Our
Journey:
Avalon's Army of Angels
August 29, 30, 31, 2008
Family Camp!
August 30, 2008

Saturday at family camp is chuck-a-muck full from the time you get up, until you collapse in
bed.  

The morning starts off bright and early with breakfast.  After the first night campfire, all meals
are eaten in a dining hall, camp style.  You go in, try to find a space at a table, get your
chairs, then get in line for food.  Sadly, this camp doesn't seem to judge food quantities well,
because they OFTEN run out of food if you're late in the game.  Slightly perturbing.  

After you eat, you have to return your chair to the stacks along the wall, and wash down your
table.  Its a simple enough system, but I'd hate to tell you how many other people's chairs we
returned and tables we washed.  It kills me that adults can be so clueless as to the world
around them.  Guess what folks, rules are for everyone...deal with it!

After breakfast, there is a 3 hour time period where there are tons of activities to choose
from.  You can fish, ride the pontoon boat, canoe, paddleboat, do water sports, learn outdoor
cooking, do family crafts, or do sports.  We stuck to the same schedule as last year.  We left
breakfast and went straight to crafts, so the kids could decorate their ducks.  From crafts we
went to ride the pontoon boat, then on to the boat dock for paddle boats and canoes.

I should probably explain about the ducks.  As you arrive, each child is given a large rubber
duck.  During the weekend, the children use permanent markers to decorate their ducks,
then turn them in to the volunteers.  Sunday morning, the last camp activity is a giant duck
race in the pool.  The ducks are dumped in, and the first duck to touch the other side earns
its owner a large trophy with a rubber duck impaled on the top of it.  Its all terribly silly, and
tremendous fun!  For God's ugliest trophy...you wouldn't believe how coveted the thing is.  
What a hoot!

As you can see in the pictures, duck decorating is serious business.  Although, its potentially
a pretty bad idea to give a 22 mo permanent markers.  He spent the rest of the day with "war
paint" in his eyebrow and on his cheek.  We heard several giggles as we made our way
through the day.  

After finishing their ducks, the kids moved on to decorating piggy banks.  Most of the people
were painting them, but we figured out the markers worked even better, with no drying time
needed.  The pigs are small works of art.  Aurora's was a "goth" pig, complete with purple
hair, makeup, and piercings.  Ambrosia's wins for most unique though.  Hers had a cast,
boogers in its nose (we all have colds), a tissue on its one foot (to wipe the boogers, of
course), earrings and pedicure.  Avalon's started out with hair and a pink curly tail, but it
eventually adopted copies of the things she thought were neat on her sisters' pigs.  (which
irritates the tar out of said sisters)  Anam is not capable of being good that long.  By the time
pigs were out - he'd been banished with dad.  I did his pig - a cute little Sesame Street
number if I do say so myself.

From crafts, we were off to ride the pontoon boat.  We'd waited to long to ride it last year, and
missed our chance.  For this reason, I'd kind of hurried the kiddos at crafts.  Lesson learned,
I heard about that after we got home.  No one felt they had enough time with their ducks.  So
next year, we have to spend more time with crafts, less with boats.  Cripes, there's no making
them happy.  

The pontoon boat isn't exactly a mecca of thrill rides.  Its a
pontoon boat...it maxes at like -3
miles per hour.  Not to mention, its on a tiny pond....  This is not a high octane trip.  I'm sure it
would have been quite pleasant though - if we had stapled Anam to the dock and left him
there...

Oh yes, Picklehead struck again.  He screamed his way through the ENTIRE ride.  And why
did he scream you ask?  Because I wouldn't let him get down and run willy nilly around the
boat.  Oh, mean, terrible, mom that I am.  By the end of it, he's lucky we didn't toss him
overboard.   When your short man is shrieking so loudly, the people across the pond can
hear him....its nearly tossing time.  

After the pontoon fiasco, we headed around the pond to the boat dock, to attempt to rescue
the morning.  The girls and Nick took turns going out in a canoe and paddle boat.   I stayed
on dry land with Mr. Happy Pants, for all but one trip.  I did finally get a chance to canoe with
Ambrosia and Avalon, but they were "over it" by the time I got them.  We chased a dragon fly,
but the bloom was off the rose.  Of course, as I chased my dragonfly, the lifeguard in the
kayak stalked us, convinced that the fat lady in the canoe was going to send her children to
their doom...  She seemed a bit shocked that I managed to quite nimbly move the canoe
around the obstacles.  Ha ha, it is to laugh.

Then again, the joke was on me when we came in to the dock.  As I maneuvered into the slip,
I decided I didn't want to look like the beached whale I am, as I exited the canoe.  I determined
I would expertly swing my bulk up and out of the canoe onto the dock, in an athletic and
smooth way.  (stop laughing)  I did swing myself, and I did swiftly and solidly land on the dock.
 Problem is, my aim stunk and I swiftly and solidly landed on the boat tie-hook on the
afore-mentioned dock...

The bruise is a lovely hook shape.

On our way to lunch from the boat dock, we had a bit of excitement.  Nick spied a baby snake
as we were walking along the path.  A little bit of chasing, scooping, and snatching later...we
had a tiny friend to show the kids.  I'm proud to say my kids have followed in my footsteps.  
There was zero fear of the snake, they just wanted to get to see it and touch it.  Yay kids!  I
love that they are interested and not scared.  

We carefully touched our new friend, looked at him very closely, then said goodbye.  The little
ones wanted to keep him, but understood that he'd miss his snaky buddies.  Nick took him far
off the path, reminding him that not all families would have been so thrilled to chat with him.  

After lunch we headed back to the cabin, to get ready for our favorite parts of camp - mom
time, crafts, and creeking.  

One of the best parts of the weekend is mom craft time.  For two hours, moms sequester
themselves in a kid-free zone and do a special craft just for them.  Its a brilliant idea.  
Basically, the women who run KNK know that even on vacation, moms have to work.  By
insisting on a kid-free zone, they give us a few hours of selfish time, something we all need.  
Last year, it we made fabric gift bags, something I could do.  This year?  Wreaths.  Crap.  I'm
wreath-impaired.  I'm utterly, totally, devoid of wreath-making abilities.  I needed a drink.

While I play with the other moms, Nick takes the kids to the pool.  Its a happy compromise.  In
my round, freckled, and completely pale form, outdoor pools and bathing suits are my mortal
enemies.  Nick, on the other hand, normally spends his days sweating and working outside.  
To get to play in a pool is a rare treat.  We happily leave the other one to their afternoon
duties.

After I'd wrung every last second out of my mom time, I went and rounded up the troops for
creekin'.  For those of you uninitiated, "Creekin'" is an old camp tradition.  You wear gross
shoes and old clothes, and you wade around in a creek, looking for crayfish, minnow, or
anything else cool you can scoop up.  I'm personally a giant fan of creeking - but I don't have
any shoes I can part with, so Nick got to go play while I sweltered with a sleeping Picklehead.  

Now, Ohio has been rather hot and dry the last several weeks.  In fact, its been ridiculously
hot and dry.  To call our location a "creek" was a bit of a misnomer.  What it was, was a
couple of pockets of water, separated by a large dry rock bed.  While this made for easy
access and rather limited escape routes for the crayfish, it also made for another problem.  

When we arrived at the creek site, there were already two boys working one wet area.  Nick
thought he'd be smart and take the girls upstream a bit, to a different puddle, so they
wouldn't interfere with the boys.  It worked great.  The girls had their own area to search
through, and lots of space to explore.  However, I began to hear things like, "Eww...there's a
dead crayfish here!"  "Look!  I found another dead one."  "Wow!  I think this dead guy is even
bigger than yours!"  

The problem with dried up streams and small pockets of water, is that they limit the resources
available to the fauna.  Translation?  There wasn't enough stuff in there to keep the
population of crayfish alive.  They were eating each other, dying off, and
rotting in the small
cesspool the kids were investigating.  While icky...still not a huge issue, until...
someone falls
in......

Oh yeah, they all did.  One by one, my balance-challenged children bit the big one.  One by
one, they fell to their doom.  Aurora only got her shorts a bit wet.  Ambrosia and Avalon were
over-achievers, they came out full body soaked, and
rancid.  I cannot begin to tell you how
bad their clothes smelled when I dumped them out at home...

Better yet, they had so much fun creekin', we didn't have time to go back to the cabin and get
clean before dinner.  Ewwwwww.....I had to take them there like that.  Ah well, its camp.  But, I
can't describe how fast we beat a path out of there and back to clean clothes before the
evening festivities!

After dinner came the Goofy Olympics.  Last year, there were teams that competed against
each other in silly games.  This year, they split the group into five groups.  Each group then
split in half, and competed against each other at each of 5 stations.  Part of it was the design,
part of it was the games they chose, but MOST of it was the lackluster staff - the Goofy
Olympics stunk this year.  I don't think anyone had a particularly stellar time, they all just went
through the moves.  It was a bit sad.  When you have teenagers willing to do crazy things with
little kids and a few adults thrown in, there really should be no limit to how much fun a group
can have.  Recreational Unlimited got a D- for that one.  

After Goofy Olympics, we moved inside for the ice cream  social.  The ice cream party is done
by Kids N Kamp, not the host camp, Recreational Unlimited.  The translation?  Everyone gets
enough to eat!  They don't run out of food!!  Oh yeah, if you haven't figured it out, the food
thing is a tad annoying.  Consider that another D-.  

And finally, after gorging on sugary goodness, everyone is ready to settle in for the crowning
glory of the weekend, Bingo Night.  Bingo is so much fun!  The bingo caller continues to call
numbers long after the first bingo.  The night is designed so that every child goes home with
a ridiculous bag of loot.  Volunteers walk around the tables giving things away to every child
in the room, no matter if they bingo or not.  The girls came home with new hats, jump ropes,
purses, beanie babies, wands, dino-grippers, balls, and the list goes on...  Its a tremendous
amount of fun.  All of the stuff has been donated to KNK, and while often inexpensive and
small, you would think the kids were gathering pure gold.  Each new "win" is a treasure, better
than the last!  They would float back to the cabin, if they weren't so laden with their loot.  
Bingo night is a good time for one and all.

We headed back to the cabin after bingo, but Aurora braved it out and stayed behind for the
teen/dad volleyball game.  There was a teenage boy from the family we shared the cabin
with, who was happy to agree to walk back to the cabin with Aurora.  (she was scared to walk
back alone)  After two years of badgering her, she finally learned how sweet the other kids
are.  I ADORE their moms, so I knew the kids would be great.  I'm thrilled she finally figured it
out too.  After all, the kids she was spending time with are exactly like her.  Their lives have
also been turned upside down by a sibling with a severe medical problem.  In fact, the two
boys she walked back with, both have siblings with severe, permanent post-chemo health
issues.  They've learned the same hard lessons about appreciating each day that she has.  
Heck, the older of the two had me in stitches during the Goofy Olympics.  He'd been all too
happy to ride a pool noodle like a horse and say, "Giddy up!"  right along with my little ones.  
This is a teenager I can adore!

All told, it was a glorious day from beginning to end.  I'm already excited about getting to do it
again next year....

Hee hee hee....  
Decorating Ducks
Pretty Piggies
On the way to boating, Family Picture time!
Canoes, Paddle Boats, and lessons in patience
Its hard to be the little brother....
Snake friend
Pool time!
Creekin'
Goofy Olympics
The pool noodle race cracked me up!  They were
supposed to hold their noodles between their belly
and the back of the person in front of them -
without using their hands.   They were then supposed
to stay that way and run in a line, racing the other
team.  You have got to be kidding....
Captain Cranky Pants made Daddy miss the entire
Olympics.