Wednesday, August 22, 2012

family camp

the kids and i went to wohelo family camp.

we'd only been camping together once before.  that was as a family of four and it involved overnights.  i figured i could handle a day camp with the two kids myself.  we knew others who were coming and everything was organized for us - all we needed to do was get there and bring our lunches.

it was a beautiful drive to camp gold hollow near grass valley/nevada city.  the kids were none too pleased to have to get up so early, but they were engaged by the beautiful scenery once we turned north off I-80: rolling hills, tall trees, grazing animals, and construction vehicles galore.

ander gets anxious about new situations (a little like his mama), and though i explained what we'd be doing, he needed to get the lay of the land on his own.  fortunately, this camp experience was carefully and deliberately planned to allow for individual needs and differences within a larger group setting.  as long as we followed the camp rules and practiced safety, we could participate in the ways that were most comfortable for us.  diana happily went with our friend alice to familiarize herself with the grounds, while ander and i meandered and explored on our own.
towards the waterfront
field games area
campfire (for closing songs)
towards arts & crafts
finding his own pathway up to the lodge, saying to himself, "i can do it"
after group introductions and locating our camp guide, diana glommed onto another family who had a 9-year-old daughter and a younger brother, and the two girls stuck together most of the day.  that worked well for everyone, as diana was interested in just about every activity offered (e.g., hiking w/ compass, nature sculptures, dreamcatchers), whereas once ander found the waterfront he flatly refused to leave it for the rest of the day.  that meant i spent more of the camp experience with ander, but it turned out ok, because diana had a great time and felt confident in her independence from me and her brother.  i didn't get pictures of her, though, except in the water.

the waterfront was marvelous.  there was plenty of shallow water for us to wade in and try to catch little fish with nets.  ander was particularly interested in the canoes and the vast expanse of water, which we likened to the great grey-green greasy limpopo river, all set about with fever trees (from rudyard kipling's the elephant's child), though it was, in fact, a little lake.

after lunch, diana completed the swim test so she could go into the deep water, but she was happiest taking ander or other younglings around in inflatable boats for excursions in the shallow area.
we all got to canoe!  oh, that was lovely.  walter was our guide, first taking me and ander, then diana.  ander was so happy to have his own paddle, dipping it in and out of the water the way we had practiced.  walter took us to a favorite spot with water lilies.  ander felt just like he was in monet's garden (after having read and watched linnea in monet's garden a number of times).


though neither of my children wanted to pull away from the water at the end of the day, we all managed to make it over to the campfire ring for a musical closing.  diana was all excited to learn and sing along, while ander did his usual thing and watched and listened intently, saving his singing for the ride home, in his sleep, and upon waking the next morning.  enthusiastic renditions of boom-a-chicka-boom and the out the window song were particularly amusing and have stuck in our heads and are now part of our daily soundtrack as we play.
feeding his body with watermelon, feeding his heart and head with music
both kids asked if we could come back again.  the next day.  that's the best endorsement ever for an experience like this.  if it were available, i would gladly say yes to them.

thank you to all the volunteers and organizers and everyone who made this experience possible for us.  it brought us great joy and made for wonderful memories.

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