Step-dad Adventures – 10 Things to Bring to Camp

camping

Ah, camping.

Ok, I know I’m going back a bit here, kinda like time traveling, which would be so awesome if I could actually do it, but I needed to finish off something I’ve been thinking about at 3am in the morning.

So, more posts coming about hockey, mowing and understanding Derp-speak, but in the meantime… the last post about camping.

10 Things A Camping Chaperon Needs – That They Won’t Tell You Need.

  • A flashlight. I should have thought of this myself. It does get very dark in the woods, apparently, what with no streetlights and all. So bring a good one. (I hear there’s one that’s 63,500 Lumens. My iphone was 10.) Plus a good is great for temporarily blinding the kids who sneak up on your cabin at 1am. Me, I’d bring a headlamp, not so much cuz I look so cool wearing one, but they free up your hands for when you trip over a root and nearly fall on your face.
  • kleenex

    Go Costco size on this one.

    Kleenex. Everyone, including me, seemed to have a cold or a runny nose. You don’t want your pockets full of wadded toilet paper and you certainly don’t want to see what happens when a 12 year old blows hard on such flimsy paper. I would recommend the pocket packs or be prepared to watch them all wipe snot on their sleeves.

  • If you’re allowed electronics, (or just sneak them in), then ear buds will save your life. Even if you don’t have any electronics to plug them into, just put them in your ears when you’re in the mess cabin and the kids make more noise than a 747.
  • A swiss army knife. You just never know when you’re going to need to cut something, corkscrew something (or someone), or tighten a screw that’s come loose. Personally, I would recommend one with tweezers, a bottle opener and scissors. If they have one with a gun attached, bring that one.
  • A camera. We were told, specifically, not to bring one and I regretted it from day one. If you’re with your own child, take pictures of them, of their adventures and accomplishments. Don’t take pictures of other kids and post them on FB without or insta-chat-snap-gram or whatever, but you’ll hate not capturing that moment when you child finally sets fire to something or staggers in from a 4 hour hike up a mountain
  • A pen. Someone needs to record what’s going on. Like writing about the holocaust while it happens. Sometimes it’s not even you. We had 2 journalers in our little cabin. Plus, in a pinch, it can be used to stab a bear. Oh and bring paper or a book or a diary to write on otherwise you’re just writing on your arm or scraps of toilet paper.
  • Honestly, I don't even know how to read this one.

    Honestly, I don’t even know how to read this one.

    A watch. I know what you’re thinking. Duh. Right? But I am completely dependent on my iphone. It has an alarm, time, and reminds me about things I needed to be reminded about. It’s like having a mom with you all time. So, without one, you’ll need a watch. With a compass. And an alarm

  • First Aid Kit. Oh sure, there’ll be someone there who knows first aid, but try finding them and where they hid the damn kit when everyone’s off having adventures, and you have someone who jabbed a stake through their hand (or, more accurately, a tiny splinter into their finger.)
  • I don't really want to think about what's on the bathroom floors

    I don’t really want to think about what’s on the bathroom floors

    Flip-flops. Ok, because no one wants to walk into some of those communal showers with bare feet. I’m not sure what slime was on the tiles, but it was green and moving, so, yeah, best keep your feet free from any of that (and, hey, flip-flops take up so little space.)

  • Patience. No one will tell you to bring this, but bring a ton. And I’m not talking about a hip flask of ‘patience’, no, save that for when you get home. But maybe bring prayer beads or have an elastic on your wrist you snap whenever you want to shout at someone.

I was thinking you might also want to bring an axe, tarp and rope, but we’re not committing murders, so maybe leave those at home.

However, if you want some AMAZINLGY cool things to bring on a camping trip, check out this site.

Buzzfeed.

Is there anything you’d make sure you brought on a school camping trip?

******

As always, please follow if you want to know more about surviving camping with 12 year olds. Or share on FB. (I’m needy and need to be read by millions.)

Thanks!!!

 

Posted in Blogging, Parenting, School, Stepdad, Travel, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Step-dad Adventures – The Easter Pig

piggieMost houses have an Easter Bunny. For some reason, we have an Easter Pig. The Easter Bunny is fluffy and cute and puts of lots of chocolates (or Easter eggs) for good little boys and girls.

Our Easter Pig is taller, cute in a kind of a hairy-pig type of way, and makes everyone work for the treats. Our Easter Pig, however, is NOT what Google described at an overweight woman who wears too much makeup. That’s just mean. Our Easter Pig is adorable and lovable and largely make-up-less.

The EP’s rules are simple – If you find all the candies, you get the HUGE Kinder Egg about the size of an elephant’s head. If you came up one short, the Pig gets the big ass Kinder Egg. Or I do. (I was a little hazy on the final details of who got that Kinder Egg.)

Anyway, in our house, the Easter Pig hides the chocolates all over the place. It doesn’t hide chocolates under things, inside of things or buried in things. So no hunting through the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world’s underwear drawer. No digging through my book shelves and mis-aligning books. No crawling under the couch and becoming covered in dust and dog toys. No unrooting half-dead plants in the planters. No breaking into the pantry and filling your pockets with cookies.

All of the treats are put in plain sight. But that’s the genius of the Easter Pig. You’d think they’d all be easy to find, but no, the Easter Pig is cunning.

kissesSo this Easter weekend, the boys woke up to what the Easter Pig had done. They’re used to the Pig, but in a much smaller house. This year, the Easter Pig went crazy, hiding 130 Hershey’s kisses in all sorts of places. On chandeliers. On top of pictures. On doorknobs (the foil the same color as the metal).

Ok, eerr, the Easter Pig actually hid 140 kisses, but someone, who may nor may not have been me, I’m not admitting to anything, ate 10 of them before the boys got up. Whoever ate them, in fairness, found them and thought that they were for him, I mean, him or her, so, yeah, it was a total mistake but completely understandable, right???

Apart from those 10 kissed mysteriously disappearing, I loved the Hunt. It was my first Easter Pig morning.

The boys ran around gathering the low hanging fruit –  the kisses put on pillows, counters and tables. Then, when they were told they were only half done, they raced around, each boy trying to gather more than his brother.

the flashThe Youngest came up with a strategy that involved him simply moving faster than his brother. His brother would see one, and move towards it, but The Youngest moved with Flash-like speed, a blur of blue PJs and blond hair and grab it first. Then make an evil laugh.

I think he’ll make a fine super-villain one day.

The Oldest then countered by going after only the ones up high. No matter how much The Youngest jumped, he couldn’t reach them. So he went low, looking in the planters, on the small cabinets and on window sills. He would not be stopped!

After a short time, they had nearly a 120, but those last 10 were a bugger. One was found dangling from the family easy-erase board. One was found on the handle holding the toilet paper. One was found hidden in a lego display.

That left 7.

kitchen sinkThe Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, being an ally of the Easter Pig, spotted one and gave a hint. “Sounds like ‘Smiling Habinet’.” Then, she saw another and said, “it sounds like ‘litchen Hink’.”

The boys soon found the last ones, and, as promised, they got to open the gigantic planet-sized Kinder Egg.

I have to say, it was so much fun watching the boys hunt around, unlocking Easter Pig secrets (like the Pig loved to hide things on lamps in such a way that made the kisses look like part of the lamp.) I loved that they were good-natured about the competition (I think The Oldest got the most candies, but The Youngest definitely worked the hardest.)

And I loved being a part of it.

As a non-dad for so long, it’s still surprising to me how much I enjoy the little things. That walk in the park with the boys. Christmas morning. Band (or choir) recitals. Even teaching The Oldest to mow the lawn or The Youngest how to vacuum.

Plus, at the end of all the searching, we got to eat the chocolate as well, though The Youngest wanted to know what we’d do for him if he gave us a chocolate.

Next year, though, I think we might name it the Easter Kiss Hunt.

*****

What things do you do for Easter. I had a friend who made a huge adventure for her kids (and I’ll try to get her to write about it.)

As always, please share this on Facebook if you like it, or hit the follow button (which does not, contrary to popular myth, kill a unicorn somewhere.)

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Parenting, Stepdad, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Step-dad Adventures – Dodging the Last Bullet

confessionsI have a confession to make.

It’s not something I’m proud of. Like eating the last cookie on a plate. Or paying money to see the Battleship movie.

I managed to avoid volunteering for the last tourney.

Hockey at this age seems to be largely over in early March, except for the tournaments. But these things are elaborate events that need people. Like Soylent Green needed people.

The tournaments need people to run the 50/50 draws, man the raffle tables with baskets full of goodies, and, of course, operate the dreaded score and time keeping machines.

It’s a full court press. Wait, that’s a basketball thing. It’s ah… uhm… overtime with a man down and 5 seconds left on the clock? ????

Anyway, let’s just say they really need everyone to step up.

Ah, the things parents do for their kids. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world decided to take on the raffles table. A good choice. There’s a hierarchy to these things. The raffle has to be at the top. You stand behind a table and take people’s money. I did that for years. It’s easy-peasy.

scoreboardAt the other end, is time and score keeping.

Why?

It’s hard. It’s complex. And unlike raffle-table-duty, if you make a mistake, everyone sees it. In older age groups, I’ve seen people get quite angry when the poor score keeper puts up 10 goals by mistake instead of 1.

Mad props to the people who volunteer to do that. Over the course of the year, we had two dads who did it every time. Every. Time. Wow. That’s some dedicated dads. I was proud of myself if I remembered to pack skates. Or wear pants for the 6am practices.

This time, though, I was volunteer-weary, having just come back from chaperoning The Oldest’s group at camp. So I did only what I usually do, I just dressed The Youngest in his goalie gear.

The funny thing is, I finally had figured out how to put on all his equipment properly. It figures that the last game I’d finally get it right, the pads, the skates, all the straps and laces.

Yup, I had it nailed down. I could get him ready in under 5 minutes. All that practice had finally paid off. It was almost too bad it was going to be the last time this season.

But I did my duty, got him ready and cheered him on. I confess. I should have done more. But for this tournament, it was all I could do.

One dad called it hockey-parent burnout.

I kinda get that now.

But when the other parents asked what I had done, I had to be all nimble and clever.

“So what did you get stuck with?”

Me: “Oh, I managed to avoid the scorekeeping cuz I would have probably been killed by a mob of angry moms who hated the fact their team got beat 100-2. What did you do?”

50-50“Ha, I got the 50/50 draw.”

“Oh my goodness, that’s not easy either, marching up and down the stands shouting, ‘give me your money, bitches, it’s for a good cause’. Did you have fun?”

“Someone put gum in the jar.”

“See, there’s always an asshat in the crowd. And, FYI, sorry about the gum.”

minionAh, deflection. I think I would have made a good master criminal. Or at least a mediocre henchman.

Next year, I’ll train harder, practice my 50/50 pitch and be better prepared.

Next year, I don’t want to let the team down.

******

And hey, if you like the blog or just want more pictures of minions, please click the lovely follow button or share on Facebook. :) Thanks!

Posted in Blogging, Hockey, Parenting, Sports, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Step-dad Adventures – The Last Day of Camp

evans lakeAfter another fitful sleep, I awoke bleary-eyed and groggy-faced to yet another beautiful day, not a rainy day, like was predicted, cuz that would have totally allowed me to be in a foul mood.

However, lack of sleep, coffee and a generally bad attitude made me give the day the finger, anyway.

However, it was the last day for all of us.

The counsellors told everyone there’d be something special today. I feared that they meant we’d skin a beaver or fight a bear or have to eat worms. The boys, however, were still pumped over last night’s triumphant skit, and hell, they’d made fire, shot arrows, navigated in the woods and canoed halfway around the world, so they had the swagger of kids who could do anything.

It was really amazing to see. It wasn’t just the boys in my cabin. All the kids seemed to have a swagger, like they had thrown the One Ring into Mt Doom. They all looked forward to whatever was thrown at them today.

IMG_6668The surprise turned out to be a hunt.

For 3 hours, we’d run around in the forest and hunt each other.

Perfect! The Hunger Games at last! And I could shoot a bow better than all of them. The odds were definitely in my favour.

But, no, sadly, it wasn’t quite that simple.

½ the class was divided up into prey, let’s call them squirrels. They wore an arm band with little blue flags. Their job was to eat stuff in the forest. Not literally, which would have been hilarious and most likely deadly, but they had to find more metal plates with food items on it.

Next were the lynxes. They could eat the squirrels. Then came the big cats. Cougars. They could both the lynxes and the squirrels. At the top of the food chain, was man. He could kill anything he saw.

For the hunters, they had to actually tag their prey, taking a flag from them. For man, all he had to point his gun and say bang, you’re dead. There were also disasters that affect the forest. Fires, floods, a crazy moose… you know, the usual stuff.

It was all one big game of tag, really. The kids playing either prey or hunters, the chaperons playing disasters. Was their a message there? I dunno.

elmer fuddI managed to snag the best job. Man the Hunter. I was the only one who didn’t have to run around and tag people. I think the camp counsellors looked at me and thought, damn, if we get that bugger running around too much, he’ll have a heart attack and die. Better give him a gun. Or maybe I was the most red-necked-looking one.

Well, being a hunter of all things chased that bad mood away. Nothing like shooting some kids in the woods to lighten the day up a bit.

Unfortunately, these kids were good at playing tag. Really, really good. I had to run them down even to shoot them and some of them were just plain sneaky, using slippery rocks and mossy trees to escape the expert marksman. A few even banded together to hunt as a pack – though I’m pretty sure I saw some squirrels working with lynxes so I’m not quite sure what was going on. Not that it mattered, I shot them all.

There was also one chaperon who played Greenpeace and if an animal made it to them, they were safe for a while. But being me, I just hung out and shot them as soon as they left Greenpeace. Apparently I couldn’t shoot Greenpeace – though I did try. A lot.

Sweaty, exhausted and constantly on the lookout for the mad moose who could actually kill me, I raced around like I was… well, let’s face it, like I was 50. Hey, I did my best, but running up a hill and down a dozen times chasing cougars, well that just takes it out of you.

The Oldest got to play one of the cougars. The teachers had made it so the, ah, ‘more active’ kids were the prey and the quieter ones were the hunters. An interesting social experiment if you ask me.

At one point, I managed to catch the speedy kid from the navigation exercise, but he had fallen on the ground and was holding his ankle. I didn’t have the heart to shoot him so he stumbled off into the forest just far enough so I couldn’t shoot him, then stopped faking the injury and ran away.

There was a lesson to be learned there, I think.

We all came back to count our trophies (or kills or foodie plates collected). Once again, victory went to the girls, two of whom seemed to have eaten an entire continent worth of squirrels. (Oddly enough, I hadn’t managed to kill either one, heck, I hadn’t even seen them.) Good for them. Future Katnissesses there.

squirrelsHowever, it’s too bad the squirrels weren’t allowed to fight back. That might have made things really interesting.

But everyone had a good time, even The Oldest who was not as keen on killing everything as I was.

Then we had lunch, packed up, stuffed 300 bags into a clean horse trailer, and walked back down to the buses. Not having to carry our packs and sleeping bags in garbage bags certainly made everyone happy.

I have to tell you, though, some of those girls packed some serious bags. They were the size of small elephants and weighed as about as much.

losing itOn the way down, however, I actually yelled at a kid. The first time I actually yelled. He’d thrown a foot-long piece of an iron beam at his friend. It was a dead stupid thing to do and came close to clocking the other kid in the head. I may have used the ‘F’ word. In fact, I know I did. There was probably a better way to handle it, but it just came out.

But other than that, I had survived the ordeal.

The Oldest, though, had not only survived, but had triumphed with an amazing skit that I will probably talk about until the day I die. He marched far ahead of me, joking with his friends, in need of no adult support at all. He’d been to camp, he’d overcome his fears and he’d kicked ass.

I was super proud of him.

Me, well, no one died on my watch. That was the bar I had set for success. It was hit and miss there for a moment that I wouldn’t lose one in the woods forever, but everyone made it back alive.

So I count this as a success as well.

However, I’m not sure I’ll do it again.

the horrorOh the horror, the horror.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Parenting, School, Stepdad, Travel, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stepd-dad Adventures – The Last Rite

skitsSo after successfully navigating through the forest and finding our way back to the cabin, we were faced with a huge task. Come up with a skit. Write it. And perform it.

We had known about it since last night, but there really wasn’t much time to attend to it until now. Each cabin had been given these instructions. It had to be 5 minutes long. It had to include the chaperon. It had to have a girl as a boy or a boy as a girl (depending on the cabins). It had to have a foreign language in it.

Easy, right?

No, no it was not.

Worse, the teachers had told them it would be marked.

What the hell?

But it wasn’t my place to argue. In fact, I wasn’t sure what my role was supposed to be. Was I supposed to make sure the boys got the skit done? Was I supposed to help them? You know, use my vast experience with skit creation? Was I just supposed to sit back and let them sink or swim?

I chose something in between – I just tried to keep them focused. At least at the start. It took only a few minutes to come up with an idea, one everyone agreed upon. I have to say, that was a huge surprise. HUGE. I imagined hours of wackier and wackier ideas. But once they had a winner, I jumped on it and said, that’s the one!

TBH, it made absolutely no sense to me – having something to do with a guy called Billy Mays and selling an amazing new shoe – but oh how they all laughed and rolled around. That’s how I knew it was a winner even if all I could do was stand there, blinking and looking old and very confused (something I do very well.)

funny skitWhen they came back from supper, one of them offered to play the girl part and the next 30 minutes was a giggle-fest as they all worked on how a girl walked, talked and dressed. Sure, it was fun, but we now only had 90 minutes left.

I was about to step in, again to get them to FOCUS!!!, but as it turned out, one of them stepped up and took control. *The Oldest* had had enough. He wasn’t going to get a bad mark, by God, and began to write the skit. He assigned roles, listened to ideas, and made sure they all kept focused when they got too giggly.

It was like herding cats. But gradually a skit began to take shape.

I can’t tell you how impressed I was. For the same boy who didn’t even want to come to camp to take charge and produce, write, and direct a skit… well, wow, just wow.

By the time supper rolled around, the outline of the skit was ready and written. All that remained was the rehearsal. They managed to find about 15 minutes after supper and jobs to get a quick rehearsal in. Timing of who would come on the stage when was worked out. Who said what was finalized.

The Oldest had given himself the lead role, that of this Billy Mays character. He had a spiel billy maysabout how great the shoes were and why anyone would want to buy them.

And it was….

Funny.

Damn funny.

And I didn’t even know half of the references.

I was given the role of announcer. Or introducer. I wrote out my own part and knew full-well it was 50/50 that I would remember any of it. No matter, I knew what I had to say.

“Welcome to the Home Shopping Network. We’re very excited to have with us Billy Mays, the inventor of non-stick underwear and doggie slider burgers. With him is his lovely assistant Goldilocks, who (up until about an hour ago) used to be a man. So please put your hands together and give Billy Mays a warm welcome.”

Oh sure, I was nervous, but I know what to do. Never speak to a room-full of people. Speak to one or two people in that room.

Then *The Oldest* took over, with Goldilocks assisting him and the other boys acting as angry customers. The crowd laughed and laughed.

Even when *The Oldest* forgot some of his lines, it only made it better when he got back on track.  I managed to rush off the stage and get a video of the whole thing, but modern ethics dictate that I not post it. It’s too bad, because you know what? It was a great skit.

snl skitIt wasn’t 5 minutes long, though, as that would have been a disaster (like an SNL skit that was funny for 30 seconds and then they’d go on and on and on and on.) It took about 90 seconds and that was enough. It was a hit!

The other kids all did a fine job on their skits, some better than others, and all of the chaperons did their part. In fact, most did far more than me, actively participating in the kids’ plays.

When it was done, The *Oldest* did something you don’t often see. He smiled. Like he’d done something good. No, something amazing. I was so, so proud of him.

Other kids congratulated him, his teacher went out of his way to say what a great job he’d done, and I so wished his mom, AKA The-prettiest-girl-in-the-world, could have been there. She would have been so proud as well.

The boys took a long time to get to sleep that night, even after the deadly ‘night walk’ that I had to do without a flashlight. They were so pumped that they’d done so well. They replayed the highlights over and over, laughing all the time.

Thus ended the best day at camp.

All that remained was something in the morning. A mystery event.

(And just for clarification, *The Oldest* is the name of our oldest boy that I use when writing this blog to protect his secret identity)

If you like this blog or want to read more about our adventures, please click the follow button. :)

Until the next blog, here is an SNL skit.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Parenting, School, Sports, Stepdad, Travel, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Step-dad Adventures – Lost in Translation

Fears Realized

dark city

(By the way, google images of nightmares and that alone will keep you up at night.)

I have one recurring nightmare in particular. I’m lost and need to find someone. Fast. I run through streets, reading signs, looking for familiar landmarks, but no matter which way I go, the streets are different, the landmarks unfamiliar, the signs are constantly changing. I run faster and faster, but speed only makes it worse. Like in Dark City, everything moves around and I get more and more lost until panic overwhelms me and I wake up in a cold sweat.

Yikes!

So imagine how keen I was to do the navigating adventure. And that was only part of the horrors for the last part of day 2. The teachers had also decided, for punishment no less, that all the kids were to do a skit. In front of the entire group.

And get this, the chaperons HAD to participate.

lectureWhat the holy hell? Did they think that was going to be fun of us? Now, I’ve done my fair share of public speaking and I can get the job done, but not without a lot of anxiety. I’m not like my amazing brother who can stand in front of 200 students and do a pitch-perfect lecture, oh no, I have a hard time memorizing things so I usually go off the cuff, for better or worse.

I wasn’t even the most nervous of the chaperons. A few look terrified. And who can blame them? Did we sign on for this?

Ah, no.

However, first up, the navigation adventure.

I was pretty sure I couldn’t get too lost (though most of my nightmares start out the same way.) We were given compasses and told how to use them. For normal people, it’s super simple. We set our compasses to north, set degrees, then figured out which way we pointed.

compassFor navi-incompetents like me, though, it took about 100% of my brain power. Like teaching The Oldest math. Or doing my taxes.

Then, in groups of 5, we were sent on a treasure hunt of sorts. We had to find a series of metal plates that had directions to the next metal plate. We’d read off degrees and march the number of paces to find the one.

The Oldest had a plan. Read the plate, set the direction and then methodically march off the steps. All fair and fine, but what happens when there’s a house in the way? Well, we had to count the number of sidesteps we took, then redo those steps on the other side of the house.

columbusNow think of the error factor here. A few steps off either way and we’d never find the plates. We’d be like Columbus hoping to find freaking China.

However, one kid had the most brilliant idea. He was always full of energy, running around, leaping on things, and he thought, why pace it out? Run it out. Sooner or later, you’ll find the plate.

So the first one we did was with him running as fast he could in the general direction, while The Oldest would be meticulous and careful. I worried when I lost sight of the speedy kid as he raced into the forest and ran around like he was searching for his iphone, but most of the time, I was able to shout him back to the approximate location.

With his speed, and the more or less pacing by The Oldest, we found every one of the plates in record time. I was so pleased that I even let one of the other kids leave so he could hang out with another group looking for plates (a group of girls, so I totally understood that!)

Sure there were moments I’d lost track of everyone as they spread out into the forest like shrapnel from an exploding bomb. There were moments that the speedy kid misread his directions and raced in completely the wrong way. But we all managed to get back together and complete ALL the tasks. All of them. All.

Apparently no one had done that before.

I took complete credit, of course, what with my superior navigating skills and all.

Ok, I didn’t. I told the counselors the secret. “Don’t march out the paces. Get the direction right and guess the area and run around.  A lot.” And, hey, it’s that how Columbus really discovered America? He kinda went in a general direction and sailed around a lot.

outlookSo now I know how to use a compass. Sort of.

Like how I know how to use Outlook. Sort of. Now all I have to do is learn to read a map and I’ll be good to go off and be all Bear Grylls-ie.

Next up, after supper, was the skits.

Did I mention we only had about 2 hours after the last adventure (in our case, the navi-hunt) to prepare? Did I mention that the kids were informed that it would be a part of their marks?

Now I understood why The Oldest hadn’t wanted to come.

He knew we’d be ambushed.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Parenting, School, Sports, Stepdad, Travel, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Step-dad Adventures – Fire and Water

Surviving the Elements

campfireIf someone told me I had to start a fire, I would say, sure, get me a can of gas and a match and I’m off to the races. In actual fact, as long as I have a match, some kindling and dry wood, I’m good. But there’s no way I could make a fire if all I had were 2 pieces of wood and a knife. Bear Gillis I am not.

Nor were any in our group. Everyone was given a bit of kindling, a book of matches and some dry wood. They had to collect stones to spread around the fire-to-be and extra kindling if they could find it, but that was it. Then all they had to do was make a fire.

Simple, right?

torchWell, not so much. No one knew how to set up a fire, even after it was explained to them. Being 12-13, I guess they pretty much knew everything about everything, so why listen?

The Oldest even had a cool idea that he could start a fire by making a torch in the middle of all the kindling. It didn’t work as well as it would have in minecraft, but little by little he (and all the other kids) went through a massive trial and error thing. You know, suck in smoke and choke. Stick your face over a fire and feel the heat. Hold a match too long and ouch!

Soon the girls in the group had a blazing fire going. That really miffed the boys, who worked even harder. Then the second group of girls managed to get something started and the boys went into panic mode. One team of girls getting fire going could be put down to a fluke, but 2?

What?

campfire girlsDid they cheat and listen to the instructor? Did they have a secret stash of lighter fluid? God forbid they were actually better at this stuff.

The boys redoubled their efforts. Better designs were made. They realized that if they blew on the flames a bit, it would help ignite the fire. They built better structures that allowed the flames to grow.

And, despite one kid who kept blaming the matches, everyone got a fire going in the end.

They all were surprisingly ecstatic. I guess it was a primal thing. That smell of wood burning. The crackle of the fire. The sheer joy in making fire.

Plus no one set themselves aflame.

Oh how I wanted to tell them what they were doing wrong, how I wanted to reset their wooden structures and kindling, how I wanted to show them that all of them blowing on the fire just put the damn thing out. But no, they had to learn and learn by doing.

They had fun, though. And they learned a valuable skill. I think I had the hardest time not being allowed to meddle. (I am, at heart, a dedicated meddler.)

Next up was canoeing. Me and The Oldest got to be in the same canoe. Just the two of us. Man vs water. Well, man and a smaller man vs a canoe, really.

Now this is something I probably did at one time, but I’ll be damned if I can remember doing it. It’s pretty easy, once you get into the boat, but getting into that boat was our first big challenge. The silly thing rocked and then tried to slide away from the pier. Being sick, the last thing I needed was to be dunked into a cold, cold lake.

Plus I was pretty sure that would end up on a youtube video somewhere.

However, the Oldest and I managed to stabilize the boat, so we climbed in, got our paddles ready and headed out. He was in control, having said he knew all about canoeing (he’d done it once) and so we motored around the lake like pros.

canoeingAt least that’s the story I’m telling. If there’s a video out there showing us heading toward the weeds and the Oldest screaming at me to paddle less hard, well, that’s another old guy and his stepson, not me and him at all.

After the instructor was done with his instructions, we played a game. Tag. In a way, it wasn’t fair. I could out row them all, even in my feeble condition and by the time we began, the Oldest had worked out all the kinks in his steering. So we raced away from menacing canoes and tore past others trying to tag us until we were the only ones left untagged.

Then to show off, we rowed the canoe backwards towards the dock. I would have thought that would end in disaster, but somehow we made it work and even beat everyone else back there.

The Oldest beamed like a gladiator who just killed a giant from Sparta. It’s not often he gets to chance to excel at sports and on this day, with the sun shining in the blue sky and the lake as smooth as glass, he kicked ass and triumphed over his classmates.

simpsons in the woodsThat only left us with 2 things to do. One so horrible I still have nightmares about it. And the other, navigating with a compass (which I also have nightmares about.)

But those tales will be told next time.

 

Posted in Blogging, Parenting, Sports, Stepdad, Travel, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment