Mike Rosovsky’s Blog – The Hit Team: A Retrospective
The Hit Team: A Retrospective
If you drive down the camp road today, you will see banners that display the values shared by the camp community, including, as you might expect, spirit and friendship. Although these were not nailed on trees when I was a boy (my first year was 1978) I feel like the summers I spent on that bucolic peninsula instilled in me qualities and characteristics I think about quite often. There was no time in my life, before or since, where I experienced more personal growth.
I’ve been an educator for over thirty years and have taught at numerous institutions that pay lip service to impressive mission statements. My own high school’s was “Be worthy of your heritage”. Lofty, right? How then, did Caribou have a more profound and lasting effect on me than the elite institutions of higher learning that I attended? As ‘Wild Bill’ Lerman might have asked, “They talk the talk, but do they walk the walk?” If I had to boil it down, I would say that at camp, back in the day, I learned the holy grail of educational buzzwords: resiliency.
Let me tell you, it’s a characteristic today that’s hard to teach. Kids don’t necessarily learn to ‘tough it out’ because a parent is always nearby, helicoptering or snowplowing or what have you, a mere text message away from solving the problem at hand.
I was lucky.
In the summer of 1980, I was a super senior, and Bill created the ‘Hit Team’. In cold reality, it consisted of four somewhat coddled kids from affluent suburbs, but in our minds we were an unstoppable tactical force, a crackerjack squad ready at a moment’s notice to fill a pothole, dig a ditch or fight for truth, justice, the American way, etc.
We spent numerous afternoons working on the camp road. Bill drove the tractor and we rode behind on the flatbed trailer. Dan ‘Danno’ Altwarg, Andrew ‘Teity’ Teitelbaum, Jon ‘Franko’ Frank, and myself, Mike “Rosedog’ Rosovsky. Our job was frequently to pile the flatbed with loads of gravel, and fill the divots in the road with shovelfuls of dirt tossed from the moving platform. Needless to say, it was not a task I was familiar with growing up on the mean streets of Newton, MA.
Bill taught The Hit Team many things, not all of which can be mentioned in this blog (ha ha). As a reward one day for a particularly onerous task, he taught us all to drive a stick shift (we were fifteen) on a doorless, rusty maintenance truck. I stalled out a few times but eventually managed to careen in circles around the driving range. He taught me to tie a bowline on a bight, to belay someone bigger than me, to shoot the ‘V’ in white water, to build a fire (and to put one out), to bob, dip, weave, and duck. Life skills, baby!
A day that stands out in my mind was when we were charged with removing dozens of old tires that were in the drainage ditches on the side of the camp road. Not only were they were buried in slime and knee-deep swamp water, but the first one we tentatively pulled out had hornets inside. We complained vociferously to Bill. He hopped off the tractor seat and plunged headlong into the ditch, flinging tires out like an insane discus thrower. It remains to me a vivid illustration of an important principle: lead by example.
My last summer at camp was as Program Director in 1989. At some point, (unless your name is Lerman) you must leave the peninsula, on a bus, on a Logan shuttle, or maybe in the 1976 Dodge Dart your mom let you use for the summer. If you’re lucky, though, it may never entirely leave you.