Summer Friendship Event at Our Cabana, Mexico

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Six Pathfinders/Rangers and three Guiders from Monklands District headed off to Mexico City and Cuernavaca to attend a Summer Friendship Event at Our Cabana, one of the World Centres. Each member took turns helping to blog every night. This is a condensed version of their posts. The originals can be found here.

Day 1: Welcome to Mexico

The day started off well, with everyone arriving on time! We’d learned a few weeks ago that we got an amazing deal on our tickets and half the group was getting to travel first class each way. It turns out the perks were great – better food, extra snacks, fancy napkins, actual cutlery and even footrests! In economy, breakfast (or disappointment) involved a perfect semi-sphere of powdered scrambled eggs with ham, a questionable red sauce, some fruit and yogourt.

Once we arrived at the airport, we went through customs, including being fingerprinted at a machine. We made it through looking for our driver with a sign with our name. Unfortunately, we finally managed to contact him 45 minutes later and found out that he was another 45 minutes out, having gotten the day wrong.

The drive to Ticalli was uneventful and the Mexican Guide Centre is welcoming and functional. We didn’t take too much of a break for fear of not getting up again so we dropped off our gear and headed out. We were very excited to find “churritos.” We opened the bag, dug in to enjoy our mini churros until we discovered that they were hot pepper flavored. Someone more observant might have noticed the chili on the bag.

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Last on our day’s bucket list was actual churros. They were as good as we hoped, dipped in sweetened condensed milk, caramel and chocolate. They were much longer than we expected so we could break them into pieces and dip multiple times.

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Day 2: Over 20,000 Steps!

After the feedback we received from yesterday’s blog (too much talk about food), today we saw lots of CULTURE.

We visited the Mexican Guide shop before heading out towards Chapultepec park. It’s amazing to have so much green space in the middle of the city!

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Bathrooms were harder to come across (and cost 4 pesos, about 25 cents), but searching for one led us to the entrance of the castle we’d planned to visit. We felt very lucky as they told us we didn’t need tickets – being students and “teachers” – and started the long walk up a hill to the entrance. They checked our bags at the bottom of the hill and told us we were ok to bring our water bottles up as long as we didn’t drink from them, but apparently communication between them and the security guards at the top was iffy because they insisted we empty our water bottles and also head back down for tickets since we didn’t have student ID.

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The castle was much bigger than we expected and also more museum-y, but we enjoyed it all the same. We found a globe from 1816 that included Montreal but not Canada. After all the running around, it was noon by the time we went in so there were some sections (apparently more castle-y) that we didn’t make it to as we were starving by 2 when we headed back down the hill.

The Museum of Modern Art had packed picnic lunches you could buy and eat in the park so we headed in that direction. Apparently siestas are a Mexican thing so we lay down on our picnic blanket and enjoyed a nice nap (some more intentionally than others) after lunch before heading in to the museum itself.

Beverly was extremely excited to see Frida Kahlo artwork and there was a neat interactive exhibition about art and games. A few pieces of art we’d like to mention: a neat painting of a Ferris wheel and people walking by, a boy peeling a creepy mask off his face, a shadow wall that you could stand behind with props, a weird movie with detached hands and legs reassembling their body, and a wall of stencil signs about Trump.

Day 3: Eagles and Eternal Spring

Today was a travel day: van, boat and feet. We left Ticalli right after breakfast and headed by van towards Xochimilco, the city of eternal spring.

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Upon arriving in Xochimilco, we headed onto a boat called Fernanda. A dog followed us on and we were all sad when he had to be shooed off. We traveled around in the boat surrounded by 2499 other boats for about an hour. It felt more like 5000 boats because they were all we could see. There were carnivorous plants for sale for 30 pesos ($2), water hens, dead fish, people selling food and flower crowns and Mariachi bands. We decided to pay for a song.

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We had lunch at a small place recommended by Luis (tacos for many of us) and saw a performance of circus performers dangling and spinning down a large pole. One of the played the flute while spinning upside down. Wow! We then got an hour to wander around the stalls and buy things like bags, magnets, plates and coconuts.

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When we arrived at Our Cabana there fancy gates and we were greeted with chocolate and lemonade. We had some free time so lots of us headed to the pool with floaters, water guns and balls. The water was nice and warm!

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We all joined up again for a tour of Our Cabana, and then dinner (quesadillas). During a short break after dinner, Alex, Stephanie, Chloe and Rebekka played tennis. We then played some icebreaker games (Stephanie won one of them) and then got an intro presentation.

Day 4: Our Favourite Things

Rather than a chronological post today, we’re posting everyone’s favourite event/activity/moment. We are writing to you after a Just Dance marathon and we’re very sweaty but happy!

Kathryn: THE GIANT BUG: A giant bug!!!!!

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Stephanie: THE PANCAKES: they were delicious for breakfast. They were light and fluffy and covered in fake maple syrup, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk.

Fred: SITTING BY THE POOL, BEING ALL TOGETHER AND BLOGGING: I like it because it makes us think about our day and share our favourite moments. I also like having my feet in the warm pool water.

Beverly: DEAD SCORPION SOCIETY CHALLENGE: Lizzie roped me into attempting to become a member of the Dead Scorpion Society by completing the Our Cabana challenge. We have been working on doing things like learning 10 Spanish phrases, learning about the history of piñatas, complementing people in Spanish and doing a Mexican craft.

Alex: HENNA: as part of a World Centre tour we did different activities relating to the countries the world centre are in. My favourite was doing henna designs as part of discovering Sangam, a World Centre in Pune, India.

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Clara: DECORATING BAGS: it was fun because we got to see everyone’s creativity and because everyone made different things. There are many crafts in the craft house we can do and I’d like to go back and try them. These bags will be used for secret friend gifts.

Lizzie: THE NOT LIME: we were told we could pick fruit from the trees so we found a lime we were excited to squeeze into our water. We cut it in half and discovered it was orange – not a lime but a very unripe mandarine! It was sad but also funny!

Other notable activities: a round robin of activities about leadership, a hilarious video and ultra competitive scavenger hunt about the history of Our Cabaña, a group photo, swinging and Magnum popsicles.

Day 5: Old and New

The 3 of us Guiders contributed to colours this morning with the theme of Leading for Innovation: Creative and Critical Thinking. We began with some inspiring quotes, then had groups of ten do the human knot and finally, raised the WAGGGS flag.

After breakfast we boarded mini busses for our excursion to the village of Tepotzlan. We started our time there at an ex-convent where Dominican friars converted the locals to Catholicism. Then, we continued on to the local church that has been under repair since an earthquake a few years ago.

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Since it’s been a while since we talked about food, we will permit ourselves to discuss this morning’s highlight: a local ice cream shop with 138 flavours (but only 125 were available). Flavours we tried included vanilla, blackberry, cream, mango, chocolate, kiwi and litchi. Some were made with milk and others were more icy but all were flavourful.

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This afternoon, we played a game about WAGGGS. The girls were far more competitive than we were – especially Beverly who hates competitive games when they get violent. There are only of battle scars to show – none of them belonging to our girls because we are mean and make them were shoes rather than flip flops or bare feet.

We ended the evening with a fabulous campfire where everyone led songs from their country. There much hilarity, silliness and dancing. Then we had s’mores! Including some with pink marshmallows that tasted like fake strawberry flavour. They were…interesting…

Lizzie was very disconcerted when the buckets next to the fire that she expected to be water buckets were lit on fire! Where was the safety?!?!? It turned out later that there was a water bucket way off to the side.

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Day 6: Tiny Humans, Lizards and Snacks

Today we drew on mini children with tattoo markers during a community service project where we welcomed tiny humans (orphans) to Our Cabaña. They were very cute and sticky. They were the best behaved children we have ever met and made us emotional. They also drew on us.

There was an awesome huge lizard that we kept scaring back into its hole. Did we mention it was huge??

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After lunch we headed out walking around the neighbourhood. We found a Starbucks and, by chance, happened on some pyramids. We couldn’t get past a fence but it was still kind of neat!

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Tonight was an international festival where each group presented something about their hometown/country and we all set up tables with food, badges, etc. The Bahamians handed out as much candy as people could carry, one of the US groups let us taste test all their cookies. We had maple cookies. During our presentation, we sang Oh Canada in both official languages and taught Cathedral Bells.

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Day 7: Over the Falls Without a Barrell

After an early breakfast, we boarded a coach bus that drove us an hour and a half away into a different province (Guerrero) where we then took a half hour ride in the back of pick-up trucks. Amazingly the excitement didn’t ware off as the pain of the bumps began and continued. There was great joy through the “owwww”s. According to Rebekka’s Fitbit, we did 10,700 steps during the just a few hours today because it kept counting the bumps as steps.

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The company providing a waterfall jumping experience gave us PFDs and helmets and we started out 1 mile hike out through twisting paths, rocks, mud, and trees that led to jumps that grew in height. We started with a 1m one to see what our technique was like and they eventually increased all the way to 6 and then 10 meters. A couple stray dogs followed us all the way through (minus the jumping) and we saw a number of cows and donkeys on our journey too.

All of our group members were brave enough to do the 10m jump and some of them even did it twice – they say they would have done it a third time too!

Day 8: SDGs and STDs

Most of our girls led the opening activity at colours today. Their theme was gender equality so they led a game where they read our jobs and character types and invited us to move between “male,” “female” and “unisex” depending on who we thought held these roles in our cultures.

The entire event group was divided in two and the other half went waterfall jumping today so our numbers were smaller (around 40) for our morning program centering on gender violence. We talked about different types of violence, their causes and what we can do to take action. We weren’t running around as much as most of our programs but that was nice given how much we ran around yesterday and we had some really good conversations as we all sat together. Many girls said they wished they had more of that kind of conversations in school and at a younger age.

After lunch we had a nice pool party with music and fancy drinks. There was an epic game of monkey in the middle and lots of sitting on floaty toys.

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After dinner we gathered at the craft house and worked on various projets like pottery painting and straw art. Then, we participated in an evening program about kindness. We played a buzzer type game with questions about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and when one of the questions came up asking us to name at least 8 SDGs, one of the groups started naming off STDs – accents can be confusing! We were all laughing so so hard!

Day 9: Practicing Our Spanish

We started out with a short program called Free Being Me which tackled the image myth. The focus was on social media and ads. We discussed how images are manipulated to present one standard of perfect which doesn’t truly exist. The final activity in the program was for each of us to write on a sticky note what physical feature of ours we liked the best. We then stuck them up on a wall so we could see all of our love for ourselves!

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Visitors to Our Cabana create a page for a scrapbook so we spent some of our free time in the craft house working on our page. We have a Quebec flag as our background with pictures of us glued on and cute Canada stickers stuck on a bit willy-nilly.

After lunch learned about Mexican traditions. There were a bunch of stations set up with different activities. Three stations helped us practice our Spanish: loteria (Mexican bingo),  a market game where we learned how to haggle and a word search. The haggling was one of the most fun, as June, the staff member running the station, was really playing the part. When we we were asking her to lower the price she rocked her imaginary baby and said it needed tacos.

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For those more artistically inclined, there was a Day of the Dead makeup station and for trivia nerds, there was a challenging game of Jeopardy.

Day 10: Hasta Luego, Our Cabana

In the morning we went to Cuernavaca. We started off visiting the oldest Catholic Church in the Western Hemisphere (1500s) before buying our final souvenirs in a local craft market.

We made it back in time for a late lunch and some free time before our evening Fiesta! The few of us who were working to complete the Scorpion Challenge finished that up just in time. Examples of things we had to do were: taking a selfie with Nieve (Our Cabaña’s cat), finding out the meaning/history of things like the piñata (did you know it was originally from China?) and the Mexican flag, completing a Mexican art project, taking a picture of a volcano at sunrise and helping to ring the morning bell.

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Our evening festivities began with some games like pin the tail on the burro, a ring toss, and other silly games.

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Then, after dinner (with churros!!!), we’re treated to a show by a Mariachi band, girls got to hit a piñata, we enjoyed a slide show of the week including blooper photos and we received our special Our Cabaña pins that you can only get if you visit. There were some (lots and lots of?) tears, many goodbyes and photos.

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We also traded the secret friends bags we had been filling all week and received fun things like crests, magnets, socks, snacks, tea, oats, water guns, a hand-painted journal, etc.

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It’s a wrap!

Saturday, August 3rd

It’s a wrap! It is hard to believe another season of WWWTA has come to an end. We are so fortunate to have this beautiful camp where campers can come and enjoy the beauty of nature and our splendid waterfront. Each season I have the privilege of seeing old friendships rekindled as they run to each other in the parking with squeals of delight and the chatter begins on events in their lives over the past year mixed in with the excitement of the time to be spent together in the coming week. The eagle’s feathers may be grey but I am so grateful to have watched some of these wonderful young ladies grow up and I am proud to call them my camp friends.

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The camp challenges are such a big part of the camp season and many are repeated for the fun involved while doing them. Returning Pathfinders lead new Pathfinders on the Camp Tour so they to can earn their crest. As the campers grow so does the level of swim challenges grow with them. It has become obvious that we need new challenge crests as the older campers want to complete a second pie and there are not enough slices for two pies!

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I want to say a special thanks to the office staff and my sidekick JJ, without you this camp would not have come together. Also, a huge thank you to all the volunteers who gave up whatever time they could in answer to a huge call out for help. The memories and friendships these campers are going home with are possible thanks to the time and skills you share. I know it is a busy time as a volunteer on site but I hope you enjoyed your 2019 stay at Wa-Thik-Ane.

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Mother Nature treated our campers to some beautiful weather this year which enabled all our activities to run smoothly. From onsite activities to camping on the bluff trail overnight, climbing across rock faces, zip lining down above the mountain face and canoeing the L’Assomption river, the memories are endless. So, campers I have a challenge for you; let’s take our stories and share them around our unit campfires to entice new friendships at future WWWTA summer camps.

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As I close another season, we chat about ways to make next season better and I look forward to seeing you all again. Thanks for coming and being a part of my summer.

Super Eagle

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Thursday August 1st

It was a relaxing morning, after a big day yesterday. The expedition and adventure campers joined together to canoe to Blueberry Island this morning. It will be a test for who goes with whom on tomorrow’s big canoe outing. A few struggled with keeping their canoe straight but with some changes it should be a good outing.

At Blueberry Island one of the highlights is to bob around in your life jacket for a cooling off.

Upon our return it seems several geese have joined together and decided they also like Wa-Thik-Ane’s waterfront. They were all over the beach when we returned and it took some convincing to move them along while the girls paused in their canoes out on the water just off the shoreline. I love wildlife but I prefer these fellows find an unoccupied waterfront.

Coral worked on bedrolls today with the Guides and came up from waterfront to find girls kicking their bedroll along the roll down the hill. Apparently they were challenged to kick their bedroll down from Iroquois, around Stavert and back up the hill to see whose would last in the best condition. Needless to say there was plenty of laughter and silly fun as the event unfolded.

 

Dinner brought a. Celebration for the triplets who celebrated their 13th birthday today. Thank you to Bubbles and Squeak our lovely food ladies for making them a special treat!

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Happy Birthday times three ladies!

Super Eagle

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Tyroparc Fun!

Wednesday, July 31

It was an early rise for some as today we were heading off on the bus for Tyroparc. Super Eagle flew by the Spark and Brownie site as she headed out to say thanks for camping with us and of course to give them their crest baggies. They were enjoying a breakfast of French Toast Bake and were some happy campers.

There is nothing like riding on a bus with a group of Guide and Pathfinder summer campers. Who says you need a campfire to sing songs! Even the bus driver told me it was enjoyable.

We arrived early at our destination which gave Super eagle a chance to check us all in, everyone a chance to use washrooms,  and fill our water bottles.

For the Adventure campers (Pathfinders) it was a morning of a short hike and two fantastic zip lines. Not everyone was eager but with a little encouragement (or a little more in some cases) all the Adventure campers flew on the zip line! The Exploration campers (Guides) climbed and crossed the mountain with a series of cable walks, beam walks and bridges. It was a challenge for most of them and some were a little more nervous than others. But what fun we all had !

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We were all able to eat together for lunch and enjoy a well deserved break. After lunch the campsites switched activities so all could have a chance to experience the Ferrata and zip lining.

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The Tyroparc staff were great with the youth and adults that took a little more time and needed a little more support, which enabled everyone to have a good experience.

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Campers and leaders had a solid day of building self esteem in the Outdoors with physical exercise, laughter, tears of nervousness and friends. You should all be proud of yourselves!

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Our return to camp brought a chance to rinse off and cool off in the lake, a delicious dinner of burritos and Mexican rice all together and campfires to close the day.

Good night campers, sleep well.

Super Eagle

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Fun & Food at Camp

Tuesday, July 30th

If you have ever been to camp you will know that a big part of the daily routine is cooking and eating. Are we traditional in the way we cook? Not really. Of course, there is the traditional opening night barbecue when Super Eagle cooks up a stack of hamburgers for everyone and our wonderful food ladies Bubbles and Squeak send down salads and veggies. Have you done your dishes (yes each camper washes their own dishes at camp), then it is ice cream sandwich for dessert.

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As you know from last week Pathfinders dehydrated there own meat and used several different types of trail stoves to cook. This weeks’ Pathfinders used the good old buddy burners or as some know it the vagabond stove. Grill cheese is the perfect lunch for a buddy burner and these talented campers have it down pat!

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Then there is the twist to how we eat occasionally at camp. Sometimes at the picnic table,

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on the trail, or in the marquis at it’s tables.

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But, when we want to challenge ourselves the fun way to eat is “silly utensil night”. Campers have a pile of cooking utensils to choose from.  You want to be early in the food line when dinner is ready because you don’t want to have to pick from the last remnants.

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Oh the chuckles we have with this one! Super Eagle definitely sees a cooking challenge crest coming next year as a piece of the WWWTA pie crest.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to our younger campers, the Sparks and Brownies, as they head home after their three night camp. A busy camp it has been with a ‘Sleep under the Stars’ on the first night,

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hitting the trails for camp tour,

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visiting a camp friend

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and all the swimming and boating! Thanks for coming to camp with us! Our older Expedition and Adventure campers will be rising early and heading off to Ferrata and zip line, stay tuned for some arias shots!

Super Eagle

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Departures and Arrivals

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Friday brought our trail campers home. They were tired but a good portion of them were happy. It wasn’t for everyone but, as I told the campers, they tried the trail camping and figured out it wasn’t their favourite – that’s valuable knowledge too! Either way, they should all be very proud of themselves as they worked hard and learnt a lot. They circled Ranger Lake and spent the night off the trail close to the bluff.

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They got up at the first bird chirp in time to share the sunrise at the bluff.

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They headed back to break camp and make breakfast before hiking back down following the steep side of the bluff. This enabled them to learn how to chain pass packs down a steep cliff. Teamwork is what makes it successful!

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They are taking home some great memories and stories to tell, I am sure!

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Fern and Coral have been busy during the evening hours repurposing a rubber bowling pin. We now have a new member on our waterfront team. Gully has a stern eye on the waterfront and holds a solid position. The great part is that he doesn’t need to eat meals on site or take up a bed in staff housing and he is our only unpaid waterfront staff; ssshhhh don’t tell him!

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Mom and Me campers arrived in good time on Friday which eased my worries. With 49 Mom and daughter arrivals and the majority needing swim testing, I was worried about getting through it in time. We have a solid waterfront team and campers were eager and ready to get in the water, it went super well. Saturday brought lots of swim time and boating for the two sites and a good start to the Camp Tour challenge.

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Saturday evening, the two sites of Mom and Me campers came together for a campfire at central campfire. It was a wonderful evening of filled with music and, as the sun began its descent, the good old camp tradition of s’mores took place around the coals of the campfire.

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The day came to an end with some eager badge earners sleeping under the stars.

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Sunday morning brought warm temperatures and the completion of the camp tour with an added attraction of a hike to the bluff for some Moms. Thanks for sharing the weekend with us and see you next season!

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Heading Out on the Trails and Out on the Lake

Trail campers slept in to rest up for the big adventure. They will set off today to backpack around Ranger Lake and up to the bluff for sunrise and breakfast, spending the night on the shore of Range Lake.

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As some of the campers were making their packed lunch, the cooks were preparing a delicious breakfast of pancakes and fruit. In groups of 3 and 4, the campers will share carrying their load of personal gear, food, a stove and a tent. They looked ready for their adventure as the headed down the trail.

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Guides were treated to a longer than usual outing to Blueberry Island with an extended swim while there. They certainly have had the opportunity to learn some good paddling strokes this week. They were greeted with their tuck at the candy table and a chance to shop for some camp souvenirs on their return while a late lunch was being prepared in the oven. Afternoon brought some bedroll skills with Coral, our camp program staff member, and a game of Chuck the bedroll versus the waterfront staff!

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In yesterday’s blog, I promised some stories from our future astrologers. Below are the constellations created by the Guides. It is all about imagination and dreaming big!

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