Camp Tickles

Located 32 miles south of Akron, Ohio, on County Trunk R, Camp Tickles is essentially a clown camp for clown prodigies ages 7 to 11. While clowning and clownlike activities make up a lion’s share of camp time, Camp Tickles is also a self-esteem-boosting “challenge camp.” Challenge One involves the cabins, which are constructed in the camp kitchen and the camp’s great lawn over the first few days and are freestanding structures made of marshmallow and sticks. Campers (in groups of five) do not and will not sleep until they have baked and sculpted their own cabins. Blueprints are provided by counselors on the first day of camp. Challenge Two involves the refurbishing and restoration of several turn-of-the-century coin-operated (nickels) games in the “Coney Island” style. Campers (in groups of 43) will liberally apply sunscreen, then ride on the back of eastern-bound flatbed trucks to Camp Tickles’ warehouse near Coney Island in New York, where they will be given several tools and instructions. Some Internet searches for older instruction manuals will be conducted, and some direction will be provided by Lloyd McAfee, restoration specialist. Challenge Three involves hole-patching of several Ohio roads and adjacencies. Campers (in groups of three) will be provided with red wagons, tar, shovels, levels, and maps of pothole-riddled areas, most of which are within a 14-mile radius of Camp Tickles. Campers should ask area farmers and business owners for water, or bring canteens. Campers will be rewarded for completing challenges at a ceremony in the last week of camp.

Camper’s Checklist:

1. Two bedsheets. (One to use while the other is at the laundry facility.)
2. Clown makeup.
3. Clown costume.
4. $70 in singles.
5. One towel.
6. Canteen (optional).
7. Knife.
8. Swimsuit.
9. Tweezers.
10. Magic Marker.
11. Phone card.
12. Ace bandages.
13. Matches.
14. Sunscreen.
15. Cookies.
16. Bratwurst.
17. Tennis balls (juggling).
18. Parachute.
19. Aspirin.

Camp Tickles runs from June 1 through August 8. $539.00.

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Len Gurman’s Furnace Camp
Skokie, Illinois
July 10-August 3, 2000

At Len Gurman’s Furnace Camp, which is celebrating its 14th summer, kids from ages 6 to 10 can and will learn the basics of furnace and water-heater repair and maintenance. It should be noted that most campers who attend Furnace Camp are graduates of Len Gurman’s Plumbing and Cooling Workshop, which also takes place every summer in Skokie, and which is for children ages 5 to 8. Every camper gets a double room at the St. Warren’s Shelter on Cemax parkway, and is bused daily at 6:15 a.m. to Len’s furnace training facility, located at Warehouse 19D on the grounds of the Skokie Community Rehabilitation Complex. The bus returns to St. Warren’s at 7:40 p.m. On weekends students are provided with a number of recreational activities like paddleboating, light janitorial work, tetherball, whittling, carving, and typing. They are also allotted time to repair and order new tools. Soldering exercises and invoice quizzes make up most Saturday evenings at camp. Campers are allowed to use the showering facilities at this point as well. Campers are also encouraged to write letters to loved ones and are allowed to do so up until 8 a.m. each weekend morning. Campers are required to attend a nondenominational church service, culled from the best aspects of most Christian religions, at St. Warren’s on Sunday mornings from 8:15 a.m. until 2 p.m. Hot meals are provided in the morning and evening at St. Warren’s featuring some of the finest pork products in the Midwest, compliments of Len’s father-in-law, Donnie White, whose pork shops are famous throughout Chicagoland. For lunch the students can choose from an array of inexpensive fast-food restaurants near the furnace training facility. In the past, only children of plumbers, steam-fitters, and heating and cooling specialists were encouraged to attend. However, for the past few summers, we’ve been taking all comers. All campers receive a heavy cotton Len Gurman’s Furnace Camp T-shirt.

Total cost: $1,102.

Campers should bring a toothbrush and long-sleeved clothing (preferably canvas). Some tools are provided. Please call for a complete tool list.