Friday, June 29, 2007

Camp photos

Some more photos from the homeschoolers' family camp we attended this past week.

That's Noah up on the high wire, easily walking between the trees. None of my kids seems to have the slightest concern about heights. They shrugged and said it was "easy" to walk high beams, drop themselves off rock faces, or strut the high wire.

Fiona wasn't directly involved in any of the activities, but did enjoy making some limited supervised use of some of the equipment, including the tarzan ropes, which she absolutely loved.

They all rappelled like this, my kids. Supremely comfortable, looking very relaxed, sitting well in their harnesses. Erin got the chance to practice hopping down the cliff face on rappel. Chuck and I climbed lots before kids. Now that they're pretty much all old enough, I think it's time to start climbing as a family. While "unclimbing" (rappelling) is serious fun, it's more of a ride than a skill. They want to start climbing.

Erin and a couple of the other older kids, watching another group member struggle across the tarzan ropes. She looks comfortable with this group, doesn't she? They were really nice kids, which certainly made a big difference. And interesting, too! The one on the right owns his own Hobart mixer and has his own bread-baking business. The one on the left has lived off the electrical grid since he was a year old.

Archery was the activity that convinced Noah to hop aboard the whole camp idea in the first place. I wondered if he might be disappointed. He was convinced archery would be for him, but he'd never tried it. He was not disappointed in the slightest, and seems to have a pretty good natural feel for the bow. He would like to pursue archery as a sport. We shall see.

This was a pretty fun co-operative game. The platform is actually a giant teeter-totter set on a large log. The object of the game is to get all the kids to step in pairs onto the platform, such that it stays balanced and doesn't hit the ground. And then to counter-balance one child who travels alone to the extreme end of the platform -- each child venturing solo to the end of the platform in turn -- maintaining the balance the whole time. In the photo the platform is tilting madly and kids are over-compensating and screaming. Lots of fun. We might want to build something like this at home.

Here's another one of my oh-so-relaxed, gravity-defying kids. Yep, climbing is definitely on the agenda for the summer for this family.


  1. Great pictures! And what an awesome camp; I would love to have something like that around here!

    One question: what is living off the electrical grid?

  2. Living off the grid means living without electrical power coming into your house from a utility company. Sometimes people manage this by generating their own green power from hydro, solar or wind micro-generators. Sometimes is means living without electricity except for the occasional running of a diesel generator. Sometimes, as in the case of the family I mentioned, it means living without any electricity at all. Propane fridge, propane stove, some propane and lamp oil lighting. It's actually not all that uncommon around here. We know a few families living off the grid. Sometimes by choice, sometimes by necessity, sometimes a bit of both.

  3. The camp looks like a blast. I'm trying to convince myself NOT to organize one.
    I'd love to hear more about the activities, program, set up etc of the one you have been to.
    I've booked an overnight at the place the kids do outdoor ed for early fall. They will handle much of the programming - I just need some entertainment, and to figure out a session for one morning.
    But I'm not going to organize it...I'm not - lol.

  4. Oh wow Miranda - I wish we had something similar now for sure. Emily is drooling over the highwire pictures and the rock climbing pictures as I type. She would love to experience some of that and is very curious about summer camp programs yet as you likely know, is not the type of kid who would be comfortable in a traditional summer camp here in Ontario. She wouldn't do well in a place where she didn't know anybody.

    Shawna - we live "off the grid" while at camp. We have a diesel generator which runs most of the day but we try to shut it off sometime in the afternoon for a couple hours to save fuel. We always shut it down from about 12:30 am to 6:00 am. Who really needs electricity then anyway? Propane fridges, heaters and lighting are nothing new to us and someday I hope to live off the grid year round.

  5. Karen, the camp was organized by the Nelson-based Distributed Learning School (i.e. homeschooling via Ministry of Ed. support), but was open to all homeschooling families in our informal regional home-education network. This particular camp is a Bible Camp owned by a group of churches. During the summer they run one-week bible camp programs, and also a secular "Family Camp". During May and June they run secular programs for schools. Our group basically signed up like a school group would, and took the last three days of the school year, which no school group wants, and no church youth group is able to use. The camp staff adapted what they do with schools to suit us (with our copious extra parents, family groupings in cabins, surfeit of vegetarians, and the very wide age range). Cost included all meals, accommodations and dawn-to-dusk activities. It was $100 for kids and $80 for adults (since activities were mostly targeted at the kids) for a Tuesday-noon to Thursday-early-afternoon program.

    The woman who organized the trip at our end had to put down a deposit, collect money from participants, pay by cheque, discuss with camp staff the various needs of the group, work out special dietary issues, create cabin-by-cabin groups that kept everyone happy, and put children into groups for activities. I'm sure she put in a lot of time behind the scenes, but she did say it wasn't that big a deal, that she mostly just dropped our names and numbers into a format the camp staff had worked successfully with over the years.

    They had a list of the sorts of activities they normally offer to certain age-groups, and we basically picked all the really adventurous, equipment-dependent ones (kayaking, orienteering, rappelling, archery, co-operative challenge and physical challenge course). The kids rotated through the different activities by group. There were also lots of "wide games", involving the whole camp -- night stealth games, capture the flag, prey & predator, pirate adventure and so on, for the in-between and late evening times.

    There was a family home-learners' camp near Vancouver back around 2000. They had a rather different format, with most of the camp activities being offered in a co-op fashion by parents. A really great idea, and I think the people who went loved it. However, it was organizationally intensive and I think the group ran out of energy after a year or two. I would suggest that whoever you delegate the job of organizing a camp to (did you notice the operative word "delegate"?) should go with a drop-dead simple, canned activity approach, at least for the first year or two.

    I know there are tons of great summer camp facilities in Ontario. I'd bet many also offer schools programs that they'd be willing to adapt for a homeschooling group.

  6. Wow! That cost is GREAT!!! It cost more than that for daycamp here, in which we thebring lunch, feed our kids breakfast and dinner at home and take them home at night rather than a true camp out.

    I love were you live!

  7. Each of those individual pictures of your kids- (Noah on the tight rope, Fiona with the rings, Sophie climbing and Erin climbing) would look great in a quadruple frame...

  8. We have camp space available to us - a church camp about 15 minutes from here. It's where we host our outdoor ed days for the kids and they have lots of activities we could choose from that would't require me to do anything but group kids together. Prices are reasonable - about the same as you quoted, and I wouldn't have a minimum number to deal with.
    I should stop talking like this - lol - but if you see a post from me in September about this great camp experience, well you know I totally missed that key word you spoke about - lol.


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