Monday, September 12, 2016

Mars Cousin Camp 2016

One of the major highlights of our trip to Ohio was attending Mars Cousin Camp. Our group has grown quite large (35 grandkids and 2 more on the way) and unruly, so we've outgrown most cabins and normal-size dwellings. Camp was instead centered around central Ohio since several of my siblings live around there. The kids and I stayed at a different house each night to squeeze the most quality time with each sibling. We stayed with Dave and Sarah one night; the kids enjoyed playing on the trampoline, chasing kittens, watching chickens, and having a sleepover in the living room. I enjoyed going for a long run with Dave, who knew every dog and its temperament within a 10-mile radius of his house and knew every "water stop" (unattended and easily accessible water hose, usually on the side of a house). I also enjoyed coming home from that run to Sarah's french toast, made from homemade bread and eggs from their chickens alongside homemade strawberry jam and honey from their beehives. Awesome!

Anyway, Cousin Camp started out with an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for my nephew, Josh. We all watched him earn his Eagle award, then went out for lunch afterward (that would be Phoebe harassing Uncle Will above while waiting for pizza). After getting some sustenance, we headed out for the main event: canoeing!
 We are such a large group that it takes forever to do anything. So it took awhile to carpool to the boating place. Then get everyone fitted for life jackets. Then get oars for everyone. Then get loaded onto buses to get shuttled to the starting point.
 The kids were pumped. Oliver was so pumped that he fell asleep on the bus-ride upriver. We all split up into different canoes, trying to distribute kids and adults somewhat equally.
 I lucked out and got my nephew Xander to come with me and a sleeping Oliver. He did most of the work.
 Phoebe went with Janis and declared herself captain of the ship.
Oliver slept for five river miles, missing the entire thing. He woke up a few minutes later and said, "Where's my oar?" He was a bit confused.
We headed to a farm-themed restaurant for dinner and pretty much took over the place. Somewhere behind all those cousins is a tractor. That night, we stayed with Erik and Lois. We slept on the floor/ couch/ cot, played in their backyard, ate peaches and tomatoes from their garden, and went to church with them.
That afternoon we went to a homeless shelter to serve food - our last planned cousin camp activity.
We chopped watermelons and assembled nacho salads, but in the end I didn't help all that much: Oliver woke up from a nap while there and went berserk. I think the combination of sleeping in a different place every night and then waking up in a strange place with a crowd of strange faces threw him over the edge. He wouldn't calm down, so we left and headed for Karyn's house - our landing pad for the night. See you next time, Mars Cousin Camp!

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