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Adults need lessons in growing up

Our annual special section outlining various activities camps for children came out last week and, as usual, it is not lacking options. You'll find everything from pottery camp to pitching camp, fencing camps to football camps and my personal favorite: Einstein Monkeys Enrichment Camp.

The camps are a terrific opportunity for kids to grow through sports and leisure. Many will be enlightened by their experience while making new friends. If the camps keep them busy and enhance their interests, most are worth the money. And they just might learn a life lesson or two along the way.

Instructors from high school, college and professional levels can help our children run faster, throw harder and shoot better. There's a camp designed to improve skills in every sport. For all the opportunities made available these days, there wasn't one specifically designed to address a persistent problem.

What we really need is Sportsmanship Camp given how competitors and spectators carry themselves with disturbing regularity. Hard Work Camp could emphasize kids maximizing their effort so they become better students, better athletes, better people. Don't Be Obnoxious Camp could be for a growing number of parents.

Wondering why kids act up? Check their parents. Wondering why parents act up? Check the newspapers and television from the past few weeks alone. You'll find a sports world littered with bad behavior that trickles from adults and eventually down to our youth.

Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire missed Game Three last week after suffering a gash while punching through a glass case holding a fire extinguisher. The Predators suspended Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for violating team rules. Tigers outfielder Delmon Young was suspended for a week after making anti-Semitic remarks during a drunken rage.

Ron Artest -- sorry, Metta World Peace -- was banished for seven games after throwing a violent elbow. Gary Roberts apologized for calling Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis a "moron." The Bills worked out Vince Young, who has a reputation as an uncoachable malcontent, and somehow it sounded like good news. Wally Backman's history of childish tantrums passed for humor. Chris Kelsay insisted on keeping his precious No. 90 when a good teammate would have offered the number and a better one would have declined.

Let's not forget a few other recent gems such as Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen figuring it was wise to praise Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, the Saints' mess after they targeted certain players with intent to injure and, of course, Roger Clemens' second trial for perjury in connection with performance-enhancing drug use in baseball.

All this from adults whom we would expect to be setting an example for kids.

The buzzword we often hear after outrageous moments is "emotion." They sell the idea that their emotion getting the best of them was a side effect of their passion. Sure enough, athletes are exonerated for their juvenile behavior after tapping into a forgiving public.

Was it passion when Stevie Johnson turned himself into an airplane or an excuse for selfishness and immaturity?

We can only hope instructors will be teaching our kids the difference when they show up for camps with the idea they can learn a few things from adults. Funny, but sometimes adults can learn more from watching the kids.

Einstein Monkeys Enrichment Camp is for young children who will meet in July and August to cover reading, writing, math and science exploration. Classes will be held at a Clarence bookstore that unwittingly identified both the problem and the solution in sports. The name: Monkey See, Monkey Do.