Friday, July 1, 2011

Family Reunion in the Mountains

A Gathering of Heroes '05

I'm a wimpy mountain woman. Camping has never been my thing.

Our Camping Hero '08

Until now. A couple of our Pioneer Trekkers started an awesome family tradition a few seasons back, and it is now the highlight of our summer. Last year some of our out-of-town Heroes came for the event and gave it such rave reviews, the whole fan-damily is coming this time!

Miggs and Opa '07

The hills will be alive with a total of 34 and 3/4 Heroes running wild. Eighteen of them are ten or under (including four 4-year-olds, two 3-year olds, and two 1-year-old twins.) Each family is in charge of a fabulous meal. The Cub Scouts are assigned a flag ceremony, and the girls are leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance at sunrise. There are hikes and campfire songs planned, as well as a seminar on How to Be Green presented by our very own expert environmentalists.

Dee's having fire-building contests with flint and steel, teaching knife sharpening and soap whittling. The dutch ovens will be sizzling while the Starbursts and banana boats roast in the embers.

Camping Heroes '07

I'm in charge of the Oma Tent. This is where my camping skills lie: I burn through activity books like a forest fire, and I can whittle a list of 201 Scout Skits down to five perfect Hero plays without sharpening my blade.

Over the past few weeks I have memorized clapping games, learned to boondoggle, researched ghost stories and compiled knock-knock jokes; I've brushed up on marbles and juggling, and practiced Cat's Cradle. This is my favorite kind of project! Oma Tent Supplies.

Oma Tent Supplies

I've put together 3 boxes of stuff to pull out at a moment's notice. (Included in my tent of tricks are: A low wooden camp chair for me, a kid's folding table, pillows and quilts to cuddle around.)
  1. Wooden beads and twine (already divided into individual baggies) to string friendship necklaces.
  2. Rubic's Cubes, Hacky Sacks, Juggling Balls (and a stop-watch) for contests.
  3. Magnifying glasses for nature hunts, and fossil finding.
  4. Boondoggle to make lanyards, easy-to-follow instructions, plus this all-important poem.
  5. Little sacks of marbles, and a list of marble games.
  6. Bananagram, my new favorite scrabble-type game, (thanks to Pete and Anna.)
  7. Bubblegum and copies of Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor to sing before the bubble blowing festivities.
  8. Slips of paper with ideas for skits, clapping game rhymes, and verses to You Can't Go To Heaven (for kids to expand upon and perform.)
  9. A few read-alone books for quiet time (Ghost Stories, Joke Books, Easy-to-Read, Picture books and Adventure Tales.)
  10. A white plastic table cloth and markers for personalized decor, Tic-Tac-Toe, and autographs.
  11. Yarn for a game of Family Ties. (Say something you admire about someone and, keeping hold of the string, toss the ball of yarn to that person. They say something nice, and toss it to someone else, and pretty soon you're all tied together.) Remember scissors, and use the yarn for Cat's Cradle, too.
  12. A list of silly games and props. For example: Giggling Grandkids (throw a bandanna in the air and everyone has to laugh hysterically until it touches the ground. Then everyone has to be immediately silent and sober. Whoever smiles is out.) Guess Who (a person tells a true, funny story about somebody else and everybody has to guess who it is.) Doggy Doggy, Where's Your Bone? (It sits blindfolded--same bandanna--in the circle with something representing a bone in front of him. Somebody silently steals the bone, and everyone recites "Doggy Doggy where's your bone?" The thief disguises his voice and says "I took the bone." It has to guess who it is.) Magic Genie (to see if our genes are the same, we say "Everybody with curly hair stand up. Everybody with bad eyes stand up, Everybody with double-jointed toes stand up...) Camping makes otherwise silly activities seem funny.
  13. Paper, pencils, and glue sticks to make sketches, leaf rubbings, and natural collages.
  14. Flashlights for flashlight tag laying in bed at night.
  15. Story-Telling Script (more on that tomorrow.)
I won't expect or demand anyone's participation at the Oma Tent at any time. My tent is for the moments when the adults are chatting and reminiscing, and the kids are whining or having trouble with another Cousin's Clubber. I'll quietly say, "Hey, I've got something for us in the Oma tent." They'll need a parent's permission, and then we'll gather a group and go in for a little surprise activity.

The boxes are all well-marked, so the kids (or adults) can use the stuff as a lending library. If they ask their mom, and me, they can get borrow the Old Maid cards, check the deck out, by signing their name. They are then responsible to put it back. If someone wants to put together the wooden glider planes, they can ask, and we'll do it together, but if someone wants to read a book alone, or to a cousin, they stay in the tent and have a story time. If a crafty cousin already knows how to boondoggle, and wants to teach it to a cousin, they're welcome to check out the materials. The Oma tent is to be used as a fill-in-the-blank type stash of fun things all ready to fit into the party.

I've been obsessed, as usual, with my current project. I have to let go. Unless I want to join Boy Scouts of America and start planning the Jubilee, there's no reason to continue my compiling. It's been a labor of love. I LOVE finding everything there is on a subject, then feeling I can finally make an informed choice, I condense my findings into a workable, organized form. It's a perfect skill for my Cousin's Club Research. Who would I ever find to work this hard for, for free, and yet get such rich rewards. What employer could inspire me to go to the ends of the earth by asking, "What's a lanyard?" Where else would I sit and listen to some pre-grade-school-graduate student expound on the life cycle of frogs, and seriously consider what it means in my life?

The Heroes are coming so fast and enthusiastically that my best course of action would be to hit the hay and build up some energy and strength. But I think I'll sit and admire my boxes for a few minutes longer. It's been a Heroic work of love, and they're worth every tiny idea I giggled over and imagined they'd smile at. These little Cousins Clubbers are my kryptonite. They make me weak in the knees I love 'em so much! I could say I love them greater than the all-out-doors! Enough to even go there. After all, The Heroes Are Coming! And that's where they're going! You'll find me there, too.

(I'm repeating myself here with a post from a few years ago. These ideas have worked for us!)


Destri said...

I know I have asked before, but seriously, will you please adopt me? You make me excited to be a grandma :)

Grandma Cebe said...

The next time we have a family reunion, I'm hiring you to train me in your amazing skills. Either that, or can I rent all your materials?

Diane said...

Pure genius.

Grandma Shelley said...

This sounds like so much fun! Well done. I am admiring your well labeled and perfectly filled boxes too.

Great tips, great finds, and a great family tradition!

Very lucky kids!

VickiC said...

What a wonderful post. I am copying off your list of ideas so I can add to my stash of supplies for our annual get together. (We do ours at the beach.)

I look at your family and am reminded of how exhausting these kinds of vacations can be, and yet how rewarding they are. I always come away feeling like I am the luckiest person alive.

Susan Adcox said...

This sounds like great fun, but my guess is that you won't need nearly everything in Oma's tent. Kids tend to find their own fun in the great outdoors. It is better to be prepared, however.

Nina said...

Could you point me in the direction where you found the clapping game rhymes?