Fathers leave work distractions behind on camp-out with children


January 19, 1998|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ON A BRISK winter weekend, a group of fathers said goodbye to their fax machines and work-related phone calls to bond with their children. An emergency physician, a veterinarian, a circuit judge, lawyers, salesmen and others became members of Indian tribes with names such as Saponi, Chippewa and Shoshoni.

The gathering, officially the Carroll Cherokee and Shawan Winter Camp-Out 1998, was one of the highlights of the Carroll County Family YMCA Indian Programs. The program is designed to give fathers time to explore new things with their children and teach them values such as caring, honesty, respect and responsibility, said David Sommer, director.

"This program and these camp-outs are a social outlet for us, too," said Don Thayer, who joined the Saponi tribe in November with his daughter Ashli. "We're just a motley group of dads with a common interest -- and that interest is in staying close to our children."

From sunup to past sundown at the camp-out, there were structured activities and free time, when participants could walk the scenic hills of Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center, play cards or gab for an hour or so. This was the kind of weekend children will talk about for months and remember forever.

The silly antics in each tribe's campfire skit, a scavenger hunt, Navajo tales, bunk beds, snoring dads and one mom-less weekend will make awesome memories.

Many campers said that second to spending time with their dads, they liked the Birds of Prey presentation, during which they watched a hawk eat a chick. Dads proudly boasted that few moms could sit through that. The youngsters loved it.

"My oldest daughter is in college now, and what she remembers most about her childhood are these weekends and this program," said Wayne Barry, who took part in the camp-out with daughter Marya.

"An owl escaped on its leash, but we found it in the woods later, tangled in a tree," said Brittany Elsasser, who attended the retreat with her father, Mark. "And we saw bear prints on the scavenger hunt. Well, maybe dog prints. But they could have been from a bear."

The popularity of the YMCA Indian Program has grown since it was reintroduced in the county three years ago, Sommer said. Tribes hold monthly meetings at members' houses.

The fathers share responsibilities for snacks, a song, a story and a craft. Last year, about 20 Carroll County residents attended the winter camp; this year, 136 joined the fun.

Numbers rose when the Carroll County group invited Towson tribes to the retreat. That link started last fall when Towson was host of a retreat and invited the Carroll tribes.

"I'm impressed with the Hashawha facilities, the food and all the organization that went into this weekend," said Mitch Halbrick, a Towson tribe leader. "We hope that the link between the two counties will be a lasting tradition."

"This weekend was a time when there were no distractions, just time to spend with our kids," said Joe Forrester, chief of Carroll's Saponi tribe, who attended the retreat with daughter Renee.

Information: Sommer, 410-876-1194.

Sousa style

Director Glenn Patterson calls the Sousa Concert to be performed at Westminster High School Thursday evening a "great salute to America and the ideals we stand for."

The annual concert begins at 7: 30 p.m. and is sponsored by Carroll County Arts Council and the county Board of Education. It will feature the Carroll Concert Band, directed by Patterson, who is the county schools' supervisor of music and art; euphonium soloist Lucas Spiras, who is retired from the U.S. Marine Band; and xylophone soloist Mark Lortz, who is band director at Westminster High School and a former percussionist with the Dallas Brass.

Six other county teachers will perform in a Dixieland number. They are: James Ryon, East Middle; Charles Berry, Francis Scott Key High; Joe Sullivan, Mount Airy Middle; Jeff Hiner, Freedom and Eldersburg elementaries; Brad Collins, Mount Airy and Robert Moton elementaries; and Mark Lortz, Westminster High.

Music will be continuous with the Union Street Gospel Jubileers singing during a 20-minute intermission.

"People enjoy this kind of music immensely. We are offering family tickets for $10, so regardless of the number of children, more families can experience this kind of music," Patterson said. "It's part of their heritage."

Tickets for adults are $5; students, $2.50; and senior citizens, $4.

Information: 410-751-3055.

Lunch & Learn

Carroll County Arts Council will kick off a program this week designed for people who work all day and are too tired to attend evening lectures.

Lunch & Learn will feature informal discussions by arts professionals. The first session will be at noon Wednesday at the Arts Council gallery, Main Street, Westminster. Maggie Ball, director of Carroll Community College's art department, hopes to make abstract art less intimidating.

"These discussions will be art-related, but they are not just for people with art background," said Sandy Oxx, the Arts Council's executive director. "Perhaps after Wednesday's discussion, abstract art will be less scary for some people."

Participants are encouraged to bring a bag lunch. Reservations are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome.

Information: 410-848-7272.

Pub Date: 1/19/98

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