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AN X-TEAM SPECIAL REPORT // HAPPY CAMPERS

Why should kids spend their summer in front of the television whining about "nothing to do" when they can go to camp? So what if you're not not the canoe and hiking type! There are jillions of summer camps for kids to choose from.

You can improve your tennis game, study sea urchins or take up acting. If you're not into campfires, consider a day camp. Recreation, educational, religious study or fine arts _ summer camp offers something for everyone. The X-Team, our group of kid writers, share their summer camp experiences _ everything from sea crab attacks to suggestions on the foods to avoid on the camp menu. If you have any questions on the Summer Camp Experience, our X-Team tells all!

Lowrie Ward, 13, Clearwater

How I've spent my summer vacations: Every summer . . . my parents have had to work. They didn't want to leave us home alone all day, so for our safety from murderers and from sheer boredom, they enrolled us in a little Bible school or day camp.

Favorite camp: Clearwater Marine Science Center's camp. We'd spend most of the day on the boat or in the ocean. This particular camp lasted from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for two weeks. But we would usually get back a half-an-hour late because the clock was on the boat and we were in the water.

We would learn about marine animals, plants, etc. for about an hour. Then we would do an activity, then we would go out on the boat and discuss what we were looking for. We'd swim and search, then we'd move to a different spot. On the way back we'd write in our scrap books. It was really fun and interesting too.

Camp chow: We only had a little snack before we went out _ usually a cookie and a drink. It was lunchtime, though, and our stomachs growled for lunch. But we survived.

Homesick blues: I would be too wound up in urchins and mangroves to think about my family. Besides, my brother was there too and time went so fast that I was home in no time.

A funny thing happened at summer camp: One lesson my brother learned was that if you want to pick up crabs you will want to wear gloves. Needless to say, he had a big cut on his thumb and somewhere a crab is missing a claw.

Would you recommend camp to friends? Yes. It's a good way to learn, relax, cool off, exercise and have fun.

Louis "David" Brown III, 13, St. Petersburg

How I've spent my summer vacation: I used to attend every summer until I got my job. I went to Childs Park and the Boys and Girls Club camp. Both were day camps. We played video games, football, basketball, kickball and pool. We went on a lot of field trips to places such as Adventure Island, Celebration Station, Busch Gardens, the movies and pool.

Camp chow: All they served us were those little plastic-wrapped cold-cut lunches. To tell the truth, I hated those, except one summer they let us heat them up in the microwave. Sometimes they'd be like a block of ice you couldn't even bite into.

Homesick blues: The only camps I've ever gone to were day camps.

Would you recommend camp to friends?: It depends on what kind of camp it is. Make sure the camp has plenty of activities such as field trips . . . field trips that are fun!

A funny thing happened at summer camp: The last day of camp we had this huge water gun and water balloon fight. It was chaos! And unexpected! When my sister and I got to camp, some people walked up and attacked us right away with water balloons. My mom went home and got my Super Soaker XP175 so we could fight back. Everybody walked home soaked.

Alexa Roberts, 10, St. Petersburg

How I've spent my summer vacations: I have gone to camp every year. This year almost every week is full of camps.

Favorite camp(s): One was the Central Christian School in St. Petersburg, and another was Lake Area Christian Camp in Lake Wales. I went to a swim camp too. I've also gone to Space Camp. It is near the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville.

Camp chow: Generally, camp food is good, but not as good as old-fashioned Grandma cookin'.

Homesick blues: I don't usually get homesick because I'm used to it. But at Space Camp I got homesick for my baby sister. I think homesickness is easier to fight if a friend comes to camp with you.

A funny thing happened at summer camp: I was lying in my top bunk trying to get to sleep after an exciting day when a huge, fat spider crawled down the wall above my head. I pulled the covers over my head and then fell asleep.

At Space Camp a 7-year-old kid pulled the fire alarm. It was about 9 p.m. and all the girls were in PJs. I only had a shirt on over my underclothes. I had to run outside in that. Thank heaven, it just covered me.

Would you recommend camp to friends? Yes. Camp is so much fun!

Chon Nguyen, 14, New Port Richey

How I've spent my summer vacations : I've gone to summer camp at the YMCA at Trinity College in New Port Richey for two years. We went every morning and were picked up at night. We had a few sleep-overs, though. Most of the activities were outdoor activities. We had what we call a ropes course. It's really high in the air and you have to go through obstacles. It's optional for everyone though! We also do canoeing, swimming, going to the beach, tons of really neat things.

Camp chow: We brought our own lunches.

Would your recommend camp to friends? Yeah! There's really a lot to do there and we get to socialize a lot. However, a lot of my friends are already there with me.

A funny thing happened at summer camp: Well, we always used to get the counselors wet and whatnot. It was pretty fun.

Brian Orloff, 12, Clearwater

How I've spent my summer vacations: This year will be my third year at sleep-away camp. I've been going to day camps since preschool. My camp is a Jewish camp. We do Jewish activities. We also get to pick an activity or sport. Some of the choices are boating, tennis, gymnastics, basketball, arts and crafts and drama.

Camp chow: The food isn't as bad as they portray camp food. Most dishes are edible, such as lasagna, spaghetti and chicken soup. Some camp foods however, you want to steer clear of. They include ribs, macaroni and cheese and fish sticks.

Homesick blues: I don't get homesick easily.

Would you recommend camp to friends? Definitely. Everyone should have the experience of going to camp.

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