When I first met him, some 10-plus years back, he was simply "Amy's little brother." Amy DeCamp McKain was the first of my "spiritual children" whom I've adopted during my years in Indiana. At age eight Tyler was just nondescript enough to not be particularly memorable. There is a theory that boys from about age two through at least fourteen are so much alike as to be interchangeable. It is certainly hyperbole to say so, but I've always thought that up to about age eleven one could take the wrong kid home from church and not notice it for at least 24 hours. Boys would be perfect children if only they didn't get old enough for Middle School.
One of the things my father taught me about parenting is to give sons all the affection you can while they are little. When they get about twelve they won't want daddy loving on them any more. But, according to this theory, if you do give them that attention when they'll take it, you have a good chance of having it returned once they get past their teen years. Tyler's Dad, Bob DeCamp must have gotten the same advice. Tyler is certainly somebody who knows he is loved by his parents.
The Tuesday, June 17th issue of The Brazil Times contained a notice that Tyler DeCamp had been awarded the Great Dane Scholarship. I was not aware he was such an outstanding student, but it doesn't surprise me at all. If anyone had bothered to ask I'd have said he deserved recognition for just being the kind of young man he is.
As a kid he was a bit "reticent", so naturally for years I called him "Tyler the Tiger". This was my nickname for him partly because he was anything but a tiger, mostly because a tiger was what you could see he might be. Somewhere along the way he changed from a shy little boy into something of a quiet leader.
There are undeniable limitations on judging character when your primary contact is at church. People, even young boys, tend to be on their best behavior. I have, however, almost an advantage in this regard. As all who know me for more than about three minutes are aware, it is not uncommon for an old leg injury to leave me effectively crippled. After awhile you begin to look for young men who can be depended on for help. For about the last four years Tyler has been my go-to guy. If he is there, he can be called on. Present him with a problem and he will arise to solve it.
Note to DePauw University, where Tyler is to arrive in August:
I have watched and depended upon this young man a long time; taken note of how he works with the children's ministry; seen the affection between he and his family. I therefore commend to you one Tyler DeCamp, a man you can count on.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org