Of tennis balls and asses …

My daughter is wrapping her her first week of sleep-away camp, which has jogged a lot of memories from my boyhood summer days. One, in particular, seems blog-worthy.

Back in the late-1970s/early-1980s, my brother and I attended Camp Kiwi, located near our home in (the tough streets of) Mahopac, N.Y. My mom would drop us off in the morning, then pick us up come 4ish. It was a nice place, with a lake, a pool, boating, fishing, arts and crafts, a tennis court, baseball fields. Picture a prototypical New York day camp, you’re likely picturing something akin to Camp Kiwi.

Anyhow, Kiwi was owned and operated by Lou Bellotto (pictured above), a large, jolly man who was known, affectionately, as, ahem, sorta cheap. That’s not meant as an insult—Lou ran a strong camp, and was genuinely beloved (he passed in 2008). But …

What I remember most about Kiwi was Friday. Specifically, the final 20 minutes of every Friday, when all the campers would gather at the amphitheater, a small stage with a bunch of bleachers. After all of us were seated, and a few wrap-up words were spoken, Lou would waddle toward the center of the stage, turn his back toward us and bend over. With that, campers big and small, strong and weak, black and white, were invited to launch tennis balls at his ass.

And that, no lie, is how Camp Kiwi stocked its court.


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