When they were younger and living in Alaska, Tim and Shannon Camp used to participate in dogsled races. Now that the siblings have moved to Columbia County, they're helping pull the Harlem Bulldogs.
Tim Camp a sophomore, plays several positions on the varsity football team.
Photo by Mike Howell
Shortly after their family relocated from Anchorage last June, Tim and Shannon lit a Camp fire under the Harlem High School athletic program.
Shannon is playing first base for the Lady Dogs softball team, which is having its best season since switching to fastpitch in 1997. The left-handed slugger is Harlem's most dangerous power hitter, according to coach Krista Meadows.
''Usually her hits are hard, line-drive shots. Occasionally, she'll put some real power into it and the ball just goes,'' Meadows said. ''She's quick, and one thing about Shannon, she is tough. In one of our games, a girl was standing in the baseline and Shannon plowed her over like it was nothing.''
Shannon is a senior, while Tim is a sophomore. Still, little brother has dished out some punishment of his own on the football field this season for Harlem.
''When he gets the ball in his hands, he's tough,'' Harlem head coach Jimmie Lewis says. ''When he sees the goal line, and somebody gets in his way, he's going to run right through them.''
If Tim Camp Sr. had his way, his family would still be in Alaska.
''That's probably the best place in the world for raising kids because there's so little crime. And it's such a back-to-nature experience for kids,'' he said. ''Everything looks like a postcard in the winter. None of us wanted to leave.''
Tim Sr. went to Alaska in 1992 on military assignment. However, in 1998 he injured his neck and back while on duty in Korea, and the cold weather in Alaska created physical complications.
Since moving to Harlem from Anchorage, Alaska, the siblings have both made names for themselves at Harlem High School. Shannon Camp, a senior, is known as a powerful hitter on the girls fastpitch softball team.
Photo by Mike Howell
''My wife, Mary, has family in Lincolnton and her stepfather is from Harlem,'' he said. ''My in-laws live in Harlem, so I bought some land in anticipation of having a summer home here. Now it's going to be a permanent home.''
Now Tim and Shannon call Harlem home.
Soon after the school year started, classmates and coaches began questioning the northern newcomers.
''Is it cold all the time? Is it dark all the time?,'' Shannon said of the constant queries concerning life in Alaska. ''I tell them what they hear isn't all true, that it's an OK place.''
Tim also found his friends thought of Alaska as a land of snow and Eskimos, but he says Anchorage is ''just like any other city.''
And like most cities, Anchorage has athletes. Tim and Shannon formerly attended East High School, NBA star Trajan Langdon's alma mater.
There were concessions to the short seasons for outdoor sports, though. In Alaska, Shannon's high school softball team played for just three weeks, so she joined a travel team which competed in warmer climates.
There is no high school baseball season in Anchorage; instead players join American Legion teams and play during the abbreviated summer. Tim even traveled to Japan to compete with his American Legion squad.
Tim and Shannon always found a way to participate in athletics, even if it involved frozen tundra. But both eventually dropped dogsled racing for more traditional sports - in addition to softball, Shannon competes in basketball and track, while Tim is a four-sport athlete: football, basketball, baseball and track.
Breaking the ice
Tim and Shannon jumped right into the athletic mix at Harlem High School, and both have noticed one significant difference between Columbia County and Anchorage.
''It's not so hot in Alaska,'' Tim says. Shannon said her most unpleasant surprise about Harlem was, ''It just gets too hot.''
They agree that the best aspect of the move is being closer to family, including Grandma's cooking.
Neither Tim nor Shannon have had any problem meshing with their Harlem teammates and coaches - just like in Alaska, everything's cool.
''Shannon really contributes to our team chemistry. She's got a great attitude and she is very, very coachable,'' coach Meadows said. ''She loves to sing and constantly provides humor to our team. She is always doing something they all crack up about. She joined the team and it's like she's been here all along.''
Lewis says Tim has become a football favorite as well. ''He fits right in with this crowd,'' he said. ''They made him feel right at home.''
Tim definitely is right at home on the gridiron. In fact, he rarely leaves the field - he starts defensively at cornerback, plays running back, wide out and A-back on offense and also contributes on special teams.
''He plays on just about every down,'' Lewis said. ''The good thing about Tim is that he's so versatile.''
As a senior this year, Shannon plans to play basketball for Harlem, and Meadows is determined to see her throw the discuss and shot put during track season next spring.
Shannon says her long-term goal is to play softball in the Olympic Games.
Tim will compete in four sports at Harlem this school year, and he has some plans, too.
''Win state championships,'' he said. ''Personally, I don't have many goals. I just want to play.''
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