The Camp Abilities Story: Dad, Can I Have a Unicycle?

By Lauren Lieberman. 


The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 1 of The Camp Abilities Story. 


My dad spoke affectionately but firmly. “If you don’t learn how to ride this, 

I am taking it back to the store.” 

That was all the motivation I needed, after begging him for a chance 

to ride a unicycle. His best friend from the Air Force had recently visited 

with his three children, bringing two unicycles, and I had just begun to 

get the hang of it when they left. I begged my father for a unicycle until 

he relented, and then I was up at 6 a.m. each day practicing. For a while, 

I practiced nearly every available waking hour. My father never took it 

back to the store. To this day, I often ride my unicycle a mile and a half 

to the Brockport campus and back, and for the occasional birthday party 

for friends as “Happy The Clown.”


I grew up in the 1970s in East Goshen, Pennsylvania, on the western 

fringe of Philadelphia’s suburbs—surrounded by cows, corn, graveyards, and 

fields. At home, sports equipment was littered everywhere: 

a tetherball in the backyard, a basketball hoop in the driveway, horseshoes 

on the lawn, pogo sticks in the garage, a Ping-Pong table in the basement. 

You could hardly walk around without tripping over archery bows, tennis 

rackets, and bikes. 


We played outside for hours every day after school. My competitive 

juices flowed early in life as I would try to break my own records: hits on 

the Ping-Pong table, foul shots in the hoop, or ringers in the horseshoe pit. 

When I didn’t have a piece of sports equipment in my hands, I would walk 

on my hands. To get the mail I’d walk upside-down through the garage and 

down the driveway to the mailbox. In school, I played every team sport I 

could––tennis, lacrosse, gymnastics, cross-country, and indoor track––and 

planned to go to college as a physical education major.


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