was near a platform dock which participants would walk the stairs up to a second story and jump from the comfort of the wooden security platform into a sitting position. Once the blob absorbed the force of the jump, participants would make their way to the opposite end of the tarp activity and wait for the next participant to repeat the action. The impact of the secondary jump to catapult forces the person at the end of the structure into the air before gravitating to the lake water below.

Land awkwardly and the sting of every belly flop you’ve ever experienced would stun your return to the water’s surface. But, the thrill of flight causes campers to return.

We hold onto the personal flotation devices securely around our torso and work our way back to the dock.

Probably under no other circumstance does being a “bigger kid” carry as much popularity than at the blob. There are clearly weight restrictions which govern the safe use of such an activity, but, sending kids into the stratosphere is something of legend.

With a spot check (eyeball and a best guess) by the certified life guards on duty, time and again I was able to make the group’s day. In return, there was promise of that same weightless feeling when one of the older counselors would launch me from the edge.

The song this week is Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly”, though initially I thought to substitute “American Girl” because of Petty’s pronunciation of “Oh, yeah” reminding me of Camp Cho-Yeh’s name. Then, “Free Fallin'” came to mind, but the clip didn’t capture what I felt the experience taught me. There was never a doubt that Tom Petty would be my selection as I vividly remember his music on the short drive from Houston to Livingston.

As Houston heats up as it does this time of year, I am reminded of those weightless moments mid air. Summer 2020 looks a little different for Camp Cho-Yeh, with a later start than normal. However, once again, I suspect that this Summer when in full swing will still contain that same excitement of seeking adventure. And maybe a bit of learning to fly.

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