John Kelly's Washington

John Kelly: At Camp Moss Hollow, a Chance to Grow and ' to Just Be Happy'

Peydon Richardson, 10, of Southeast will attend Camp Moss Hollow next month. His mother says every kid should have the chance to go to a camp, adding that sometimes "you meet people who will be lifelong friends."
Peydon Richardson, 10, of Southeast will attend Camp Moss Hollow next month. His mother says every kid should have the chance to go to a camp, adding that sometimes "you meet people who will be lifelong friends." (By John Kelly -- The Washington Post)
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By John Kelly
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Like a lot of 10-year-olds, Peydon Richardson is a boy of few words, especially when he's being pestered by a strange grown-up.

"I think it might be really fun," is all Peydon will admit when speculating on what he expects of his week at Camp Moss Hollow. He's never been before. His older sisters, Tianna, 15, and Jhayla, 12, are Moss Hollow veterans, but he does not seem inclined to interrogate them.

Peydon's mother, Wendy, is certain he'll have fun, and more besides. "I think each child should have the opportunity to go to camp," she said. "It helps them develop. It helps them grow. Sometimes you meet people who will be lifelong friends."

Peydon lives in Southeast, where he's a rising sixth-grader at Abram Simon Elementary, although he hopes he'll be attending the private Maret School next year. (He's on the waiting list.)

His mom, Wendy, who works in IT for the federal government, and his dad, Patrick, who works at Metro, have Peydon's summer planned out to the nanosecond, pulling together various camps and programs to keep him occupied. A week at Moss Hollow in July is the centerpiece for the busy 10-year-old, who, besides enjoying baseball and skiing, has auditioned for a few stage shows and would make a great Simba in "The Lion King."

With two parents doting on him, Peydon is lucky. Many of the kids in Washington aren't nearly as fortunate. Moss Hollow is designed for them, too. It's crucial for them, in fact. "It's a time for them to just be happy and forget about some of the things they have to deal with when they're on the outside," Wendy said.

Camp started this week and runs through the first week in August. Your contribution will help at-risk kids from the Washington area experience the great outdoors, many for the first time. Our goal this year is $500,000. So far we've raised $142,774.34.

I appreciate every gift. To make yours, send a check or money order, payable to "Send a Kid to Camp," to P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237. Or contribute online by going to and clicking on the donation link. To use MasterCard or Visa by phone, call 202-334-5100 and follow the instructions on our taped message.

Or go today to any of the Clyde's Restaurants or the Old Ebbitt Grill and order the fresh 1 1/4 -pound Maine lobster or the blueberries and cream dessert. A portion of the lunch proceeds will benefit Send a Kid to Camp.

A Face in the Window

I was running late for a meeting Monday morning, so late that I made sure to stand at the very end of the Metro station platform so I could get on at the front and sprint to my exit at Farragut North. When the train pulled into Forest Glen the operator's head popped out of the window, and I did something I've never done before: I said "Good morning" to the driver. She smiled and said good morning back.

I talk to bus drivers all the time. They're right there after all, not sequestered in a little chamber. You see them as you get on and off the bus. But train drivers are usually just a disembodied voice.

At Silver Spring, the train started to pull out of the station then stopped at the little concrete building on the platform's southern end. The train driver opened the window and exchanged a few words with a white-shirted supervisor standing on the landing. They laughed, and she leaned out to give him a friendly peck on the cheek. Apparently they hadn't seen each other in a while.

I have no idea whether that driver was Jeanice McMillan, who was killed Monday afternoon when the Red Line train she was operating slammed into the back of a stopped train. I couldn't help thinking, "What if it had been?"

A lot of us spent Monday afternoon wondering about what ifs.

Closing the Book on a Long Life

In April I wrote about Virginia Saunders, a Beltsville woman who started working at the Government Printing Office 63 years ago and had no intention of retiring anytime soon. "I plan to keep working as long as my health is good," she said.

Her health was good until Friday, when Virginia died in her sleep at age 82.

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