"Who Has Been Camping Before?"
That was the first question I had for each group. The fact that less than a fourth of each group answered "yes" could have made for some dull sharing. But as usual, everyone seemed to have something to say. Tent stories lead to National Park talk. Park talk lead to cabins and lodges. And everyone had something to say about fires and bugs!
A Fine Centerpiece
My crazy display bowl of marshmallows and sticks gave us something to laugh at, right off. Many who had never camped, remembered toasting marshmallows.
"But we never camped in tents or got to make fires! I wish I could do some real camping, now!" 87 year old Elaine, smiled at the young woman's complaint and suggested they both go camping. It was fun to listen to this enthusiastic pair, planning their imaginary camp-out!
Building Our Own
I tossed out some sticks and quite a few built tiny teepee and log cabin structures that probably would have caught fire easily. Claire and Juanita laughed as they cheated and reached for some Lincoln Logs to add to their structure.
Besides Sleeping and Eating...
Then I held another with my legs..." He laughed as he described losing a grip on the bucket held by his legs and how his face went down and he barely made it across. Robert's river story reminded him of more river stories, one that involved spotting Bonnie and Clyde as he headed in for lunch after a morning of picking cotton. I was pretty delighted to look up details on the internet, that made his story sound pretty accurate... even if it had nothing to do with camping!
Camping and Music
We imagined the kind of music you might sing around a campfire. Guitars and harmonicas came to mind. Dot proudly recalled her husband's harmonica skills. I was surprised to learn the others at the table had all heard him play. There was a hint of sad to Dot's proud smile, which made me assume he has passed away. But she seemed mighty delighted to hear the others rave about his talent.
The Good Old Portable Ukulele!
Margaret did a little strumming on the uke as she yodeled for us. Ken did as much laughing as he did singing, while he played. And then we put the uke down and listened. I was surprised to see so many faces laugh and remember, when I played a recording of the funny, "homesick song" from the 1960's, "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah... Here I am in Camp Granada..."
Books Spark Memories
Jeannette was surprised to see the Ford Treasury Outdoors book. She said it was her son's favorite book as a young boy. "For a while, he wouldn't read anything else." Claire was amused by some of the fancy Airstream trailer images. We talked about the word "glamping" and how some add so much glamour and pampering to their experience, it can hardly be called camping.
Things to Touch
responds with incredible enthusiasm when I give him things that he can explore with his hands. He loved the soft flannel of the doll's sleeping bag and the perfectly proportioned, miniature canoe. The props reminded Bruce of a number of camp related stories from his rich family history going back to the mid 1800's. But Bruce never was a fan of camping himself. "I did enough of that in the service."
Trailer, Tent or Cabin?
Out of all my groups, not a soul had pulled a travel trailer. But everyone seemed to recall Lucille Ball's movie, "The Long, Long Trailer". We did have enough folks with cabin and tent experiences to debate which was better. Mary said. "At least you know what's in your tent! There are too many nooks and crannies for bugs to hide, in a cabin!"
Best and Worst?
BUGS! That topped the list when we discussed the worst part of camping. I had to laugh because that was indeed the biggest problem during my recent camping experience. Torrential rains were a bit of a problem too, but the mosquitoes that followed were even more aggravating. What luck that my sister had a folding screen house!
What Did I Learn?
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.