My friends from college like to go camping with our families at least once a summer. This year we planned way in advance (thanks to Kellie) and spent our trip up at the Heber Valley Camp, an enormous campground owned and operated by the LDS church.
(This is what the cabins look like.)
I’d never heard of the place before; it was only built over the last 5-10 years, its main purpose for providing a location for young women to attend Girl’s Camp. The place is gorgeous — snug wooden cabins, lighted pavilions with cooking stations, showers, and bathrooms. There are a series of ropes courses (you know, with swings and zip lines and such to build teamwork/character) AND a beautiful little lake with canoes and paddleboats.
We took advantage of it all. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera — but here’s what I remember best:
The kids roaming in packs — there were some 15-odd kids ages 8 and under. They skittered from cabin to cabin, passing around walkie-talkies, shining flashlights at each other, and arguing over the elaborate rules involved in a game of Uno.
My kids each had a different response to toasting marshmallows over the fire pit: Eleanor would hold hers too close to the flame, then scream when it caught fire while whapping the poor mallow on the ground. Jeffrey just like to drop the marshmallows directly into the fire, then jump up and down while watching them slowly explode. William, on the other hand, took his father’s advice and held his marshmallow on the edge of the flames, patiently rotating it on its stick until it was nicely browned.
My job was to hand out marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate for s’mores. Little Adam and Arwen are gluten intolerant, and kept asking about it in the most adorable little baby-voices: “Does dis cwacker have gluten? I am awergic to gluten.”
That night, with the children (theoretically) asleep in their bunks, the grownups gathered in the pavilion to play games. We made silly jokes and ribbed each other; it reminded me of when we were all in school together. Loved it.
. . . that is, until it was 11:00 and we realized that several of the kids were still partying it up in Cabin A. Aw, nuts.
What we ate the next morning: eggs, pancakes, sausage AND bacon AND hash browns AND fruit. For beverages, cocoa with marshmallows and juice. Collaborative meal-making rules.
Owing to some clerical error, our reservations for the child-friendly ropes course was misdirected; we ended up on a course with a zipline. A few of the older children actually completed the course though — little Abby, her glasses decorated with black pipe cleaners to look like Harry Potter’s, stretched up so high to shuffle across the tightrope! Her fingers barely curled around the guideline — it was amazing. Jeffrey wasn’t as interested in doing the zipline as he was in greeting people after they zoomed to the bottom.
After lunch, we hit the lake. I stayed on shore with Katie in the shade of a pavilion and had fun watching the boats. The sun was bright, flattening the lake into a steel-grey pan. As the canoes and paddleboats moved away from shore, the people devolved into little sparks of color, slowly gliding back and forth in the heat.
Somehow Jeffrey and his friends Lucas and Sam ended up in a canoe by themselves. One of the senior missionaries working the shoreline pushed them off, and they paddled about by themselves. They didn’t do so bad, they managed their way around the lake just fine. Although there were a few going-in-circles moments, and one time when they drifted back towards shore and had to be shoved off again.
I called them the S.S. Knuckleheads.