Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Last Day of Nana Camp

Wednesday, July 11

Where did the time go? It seems as though we were just standing at our front door welcoming our nine campers yesterday, and here we are one week later with “Nana Camp” coming to an end. They all woke up this morning to green eggs and ham. Camden came in the kitchen and just stared at the eggs for about twenty seconds before telling me when he read my booklet he thought I was joking about the green eggs. I told him everyone needed a little of Dr. Seuss in their morning. Some were totally unwilling to try them, but several still gave it a go. Joshua is such a trooper when I cook anything. He might not like it, but he is usually willing to try a bite. Sometimes he will hate it, but he will always be polite and tell me it was good, but just something he doesn’t really want right then. He is so tender hearted and wants to please everyone.

 After breakfast they were all very excited to begin the awards ceremony. I had tried so hard to keep up with things all week, but at times the games were a little crazy. I didn’t get everything listed on all of the other accounts I had written, but I tried to do my best. They were all smiling form ear to ear when Grampy called out their name and gave them all of the ribbons they had won. I think Macy was the most proud of her seven. She went around showing them to everyone.
 After the ribbons came the trophies. I really toyed with whether to do trophies or not, but most of them were very excited about them and asked me continuously during the week if I thought they would get one. Abbie got the Most Camp Spirit trophy. She was in there every single game clapping and cheering on everyone, jumping up and down all day and night, and having the time of her life. If someone seemed a little down Abbie would tell them, “Just have fun.” It was fun just being around Abbie. She might be small but her spirit was amazing. It was a boost for Grampy and me as well.
Bailey got the Neatest Camper trophy. I could check on their baskets twenty- four hours a day and Bailey’s would always be perfect. She was always the first to make her bed in the morning, without being reminded. She wanted to make sure everything was always in its place at all times. She cleaned up her eating area, her work places, and always had everything where it belonged. At the camp site she wanted to make sure her shoes were exactly where she was instructed to put them before going into the tent to sleep.

Noah was given the Most Dependable trophy. He was by my side more than any other camper. He kept me on my toes and let me know when I needed to change the refreshment center drinks or when it was time for the games to begin. He was dressed and ready, had his teeth brushed, his hair combed, and sometimes it was even before I had even told him to do it. I depended on Noah for a lot during the week. Noah is very reliable and trustworthy, and I can always count on his help.
Marah received the Best Sportsmanship trophy. I do not think there was one time Marah complained about anything. She wanted to win the games so much, but she never said one word if she didn’t. When everyone else was hollering out, “I want the blue straw, or I want the purple paper,” or anything like that Marah just sat quietly back and let everyone else have their way first, and she took what was left over. She kept a smile on her face through it all. She always treated every camper with respect.

Joshua was given the Most Considerate Camper. He was right there all week helping everyone. I saw him setting up bowling pins for someone who accidentally knocked theirs down, picking up all the horseshoes ready to hand the next contestant, showing others where they would begin their competition if they forgot, and even let many others go before him in line. He is always thoughtful of the rights and feeling of others. He never wants to hurt or inconvenience anyone. Joshua always wants to do the right thing. He gave everyone his full attention when they needed anything.

Macy won the Most Cheerful Camper. To be three years old never hindered her once from getting in there with everyone else and giving it her all. She did every single game, many times doing it three and four times with someone else. I think she ran the relay races with every single contestant. If things went a little awry for her she just laughed at herself and continued. She was the most pleasant little thing the entire week.

Caley received the Most Enthusiastic Camper. Caley just never wore down. I think her enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone else. Nothing great can ever be achieved without it. Her great excitement never wavered once during the entire week. She was always eager to do any and everything I had planned. Caley was like a traffic light that always stayed on green, and never turned to red.

Carter won the Best Attitude trophy. Positive attitude is having the power that can drive a person to success, and that is Carter in a nutshell. Everyone has a choice everyday regarding the attitude they will have, and Carter always chose to take the high road. He remained positive and happy, even during times I knew it would have been so easy to have been otherwise. The attitude he displayed all week was awesome.

Camden received the Best Leadership trophy. He guided and directed just like a true leader would and should. Even though Camden is the oldest, that had no bearing on receiving this award. Great leaders set their sights on the things that merit attention and Camden was no exception. The other campers prospered from his ability to motivate them to do the best they could do. It comes easy for him. He did a great job and helped Grampy and me tremendously.
 I would need an entire notebook to actually write all the wonderful attributes about all of our precious grandchildren. They all did a wonderful job all week of being the model campers the entire week.
We had one final trophy left to give out. It would go to Camper of the Week and we got the kids to decide that one for us. On Monday night I called everyone into the den and told them I needed them to come one at a time to the bedroom and give me the name of one person during the week that had been the nicest to them, the one that had been good about doing everything, and the one that they thought should get an extra award. Marah won the first time ever Camper of the Week. She was so excited and so deserving.

Packing and loading up to begin the final leg of our special week was like nothing I can even begin to relay to anyone. If someone had walked into our home during this time they would have thought the entire week was an absolute wreck. Things were scattered everywhere. I wondered where on earth everything had been hidden during the week, but things had a place, and now all those things were all in the den and heaped up about four feet high covering every inch of space. Macy said, “Nana, whose stuff is all of this?” I told her I didn’t have a clue. I looked over at Joshua, who was sitting in the floor, and he was just smiling that brilliant smile and shaking his head. Grampy loaded the car and truck and I was seriously concerned he wasn’t going to find a space for everything. The kids had now accumulated much more than they had come with. There were arts and crafts, science materials, basketballs, baseballs, t-shirts, balloons, and tons of other items to take back with them. I smile just thinking about their moms and dads dealing with all of it when they get home. They have had a restful week and I am sure they need something to do now. Hee Hee

We were very late getting off and went by the nursing home where Grampy works on our way out. He was excited for everyone to see his grandkids and Darlene and Tony handed out ice cream to all of them. It was on to Athens to meet moms and deliver kids. On the way Caley said, “I am so very sad because Nana Camp just wasn’t long enough.” Bailey said, “It was for one week, and that is seven days. Maybe next year it can be for two weeks.” I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to have Nana Camp for two weeks in the kids view, but it isn’t happening with this Nana. This Nana is getting old and Nana Camp for two weeks would be a tad too much to handle. That is the understatement of the year.

As I sit here now at home, with no grandchildren to be found, I smile to myself that, “Yes, I made it.” I would have to tell anyone that there were times I wondered if I would. The kids gave me renewed strength everyday. All I had to do was to look at the excitement on their face, and I was ready for our fun-filled day. The only time I was totally pooped out was after two nights of getting about two to three hours of sleep each night, but some way I found the vigor to endure. I didn’t have time to think about how tired I was. There were too many things to do, too many games to play, too many meals to prepare, and too many bath waters to run. In the end I made it and I am ever so thankful I did.

This week gave Grampy and me so many opportunities to talk to the kids about the really important things in life. We know the devotionals were meaningful to them. We tried and explained that nothing, not one solitary thing in their life is more important than living their life for God. We are thankful they are also taught this in their homes and at church. We also had talks with them about competition. Although it can be a good thing, it can also carry negative impacts. It can build character and produce excellence at times, but on the other hand it can create an environment that fosters kids to want to always be number one and to always win. We worked hard to try and help the kids keep the competitions in perspective. It was all for fun. Everyone was a winner.

As I look around the house right now I laugh when I inspect all the toothpaste spit everywhere around the bathroom sinks. I had try to make a mental note early on that I needed to make a quick trip to Dollar General to pick up a stepping stool. The little ones are not quite tall enough to reach the sink like they need too. My mental note was lost in the days activities, but I will definitely put it on my to do list for next year. The house seems empty without all of them here.

There are definitely things I will change for next year. There were some games that worked out better than others, there were some meals that need to be rethought, and there are organizational things that need to be rearranged, but overall “Nana Camp 2012” was much improved from the year before. I know the kids had a great time. I know that both Grampy and I had a great time as well. We couldn’t have done it all without all the help from my mom, Carolyn, Amy, Mike, Morgan, Luke, Lawrence, Lisa, Chris, Darlene, Tony, Cortney, Trey, Bebe, Bob, Judy, Mack, Jane, and far from last Grampy. They all helped us is so many different ways. They are all friends and family I will forever be grateful for. They helped make this special week everything, and more, I had hoped for.

Although Grampy worked all week, he was here when I needed him to be. We leave for Destin tomorrow and he had a lot going on at work this week that needed to be done before we leave. There are 22 of us going and it is a fun week we are looking forward to. Grampy and I are not beach people. We go to be with the family, but the mountains are really what call our names. Grampy is more than any wife could ever ask or hope for in their lifetime. I am the luckiest woman on earth to have him for a husband. He is always calm, (I can be totally the opposite.) and never gets flustered. He has no temper. That is amazing to me. Living with me is bound to push him to his limits every single day, but he just finds a way to persevere. He listens, he never overreacts, and he is everything any woman could hope for.

There are so many thoughts going through my head right now, so many plans I want to make for “Nana Camp 2013,” so many new ideas to pursue, and so many things to change. But for right now, that can and will have to wait. Nana is just happy that this year has gone well, the kids were kept safe, and everyone seemed to truly enjoy being together. The Lord has blessed me richly. I am signing off until next year. Much love, Nana

Day 7 - Nana Camp

Tuesday, July 10

The kids have still been sleeping wonderful. I have definitely not been on edge as much as I would have it if not for the monitor. I am really glad I bought it. I guess they have gone to bed tired every night and they have all slept like babies. Everyone was up by 8:00 and ready to start their day. It was off to Aunt Carolyn’s for more fun for the girls and off to baseball for the boys. Yesterday Luke called me even before an hour had passed and told me Noah’s stomach was hurting. I was concerned he might have had too much juice or ate something that upset his stomach. I went immediately and picked him up. When he saw me drive up he came running. I asked him how he was and he just told me his stomach was hurting. I told him I had some errands to run and told him to let me know if it didn’t quit hurting. He told me it was better already. I suspected his stomach was fine and dandy, but one just never knows. When I went back and picked up Camden, Carter, and Joshua they immediately informed me that Noah could have definitely stayed. He is not that much into baseball, but I thought he would still enjoy it. There was cloud cover out yesterday and the weather shouldn’t have been an issue, but I really didn’t know why he would have wanted to leave. The other guys were having a ball.

When I dropped off the boys this morning I told Noah I wanted him to stay with Luke, but if he was really sick I would come get him. I suspected I would probably get a call. I told him I would be back in two hours, and to have some fun. The other guys got out of the car and told me they were going to tell Luke not to call me because Noah was not having any problems. An hour later I was impressed that Noah was still there. I even looked at my phone to make sure I hadn’t missed a call. Ten minutes later Camden called and told me that Noah was really sick. He said his stomach was hurting him bad and that I needed to come get him. I was concerned because the guys were adamant that nothing had been wrong yesterday. I immediately went to pick him up. Once again, he saw me drive up and came skipping to the car. When he was almost to the car he yelled, “Nana, where are we going to go today?” I said, “Noah, I thought your stomach was killing you. I was scared you were really sick.” His response was, “But Nana, I am all better now.” When we were getting in the car he stopped and looked at me and said, “Nana, do you know what I like best about Nana Camp?” I asked him what that might be and he said, “I get to spend time with you and Grampy. That is what I love to do.” Oh my! What Nana could keep composure after a statement like that? It made me really think that we should always be focusing on the here and now, and for now we are making memories these grandchildren will have forever.The girls had tons of fun with Aunt Carolyn. She has always been a special aunt to them. Teaching first grade gives her a distinct advantage on the fun things kids love doing. They have made so many things with her.

 I ran into Mrs. Swinea a few days ago at school and she asked me if I would have time to bring the kids to her classroom before they went home. Mrs. Swinea is the high school science teacher where I teach and someone I have known for most of my married life. We have gone to church together and Mrs. Bebe kept the kids for me several times when they were tiny. Today I squeezed in time before the mind-blowing science with Amy to take them to her classroom. They loved every second they were there. Regis, the python was a hit, as well as the other animals. There were skulls everywhere in the classroom and Mrs. Swinea had written the animals names on paper and let the kids all find the match to the correct skull. It was an awesome learning experience for them, and they all had a great time. Abbie had her picture taken with every animal she could manage. She even let Mrs. Swinea wrap one of the other snakes around her neck just like the boys. She was nowhere ready to leave. She asked me twice to send her pictures immediately to her mom.


Amy’s class was so much fun. They all had a jar where they constantly demonstrated exactly what a tornado looked like. They made marshmallow towers and did several experiments. When I walked in the door to pick them up they were all talking non-stop about all the things they did.

Yes rules had once again been broken so “Quiet Time” became clean up time. Afterwards it was time to focus on a little self-esteem. I gave everyone eight cards and gave directions for them to write a card for everyone but themselves. I told them to put the persons name at the top they were writing to and to sign their name at the bottom. I told them to think about something special, or good, or kind about each specific person and on that person’s card to write those things down they thought about. I told Camden, Carter, and Joshua to help out Abbie, Bailey, and Noah. I would be helping Macy. I was really blown away that the triplets wrote theirs all on their own and they did an unbelievable job. They are only six years old, and I didn’t expect they could do it all with no help. Abbie was concerned some of her words would not be spelled correctly. I told her that would be the best part, and for her to just write it like she thought it would be spelled. I thought Caley was going to need more than her one index card she had for each one. She wrote and wrote on each card. I think she could have filled up three cards on everyone. She would look up in the air like she was thinking about something and she would just laugh and laugh and keep writing. She did an excellent job.

We were rushed this afternoon because we were all going to the theater. Grampy came home from work just in time to go with us. We only had one vacant seat on an entire row. I was on one end and Grampy was on the other. By the end of the movie Abbie, Bailey, and Macy all had been taking turns sitting on my lap. I never had less than two sitting with me during the entire production. Grampy was busy getting popcorn refills. I just about fell asleep myself. The kids all seemed to enjoy it, but it was a little scary for the younger ones.

Once we left the theater the rain started. I was disappointed because this was the really fun night we had planned for the kids. They were going to do water activities outside. We had bought a little blow up pool to do some games in. Everyone waited patiently for the rain to stop, so we could go outside. Eventually it tapered off and we flew outside to get in everything we could manage. In the “Water Balloon Race” Camden won first, Caley second, and Carter third. Macy won first in her division. She was right in there with everyone else giving it her all.

In the “Sponge and Bucket Race” Carter came in first place. He was so fast. Marah came in second, and Joshua was third. Macy will be given a blue ribbon also in her division. She soaked her sponge and squeezed it out in the bowl like she had been doing it for years.’’

The kids had to actually sit down in the pool to compete in the “Rubber Ducky Blow.” Marah came in first, Joshua was second, and Carter was third. Panera Bread had given me some awesome huge straws, and the kids blew that ducky across the pool quicker than Grampy and I had ever dreamed they would.

Carter was the only one that even won a ribbon for “Freeze-Up.” Getting an ice cube in your toes and tossing it out of the pool seemed to be a bit tough for anyone to handle. I don’t even think I could have done that. I think next time we might just try marbles in the pool. That might work a bit better.

In the “Water Balloon Toss,” Carter and Bailey came in first, Camden and Noah were second, and Marah and Macy were third. Just about the time we finished thunder could be heard in the distance. We had a lot more things planned, but the kids needed a bath before bedtime and before the cloud came up.

 After their bath I got out all the glow sticks, bracelets, and necklaces we had bought for the camping trip I had forgotten all about. The kids went into the sunroom with the lights out and it was awesome. They had so much fun even with rain pounding down outside. The balloon lift-off will have to wait for another time.

Devotional was special. Grampy and I told them that tomorrow they were would be going home and we told them how much we loved for them to come. Caley told us she had been thinking all day long about tomorrow being the last day and she said she didn’t want to go home. Everyone else echoed her sentiment, and it is really hard to believe that our week with them is almost over. We sang some songs and had prayer with all of them and tucked them all into bed for the night.

One more day and “Nana Camp” will be officially over. It makes me smile to know that for this one week Grampy and I have had a very special opportunity to make lasting memories.