This was Ben’s first year at Cub Scout Day Camp, as he’ll be a Tiger Cub starting this summer and officially meet with his den in the fall. Since he’s so young, the camp requires an adult chaperone to go with him. I was that chaperone. I packed us all lunches, got Greg ready to go to Tot Lot (an indoor childcare thing for kids of volunteers), and put a few extras in the car for “just in case.” We got there half an hour early and the line was already halfway around the “camp.” I should explain: day camp is held on the campus of a junior college. We have a “camp site” in between two old dorms, with areas for each den roped off. Got through registration, changed his shirt, got him over to his den. There we saw something unusual: a whole big bunch of parents standing around. Now this isn’t exactly a drop-off camp; parents do have to walk the kids over and sign them in, but usually they leave right away. This was a crowd of parents. Not a good sign. The woman holding the clipboard was one of our neighbor’s; her daughter and David have been in the same class for a few years now. She has 6 kids; there was no way she was our den leader. The other parents weren’t either. So we stood around and talked about it for a while. After about 30 minutes I told the others to go on to work, I’d been a den leader before and was going to be there and I’d pass off leadership when the real den leader came. Eventually someone (who later I learned was the camp director) came round and said “OH, are you our missing den leader?” I said “NO! I’m a Tiger Cub’s adult chaperone. Where is our den leader?” He told me that 7 of the 14 adult volunteers for the camp had called in sick or dead and that we were one of the groups without a leader, at least for Monday & Wednesday. So I stepped up (what else was I going to do?) and was den leader for the week, which meant that I was going to need all those aforementioned “just in case” items: cooler, tablecloth, folding camp chair, permanent marker, sunscreen, ball.
The first day of camp we had 13 boys, one of which did not speak English. Most of the boys were awesome, only one who seemed not to listen and one that was actively troublemaking. I had another mom there that followed along with us, but she’d never been to camp before, so I got to explain a lot to her. Our first day things we chaotic. We didn’t have a map, just vague instructions to our various activities. Everything was running so late that morning that we all missed our first activities (ours would have been volleyball). Our second activity was all the way on the other side of campus, nearly 3/4 of a mile away, and we only had 10 minutes to get there. It was also about 99 degrees at that point. We got to learn archery, which was both fun and a bit scary. Then we ran all the way back across campus to decorate hats. After that was lunch. We went back to our dusty, dry camp area. I had brought a tablecloth, but it wasn’t big enough for everyone to sit on, so some kids just sat in the dirt. It was all right. After lunch we had water balloon launching, which did not last nearly long enough (not enough balloons, apparently), so we got to our next activity early enough that we were done with that, too, before that was even supposed to start, so we had an hour to kill. With nothing but a ball to entertain us. *sigh* We played Simon Says, Red Rover, Hot Potato, etc. I think that was the most tiring part of the day. Eventually we got done and got to go home. On the way out I was told that they were not going to make me pay for either a) Tot Lot or b) my t-shirt since I’d stepped up to be a “full volunteer.” I went home and collapsed. The kids watched TV all afternoon while I had the worst headache of my entire life (worse than any migraine even). I was shivering and throwing up. I finally looked it up online and figured out that I had heat stroke.
Day Two arrived and I was feeling better. I got there and found out that my non-English speaker had been transferred to another den, which was fine with me. He was a nice kid, but I’m sure it was frustrating to be lead by someone he couldn’t communicate with. I also found out that the Tuesday/Thursday person had told a friend that she wasn’t coming, so to be prepared to lead again. One of the other mom’s brought us a tarp for the week, which was lovely. We had an easy morning: obstacle course, making beaded snake lanyards, “hiking” around campus. I had another adult with me – one of my pack’s den leaders – so the day went really smoothly. We took turns being the head or end of the line and giving out info to the kids. Lunch happened, this time with considerably less grit consumed. After lunch we did some more stuff, but don’t ask me what; I really don’t remember. Went home and let the kids watch more TV. Too tired to move, still a bad headache, but at least I wasn’t throwing up.
Day Three the nice mom that had brought the tarp brought me a cold neckerchief to wear to keep the heat at bay. Chris, the den leader from my pack, came back again and we continued to split duties. I took care of all the paperwork & kept track of who had what & their crafts and he played with the kids in between our scheduled activities. It worked out really well. We got through BB guns, nutrition, and compass activities before the rain got to us. And boy did it get to us. We were drenched before we even made it over to our cover. We’d been told that morning that when it rained we should go to a certain covered parking lot and there’d be activities for us there. There was some kind of miscommunication with the campus, though, because the parking area was not left empty of cars for us, so we couldn’t stay there. Eventually we moved on to the gym, where we did a lot of races, saw a Tae Kwondo exhibition, and eventually watched a movie. We took turns going out to sit out in a covered area for lunch. It was chaotic and everyone was wet and cold. Came home, got dry, and rested. David was dropped off a little after 10pm from his camp.
Day Four we knew the day was going to be rained out, but we had to show up anyway because there was a “Rain or Shine” clause in the paperwork. I dropped Greg and David off at Tot Lot. Ben and I met the den & got to go under the covered parking area, but had to make way for handicapped parking, which was tough because most of the covered parking was handicapped. Only one person made a fuss about us being there, and she literally sprinted from her car to the building, so we did wonder why she had the permit (I understand all about invisible illnesses, but given that I, with my RA, limping, special shoes, & all don’t qualify, I’m wondering how someone healthy enough to sprint has one). Anyway, we played soccer amidst a torrent of water flowing through the lot, then made picture frames, built & launched rockets (sideways out the side of the garage), and watched the kids fencing. After lunch we went back to the gym and watched a completely inappropriate movie.
Day Five dawned nice and well, sunny, if not dry. We went back to our regular schedule, but it was Water Day, so we ended up wet anyway. The kids ran water relays all morning before lunch. After lunch they hiked over to the local middle school (a mile away – Nick, who has Friday afternoons off, and Chris hiked with the boys. I drove my van & the other two kids over), where a firetruck was supposed to be ready to spray them with water. It showed up about half an hour later, which was just as well, I guess, since that gave the kids newly applied sunscreen a chance to soak in. The kids had a blast in the water (sorry for the unintended pun). 🙂 And then it was time for the end of camp. We passed out cards with their earned belt loops on them, and waited for parents to arrive. That was that. Camp was over. Ben earned five belt loops over the course of camp: hiking, nutrition, soccer, bb’s, & archery.
A couple hours later our pack had a bicycle rodeo planned. Nick was in charge of it, so they went on over. Sadly, no one else showed up (we later learned that the other dens didn’t send out messages to their dens in a timely fashion). But our kids earned another belt loop: bicycle. 🙂
When last I posted, MOPS had technically ended, but school had not. I had my last small MOPS group gathering the week before school got out. Each of the big kids had an end of the year trip out to Camp Tyler, a local farm that has classes for kids (it used to be run by the school district for the FFA kids, but not anymore). Ben’s class got to tour all the animals, love on some of them, feed some of them, and then have a picnic. David’s class did the gardening rotation, where they got to plant vegetable seeds, transplant seedlings, pull weeds, and pick vegetables. They also made compost with torn up newspaper and got to turn it with big forks and see all the worms before picnicking. Both classes had lots of fun. :) All the kids had end of the year parties, too. Greg’s was an outdoor hot dog picnic, Ben’s was a cake (it had a photo of all the kids & all their names on it) & punch party after his awards ceremony, David’s was punch & goodie bags after the Camp Tyler trip. The big kids had awards ceremonies as well. Ben got a Citizenship Award and Kindergarten Diploma (the most a Kindergartener could get) and David got three awards onstage (Citizenship, Math, & All A Honor Roll) and two more offstage (Reading & something else I can’t remember).
In the midst of all that, my grandmother died. She’d had a few bouts of congestive heart failure in the last couple months, but the doctor’s thought she’d pull through. She was 93 years old. My parents were there with her (they’d been there a week, just visiting, not knowing she was about to die) when she died, and my uncle came in right afterwards (sadly, he was stuck in the parking lot trying to find a space). Since she died just before Memorial Day weekend, they postponed the funeral until the end of the next week, which left me able to finish up all the end of school stuff. A few of my friends helped with childcare on the day of my flight.
I hit really bad traffic on the way to DFW, 20 was down to one lane due to road resurfacing, and there were three accidents along the way, which meant I spent an hour idling in Nick’s car, which has no A/C and a tendency to overheat. I made it to the parking area just about at my boarding time, but the window had come down & wouldn’t go back up. I called for help and eventually got the car window up. But then as I was going into the airport, security called an emergency drill and made us all stand stock still for 5 minutes. I stood there, watching helplessly as the flight attendants packed up and closed the door to my flight. Since it was the airports fault that I missed my flight, they transferred me for free to another flight that left a few hours later. I got a book, some food, and waited. My flight started leaving on time, but a storm had been brewing and they closed the airport. So we sat on the runway for more than an hour before they let us take off. I arrived in the Twin Cities just as my next flight should have been boarding, but they had left early, due to the request of the pilot (remember this for later), so I was out of luck. They offered me a hotel voucher, but the next flight out didn’t leave until 10am the next morning, which was exactly when my grandma’s visitation started. So I paid an outrageous sum of money and started driving around 11pm. It took more than 3 hours to get to Superior, Wisconsin, but I finally made it there around 2am.
In the morning, I got to spend some time with my Aunt Gloria & Uncle Stew before they left (they were driving to Madison to pick up my mom’s other brother who was flying in for their family vacation). We had some breakfast (homemade Danish Knoodle made by my cousin’s other grandma – yummmm!) and then headed out to the visitation. The visitation was really interesting – lots of people that knew my grandma that we wouldn’t have ever thought would come showed up and told us stories we’d never heard before. Her old co-workers from the grocery store she worked at in the 1930’s, nurses that worked with her at various hospitals from the 1940’s onwards, “kids” (older than me) she’d taught in VBS or Sunday school. Classmates. Fellow volunteers. Relatives we’d not seen since I was little. One little old lady told me that she’d know me anywhere because I was beautiful just like my grandma. Hehe. The funeral went well. Typical Lutheran Funeral. There was one little difference – some long lost relatives from Norway had sent a poem they’d written about my grandma (we didn’t know they existed). After the funeral, we headed graveside, where there were a few words said. We buried her urn (no one explained why she was cremated, then buried) and said hi to grandpa & visited my cousin’s other grandfather’s grave (he and grandpa died the same day & it was close by). Then we returned to the church for a catered lunch. I quipped that we certainly weren’t in Texas anymore – no bbq or sweet tea. Instead there were scalloped potatoes, Swedish meatballs, sliced meat, a relish tray (different kinds of pickles and black olives), white rolls, and lots of hot coffee & Church Punch (have you ever noticed how Church Punch is just special no matter where you go. It’s turbo charged somehow). When that was done we selected which plants were going where – most were going to be distributed over at the assisted living center where my grandma lived, but some also went to the nursing home she spent the last 6 months at and the biggest, prettiest one went to my dad’s cousin Janie (because she was the one that visited my grandma a couple times a week and took her places and loved her so much).
We spent the rest of the day resting. My parents & sister slept in front of the TV, I read a book on the back patio (the high temp there was 72). My cousin and a couple of his kids came by at some point (scared me to death – I must have been dozing, too “DID YOU KNOW YOUR PARENTS ARE SLEEPING IN HERE?!”) & we visited for a little while. His kids are getting so big and so cute! After they left we decided to hit the local Chinese place for dinner. It was weird having food served by Wisconsin people (their accents are so funny!). As we were leaving Cousin Janie called & invited us to her house, which is on The Point and has beautiful views of Lake Superior from every window. We stayed a couple hours and talked about family history (so much that I didn’t know!). Went back to my aunt & uncles house & went straight to bed.
The next morning we got up and watched junk TV (The Doctors, Supernatural) & ate breakfast. My dad & his brother went off to the bank to figure out monetary things. We helped my parents load up their van with grandma’s stuff (not a lot, really, but a few odds & ends). Then we headed off to the airport. April & I had a flight together to the Twin Cities which went smoothly. We waited there for another hour or so with this crazy chick from Hawaii and heard a few of the “The pilot of Flight xxxx is requesting to leave early. Please begin boarding now” announcements. No wonder the airlines are so screwed up. Anyway, the flight from there to DFW went pretty well and then I drove home. Yay, home!
The next day I skipped church and instead
tidied the studio rested. Nick brought home the kid that was spending the night with us. Everything went smoothly until bedtime, then drama ensued. We separated the kids and went to bed. Got up unhealthily early the next morning and drove David and the other kid to church camp. We were pleased that they let David go, since he had rather pink eyes still and was still doing his drops (did I mention that he got pink eye at the farm?). Came back home, got ready for Ben’s camp.
TO BE CONTINUED (this is the longest post ever)…..