After work on Friday I walked with Sherry, both in flourescent yellow safety raingear, through the torrential rain across the Alex Fraser Bridge. Little did I realize that this was an omen as to how the weather would behave over the coming weekend.
At 6:00pm, after a quick change of clothes, frantically packing our gear and gulping down a quick snack, Daniel and I were ready to head up to Cultus Lake for the 4th Surdel Scouts Group Link Camp. Not surprisingly, we barely made it to camp on time. Pulling in at 7:30 on the dot, Daniel and I threw our bags out of the van and set off to locate our sleeping quarters. As Daryle pulled away with Andy, I felt a twinge of anxiety. We were now effectively stranded here for the entire weekend. My recent medical issues have left me feeling vulnerable, but I settled into our cabin determined to enjoy this adventure with Daniel and his Beaver Scouts group.
|Daniel guarding the door to our cabin.|
Within a few minutes we’d thrown our things in the Birch cabin and headed over to the main hall to meet up with the rest of the group. Together, Daniel and I constructed his shield and sword. Daniel did a great job tracing and cutting out his cardboard armour. Once covered in foil and duct tape, he decorated his pieces with his self-designed coat of arms and encrusted them with jewels and glitter glue. It was a little difficult to get him to part with his shield and sword long enough to head into the field for the official opening ceremonies.
As all the groups gathered for the final opening ceremony, tears started to well up in my eyes. I’ll truly miss all of our new friends. They’re such a fantastic group of people; the adults all inspire me in one way or another and the kids… they’re amazing! It has been such a pleasure throughout the year to help during the meetings, interacting with the children and leaders. After the opening ceremony we headed over to the campfire, complete with hot dogs and marshmallows. Drizzling rain didn’t put a damper on anyone’s spirits, it looked as though everyone was having a great time.
|Our final opening ceremony with Beavers|
After wrapping up at the campfire we returned to our cabins and prepared for the night. I was still too wide awake to sleep and when Daniel was settled into his sleeping bag, I headed down to the campfire to chat with the adults. This is another aspect of Scouts that I love – getting to know the other adults. It was fantastic talking with them. Unfortunately, within half an hour the sky opened up and we had to hurry for shelter (of course after dousing the fire). My flannel jammies a little wet from the grass, I crawled into my sleeping bag, plugged in my earplugs and settled in for the night. About an hour later I awoke to hear that Daniel couldn’t sleep and needed to cuddle. After half an hour of cuddling, he went back up to his bunk. Another half hour later he declared that he had to go to the washroom. There was no doubt this was true, judging by the amount of fidgeting. Together we ran in the rain from the cabin to the washrooms. Snug and tight again in our sleeping bags, I thought our escapades were over with for the night, but I was sadly mistaken. Daniel had misplaced his earplugs in all of our activity! Oh no! This is a small catastrophe – he gets so upset when he hears people snoring, or even just breathing heavily that he’ll begin crying. I can still hear the rustling plastic crinkling as I rifled through my bag for another pair. My deepest apologies to everyone in our cabin for our constant disturbances. Still unable to sleep, Daniel climbed down the ladder one last time, I think it was now 3:00am, to check if the glitter glue was dry yet on his shield and sword. Ugghhh.
|Daniel canoeing with Tony and his father, David|
Needless to say, 7:00am came very early. Luckily a nice light breakfast awaited us in the mess hall. I devoured some yogurt and fruit while Daniel inhaled his ham and egg English muffin sandwich. After filling their little bellies, the children headed over to the hall to construct their mini catapults. Too cool! Built from popsicle sticks, glue, two wooden clothespins, a plastic spoon and an elastic, they worked surprisingly well. Next activity – canoeing! This was Daniel’s favourite activity so far. He went out in a canoe with his friend Tony and Tony’s father David.
Quick lunch of buns with cold cuts and veggies and the white tails (third year Beavers) were linking with the Cubs, building a castle fort together. One of the main purposes of the group camp is to link the children (and probably their parents as well) from their old group, say Beavers, to their new group, Wolf Cubs. They’re to meet their new friends and participate in the more advanced activities. Building a fort together was a great activity and the children worked well together. Using two large trees for the towers and placing a picnic table between them for support, the cardboard outer structure quickly took shape. I loved that the leaders were very strict about not permitting any damage to the trees. They were taped around, tied to, wedged into and climbed on, but no nails, staples or cuts were used. After constructing the castle fort they made and hid their flag. The plan was that the different groups would have a mock battle on the field then raid each others’ forts to capture the flags. Unfortunately the groups didn’t get the chance to have their battle.
|The Forest Frenzies playing in their fort|
As we were standing in the field admiring the various forts, the wind swept in, clouds rolled across the sky and a coldness enveloped us. Within minutes a nasty storm was upon us. Adults scrambled to take down the picnic table canopies as the wind attempted to tear them from our hands. As we disassembled the last canopy the Group Commissioner began sounding the air horn and blowing his whistle to gather everyone into the hall. It was quite a sight: children and adults running from every direction towards the hall as the storm began to pummel everything around us. Power had already been lost and some of the younger children began to cry, thinking that a tornado was upon us. As the head-count was performed and the smaller kids were comforted, large tree limbs crashed down, one came down on a tent, another came down on one of the forts. The remaining forts were torn apart within minutes – they didn’t stand a chance against the terrible wind. So much rain poured from the sky and ran down the slope and through the tents that all the sleeping bags in the tents were soaked. Even after the worst of the storm had blown through, the children had to be accompanied by an adult to leave the building.
|Look out! He’s armed and dangerous!|
A somewhat meager dinner of chicken legs or meatballs, perogies or fries plus leftovers from lunch was devoured. Unfortunately, a few boxes of frozen food hadn’t been thawed and cooked – they’d been forgotten in the freezer. Some folks actually didn’t get first helpings and went hungry. I can understand why they were upset, I would have been as well. Everyone was very hungry after so much activity since lunchtime and no snack had been provided.
Building crossbows certainly took everyone’s minds off dinner. The children were over-the-top excited that they’d have a real weapon! This was indeed a cringe-worthy craft. I suppose it had a few purposes: to teach the children to respect a potentially dangerous piece of equipment, fine motor skills development, patience as parents struggled to assemble the crossbows. The results were great though! Fully charged with confidence, the children loved target practice and tried their best to keep their weapons pointed to the ground and wait patiently. (ha!) We knew the activity was a success when the Beavers didn’t want to stop and the parents began target practice themselves afterwards. Our Daniel was the first child to have his crossbow confiscated. He just couldn’t resist going ‘hunting’ at the playground. Is he my child? Nope, never seen him before. Sheesh. However, no time to dwell on talking to him about his hunting escapade, a scavenger hunt awaited!
|Steady Aim Fire!!!
Gotta love the shorts and gumboots.
After all the treasures had been collected, we participated in the group ceremonies where the older children from one group move up to the next group. The older Beavers “swam up” to meet their new Wold Cub group and the the oldest Cubs met their new Scouts group, and so on. As you can see Daniel was so proud to be moving up to Cubs. He was so focused on the ceremony and behaved very well. I was so proud of him.
After the moving up ceremonies, we were all campfire bound. Appetites were satiated to a degree with popcorn (thankfully no longer being stored beneath my dining table) and songs were sung with enthusiasm. Daniel was exhausted though and started to wander off towards the cabin. Not worth the fight to try to keep him awake, I said our good-nights and followed him. The rest of the group stayed up only another forty five minutes around the campfire and within the hour we were all snug as bugs in our sleeping bags. However, at 12:30am Daniel woke the cabin up by crashing out of his bunk. Malek rushed over to make sure he was alright and stayed with us until he’d settled into the cot at the foot of my bunk. We didn’t want to chance him falling from heights again. Luckily he’d landed on our bags and suffered only a scratched and bruised chin.
|Waiting with his fellow Beavers to swim
up to Wolf Cubs
Scheduled to meet Sam and the Venturers in the kitchen at 7:00am, I bolted out of my sleeping bag at 6:50am. Only a couple of minutes late, I rushed into the kitchen to find Sam already cooking the sausages on the grill. Happily the power was finally back on! I broke 5 cases of frozen sausages apart, toasted 10 large trays worth of waffles and two trays of English muffins, made countless pots of coffee… It was fun. I even managed to sit next to Daniel as he ate his last couple of mouthfuls before he ran off to play. I quickly polished off my breakfast then started on the cleanup prior to inspection. The parents cleaning with me were fantastic, we all worked really hard and did a great job!
Daryle and Andy rolled in and loaded up our van just in time to walk down and witness the official closing ceremonies. Andy ran around on the field a little bit and then we piled into the van and meandered home, not wanting the adventure to end.
|Saluting the Wolf Cubs leader. Note that he’s no longer a Beaver; his hat and necker have symbolically been left behind with the Beavers. Well done Daniel!|