Mount Lebanon Day Camps in the 1950s

by James K. Sayre

When my younger brother and sister and I were in grade school, junior high school and high school, we were treated to some new and old physical activities, such as archery, tennis, woodshop, swimming and baseball in the summer mornings. The Mount Lebanon Day Camp also freed mothers from having to see their growing and ornery kids all day long.

I remember not really caring for archery class since I was not that accurate of a bowman. Swimming was OK, but it was usually pretty chilling in the morning, when the classes were held in the outdoor pool. The Junior and Senior Lifesaving Classes always started at 9 AM, not a great hour to go swimming. Woodshop was interesting; I built a couple of nice small corner shelves for my bedroom; however, the chemical fumes from the finishes were so intense that I had to step outside to clear my head. Tennis was OK; I was just an average tennis player, but I didn't care for the powerful starting serves, they seem to take away from the fun of volleying.

Baseball with hardballs (that were not pitched that hard, fortunately) was fun. I batted above 0.600 for the summer. I started a couple of weeks into the summer season, and my sad younger brother had yet to even get a single hit in those first two weeks. He had zero confidence. Finally with a little of watching me get hit after hit and with a little of my coaching (watch the ball and think the bat into the ball...), he finally began getting some hits, too.

There was even a NRA sponsored target rifle shooting class that was held in the nearby High School. I was a fairly decent shot and received some sort of certificate at the end of the class. That class was my first, last and only connection to the National Rifle Association.

As I got further along in High School, I began to have summer jobs (house painting and lawn mowing, mostly), and so Day Camp was left behind (thankfully). I also was enrolled in the new Advanced Placement classes in the Sciences and Mathematics, so I spent part of three summers going over the AP textbooks for Biology, Chemistry and Physics and trying to get a grip on the subjects.


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