“You can call me anything you like. Just don’t call me late for dinner.” Mike Erhmann, Adam’s Camp Bus Driver Extraordinaire
When it comes to politics, art, religion or pretty much anything subjective, people are never going to completely agree. Even when it comes to Adam’s Camp, I have discovered there are issues that divide. However, one subjective question, “who is the most beloved character at Adam’s Camp?” may be the most inarguable, unanimous no-brainer ever: Mike the bus driver.
Delivering the campers from point A to point B may be the least important thing Mike Ehrmann, 67, does for Adam’s Camp. For eight summers now, Mike has been a great friend to Adam’s Camp and a great friend to countless Adam’s Campers. An easy smile, a welcoming handshake, an uncanny ability to remember names and a warm pat on the back are all more important attributes Mike brings to Adam’s Camp than his ability to handle a bus with the skill of a Formula One driver.
A common refrain from campers whenever they are at an activity is, “Where’s Mike?” So many of our adventure campers are repeat visitors who have built relationships with Mike over the years that he is now an indelible part of the Adam’s Camp adventure camp experience. Like putting on their favorite jacket that fits just right, climbing on board the bus with Mike just makes our campers feel good.
Mike is quick to share a deep, gravelly, baritone laugh that can only come from the breath of a life well lived. A Colorado native, Mike has been a rancher, a rodeo cowboy champion and airplane pilot to name a few hats he has worn. Last week he celebrated his birthday and tonight the Adventure Campers saluted him at the weekly talent show with a version of “Happy Birthday” that was loud, a little off key, funny and sincere. For Mike, it was perfect.
“I’ve been doing this for eight years and you guys are the best part of my summer,” Mike told the campers after blowing out his birthday candle. “I don’t know what I’d do without you and I love you all.”
I am pretty sure our campers were thinking the same thing about Mike.
An unexpected camp highlight
Each day at camp has its own similar rhythm that is repeated week after week. Wednesday mornings are tubing days for therapy teams. Seeing the kids scream with glee never grows old, but after five weeks, there is a certain deja vu quality to it. That is, until today.
One of our young campers was particularly anxious about going down the hill and was physically resisting any attempt to join his therapist Maeci. Among the many things I admire about our skilled therapists is their patience and persistence. Maeci was not going to give up until he gave it the “Adam’s Camp try” of making an attempt at every activity. After about 40 minutes of trying, I thought she had no shot with him, but she would not give up. After she took him to talk to the facility manager about the safety record and then to his teammates who had already gone down the hill, he finally decided he was ready to be tethered to Maeci and go.
Yep, it was screams of glee and pure joy beamed from his face all the way down. When they made it to the bottom, he thrust his hands in the air and Maeci sprang from her tube to give him a congratulatory hug. All the while two other Adam’s Camp parents and I were bawling at the top of the hill after witnessing the triumph. From the countless cool moments I have witnessed this summer, that one would definitely make my “top ten plays of camp” so far.
(Adam’s Camp Executive Director Jay Clark is blogging regularly from camp at Snow Mountain Ranch, usually late at night, so please pardon any typos.)