Surrounded By Happy Campers

Last season the Arizona Diamondbacks introduced an interesting concept. During a weekday afternoon game they offered discount tickets to local summer camps to allow children to attend a game as part of their camp activities. The concept was a big hit and the Diamondbacks enjoyed an increase in attendance that might otherwise not have occurred. When the 2008 schedule was released I was somewhat surprised at the number of weekday afternoon games the Diamondbacks would be playing at home. It is pretty tough to try and schedule time away from work to attend a game and having the team play so many makes it especially difficult. It was therefore not surprising to see “Camp Day” listed among these dates. Today marked the first “Camp Day” for this season.


The demographic in the stand is substantially different than a normal game. The first thing you notice is the number of fans lined up along the concourse in single file. On a normal night game people mill around the stadium looking at the sites or picking up something to eat or drink before the game starts. For the most part they are in parties of 2-4 so you have small groups standing or walking together. They usually walk abreast of each other to continue their conversation. Not so for “Camp Day”. The kids are lined up in single file and follow their camp directors and staff members who lead them to their seats. It is like a conga line of small people. The camp counselors walk alongside the lines encouraging the kids to stay together or walk faster. It is kind of like watching a cowboy try to herd cattle through a canyon opening, and just about as successful.

During a normal game the stands are a cornucopia of colors all mixed together. There is the classic purple and teal coupled with an ever increasing amount of Sedona Red, Sonoran Sand, and black. Depending on the opponent there is also a fairly good amount of colors representing the visiting team. There really isn’t a rhyme or reason to the color scheme and looking into the stands reminds you of paint spatters. On “Camp Day” there is a dramatic change to the looks of the stands. The camp kids all sit together in their appropriate sections. Each camper is dressed in the camp colors. Most of the camps had unique colors so as you looked into the stands you saw almost a patchwork pattern where groups of kids would all be dressed alike. There was a large selection of blue, green, gray, neon yellow, dark blue, and of course orange.

Arizona sports fans are not known to be the most vocal group. Typically they only cheer when the JumboTron tells them to or someone challenges them to make noise. The noise will generally last as long as they are told to continue and not a moment longer. I’ve never really understood why that is, it’s almost like they are afraid to cheer as it might bring sudden bad luck. Perhaps it is a result of all the years of being an Arizona Cardinals football town and they just have not really learned to cheer yet. “Camp Day” is substantially different. These kids are loud and proud of their affiliation with the Diamondbacks and make an effort to be heard at every occasion. Because most of these fans are younger kids, the decibel level and the tone is substantially higher than what one usually hears at a baseball game. Probably the closest way I could describe it would be that it is like a Chicago Cubs game on helium. It is encouraging to hear these kids. Maybe the next generation of Diamondbacks fans will be more vocal than their elders. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Overall “Camp Day” is an interesting and entertaining event. It of course helped that the Diamondbacks won the game 2-1 on a home run by Justin Upton. It was a good way to end a home stand and hopefully this good fortune will carry over on the road. The only thing I would change for “Camp Day” would be to teach the kids that there is no wave in baseball. Maybe if they learn that at an early age we won’t be embarrassed when they get older.


1 Comment

  1. Typically they only cheer when the JumboTron tells them to or someone challenges them to make noise. The noise will generally last as long as they are told to continue and not a moment longer. I’ve never really understood why that is, it’s almost like they are afraid to cheer as it might bring sudden bad luck. Perhaps it is a result of all the years of being an Arizona Cardinals football town and they just have not really learned to cheer yet. “Camp Day” is substantially different.

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