ISHPEMING - No bugs, no raindrops, no sleeping in tents. And everybody's concentrating so intently you can hear a pin drop.
All that is part of the bowling camps held last week and this week at Country Lanes of Ishpeming as part of the Summer Enrichment classes in the Ishpeming-Negaunee-NICE Community Schools.
The youths taking part ranged in age from 5 to 13 last week, and all were intent on learning more about the game, then applying their lessons to the detriment of the bowling pins.
Ian Kauppila, 5, of Sands winds up to throw his bowling ball during a bowling camp held at Country Lanes in Ishpeming on Thursday morning. The program is part of the summer enrichment classes of the Ishpeming-Negaunee-NICE?Community Schools. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"I'm learning to throw it better," said Carter Mattson, 8, of Negaunee, when asked what the best part of the four-day camp.
"Now I know where the ball's going," echoed Bradley Koski, 9, of Republic when a similar question was put to him.
The youngest camper, Ian Kauppila, 5, of Sands, took a little while longer to open up, but with a little prompting from his father and grandmother, said, "It's a new way to bowl ... I already got a strike!"
Ian's father, Joel, said he asked Ian if he wanted to try T-ball or soccer, but got a more enthusiastic response when it came to bowling.
Country Lanes general manager Clay Sandberg, who is conducting the clinics through the community schools program for the first time, said the lessons started with basics and worked up from there.
"They learned how to hold the ball (on the approach) with one hand underneath it," he said. "We also put an 'X' on the floor (approach) to show that you should start from the same place every time.
"Then we tried working on the swing and the steps together - one, two, three and throw."
The community schools program includes about a dozen activities, ranging from open pool times to gymnastics to dog whispering to hunter safety. For future programs, call 475-4173.
At the bowling camp, a brother-and-sister combination came all the way from Wisconsin to join the camp, though admittedly, it's because Brian Krauss of Appleton brought his family to stay for about a month with his wife's family at their home south of Palmer.
"My mother-in-law saw the (community schools) flyer, so we thought this would be a nice activity to do while we're up here," Krauss said.
Younger sister Elaina Krauss, 7, was goal-oriented.
"You want to keep it straight so you can get a strike," she said about throwing the ball. "I threw a lot of spares and I had one strike yesterday."
Older brother Erik Krauss, 9, was excited to improve his game.
"I used to be real bad, but now I'm a real good bowler," he said. "I learned I want to have my feet be together, and start with right foot.
"If you wanna get a strike, try to get the middle pin."
One of the older boys, Zach Buzzo of Negaunee Township, also improved greatly, breaking 100 most of his games on the final day after starting with games of less than half that.
"It's amazing the improvement that everybody's had," said his mom, Kim LaJoie.
Sandberg said his center emphasizes youth bowling in the summer, also offering its Safe Summer Program, where anyone ages 18 and under can register and get a card entitling them to two free games of bowling every day from 4 to 9:30 p.m. from June 1-Sept. 1.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.