Anthony Rich - My Story Written very late one night
by Anthony Rich - (Written very late one night)
Nature or nurture. How do children become interested in hobbies? In my case I think it was a little of both. My father loved to tinker and his father loved to tinker. They loved cars and anything mechanical. I can remember very early my father and grandfather working on their cars. We had slot cars in the basement, model trains, model airplanes etc. My favorite toy growing up was my LEGO set. I must have played with them every day. My parents separated when I was very young and I lost touch with my father for a long time but this early exposure played a huge part in my development.
I continued to love hobbies. I frequented the Elmsford Raceway slotcar track many weekends. I’m not sure when I saw my first radio controlled car at Elmsford Raceway. They had a large glass case which was loaded with beautiful cars that were like nothing we had ever seen. I wanted one. I remember very clearly that my mom bought me the Tamiya RC catalog. I read it cover to cover hundreds of times and became an “expert” in the hobby. My best friend down the street became equally interested in RC cars. We knew they were expensive and didn’t get our hopes up but we both asked for a Tamiya Super Champ anyway. Christmas morning, I was shocked to find several large boxes under the tree with my name on them. I didn’t wait for the traditional passing of the gifts, I knew what was covered by this festive paper. I tore the boxes open to behold the Tamiya Super Champ. A 1/10 scale replica of a Baja buggy with realistic suspension modeled after a Volkswagen bug.
The story is told by my mom and dad that I took those boxes into the basement and emerged briefly for food, water and limited sleep. About 4 days later I emerged with the finished product. My friend and I drove our cars together for hours, stopping only for battery charges. For the rest of our holiday vacation we drove our cars from dawn to dusk and then cleaned them to new condition in the evening. It wasn’t until the first car broke that I realized how important it was that I had built my own car. I could tear my car apart and rebuild any component with ease. We eventually got other cars. I even built one in a hospital bed during an extended stay for an operation. Other friends in the neighborhood got kits too. For years those “toy” cars provided all of us with thousands hours of enjoyment and kept us out of trouble. Until we were old enough to drive, that is.
My first car was a 1973 Buick and a 1970 Pontiac GTO was my second. It was not until I was an adult that I realized the effect hobbies had on my intellectual development. I tore those cars apart with no fear. The GTO went through a partial restoration and was sold to purchase a German, early mid life crisis, car. Today I have no fear of projects. I designed and built the home my family and I live in. We general contracted some of the work and completed the rest on our own. I have taken on massive landscaping projects, finished my basement, built computers, stone walls, installed kitchens, etc. I’m not afraid of anything. BUT, there is one common thread between all of these, reading and hands-on experiences. That first Tamiya catalog I got opened my world to RC cars and today everything that I tackle I immerse myself in first through magazines, books and the Internet.
I became a teacher in 1994 after studying education at Pace University and Iona College. My first teaching job was in Croton-on-Hudson where I worked for one year as a third grade teacher. I then moved to a third grade job in Eastchester where I have been since 1995. I started looking for summer camp work after my first year of teaching. I was hired to teach some courses at a camp in Southern Westchester. The first year I taught a Kitchen Chemistry for kindergarten through second grade students. I began to gain a following immediately as my classes were filled the following year. I taught many classes over the next five years including rocketry, robotics and aeronautics and after five summers I came up with the idea of starting a radio controlled car class. I pulled those old cars out of the attic and did a demonstration. Unbelievably those old Tamiya cars still ran perfectly. The whole camp went crazy! The kids had never seen anything like these. The very first year the classes filled and I knew I was onto something.
During the summer of 2002, I started my own hobby business, ASAO Incorporated. ASAO stands for Anthony, and the rest of my family, Sabrina, Ariana and Olivia. I booked a three day trip to California during a school vacation to meet with interested companies. Amazingly, Tamiya granted me the ability to purchase directly from them. Over the next three days, I opened accounts with twelve other companies. It was a surreal experience. I now had the power to control the supplies I needed to teach and my basement and the garages became a makeshift seasonal hobbyshop.
Fall 2007 I made a very difficult decision. I choose to leave the camp where I had spent the last thirteen years to begin my own program. Finding the ideal location close to my home made the decision easy. The Holy Rosary School is beautiful and perfect for my camp. Over the years I had imagined a camp where children could explore their interests in various hobbies. I wanted to introduce children to my love of hobbies and lead children on a path to lifelong healthy passions. I hired the very best teachers that shared my same passions and had their own individual interests. It was a scary time. I spent our savings and most of our home equity line. According to many books I’ve read I should have gone out of business but I was determined to make Discover Camp successful. For me it never had anything to do with money. The camp became a hobby in itself and I simply loved what I was doing. Every year we spend quite a bit on the coolest equipment like robotics, computers, cool technology tools like 3D printers and laser engravers.
Today our camp has grown to over 100 different enrichment classes in Science, Arts, Technologies, Sports and Hands on Hobbies. We employ about 100 instructors and counselors. I have accounts with the biggest names in the hobby industry and hobbies are still the lifeblood of Discover Camp. Through hard work and dedication I have created what many now consider to be the best enrichment camp in Westchester County.
I hope this history sheds some light on how my hobbies, interests and my business have evolved side by side. Even though I never went to camp as a child you might say it’s taken forty years to create a camp that I’d want to attend.
Discover Camp - What will yours kids Discover this summer?