Bear-y Happy!! (Sessions 3 & 5, July 12)

By Sandy Schenck

Our Mini-campers jumped right in to mentor hikes and activities today, while our three-weekers got a chance to relax a little—and then revved it up again tonight with one of their favorite games.  All in all, another dazzling day at the GRP!

After breakfast this morning, Mini-campers headed back to their cabins to get everything they needed for morning mentor hikes—backpack, good hiking shoes, water bottles, sunscreen.  Then we met in the East Field, where our buses are, and set out.  One group hiked up to Uncle’s Falls, where they all had the opportunity to “polar bear”—standing under the waterfall for as long as it takes to yell “polar bear” three times.  Quite a few campers took the challenge!  Another group hiked to the Lower Bald, a bare or “bald” rockface that affords the hiker a magnificent view of the Green River Valley.  Our last group ventured into the Indian Cave, so named because according to local legend, Native Americans used it as a hiding place long ago.  Inside, they played some games; they also chewed up wintergreen mints—when you do that in the dark, you see sparks!

After lunch and rest hour, Mini campers enjoyed their first day of activities.  Campers were aiming at “wild” soda cans down at the BB Skeet range (one way to recycle old soda cans!); other campers were making dream-catchers in crafts.  In gardening, they explored the garden and snacked on sweet peas.  The swim lake was a popular destination, and campers had a great time paddling around and playing with noodles.  Hula hooping was also a popular choice; campers played a name game using the hula hoops and then …well, they hula hooped!  In outdoor skills, campers tried starting fire using flint and steel; they also learned how to build a shelter using branches and leaves.

After dinner—shepherd’s pie, biscuits, bean salad, salad bar, and key lime pie for dessert—Mini-campers gathered in the East Field for “Bob-tag”—an evening of tag games led by Bob.  We played blob-tag, hula hoop tag, and dead ant tag.  Campers and staff were running around like crazy and laughing hard—definitely one of the highlights of the day!  At the end of each evening program, we sing “Sisters Brothers” to close the day, and so when we were finished with Bob-tag, we faced the west and sang goodnight to each other.

You’ll find pictures from today’s Mini-camper adventures here, and more from yesterday (Opening Day) here.

As the Mini-campers were heading out on their hikes this morning, they saw groups of 3-weekers hiking back in from their camp-out, with lots of big smiles on their faces, too.  The theme camp-outs were a great success.  The Sunrise/Sunset group began by hiking up to watch the sunset at Long Rock; then they rose at 4 am the next morning to get over to the Lower Bald to watch the sunrise.  The “Are You Afraid of the Dark” group did a lot of night hiking;  they were down around Hemlock Field, and they enjoyed seeing the starry night skies.  They also found their way over to the Hemlock Grove and the old gravesite there; they hung out and told some stories.  The Live Action Oregon Trail hikers met some fictional challenges on their journey, surviving disease and loss of resources.  Along the way, they learned a lot about what life might have been like for pioneering families.  The Giggity Goofball Share ‘N’ Care group combined hiking and story-telling.  They trekked through the Pine Barrens to get to Turkey Field, and they played some games.  They also took turns sharing—they each had five minutes to tell their whole life story.  (Makes you think about what’s most important to relate!)  The Ultralight camp-out was lean and mean; they hiked a combined total of 41 miles!  Enough said.  Several campers chose the “Elysian Tipi” hike; they took down the tipi that has been residing at Base Camp these past few weeks and trucked it over to Mabun Mountain, where they set it up at the base.  Yesterday they hiked up to the top of Mabun Mountain, and last night they hung out in the tipi.  Our last theme, the Lord of the Rings hike, was an epic camp-out—pun intended.  Campers and staff assumed characters from the trilogy—they traveled enormous distances, at least in their imaginations, as they sought to save Middle Earth—they battled Orcs and they finally were able to throw the ring into Mount Doom (aka Uncle’s Falls).  They traveled across real land, too, and in their traipsing about, they saw … a bear!!  So that means we have a GRAND SLAM for this session!  (When campers and staff have seen a turkey, a bear, a deer, and a venomous snake, all in one session, that’s a Grand Slam.) Tomorrow, we’ll have ice cream and a fireworks display.  Very exciting for all!  (Pictures from the past few days!)

3-weekers got another surprise treat this afternoon—a visit to Dolly’s for ice cream!  After dinner tonight, they played Capture the Flag, and now, we are sure, after such an eventful past few days, they are already fast asleep.