Sunday, July 25, 2010

Family Camp - 2010

Each year our church has a Family Camp the weekend following the 4th of July.  It started about 20 years ago when we would make reservations the 2nd weekend in August at Wallowa Lake State Park located south of Joseph, Oregon.  Reservations could be made 10 months in advance for spaces located in four loops of camp sites.  But try as we might we were never able to have everybody located in the same loop.  Most years we were scattered in three of the loops, one year all four.  It became too expensive for young families with children to afford the camping fees, plus all the activities for the kids were expensive.  There were lots of trails to hike and the lake for swimming and fishing, but the expense was causing most families to not participate.

After the 2002 camp, I contacted our Camp Elkanah director about what weekends might be available for Family Camp.  Camp Elkanah is an old railroad logging camp that was donated to the Blue Mountain Baptist Association back in the mid-fifties.  While many of the cabins are old railroad cars, there is also a state-of-the-art kitchen and dinning hall now, modern bathrooms and showers, and a small wooded area that has RV electric and water hook-ups with a dump site on the property.

We were given the 2nd weekend in July and so 2003 was our first year at Camp Elkanah.  A group of us got  together believing that with the cabins, RV and tent sites, we could  offer the church an affordable three-day, two-night weekend where the kids could run free and the parents would not have to worry about strangers bothering the kids.  There is a stream with a swimming hole, a slippy slide and a zip line, plenty of places to hike, or just sit around and  visit or take a nap.      
Usually two or three of us show up on Thursday to line out what cabins each family or individual will occupy and where the trailers will be parked.  The RV camp ground is small, but cozy.  This year we had eleven rigs in there and could have put three more in if needed.  It may be tight, but it promotes lots of fellowship.
To call this tight is an understatement.  Orville and his wife, Bernice, came up on Thursday afternoon with us.  We always get our two trailers parked first in the two hardest spots to get into.  Orville has three slides on his rig, and when we ran the slides out we could see he was parked about an inch or two closer to a tree then we wanted.  I suggested that he pull forward and move over about 6 inches, but, no, he said we can work with this.  So we proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes with an ax and chisel hacking away two inches of bark.

Then there are the leveling challenges. There are no flat spots here. The whole area slopes east to west and somewhat south to north. Everyone brings extra leveling lumber and all share liberally. Some of the creativity gives us lots to talk and laugh about.


Friday evening we have an ice cream social where everybody brings what ever they have for toppings and they can throw anything and everything on, depending on what they think their stomach can stand.  Usually there are various cookies also to feast on. 


Jeri always has some kind of game or trivia quiz for everyone to work on during the ice cream feed that involves the adults and kids. It usually centers around all of us getting to know each other better and promotes closer fellowship.

After the ice cream feed we usually have three or so tables of cards going, the most currently popular game being Wizard.  It is a great game because you can have 3 to 6 players and so it never matters if you end up with odd numbers of people wanting to play.  Problem is that after the game, there are always five or six die hards that want to play another round and so some of us stay up way too late.  Yes, I am one of those that if you throw a deck of cards on the table, I don't care much what the game is - I am playing.  

Saturday morning we have a continental breakfast of either donuts or cinnamon rolls with juice and coffee. It is a casual affair with people coming and going depending on when they roll out of bed.

Saturday afternoon is time for whatever.  Here is a group actively engaged in sleeping, reading, chit-chatting and even one ignoring all the others.  Morning is organized soft ball with any and all ages participating.  Afternoon is slippy slide and volley ball.
Then there are others that really want a close up inspection of  Elani's prize catch of crawdads. 
Mean while, the kids and younger parents are enjoying the slippy slide. The kids spend all afternoon enjoying the cool water pumped from the creek.