RR had picked out a great spot for us out at Pace Bend. There were only a few campers scattered around the cove, and they were all quiet enough that I felt kind of bad that we were turning loose 12 kids. The kids had a blast running around without parents tagging right behind them. Freedom is a wonderful thing.
So much happened, and I am too tired to weave it all together into a cohesive narrative, so here are some highlights.
We had 12 kids there, ages 3 through 9, and they all played together wonderfully. The big kids played with the little kids; the boys played with the girls. Amazingly, everyone got along really well. There were a few minor skirmishes, but nothing that warranted any real parental involvement.
It started raining as we were getting dinner ready, so the kids all crowded under the big canopy the Ss brought, while the parents huddled under umbrellas next to the grill. FS and WS kept all the other kids entertained with stories, including the funniest version of Goldilocks I've ever heard.
The s'mores were a huge hit. LR got the kids all lined up and did eenie-meenie to decide who went first with the roasting sticks. EK introduced us all to something called Banana Boats that involved a banana, mini-marshmallows, and chocolate chips wrapped in tin foil and roasted on the fire. The kids who actually ate the banana boats loved them. FS licked her banana peel clean.
The kids all sat around the fire telling stories before heading into various tents for card games and more stories. This calmed everyone down that bedtime, at least in our tent after two chapters of Ella's book, went really smoothly.
Ella woke me up at 4:30, convinced she heard wolves. It must have been a witching hour, because I heard several other parents quieting down their kids. Lily never even stirred. Our tent was on a slight decline, and by morning she and her sleeping bag had slid down into the bottom corner into a ball. All I could see was her hair sticking out.
It struck me as the kids were all waking up and I heard their fathers talking to them (LR and I were the only moms there), how great all these dads are. You could tell from the way that they were dealing with their kids that this wasn't a one-time thing. They are involved in the care and feeding of their kids on a daily basis - they aren't just "weekend" dads. These kids, all 12 of them, are so lucky to have two parents involved in their lives.
I took notes on what food to bring the next time I go camping, in like five years. TJ brought macaroni and cheese, which the kids loved. And KS fed pretty much everyone this morning with his pancakes. By the time B got his eggs and bacon going, everyone was stuffed - so he ate all the bacon on his own.
The kids were desperate to go on a hike. One of the kids, either MK or WS, handed EK a note that said: Hiking is good/ hiking is great/ we might see a cow/ take us camping now.
After packing up the campsite and loading the car, we did take the kids on a short hike. As we started walking along, Lily asked B when we were going hiking. When he told her that's what we were already doing, she rolled her eyes and said, "Daddy, hiking is more than just walking around." B and I both nearly fell over laughing.
So we're home. We're clean. And we're tired. B and I have both taken naps, and all the kids are tucked in. Campbell was worn out from his busy night with grandaddy. I think it's time for me to go back to bed. Tomorrow I'll have to unpack and start on the laundry.