My fourth grade daughter Skylee spent two nights at Coloma last week, a small encampment east of Sacramento nestled in the Sierra foothills next to the currently raging American River. I picked up Skylee and three of her Vallecito Elementary classmates and on the ride home one of the first comments they made was that "it was torturous." They weren’t referring to the non-stop rainfall or the three-hour hike that they took in the downpour. That actually sounded really cool. They weren’t referring to the outdoor living or lack of heat. What got them the most? For two days they suffered through not having television!
Despite their great pain it sounded like they all had a really good time and that it was a worthwhile experience. From what I’ve heard these days the trip to Coloma is a writ of passage for most fourth grade Marinites. During the aforementioned rain hike they ventured to a monument erected for James Marshall on the spot where he discovered gold on January 24, 1848. Skylee recounted the Marshall tale for me, telling me about how he wanted to keep his find a secret but he couldn’t. People threatened to kill him. Also Sutter Mill in Coloma was erected by John Sutter who fled Switzerland because of taxes. He wanted to set up his milling operation in Hawaii but it was too hot. Like the story of the three bears he checked out Alaska but it was too cold. In the Sierra foothills the climate was just right. I’d say the stories coming out of camp beat this century’s reality television any day.
The live action was just as good. The kids got to pan for gold. Skylee brought home a small vile with a few flakes, as I believe all of the kids did. There’s not much gold left in the river, but certainly enough to fuel the imagination of thousands of California kids every year.
Back on the home front I got to spend some quality time with my younger daughter Sabrina who took the opportunity to officially bow out of swimming for the year. For some kids, like her sister, swimming is a great experience. Two years ago Skylee was awkward and uncoordinated, routinely the last person picked for playground sports like kickball. Who’s going to pick the kid who misses the ball when it’s rolled to her? I’m convinced that the daily training she put her through in the pool developed her coordination and strength. Although she no longer participates in playground sports, probably because of what she previously endured, she’s become quite an accomplished little athlete. I’m very proud, and I feel like we owe the Terra Linda Orcas a lot.
Sabrina on the other hand has been a clearly gifted athlete from the get-go. If she wanted to apply herself in the pool I get the feeling she’d have a shot at rewriting some of the records for the Terra Linda Recreation Center pool. The problem is that she doesn’t like to practice. For her it’s boring. I have to admit, I’ve found lap swimming to be pretty boring myself. It’s also hard work, and I can tell you from personal experience that hard work isn’t necessarily a dominant trait in her DNA. It’s a recessive gene.
While Skylee was gone Sabrina and I went out of the Saint Mark’s field behind our house and tried to get a soccer workout. The field was too wet, and we ended up in an extended puddle splashing war. Sabrina likes to get outside and play. She likes to have fun. When the time comes, when she’s older, she is going to be properly motivated to put in the time and effort to do something really special athletically. In the meantime we will just have to enjoy her being a kid instead of an athlete.