Surprisingly enough, sleeping in a tent on the ground is not the most comfortable of beds. Shocking, I know. I forgot to pack pillows, too, and we were short one sleeping bag so, well...you can imagine. I also forgot how every sound is heard through a single-skin tent wall (or any tent wall for that matter)...both inside and outside. Several of us caught bits and pieces of a bedtime story that Justin shared with the kids. (Apparently each one of them contributed to the story which involved giant roaches, a Princess Gima, vampire bats, and trying to make the kingdom the worst in the land. Humorous to say the least.) You also find out rather quickly who the snorers are around you and uh, who knew leaves were so loud?! Anyway, we survived and the kids actually slept better than I anticipated.
When we finally ventured out of our tent Sunday morning, several people were already awake and making breakfast. The kids were in quite a hurry to get back to their cave, particularly Sadie, so I didn't even bother with changing her jeans. I was kind of surprised that Justin didn't change Sadie and Josiah into their pajamas the night before (although, I'm surprised at myself for being surprised. Dads don't typically worry or think about that sort of stuff.). Truth be told, they were probably warmer in their clothes than they would have been in their pjs. Still, if she was that excited about "caving" (which would undoubtedly lead to muddy pants), why change her? So, off she went to have another adventure. She also made a fierce and fast friend while we were there. One of the other tiger den leaders has a daughter around her same age. They were having a blast finding bugs and chasing each other. As I write this, it strikes me as extremely ironic that Sadie is so much more of a Miss Priss at home, a real fashionista, but also exhibits many "tomboy" behaviors outdoors. She didn't shriek when she saw the bat, grasshopper, praying mantises, walking sticks, or stink bugs. At home, she'd call them "yucky bugs" and quickly try to "killed them" but out among nature she was fascinated and wanted to see them up close.
While the kids were off exploring and climbing trees, Justin and I attempted to help with breakfast. We learned a lot about how to cook over a campfire or camping stove. Dutch ovens are apparently a camper's must-have. I don't believe there's much of anything that can't be made in a dutch oven. Also, Justin was even told that you can cook bacon and eggs in a paper bag. Somehow the grease is supposed to keep the bag from catching on fire?? We're planning to google that one. Sounds kind of weird, if you ask me. And did you know you can make omelets by placing prepared baggies into boiling water? We also watched our friends roast biscuits on a stick. It was quite a lesson in camping cuisine. ;)
Our other den leader, Kerry, went overboard fixing our meals. Not that I'm complaining, we probably ate better than any other den there! He made cheeseburgers for lunch Saturday and pancakes, bacon, eggs, and biscuits for breakfast Sunday. He would have made some gravy, too, if we'd had any flour. Saturday night's meal was provided by the Pack. Yummy taco soup ladled over corn chips and topped with cheese. It was all so good! Big thanks to Kerry for our den meals and Adam for Saturday night's meal.
Once everyone had had a chance to eat, we met over in the amphitheater for communion and group pictures before breaking camp. I was really impressed that a communion was planned and offered at this event. There's something about taking communion with believers outside of our typical fellowship and assembly that opens my eyes to how much more we are connected to Jesus across "denominational" lines or circles. Whatever our theological differences may be, we are still brothers and sisters in Christ communing together around His Holy Table. How much greater is our God than we could ever comprehend! The change of atmosphere and seeing and hearing the beauty of God's creation all around us was indescribably moving. It was a welcomed breath of fresh air and perspective.
Next, photo time! Of course, taking pictures of a large group doesn't come without its challenges...particularly when your subjects are elementary kids...and particularly when they're boys. :) We were able to get some decent shots, though. Here is a photo of just our den. We're in the middle holding boy, girl, boy. Do you see us? :)
After the photos, we broke camp and then started our service project of cleaning up trash around our camping site. Our boys were certainly not very interested until I tried to make it more like a game. "Can you find the soda can? The first person to find the soda can and bring it to me gets a piece of candy when we get home!" That definitely got Josiah's attention. He'd earned two pieces in a matter of minutes. I know some people frown upon rewarding with food or candy, but what can I say? It works. :)
After gathering trash, it was clear that the boys were ready to go home, evidenced by the fact that they came and told us so. ;) We told them we were going to take a little hike first and that idea was met with dismay. "No, not a hike. I want to go home," in a whiny, pleading voice. Nonetheless, this was part of an achievement and Justin and I were pretty sure that they'd change their minds once they saw where we were hiking. (And we were right. When it was time to go, it was non-stop, "I don't want to go home. I want to hike some more.")
This was my first time to Blanchard Springs so I didn't really know what to expect. It was a short walk from the parking area and we quickly met up with some of our other cub scout compadres gathered around the spring, some wading in the waters. I guess Josiah wanted to try his hand at that because he made his way out onto the rocks and into the water before we could say boo. Of course, he slipped once or twice and soaked his shoes, socks, and jeans. That's when I looked at Justin who was standing some distance away and said deliberately so everyone could hear, "Look at what your son just did." haha Well, his son nearly gave me a heart attack skipping across some rocks that were dangerously close to where the "pool" ended and the "stream" began, if you catch my drift. He could have easily slipped and hit his head on a rock. The water was pretty shallow so I wasn't really worried about him drowning...more losing his footing and smashing his head on a rock or breaking a leg. He's fairly accident-prone, so I don't think I was overreacting. Needless to say, his wet clothes marked the end of our hike and the beginning of our good-byes. I snapped a few pics that I'll hopefully be able to post soon. Sadie looked exceptionally beautiful with her dirt-covered face, too. *wink*
The spring was refreshing and beckoned me to stick my feet in but I refrained. Definitely worth the stop before leaving, despite the soggy outcome. I just love the sound of a mountain stream. It's so calming and relaxing. We'd like to take a trip back there again sometime. Who knows? Maybe the cub scouts will go again next year and I can wade in the water then. ;) There was also a small waterfall that we stopped to see. I was the only one to get out of the car that time, just to get a picture. Everyone else stayed in the car and saw it through glass.
On the drive home, Josiah started feeling sick. We tried our usual trick of turning the air on full blast (which just about resulted in human popsicles) and I had found some peppermint oil that I used on our last trip to Georgia for motion sickness. You just dab a few drops onto your finger and then rub them on the soft pocket behind their ears. It normally works like a charm but I think we were too late getting it on him. We had to stop but escaped any major mishaps requiring major cleaning, thank goodness. He was fine after that.
When we finally arrived, we were all so happy to be home. We really had a marvelous time but all 5 of us were completely wiped out! All 3 of the kids fell asleep during some part of the drive and Jackson was still asleep when I turned the car off. Poor little guy is at home sick today, too. The nurse called me this morning to come pick him up from school. The principal walked him to the office straight from the cafeteria after he didn't eat any of his breakfast (which I'm happy to hear is unusual) and coming in crying. He never even made it to his classroom. He has a small ulcer in his throat and a low-grade fever. It's certainly not slowing him down, though, or keeping him from talking. Hopefully, he'll feel well enough to return to school tomorrow. I'm supposed to give a presentation to Josiah's class in the morning about our Native American heritage. I really don't know a whole lot about that side of my family but the internet actually fills in many of the gaps. Please keep us in your prayers, that Jackson will heal quickly and be well enough to go to school tomorrow and that I'll have a presentation interesting enough to hold the attention of a bunch of 5 year olds. I'll let you know how it goes, if I'm able to make it!