Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, Beauty and the Beast

Good Saturday Afternoon!

The Bravo kids are gone.  The Aspire kids are gone.  The Grad Campers are gone.  For the first time, ever, we had to tell the bus to sit and wait for half an hour because we were EARLY and ready to go too soon, but if we let the bus leave that early, all of the kids would make it to their bus stops way sooner than their parents, and that’s bad news bears.

We had an excellent finish to the week with Bravo’s Beauty and the Beast performance in the afternoon.  Aspire got to go do some Archery yesterday morning, and then some low ropes team-building in the afternoon, following the performance.  There was a talent show in the evening following Spotlight (Frank’s teaching session), where apparently hosts Riley and Jacob had to stop the Bravo kids from performing long enough to get all of Aspire up to sing a song together.  Shocking, I know, that kids who signed up for a week long drama camp culminating in a musical production would want to participate endlessly in talent shows.

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Unfortunately, while taking pictures of the performance, I was struggling big time with the poor lighting in the chapel.  I don’t have nearly as many pictures as I’d have liked, but I do have lots from throughout the performance.  All of the Bravo kids performed wonderfully, and Riley stole the show again!  I think Jared would make an excellent candidate for the next Batman movie with his gruff, angry voice in his role as the Beast.  I’ve heard rumours that yesterday afternoon and evening, Lynn was being referred to by some as “the Beast’s Mom.”  How flattering 🙂

Thanks to Sherri for giving me her pictures of the kids during their final makeup and rehearsal prep, as I was in the tuck shop making sure all of the kids had their completely necessary and not at all superfluous run of candy for the day :).

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While I was across the road snapping pictures of the Aspire kids at low ropes (sorry, I have no pictures of the Archery, I was writing yesterday’s blog while they did it!), I came across two Grad Campers who were picking containers full of wild blackberries!  I picked a handful myself, and they were DELICIOUS!

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And, since it wouldn’t be one of my blogs if I didn’t finish it with a sunset, here ya go!


Rehearsals, Sets, Sandcastles, Paddleboards, and Water Colours

Good morning, readers.  Yesterday was a hot one!  We haven’t had heat like that since Blaze the third week of July.  I imagine it was much warmer in the South, but we were quite warm up here.  Like I said in yesterday’s post, we had a 5am thunderstorm.  We were a bit concerned that we’d have some icky weather through the day yesterday because there was a risk of thunderstorms throughout the day, but it was a gorgeous, hot, sunny, humid day with no more rain to be found.

That worked out really well, actually, because first thing yesterday morning, Aspire headed down to the beach to work on their leadership challenge building sandcastles.  In three different groups, one camper in each was named the leader for this activity.  They had to brainstorm together, design a concept that they wanted to build in the sand, justify their reasoning for it, and then build it, all while following the instructions of the leader of the group.  They were given about an hour to complete their task, and I got down there with about 15 minutes remaining to take pictures.  Reagan’s group, under the leadership of Melissa, designed theirs as God looking over all of creation, with clouds behind Him (Reagan was buried in the sand to serve as God), and animals and cities all around.  Noah’s group, under the leadership of Chris, designed and built the City of Light, which Frank had talked about at campfire the other night.  They built a lake, and the buildings all around a river, running down to the actual lake, and several bridges across the lake.  Finally, Kristen’s group, under the leadership of Aidon, built a canoe to symbolize the fun they were going to have canoeing when they were done this activity.  Everyone looked like they were working together quite nicely.

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After their sandcastle adventures, the Aspire group headed out on paddle boards and in kayaks for some time in the lake.  I’m not sure what they were doing out on the point of the island, but it looked like they were having fun at any rate.

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Bravo was working hard all day yesterday on final set preparation, and on final rehearsals for their Beauty and the Beast production which goes on this afternoon at 2pm.  They’ve been working hard all week, and while I was sitting outside yesterday reading a delightfully adventurous book, I heard the rehearsals taking place.  It blows my mind what these kids are able to crank out in a week in terms of memorization and acting.  They are talented individuals, to say the very least.

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In between all the rehearsals and the sandcastles and the paddle boarding/kayaking, I found a group of Grad Camp ladies doing some water colour painting and some scenic sketching with pencil crayons at one of the tables in the dining hall.  Who did I find right in the thick of all of it, just loving life?  Our very own Danielle, of course.  Apparently this isn’t out of character for her at all, though, as she’s right in there even during our Retirees’ retreats, playing games and chatting about life.  What a kid.


Theatre Olympics, Campfire, and Johnny Anyone

Good morning, readers.  Early early this morning, there were several booms of thunder (around 5am), there was some driving rain, and the power went out for about ten minutes.  I was briefly nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to write this to you today when I woke up with a jolt as everything that was creating white noise in my room powered down, but then I remembered that a few years ago, one of the retirees weekend groups spent their whole weekend hauling buckets of water from the lake just so they could flush toilets, as they spent a bunch of time without power.  Subsequently, they raised money to buy Camp a generator, and within 45 seconds of power loss, the power in the main lodge comes back to life.  Apparently the generator was only needed for about ten minutes, but I must have been asleep again by the time everything was self-sustaining.

I am going to give you yesterday’s events from Bravo first, and then Aspire, because it makes the most sense.

I went into town with the Bravo kids yesterday for ice cream because they needed some extra supervision, and I got to witness a few really neat things.  The first was, while ice cream is paid for by our programming costs for the kids who go into town, anything above beyond a small ice cream cone is something the kids would be responsible for themselves.  Jared bought a poutine, and his Bravo peers flocked to him like a group of hungry seagulls.  Charis stood looking on, declaring how gross poutine looked, and we discovered that she’d never tried it!  I, for one, was shocked because it’s one of my favourite foods.  Jared urged her to try it, and she repeatedly refused, until her brother Eran coerced her a bit more strongly into trying it.  She made some great faces as she was chewing and swallowing her first bite of fries, gravy, and cheese curds, and once it was down and we all prodded “how was it!?” she exclaimed that it is in fact disgusting.  Charis will not be ordering a poutine of her own any time soon.  I regret that I wasn’t fast enough with the camera for this, but I did capture Jared being swarmed over his Canadian delicacy.

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After everyone was finished their ice cream, we headed over to the locks where the three groups were given 5 more minutes to practice their Theatre Olympics from the morning, and then they would perform them on the dock by the dam, focusing on projecting their voices, because they’d need to in order to be heard over the rushing water pouring out of the dam.  I stood and waited with Eran, Riley, and Nat while Eran and Riley waited for onion rings.  I mentioned to Riley that he wasn’t going to have time to practice his theatre olympics, and he waved me off, informing me that it’s called improv, and he does it for pretty much anything.  That would make me really nervous if I hadn’t seen what Riley’s capable of in the last couple of years.  I mentioned it to Natalie, and she confirmed that indeed, Riley’s part in Beauty and the Beast is never the same twice, but we’re still looking forward to it!

On the way over, Jared took a tumble and scraped up his knee.  Luckily, Lynn was there and came to his rescue, taking him back to the boat and bandaging up his knee.  His group was pretty grateful to him for his tumble, because it meant that they didn’t have to perform their Theatre Olympics skit, and they didn’t feel quite ready.  I was assured that they’ll be going today, though, so they can’t get out of it entirely.  The two groups that did go did quite well.  I heard almost everything, and I was sitting way off to the side, so I imagine that they were pretty well heard by those sitting on the dock.  I also seized the opportunity of having everyone sitting in once place at one time to get a group shot of all of Bravo!  The thing I love most about an artsy camp, is that when you ask them to assemble for a picture, you don’t have to pose them at all.  I simply had to tell them where I wanted them so that I had the best light, and they posed themselves.  By the time I’d turned my head back to them after taking pictures of the setting sun, they were ready to go.  Unfortunately, as I look at the picture blown up, I realize that we’ve lost Jacob’s head while he was trying to help hoist Riley up, so I’ll have to get another shot of them all dressed up tomorrow following their performance.

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Later in the evening, the Bravo kids joined the Aspire kids to have campfire, led by Aspire.  Frank did a bit of teaching at the end of it, after the skits and the songs and all of the usual exuberance that goes hand-in-hand with campfires at Camp.  He taught a parable called Johnny Anyone and the Prince of the Kingdom of Light, which begins by teaching the value and importance of a relationship with Jesus, and ultimately illustrates how one lives in relationship with Christ.  As a result of this, a Bravo camper who’s been intently listening to Frank’s teaching all week, and asking insightful questions to boot, has given their life to Christ!  We are SO excited over here, and I could just picture the angels in Heaven partying down last night.  I won’t reveal more detail than that, because it’s something super exciting that this camper will want to share with their own family, but we are thrilled.

As you’ve read above, yesterday’s key task for Aspire was to lead campfire.  They’ve done this in groups the past three nights, and Frank said that it was really nice to watch this group of kids learn from watching the other groups prior to them, and that campfire was a blast and it appeared that everyone had fun.  The group leading campfire led everyone in a skit called the Magical Magnifying Machine, or something like that, where someone would throw something small into the machine, and something larger would be thrown back out.  When it came time for an audience member to come spit into the machine though, that’s where things got funny.  You’ll have to ask your kids how this went down.

Earlier in the day, I also witnessed one of Frank’s teaching sessions to the Aspire group.  I’m not sure what he was teaching on, because I was being sneaky and I took the pictures through the windows of the Pine Room, but the kids look like they’re listening intently, and that’s something I always love to see.

Well, I need to wrap this up, as Aspire’s key task today is to build sandcastles using team work and effective group communication so I need to get to the beach before they’re done.  Until tomorrow!  While you wait, check out sunsets from a different perspective — the locks in Magnetawan!

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For ice cream we will go!

Yesterday was a lovely day.  It was warm, breezy, humid, and there were not clouds to be found.  Don’t worry, we’re making sure your kids stay hydrated, especially today as it’s quite humid and warm.

On the Aspire front, they went for a Nature Hike yesterday, escorted by Frank, to the Beaver Dam.  The water around the dam is mostly dried up, so they were able to walk across the dried up mud to quite close to the dam itself.  When they got too close though, the mud got thicker and the passage to the Beaver Dam was a bit trickier.  It didn’t stop a few of our girls, though.  Off came the shoes, and they plodded through the mud until they were right beside the dam, able to see down into what a beaver dam looks like close up.  Frank did not take off his shoes, though, which explained why when Nancy and I returned from North Bay, his shoes were outside of the door, letting the mud dry and cake up so it could be banged off.

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Apparently Campfire was a huge success last night, led by Aspire kids once again.  Cassandra and Stephanie brought some new skits and songs into the mix from a different camp they’ve attended, and were able to lead the Aspire and Bravo group in the new fun.  Here at Camp, we’re always looking for new ways to be goofy and loud at Campfire, so while I wasn’t there, I’m sure it was fantastic!

Bravo spent the day doing their usual rehearsal blocks, and then in the afternoon they got to take the Pontoon Boat across our little bay here, around the corner to Crown Island.  I wasn’t there, and I have no pictures, but I hear they had fun all around.

After dinner, the Pontoon Boat was put to good use again (what would we do without this thing??  Kayak to the island, and drive to town, I imagine, but where’s the fun in that!?).  Chris and Sherri (along with Madelyn and Isaac) took the support staff (those who aren’t in cabins) into Magnetawan on the boat for ice cream.  I did go on this activity, because even on your day off, who doesn’t love free ice cream!?  Naturally, I also took tons of pictures along the way.

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Today was a lovely day.  It was warm, it was sunny, it was breezy.  It was so breezy in fact, that I found a streamer roll on the ground outside of the chapel, and once I picked it up to roll it up, the tail end never hit the ground.  The wind let it lick at the beautiful blue sky.

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I snuck in on the first Bravo rehearsal this afternoon.  They are working on Beauty and the Beast, and were listening to and then singing along with the first song — the one where Belle flits through town, sitting at the fountain, going into the library, etc. (if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know the scene of which I speak).  There are some talented singers in this bunch, I remember them from last year.  The only one that I heard today practicing though was Charis.  Her voice is stunningly beautiful, and I can’t wait for the production on Friday afternoon.
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I talked to Frank this afternoon about his highlights from the Aspire program, since he’s both the Camp Pastor and the program director this week.  He mentioned that he’s got a very eager, happy to participate group of kids.  They were doing some getting to know you chats last night, and he said that most of them were willing and eager to contribute to the conversations.  Throughout the day today, three of the kids in the program were given the role of leaders of Campfire tonight, which is not necessarily something they would naturally have gravitated toward.  That will come to fruition tonight when they actually lead the fire.  Evidently, their challenge was to continue leading, even if someone who would have a natural tendency to take over would want to step in.

I look forward to seeing more of the leadership skills innately borne within these kids throughout the rest of the week, as well as witnessing firsthand the natural talent within the Bravo kids drawn out and showcased.

As I headed upstairs to write this blog and watch some Downton with my Mama, I saw the Grad Campers watching a movie in the Pine Room.  This is a tradition they enjoy annually, complete with fresh-popped popcorn.  Tomorrow morning, they continue the tradition of a 7:00 am island swim.  They’re brave, and I know that they take some of our kids with them on their swim as well, every year.  They’ll be knighted into the order of the Polar Bear at the end of the week, in true Grad Cramp tradition.

I don’t have much else to say, tonight.  Enjoy this short blog, and enjoy your Tuesday tomorrow!

Bravo! Bravo! (and Aspire, and Grad)

Well, it’s happened.  We’re back in Kids’ Camp mode.  Kind of.  We are running three camps this week — Bravo, Aspire, and Grad.

Bravo is a Drama camp that’s been running the past five or six years, under Liz’s leadership.  Since Liz is no longer our programming director, and is not here now, we have passed the reins into the capable hands of Natalie and Jordanne.  The Bravo campers, kids between the ages of 11 and 15 with a flair for the dramatic, are working all week on a production of Beauty and the Beast, which they’ll perform on Friday afternoon, in amongst other typical camp activities like water sports and campfires.

Grad Camp is a rental group that has been using our facilities happily for decades, and continue to come back.  They were a graduating group from the Christian Fellowship group, I believe at the University of Toronto, and were looking for a place to have a reunion.  They’ve been back every year since, many of them bringing along their children and grandchildren with them now.

Aspire is a program that is new this year.  It’s for aspiring leaders.  It’s the first step in our leadership training programs.  We’re looking to expand our leadership program, and this is one of the ways we’re doing that.  It’s kind of like a precursor to our Crew program.  Kids aged 13 and 14 are on site, working with Frank this week.  They’re doing servant leadership training which involves team building, and practical leadership training in other various activities.  They will be given opportunity to develop and hone their leadership tendencies through various tasks, whether individually or as a team.  There are, of course, other activities for them which are kids-camp style, including water sports and campfires, among others.  This program features an emphasis on developing faith, growing independence and self confidence, and leadership trough service of others, while learning about service from a Biblical point of view.

Here they all are, getting off the bus, ready for a week of awesome at Camp!

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The weather has been downright lovely the past couple of days here, and is set to continue along this trend throughout the rest of the week, with a possible blip on Thursday, but we can handle that.  We actually have humidex values into the 30s this week!  Since it’s been quite chilly though, the leaves have begun to turn in varying degrees of intensity.

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But when the sun shines so brilliantly, and there’s hardly any wind and not a cloud in the sky, as was the case Saturday, yesterday, and again today (though it’s a wee bit hazy and breezy today), the lake sparkles like it’s covered in millions of little diamonds.


This kind of sparkly water is inviting, even if it’s a little chilly.  On Saturday, it encouraged Jared and Nat to do some hand fishing.  I don’t think they caught anything, but they had fun anyway.

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It also encouraged jumping in feet first off of the dock, for a refreshing dip in Ahmic Lake.  It’s been a little while since I’ve seen people so eager to just fling themselves into the lake!


The other thing I observed this weekend, were some bona fide camp kids in the making.  All summer, we’ve been watching Chris and Sherri’s kids, Madelyn and Isaac, along with Jay and Trish’s youngest, Danielle, just absolutely love life at Camp.  Madelyn and Isaac went from being kind of shy and a little hesitant, to dancing around, loving life, banging on water cisterns (I think Isaac may want to be a drummer like his Dad), and getting right in there and comfy with our staff.  Danielle is a girl I’ve seen dive head first into every single aspect of camp life, happily, and enthusiastically.  The girl always has a smile on her face, whether she’s helping her Mom in the kitchen, sneaking in on a programming meeting, or just hanging out with some kids.

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Check out this chipmunk I saw!


And as always, Camp sunsets never disappoint.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the dock in time to get pictures as the sun was actually setting last night, but as my Mama and I sat on the dock just chilling until it was too cold to do so anymore, we watched the reflected colours from the sky turn the water a gorgeous orangey purple colour, that my camera failed miserably to adequately capture, but I took some pictures anyway.

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Stay tuned throughout the rest of the week for pictures of Bravo and Aspire, and some updates about what’s going on here at Camp this week!  We have a week and a half left of our summer season, can you believe it?  Crazy.