OLD FASHIONED FUN WITH SOME NEWLY MADE FRIENDS
This past weekend, hubby and I loaded (and I do mean LOADED) up our 7 kids and all our camping stuff and headed to Camp Dixon for the annual retreat that our state-wide homeschool association holds every fall. There were some folks in sleek RVs complete with all the ammenities, some were staying in simple bunk rooms and hotel-type accomodations, but we chose to rough it in our tent. After all, its an adventure to go tentcamping with 7 kids...plus a whole lot CHEAPER! ;)
The weekend was filled to the brim with getting-to-know-you conversations, cooking on the camp stove, running races, marshmallow fights, midnight trips to the bathhouse, friendly cats, rolling down the big grassy hills, lots of singing, helping the baby up & down the slide countless times, playing pirate on the wooden playship, testimony sharing, and memory making. It also had its share of yellow jackets (loved my cooking!), hurt toes, and RAIN, but all that just gave us opportunities to grow and learn.
As a parent, I certainly enjoyed getting to know other homeschooling parents and just the sheer fun of the event. But what I enjoyed MOST was seeing how much my KIDS enjoyed themselves. Since the whole campground was filled with like-minded, child-friendly people, there was such a feeling of family. Even though we didn't know many folks going into the weekend, it didn't matter. Strangers didn't feel like strangers. It made me think about what it must have been like 60 or more years ago in small towns. Parents didn't have to worry about their kids wandering around the neighborhood or even several blocks away to play. I read in stories about kids of 6 or 7 walking to the store all by themselves to pick up some groceries for Mama. I watch the old Little Rascals and see elementary age kids going camping in the woods all by themselves. This is a life that my kids don't know...or at least not normally. But then what we had at Camp Dixon wasn't "normal". It was a unique time when we could tell the kids to go play and we didn't have to know where they were going or who they were going to run into. They just knew to be back in time to eat!
After experiencing our first Camp Dixon retreat, we now understand why the past attendees keep on coming back year after year. We know of folks who had traveled from other states because they didn't want to miss out on the Camp Dixon experience. We talked with young adults who have graduated from homeschool but still come back because its been such a wonderful part of their growing up years. And we know of at least one couple whose kids are all grown up but still come back every year because they love what goes on at the camp and they are there to bless and encourage the younger homeschooling families.
And now we, too, will look forward to OUR children having Camp Dixon as an annual part of their growing up years.
(BTW, the photo is of all the children who ran in the 3K or 5K fun run and won a medal or ribbon. All of our kids participated...even the baby in a backpack that Daddy wore. The 2 oldest girls won medals in their age division.)