A SUMMER TO REMEMBER
Those of you who know me--who TRULY know me--understand that my kids are my raison d'etre--the primary reason for which I feel that I was placed on this earth. There will never be anything more important to me than they are. To the extent that I am aware, there is no accomplishment, no disappointment, and no anxiety of theirs in which I do not personally share. Accordingly, I view it as my sacred right and privilege to share with you, my friends and fledgling readers, the important milestones that are taking place within their lives.
In time, I am certain that I will be sharing tales and guffaws about all four of my diverse and active offspring. For now, I will begin with some rather extraordinary goings-on in the life of my third in line, Brendan.
Ah, youth! Imagine a world of limitless possibilities. Imagine being 17 years old, with your future shining brightly ahead of you, and that you are completely unfettered and free to follow any road down which your dreams may lead you. Imagine also that you are facing a glorious summer of opportunity, where you will be given the chance to travel to venues around the country, to expand your horizons and explore the possibilities.
To me, all of this sounds like a wonderful, fantastic dream--one about turning back the clock, in which I might engage after enjoying one too many Tunnel Visions at Richo's Public House. To my son, it is reality. He has embarked upon a golden summer of opportunity and adventure that is noteworthy indeed. Though I have told many of you about his summer plans, others are still unaware. Because it is an interesting story, and also because I know that many of you know and care about him, I wanted to bring you up to date.
Having just finished his junior year of high school this year, young Squire Brendan decided to make the most of his summer by exploring some options that might be available to him after graduation. He also wanted to try doing something different than his usual summer life, which has been consumed with baseball in recent years.
Brendan, or the "Hunt-Man" as I frequently refer to him, has been considering the possiblity of attending college at one of our nation's military academies--particularly either the U.S Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, or the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He learned that both academies host summer session programs, designed to allow serious prospective recruits to spend a week on campus and get a feel for the place. He decided that he wanted to be a part of that.
The academy summer sessions are highly coveted, and the entry process is very competetive. Brendan applied for both the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy, hoping that at least one of them might accept him. To his surprise and satisfaction, he was accepted by both. Game on!
Brendan spent last week at the Naval Academy. It was the first time he had ever been so far away from home by himself, and it was quite an experience for him. Each morning, he had to arise at 5:45 for physical training and testing. Meals were completed in a maximum of 15 minutes. The days were filled with academic workshops, sporting events, military drill introduction, and other special tours and events. Lights were out at 11:00 each evening. Brendan had a great week and, perhaps not surprisingly, he seemed a bit more mature to me upon his arrival home.
This week, the Hunt-Man is at Hoosier Boys State in Terre Haute, Indiana. For those who may not know, Boys State is a wonderful program, conducted at Indiana State University, that is designed to teach potential young leaders about the operation of our Democratic form of government and the organization of our political parties. It is quite an honor to be chosen to attend. I should know. I badly wanted to be chosen as a delegate to attend Hoosier Boys State when I was 17, but I only made it to the status of being an alternate to the program. I guess you might say that I am vicariously enjoying the experience now. By all accounts, a good time is being had by all in Terre Haute this week.
Next week, Brendan will attend the summer session for the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. This is apparently also a very serious program--with "no sandals" allowed at any time--and he is very enthused about the opportunity to attend. It will be interesting to hear his perceptions of the Air Force Academy, as compared with those of the Naval Academy. I feel certain that he will fare well there. As for me, I'm not entirely sure whether I could handle the no sandals aspect. It is summertime, isn't it? Quite obviously, I am not a military man.
Once he returns from Colorado, Brendan will be here for only a short while before he embarks upon a church mission trip to New Orleans. There will be no time for fun and frivolity on Bourbon Street (which, by the way, was the order of the day the last time I was in New Orleans). Rather, this will be an effort to assist those still trying to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. There is apparently still much devastation and need in that area, although we don't hear much about it anymore here these days. I think that it will be an extremely gratifying experience for him to earn the feeling that he is helping others who are truly in need.
Upon returning from New Orleans, my son will, at last, be able to relax and begin summer conditioning for his senior season of high school soccer. There's no running or physical exertion required in that sport, is there?
As you may have discerned, I am very happy that my son has an exciting, rewarding summer on tap this year. I am thankful for the opportunities that he has, and I hope that this turns out to be a magical season that he will look upon fondly for the rest of his life. As Father's Day approaches, I could have no greater wish than that.
I do not know whether Brendan will ultimately choose to attend one of our nation's service academies. I do hope, however, that in the process of exploring this summer he learns much about the world in which we live. I hope that he earns a sense of self confidence, self-awareness, and that he learns to care more deeply about other people. If he does, then it will be time well spent indeed.