This is the second year we've done this camp, and for all the hard work it is, we absolutely love it. The older two boys revelled in the freedom they were given, since we were nearly the only ones at the whole camp. Benjamin wanted the freedom of the older two, and spent the days latched onto Jesse (14 year old boy) and Meghan (11 year old girl) and furiously exclaiming to me "STOP FOLLOWING ME!" whenever I had to shadow him. Juliette slept and smiled and was all around charming. All 10 moms watch over all the kids and a general relaxing feeling envelopes everyone. I could write much, much more, but instead I'll let some photos tell the story.
Since I'm usually the one behind the camera, I love that I finally have a picture with my beautiful baby girl!
Benjamin made friends everywhere he went. He almost never went into the water at the beach, but he dug and built and wheeled about sand like nobody's business!
Face painting again. Colin got the exact same thing as last year. Remember last year? When he gashed his head open right after getting this paint job? And the real blood was pouring down his face? And we had to go to the hospital for stitches? Talk about tempting fate! (No injuries this year!)
Benjamin was covered in layers of dirt less than 5 minutes after we arrived and stayed that way the whole vacation. Three baths after we got home and I'm still not sure all the dirt is gone.
One mom showing everyone how to clean a fish. Always an adventure to be found at camp.
Like trying to get Benjamin's swim suit on at the beach.
Or Colin's frog catching. He was the master, by far. He spent much of his beach time lurking near the forested shores catching frogs of all sizes. I hope those frogs made it out alive.
Napping at the beach. And she also napped for all the driving we had to do! 2 1/2 hours up, 30 minutes to and from the camp each day (we stayed with my grandmother so my nursing baby wouldn't wake the camp during the night) and 2 1/2 hours home. Not a peep from her.
Benjamin making more friends. And playing soccer. Seriously, he probably thought he'd died and gone to heaven. Benjamin was made for camping.
Water trampoline. Yes, both Colin and Caleb are out there with all the big kids. They swam in their life jackets, paddling their little arms for all their worth, to get out there. Sometimes they jumped off, sometimes they bounced, sometimes they ran in circles, and sometimes they all just sat out there, talking. I would have loved to have listened in on their conversation, but just watching it seemed like a very special kid moment. One of those times when kids are talking very seriously about all sorts of things as they work through life. These special moments are not meant for grown up ears.
Zip line - Colin.
Zip line - Caleb. On the second and third time he actually let go of the rope above and spread his arms out like he was flying. Hardly anyone had the courage to do it. There's no picture of me, but I went down also, arms and legs straight out in the air.
Benjamin on the ATV. No, (Mom and James) it wasn't on. But they had lots of fun pretending they were actually driving it.
10 moms, 47 kids, 2 dogs. We are awesome. (and crazy)
Hugging in families.
The amazing scout group that came up for a couple nights. Their leader, in the middle, is the one who set up the zip line. He brought it for his scouts, and then offered anyone from our camp who wanted to go on it a chance to do so. Well, 47 kids and 10 moms takes a long time to get through. They had it up for us over 2 hours the first night and 2 hours the next morning. I overheard the leader talking to one of the boys and encouraging him about what an amazing service opportunity it was that the scouts could give such a joyous experience to all our kids. It was hard work running the zip line, a lot of hours, and all during a trip that was a vacation for them. I wanted to write this memory down so I remember when my boys are older how important it is to provide service opportunities for them. Because only when we think outside ourselves can we really grow into who we are meant to be.
Benjamin elbow deep in mud and dirt, staring at a frog. Yes, he was catching them, too!
Caleb and Aimee. Caleb met Aimee the first morning we arrived and latched himself onto her for the entire three days. If we wasn't playing with her, he was looking for her. Every morning when we arrived he would give me this shy, sheepish grin and ask if I knew where Aimee was. I think I only saw him apart from her once or twice the entire trip. One evening at campfire a mom gave out glow sticks to everyone. Well, the next morning Caleb had held onto his two sticks, and Aimee didn't have one anymore. Caleb gave her one of his sticks and watched proudly all day whenever she held it. This photo was taken just as we were about to leave. I found Caleb in tears because Aimee was swimming so he couldn't give her a hug and say goodbye. So I called Aimee out of the water and they gave each other the biggest hug. Another mom snapped this photo of the two of them. Very seriously Caleb asked if we could have two copies of the photo made, one for him to take home and keep in his special "stuff box" and one for Aimee to take home and keep. Young love.
So that was just a peek into camp. Everyone is already talking about next year. I love that we have created this little tradition, something special for the kids to look forward to. They won't have a chance to see any of these friends during the rest of the year since they live all over the Greater Toronto Area, between 1 and 2 1/2 hours away. But each year we'll return to this camp for 3 glorious days of fun and freedom and they will treasure these memories, much like I treasure the ones I have of Six Foot Bay (a camp my grandmother took us to every year for about 8 years when I was younger).