The Slice

Recalling a close call at summer camp

When I was a kid in Burlington, Vermont, I spent a week one summer at a hockey camp in nearby Lake Placid, N.Y.

Boys from all over New England attended this sports-focused session. We stayed at a place called the Northwood School. On-ice training took place at a rink that belonged to that prep school. The Lake Placid facility that would become a celebrated venue because of the 1980 Winter Olympics did not exist at the time.

I have a number of memories from that week. But one still makes me wince.

One day when we were in our dorm rooms exchanging bon mots between hockey practices, an older boy named Dennis got an idea.

Wouldn't it be a riot to fill a plastic cup with urine, place it atop a room door and then summon an unpopular camper?

Hilarity would ensue, Dennis assured everyone.

So he left and came back with a clear cup full of golden fluid, which was placed atop the door.

Soon someone not in on the prank entered the room in question. But it was not a fellow camper. It was one Charles E. Holt, camp director, hockey coach at the University of New Hampshire and future member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Thanks to a miracle, the cup did not fall. But Holt noticed it and commented on the level of humor that would inspire such a gag.

Dennis assured him that the cup was filled with Mountain Dew. And after all these years, I can't honestly remember whether that was true.

In any event, decades later, I am still grateful that I did not get sent home early (along with the other half-dozen lads present) because of that stupid stunt.

My dad would have asked me why I had failed to stand up and put a halt to the whole cup-on-the-door caper before it ever got started.

And I would not have had a good answer.




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