Camping outside in this cold is strictly kids' stuff


Last weekend, the kids wanted to sleep in the yard. It's a long story involving a "no-friends- in-the-house-till-you-clean-up -your-room" rule, and their response was a lawyer-like, "Well, can we camp out in the yard?"

The temperature was headed down to 20 degrees -- but what could we do? We figured the kids would come back inside as it got chillier.

Instead, they toughed it out -- with the help of every quilt, sleeping bag and mattress we own. It was warm in that tent, and they asked me to come sleep with them.

Not a chance.

In my view, camping is the antithesis of everything for which civilization stands. For millennia now, mankind has struggled to escape the rigors of sleeping on the ground, cooking over a fire pit and washing in cold water. By camping, I insult and reject the efforts of those unsung creators of the mattress, the stove and the hot water boiler, whose inventions comfort me.

Never would I carelessly discard the fruits of their innovative toil. Line up the word processors and food processors, the vacuum cleaners, and microwaves in ordered rows. I'll stand guard over them with my trusty salad shooter.


The two sixth-grade gifted and talented science classes at Hammond Middle School have decided what their group projects will be this year.

One class will study butterfly environments. Its goal is to plant a butterfly-attracting garden in Hammond Park.

The other class plans to test the waters of the Hammond Branch, from a natural spring that feeds the Hammond in student Erin Horn's backyard all the way to the Chesapeake Bay.

Del. Virginia Thomas, D-13A, the co-chair of the environmental committee, already has spoken to the students about environmental affairs. She also arranged to have state employees teach the students how to run the water tests.

The state thoroughly surveyed the Hammond in 1972, but circumstances have changed dramatically since then, for good and bad. On the one hand, industries pollute less than they did two decades ago. On the other hand, this area was less developed back in 1972.

So, for the next few months, before going into the field to test the waters next March, the students in Dot Hattan's class will be busy researching the problems and acquiring the knowledge necessary to interpret their results.

They have divided themselves into five subgroups responsible for different aspects of their study: Pollutants, Past and Present; Animal and Plant Life; System of Tributaries; Water Testing; and the Video committees.

Media Specialist Alfreda Martino is teaching the last group how to handle the video equipment, the editor and the soundtrack, since the students plan to shoot a documentary about their findings.

Students Erin Horn, Claire Dwyer, Neal Halloran and Eric Owens will do the actual testing, while others will survey the wildlife, note the state of development around both banks of the rivers or tape the findings.


Diana Grey, first vice president of programs of the Guilford Elementary PTA, called to chat about the new NationsBank Branch at the school.

Wenona Stark, a dedicated parent, thought having a small bank into which children could make deposits was a good idea. And, the idea became a reality, thanks to Randi Bazerman of NationsBank and Barbara Conn, Guilford's gifted and talented resource teacher.

NationsBank trained as bank tellers fifth-graders Adam Raugh, Sarah Martin, Andrew Thaxton, Jaron Artis, Angela Reaver, Tamika Dickens, Nicole Snyder, Tony Corbett, Jamaal Stewart, Angela Lewis, Amanda Foust and Lindsey Colross.

Jeff Haming and Sam Stein built a teller's window for the transactions. The new bank branch was inaugurated with festivities, including a skit of children getting money from the tooth fairy and wisely or foolishly investing and spending the tooth loot.

Principal Judith Bland's portrayal of a thrifty child was the definitive performance of the decade. The branch is open for deposits twice a month.


The youth group at South Columbia Baptist Church has a great in-house service project: The young people offer free baby-sitting services to the membership on the odd days that schools are closed, but the rest of us still have to go to work.

Freda Clutts, Rhonda Riych, Danita Kinnison, Tim Cook, Josh Neel, Heather Cristion, Melissa Taylor, Brian Cook, Sam Phillips, Dave Brewer, Patty Watson and Johnny Jones last served.

Flush with success, the youth group is doing this again on Saturday, Dec. 11, to allow parents to shop for the holidays.

This is one of the most enchanting and useful ideas I've heard of in a while. This service project will not save the world, just the sanity of some of us in it.

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