So five years ago The Lovely Rhonda and I decided to drag the children to our church’s camp for a few days of Family Camp.
We took only the older two girls as the youngest was barely two years old and we thought summer camp + diapers = misery. We were kind of correct in this regard. The baby went to Grandma’s.
The camp is only about an hour from where we live but it might as well be on Mars, in some ways. It’s set on something like 200 wooded acres, with a stream or two running through it, and sometimes you can see deer wandering along in the evening. And every night the bats start flapping around after dusk, just in time for campfire. The cabins have sturdy wooden bunkbeds in them (and, thank God, modern plumbing) and meals are served in the lodge. College-age staff members keep the kids amused, and the boring old grownups sit around talking about boring old grownup stuff. There is a lot of crafting. It’s fun.
We have gone every year now for five years. The first year, the middle child made it two nights but lost her ever. loving. mind. in the morning after the second night, when the pink Play-Doh was already in use. She had such difficulty that Grandma had to come whisk her away. She does not tolerate change well sometimes.
The second year we brought the youngest with us too, and it was she who required Grandma’s rescue services after a couple of nights.
The third year we all survived the entire ordeal. Yay us!
Last year TLR felt that we should up the ante and stay the entire week. By Thursday we were pretty much all losing our ever. loving. minds.
This year, TLR came up with the brilliant plan to go for the entire week but only bring the children in halfway through, thus enabling us to relax a bit before the onslaught of whining/bug bites/dissatisfactions/misbehavior that our children excel at.
Each year we get to know the other families a little better. They are all fantastic people, and they keep coming back year after year; some of them have been coming literally all their lives — and they are older than I am. We all look forward to this all year long. There are certain customs: hand-cranked ice cream, afternoons at the swimming hole, crafts everywhere, night hikes, singing and skits at campfire.
We created our own customs. One night at campfire, usually the last night, we (along with our delightful friend Kirsten) bring s’mores supplies and everyone makes s’mores after all the skits and songs are over. We bring plenty so people can have all they want, and there’s a lot of chatting and spontaneous bursting into song that happens. And kids with marshmallow and chocolate all over their faces.
And on the last night, if possible, we bribe the counselors into hanging out in the cabins that have small children in them so the parents can go to the lodge and play table games. We bring snacks and junk food and everyone — even the salad-eating Knierim family — gobbles everything up so we don’t have to be bothered with taking it home. We have a wonderful time.
This year was especially relaxing because I had just completed my BSN the week before camp. It was a beautiful thing, to spend a week in the woods with such good people at this particular point in time.
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