Bay Ridge Gardens camp helps kids experience joys of summer


Recollections of childhood summers yield memories of baseball on lawns that now seem so improbably small and games of hide and seek where dozens of kids would take over a neighborhood, not a parent to be seen.

There was that raw smell of low tide in the marshes of the vacation house at Deale, the treat of licking the blades of the ice cream maker, the great mess of eating crabs. A very long time ago, some of us were compelled to take naps in the afternoon as a way to confront the threat of polio, which was terribly real back then.

What are kids up to today? One fears they are all planted, like perennials in a pot, in front of televisions and computer screens. But Anita Carroll, resident service coordinator at Bay Ridge Gardens in Annapolis, reports that her brood is doing a lot of kid-like things.

She is running a summer camp for 23 young people ages 5 to 11. They trek regularly to the Anne Arundel County pool and library. There have been field trips to zoos and children's museums in Washington and Baltimore.

Visitors have included Officer McGruff, the Police Crime Dog. Spelling bees and math drills are regular parts of the program. In addition to food for the mind, breakfasts and lunches are served.

Andrea Patterson, who is 6, said she thinks the camp is pretty neat. "I like Miss Anita," she said. "She's my favorite teacher." Liking teachers is important to Andrea, who said she is not afraid about the prospect of starting the first grade next month at Georgetown East.

Katore Morsell, a 9-year-old fourth-grader, is keen on the field trips, especially those to the swimming pool. "This is a good summer," he said.

Katore was asked the predictable question about his favorite subject at Georgetown East. "Math," he said. "You need math for everything almost."

The camp includes two 14-year-olds who serve as junior counselors. One of them, De Von Rashard, has just moved with his family to Annapolis from Jersey City, N.J. "It's a better environment here," he said of his new home.

What does he like about the camp? "The kids first of all." What does he need in working with kids? "Patience."

"You have to know the kids," he elaborated. "I think I'd like to teach kids different kinds of sports, like baseball, basketball, bowling."

In the There's-Hope-for-Us-Yet Department, De Von said reading is important to him right now, especially books by Ann Martin. He said he wrote a short story for his school paper back in New Jersey. He has no computer of his own.

Bay Ridge Gardens is a privately owned complex of 198 homes for 609 residents, more than half younger than 18. So, activities for young folk seem essential. They really can't take place without volunteers.

The summer program has several helpers, one of them described by Carroll as a "Godsend." She's Judith Branham, who also fills the role of secretary for the Annapolis Commission on Aging.

"Volunteers from Mount Moriah A.M.E. Church are trying to establish a positive relationship with this community," said Branham. "We are starting with young people. In the fall, we hope to have an after-school program. And then we intend to work with parents."

She also promises that younger members of her church, which is just down the street, will be helping out in the fall.

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