Read about the misadventures of a sped high school teacher in Savannah, GA as he sails through the exciting seas of committment, marriage with step-kids, some tour guiding while he attempts to break into the world of professional storytelling and the occasional act of piracy.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
I am Ron Balthazar
Sorry been out a bit. From here on out, I’ll always refer
to Feb 2013 as the “sick month” where my flu became pneumonia. If you have
never had pneumonia, you are missing out. It’s a treat.
The next few blogs, I am going to attempt to connect one
theme to the next. His one has been brewing since my last one but this
afternoon, I realized it was time. Roni has gotten me hooked on Pandora. She had
Chess Club this afternoon and we were driving home when I heard this song which
took me back to my Camp Glisson days.
Camp Glisson was several camps within one. We had the
typical camp which was called the Village, there was a Pioneer with a rustic
setting way out in the woods and limited plumbing, and of course, Sparrowwood.
Sparrowwood has probably had the largest influence on how
my life has gone. It was a keep set up for special needs kids. Back in the 80s,
I can remember seeing their campers in the dining hall as they would eat
downstairs and also occasionally passing them as they left the pool. We did
have Chapel with them and from this, I realized as a teen to overcome my fears
regarding handicapped people.
Around 1987 or so, I was working as a counselor at the
Pioneer and Village Camps. This would be a life changing summer because I would
cross paths with new staff member, Ron Balthazar. And I hated him.
Ron was a few years older than us 19 year old counselors.
He was part of the Emory University crowd which worked at camp (Camp had
several college factions: Young Harris, Reinhardt, UGA, etc). He was one of the
new Sparrowwood counselors but because he was older, the upper staff tended to
include him which drove us younger folks nuts. Eventually, Ron was running
S-wood as the director. What I mistook for arrogance in my younger years was
actually maturity, Ron over the next few years would also work his way to upper
staff something which ignited much jealously among us but especially me.
Ron was very musically inclined so it was a natural
choice that the camp manager, Jimmy Moor, would have Ron deal with the sound
system and especially the end of the week slide shows. These were tasks I
coveted and took personally when I was shut out.
Ron had a vibrant personality and was a natural in front
of a crowd. He was infamous with helping with staff meetings, skits, and
announcements. Anytime you got a room full of college aged counselors together
in one room and away from the campers, we’d go to town talking. I can still
hear Ron’s voice over the mike in a smug yet silly, “Young people. Young
people. Settle down.”
I used to hate that and can remember taking offense. One of
my close friends, Valary, and I used make fun of Ron when he’d say that.
Eventually, my brazenness got the better of me and I started responding, “Old
man with a microphone.”
Val is the cute blonde top row middle, Sadly I am the one w/ a mullet
I did not like Ron and I have no doubts that Ron was not
thrilled with my existence either. It stayed like that for a few years as we
both ran in different social cliques. Fortunately, it changed during the summer
I began spending a lot of time at Sparrowwood. Ron was a
huge proponent of mixing their campers with the Village and Pioneer camps so
many activities like camp outs, swim parties, and my favorite, the Thursday Night
Sp-wood Dance Party. These were some awesome times and made me realize that I
worked well with the handicapped and would lead to my future career.
By the end of the summer, Ron and gained a bit of respect
for each other. 1992 was my last summer of a seven year run. The very last
Dance Party was very special. SO special that our Camp Manager the late, great
Bob Cagle had lent me a tux jacket which country singer, Hoyt Axton once wore.
At the end, it hit me hard.
1992 Elementary Living Group w/ Marie
Camp was a big deal for me. As a camper, I loved Glisson because
it was the one week during the year where I could and fit in. As a counselor, I
learned a lot about how to work with people, be creative, deal with stress, and
got the chance to put back a little of what I had gotten from Camp. One of my
favorite memories comes from this night when Ron came up and shook my hand. Ron thanked me for all the help I had done
with them over the summer and the enthusiasm I brought.
I was floored. Here was a guy I had spent the
past 5 years loathing. Now we both were on equal ground and found respect. Ron was
a good guy and I missed many years of a potentially amazing friendship. My
immaturity and insecurities prevented from seeing this guy as the amazing
individual he is.
my last post, I talked about the autistic kid which led me to think a lot about
those Glisson days. Even though I didn’t write much in February, I spent much
time comparing/contrasting my past and present. When the realization hit me
that I have become much alike the very person I once despised, I had to laugh.
Because of my work with Ron and Sp-wood, I now have a Masters in Special Education
and work with high school kids on a variety levels. I have become quite musical
myself even though I try to let others drown out the guitar play. On occasion,
I even have caught myself shushing students with a very familiar,”Young people.
hope this blog somehow gets forwarded to Ron Balthazar. I hope he understands
that a much more mature Robby Richardson wishes he could go back in time to
shut up his younger self. Most of all, I hope Ron knows that I thank him for
being in my life at just the right time to have enough influence to get me
where I am today. Thanks, dude. Knowing you has made a real difference in my