Family Camp

With all this talk of “camping” at the cabin, I started thinking back to the glory days of 4-H camp, gymnastics camp, church camp, family camp, and cheerleading camp. I’m sure there was a volleyball camp in there somewhere, too.

And I honestly can’t decide which one of them I liked best.

Last night at dinner we started talking about Family Camp, which was the standard destination for 5 years running in early August, right after the 4-H fair. I think we must have started going the summer after I was in 3rd grade or so — I remember seeing a photo with me in a particular red and white Izod boat neck shirt, which I was also wearing in the 4-H camp photo from that same year. Family camp was at Camp Mennoscah, which is a rustic little Mennonite camp many miles from a town, situated on the Ninnescah river.

Pretty much the same families were there each year. Many of them were related. We were the tag-alongs with the E family.

For the first few years, we stayed with two other families in the same cabin. But after that, Dad preferred the comfort of grandpa’s RV. (I think his karma caught up with him, however, when Brother DIY busted his knee open on the metal step into the camper and had to go to the emergency room.)

The camp was only 3 days long, and our routine consisted of eating breakfast in the dining hall, messing around outside (playing 4-square, canoeing the creek, playing on the tree swing that went out over the river), eating lunch, having some sort of group activity, eating dinner and then having a campfire complete with guitar sing-alongs.

DIY and his buddy S were always a source of entertainment. They really found it funny to sing the “compound word” song during lunch — “Have you ever seen a shoe box, a salad dressing, etc.” — and add in “cork screw.” (I have to admit it was hilarious to watch them be shushed. I’m sure it’s not possible that I was the one leading them down the path of sin.)

You should also know that S was a monkey — that kid was constantly in the trees. Or the river. Which meant DIY was right along side. One morning they decided to swing really high over the river…and then jump in wearing their good clothes.

Nighttime was equally funny. S and his sister J inevitably fell out of bed at least once a year. From the top bunk onto cement. Splat.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. But there are a few things that stand out:

  • One of the dads in the group led us on a walking tour up one of the tributaries of the river.
  • One day we headed to a sandbar a bit away from the camp, where there were lots of wild watermelons growing.
  • There was a big inner tube — I mean from a LARGE tractor — in the swimming pool, which was fun to bounce and rock.
  • Singing songs by the campfire.
  • Round dancing.
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