The words "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" came ringing back to my subconscious, as I was whisked through Indiana's corn fields to "Mickey's Camp," located outside of Shelbyville, near Indianapolis. Mickey Maurer, businessman, civic leader, attorney, and philanthropist founded Mickey's Camp for men seven years ago, and has raised more than $600,000 for charity since its inception. This year, camp was offered to women for the first time at the Ruth Lilly YWCA. Summer camp was just as I remembered, except now the cabins have air conditioning and inside plumbing.
Linda Johnson and I were invited to teach the ladies how to play poker. Each camper could choose seven activities from a list of 35 during the three-day session. Options included riflery, gourmet cooking, Alpine tower climb, digital photography, archery, art, boxing, birds of prey, kayaking, chess, billiards, radio control flying, and, of course poker.
Linda and I taught poker in two of the sessions to complete novices. But they came to class eager to learn the game and "move their chips." Many found that they really enjoyed it and there was talk of starting a Mickey's Poker League after camp ended. We taught two classes with about 25 students in each and then held a tournament that night for trophies and bragging rights. Though many of the players were entering their first competitive poker event, they played with a vengeance. There commonly were 40 or more campers sweating the action. It was good camaraderie and lots of excitement and fun.
There were many high points in the camp for me. The Alpine tower climb was amazing and exhilarating. I was attached by a harness to a safety rope and had to find a way to climb this tower and get back down. The tower stood about 50 feet high. It was a great feeling of achievement to reach the top, and the view from up there was incredible. Living in Las Vegas, I rarely get to see so many trees and so much unspoiled wilderness. I especially enjoyed the billiards class taught by Lori Jon Jones, a nine-time world billiards champion. Lori learned to live, breathe, and love the game as a child, much like those of us in the poker world, eh? She demonstrated an amazing array of trick shots that wowed the audience-each was better than the previous trick. Her constant banter with the group kept everyone entertained and mesmerized.
The crowning achievement was when she grabbed me from the audience to be her volunteer. She asked me lie down on the table, placed the chalk in my mouth, and then 'teed up" the ball on the chalk. I wasn't nervous since I thought for sure that at some point, she'd take the ball and chalk out of my mouth and ask if I was warped enough to allow her to "cue up" my head. I never dreamed she would actually attempt this trick shot, but before I knew it, she drew the cue stick back and the cue ball whizzed by my head and slammed into the pocket across the table. Amazing.
I could tell you so much more but mostly I advise that if you are able to do so, you should attend next year's camp. After paying the expenses, approximately two-thirds of the money received goes directly to the camp's designated charities. I was proud to be their poker instructor and even more proud of not dying right there and then on that pool table!
You can find out about next year's camp on their website (http:// mickeyscamp.com/). I hope to be involved again in future camps. Moving along...