The Boy Who Builds


Ainsley Miles, Staff Writer

Thwap! Thwap! Thwap! The rapid-fire staccato of wet snowballs hitting my older sister Jenna’s jacket rung out in the winter-storm silence of the day. My younger brother, Cameron, was perched coyly behind a mountain of bin-shaped snow bricks, effectively protecting himself from any returned shots. Our defense was puny compared to his; ours was only a few half-heartedly assembled piles of snow barely up to our knees. How he managed to construct such a fortress by himself in the same amount of time my sister and I made our defense was beyond my comprehension. He’s a quick thinker, and an even better problem solver.

He was clever then, and still is. He had plenty of practice building shelters to protect himself from the assault of snowballs my sister and I threw at him, and it would eventually lead him to figure out what he wants to do in life after school.

Unlike the early days where he said he wanted to be a “professional beach babe lifter”, Cam has his eyes set on a real job where he can build things and take things apart. He could only have been 4 or 5 at the time when he suggested that job, and it made my sister and I collapse into a fit of giggles at the dinner table. We couldn’t imagine our innocent blonde hair blue-eyed brother ever doing anything even remotely similar to that job, but it still broke his heart when he found out that there is no such thing as a professional beach babe lifter.

He’s now an eleventh-time Master Builder, which stemmed from all the days we spent coming up with new creations made from the rainbow of Lego bricks inside our childhood home. His favorite memories include building Legos and snow forts with our siblings, so it is no surprise that he loves building. Avid to “take things apart or put things together”, Cam unfortunately cannot get a job building things out of Legos, so he thinks he wants to become a carpenter. Now, he’s on a robotics team where he can do just that to his heart’s content with other kids who share the same desires.

Cameron with Team 501’s robot

Every week he goes and works on their robot, fascinated on how to program it to learn new tricks, or have new functions. He comes home exhausted from all the work he’s done, but it’s always with a broad smile, contentment emanating from his face.

Even after my sister and I grew up and stopped building forts, Cam was still young enough to turn the mountains of snow my dad plowed into snow castles. He would dig out little rooms inside, and build battlements, atop which he would perch waiting for one of us to walk into his firing range before he would nail us with a snowball.

He mentioned an important factor about his plans for the future: “I’m not really passionate about things, you know I’m 13, I haven’t discovered things yet”. He makes a valid point, but it shows how much he cares about his family that the memories we’ve made together have influenced him thus far. He’s eager to explore new avenues, and further his education in order to work in his desired field. He’s always ready to find the next thing he can build, whether it be from Legos, wood, snow, or any other material imaginable.

Not everything in life allows him to be on top of his snow castle, hurling snowballs at unsuspecting sisters. He does admit to struggling in school, and would rather spend his time working with his hands instead of conjugating French verbs or writing stories in Language Arts. “I’ve learned that life isn’t fair through experience”, he noted.

If I know anything about my brother, it’s that despite struggling to find what he’s really passionate about, family matters a lot to him. He certainly thought it was unfair when my older sister left for college, as it threw him for a loop of reality. No longer did he have two sisters to pester all the time, he was now reduced to one for a large part of the year. As my brother and I get increasingly busier and busier, I’m glad that he’s found a club where he can actively build things with other people who share common interests. At robotics, they’re creating robots that can move by themselves and do separate tasks- something we could have never taught him ourselves.

However, he appreciates Jenna and I teaching him the joys of Lego building, the harsh reality of two-versus-one snowball fights, and fueling the start of him realizing his devotion to building. As cliché as it may sound, he “wouldn’t change anything you’ve told me”.