July first rolled in with the start of fourth session. It was a really fun one because there were so many older campers, because it was the biggest session we've ever had (96 campers), and because so many of them were returners (80 out of the 96). We had several campers participating in the Hero II program, which is a leadership training program for the oldest campers. Karina was at camp this session, which was her last one as a camper. This makes me very sad. She was just a little girl a few years ago, and now she's too old to return as a camper next summer! Mom went home this session as well, so the kids and I had two quality weeks together with no one else around. It was my intention to get a ton of stuff accomplished. I got about three pounds accomplished, barely a dent in the ton, but at this point any step forward is a good one.
I also didn't take many pictures.There are just a few from the Saturday mid-session Wild West day.
Here's an impromptu camper/counselor bluegrass airband.
Keep your coin on top of the flour while your opponent tries to take it down the longest and you win. Lose, and you get a face full of flour.
I don't remember the Amish being a big part of the wild west...
Sheriff Rambo and his faithful staff sidekicks try to keep those rowdy campers under control.
Himstedt kids don't care if they're officially campers each session or not, they still play everything they can.
"Cactus juice" chugging. Ew.
It was a terrific session, which flew by like all the others. Fifth session was to be the last, and the first time we ever held one during that two weeks. Amelia had been asking for some time to go, really since earlier in the year when she realized her birthday would happen during the session. She thought it would be great to have a camp birthday. She had already been to two one-week sessions, but since she really wanted to go and had friends were coming we said yes. The kid would be perfectly happy moving out today, I think. I was always kind of like that myself though, so I get it.
We got to hang out with Amanda one more time before she headed back to Singapore.
We met at El Campesino on Friday evening.
The gang. After we finished eating I felt like I should have brought my own vacuum to clean up after the young 'uns. Chips aren't the neatest of foods in the hands of children.
Amanda and the chilrens.
Fifth session started on July 15th. I decided to forego the move-in shot of Amelia with Bubbles and Willow, who were her counselors yet again. In her three summers of camp Amelia has never been in any cabin but Rockcreek, and never in a cabin without Bubbles. Two of those summers also included Willow. They spent as much time with her this summer as I did! She was in the cabin with Meg, who returned after coming first session, and with Ruth, who returned after coming third session. One of Ruth's cousins was in her cabin as well. She was a happy girl.
Karina returned to hang out with us during the session, which, as usual, was a huge blessing. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do next summer because she'll be too old to come as a camper. I think I've had my last summer of being spoiled. :(
I didn't take any pictures of the first week of 5th session, as I was in accomplish stuff mode. My goals for 5th session were to get the plan for school this year decided for sure, get books ordered, and to ride a horse every day since my riding time is so limited during the rest of the year. I rode nearly every day, which I completely enjoyed, and also decided to bite the financial bullet and order Sonlight, which is a curriculum several folks I know highly recommended. I'll report on my experience with it later, as we are now three weeks into school.
On Saturday in the middle of 5th session, July 21, Avery was in a wedding. Jenny M. babysat for us some and we know her from church, and she asked Avery to be her ring bearer. He and I went to the rehearsal and dinner on Friday evening, and picked up his tux. The wedding was at 2:00 on Saturday, and he had to be there early for pictures.
I took a few pictures of my own.
Is he not cute?!
He had some ideas of his own about the photo shoot.
Avery's creepy no-eyeballs look.
Here he is in full attire.
Avery with Kevin, the groom.
Just for fun.
Jennie with Avery and the flower girl.
The bridal party.
Avery did well and I was proud of him. James came as well, and read a passage of Scripture. He had to finish Wild West morning at camp first. It was a Catholic wedding, a first for me, so I didn't know exactly what to expect. It was over pretty quickly though, 20 minutes, which is probably a good thing since a five year old boy has a pretty limited ability to stand still. I told him if he did what he was asked and behaved I would treat him to a surprise afterwards. I'm not usually one to use bribes but this situation called for extreme measures. We picked up his first Beyblade on the way home.
The biggest bummer about being gone that Saturday is that it was Amelia's 9th birthday. She was looking forward to having a camp birthday and I'm sure she didn't miss us. I decorated her chair in the dining hall the night before and the siblings made and delivered cards to her that morning at breakfast. We also gave her her birthday gift, a pink digital camera.
She had a birthday cake to share with her cabin at lunch, had happy birthday sung to her by the entire camp, and generally had a fun and special day. That night was supposed to be camp out for the girls but the weather had been nasty off and on all day, so the girls had a huge slumber party in the gym instead. It's hard to believe she's nine. I can't say that I love the idea, mostly because nine means she's halfway to out of the house. I don't like it. This is a sweet girl, who I love a little more each day. She's so much fun, with a terrific sense of humor and a caring spirit. We're really proud of her.
Here's what James was doing while Avery and I were at the wedding photo shoot. He gave up his former role as Sheriff of Wild West day in favor of a Native American persona.
How. Me ride'um no saddle.
The Strong Rock native tribal people take special care to train their horses well.
On Sunday we had church at camp. That afternoon the campers played Castaway. I finally got my camera out.
After a scavenger hunt type game all over camp, teams come back to the lake to build "rafts" to try to float across the lake from dock to dock while keeping the team members aboard dry.
Meg and her cousin Davis.
Bennett getting a lift aboard his team's raft.
The rest of this series of pictures are ones I snapped randomly over the next week.
Amelia and Esther enjoyed swimming together during free skill time.
Drama is the one skill class Amelia took all three sessions she was at camp.
Lots of campers enjoy having Elizabeth around.
Anna Grace, Ruth, and Amelia as cats.
Take a bow.
I love Romeo. Such a good boy for such small campers.
Abby, who goes as "Spurs" during the summer, my camp horseback riding program director. She's a great head of the riding program, a fellow horse enthusiast, and most importantly, a friend!
Amelia and camp buddies.
We had a visit from Carrot (Lauren), who worked for us for three summers. We missed her this summer.
Canoe swamping day.
Hanging out with friends between shots is fun, too.
Amelia was proud to get to lead the pack and carry the Waya flag to Council Ring, the final game and campfire of the session.
Yep, her hair is green.
Meg and Ruth. Looks like we really should look into cleaning the shower heads in the cabins. Green hair is gross.
T-Bone got to practice his artistic skills at the campfire circle with colored wood shavings.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Waya have won the Honor of the Warrior (points accumulated for the session) award!
Here are a few shots from the final closing ceremony for the parents. Drama performed "The Little Red Hen."
Amelia didn't take dance but got to step in with a part that needed partners since she had a bit of experience with the dance from early sessions.
Awahili and Waya both write and perform songs to be performed at Tribal Council and for the parents on the last day. The Waya had the coolest one I've ever seen this session.
It even had a beat that carried through the song. Trashcan percussion is cool.
"So wave your flag, so wave your flag..."
Elizabeth was glad to see Lydia, who was spending time at Camp Grandma while the older siblings were at camp.
And, the Pride of the Tribe award (for spirit) also goes to the Waya. Amelia felt like it was a note to go out on.
Kids went home after that, and aside from having Amelia home (yes, I missed her), it was a sad day. The end of camp means the summer fun's mostly over. Staff worked hard for the rest of the day, then we had a staff banquet that night.
Here are a couple of really sorry pictures from the banquet. Awards were given, stories shared, and it was a great close to an incredible summer.
I'm getting ready to take my camera in for a good cleaning and recalibration, whatever that means. All I know is my automatic setting isn't behaving as it should. I know it's not just pilot error this time.
Every day I am amazed that we get to live the life we are living. Camp is an incredible place where spiritual and personal growth are the norm, and fun is second to none. Watching service in action everyday, so much self-sacrifice on the part of the staff, is really motivational. It's a bubble I don't like to step out of, so when it packs up and leaves when camp is over it's always somewhat of a shock. It was another terrific summer, and we're grateful to God for letting us be a part of another one.
The next day the kids and I went to McDonald's in Gainesville to help Kory Sumption celebrate his sixth birthday. It was definitely with a heavy heart, and a big load of sadness. No little guy should have to turn six without his dad in his life. Several weeks after the accident I'm still at a loss to make sense of Todd's life being taken so early. Tamara is holding up as well as she can, and the kids are trying to adjust to the new normal, but the hole will always be there.
Happy birthday, Kory.
Presents, friends, and family abounded that day, and his sixth birthday was as good as it could be. One of his birthday requests was a bike ride with his dad, which is heartbreaking...but in a few Saturdays there will be a bike ride in Todd's honor at the White County High School, and money raised will go to the family.
And that, my friends, concludes July.
I am currently sitting in a house on Lake Seed with James and the kids, Mom and Dad, and Jonathan and Lisa and my nieces. We've been enjoying our (post) summer vacation this week, swimming in extra cold water, playing in a waterfall, riding the pontoon boat (which we have also tubed and skied behind), and fishing. Well, others have enjoyed fishing. I wish I enjoyed it, I think I'm too impatient for it. It's a great place, owned by friends of my folks', and we are enjoying ourselves very much. Because I'm not at home I am sitting here catching up on my blog!
Perhaps I will even get to August. We'll see!