Archive for the ‘Family Camp’ Category

Day Six: The End is Near

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

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Today was the last day of the morning program for kids and adults. Since it was the final session, both groups split their time between having fun and reflecting back on the week. For the youth, that meant playing baseball, making portraits in the ground, and telling mythical stories about their week at Family Camp. The adults continued working with leading/following, but this time with vocalization included. If you had dropped by during the session, you might have been a bit concerned about all the noises we were making: singing, humming, growling, barking, mooing… just another day at morning program. :)

Communion at Family Camp 2012Since many Family Campers head home either late today or first thing tomorrow, we held ‘closing circle’ right after morning program. In typically MPC style, it was a loose association of songs, communion (with bread & grape juice), giving thanks, and a group photo. The final song was a “round” version of “Go Now in Peace”– the tune we typically use to ‘sing the youth out’ of morning program. This time, we formed a circle, sent the song around a few times, let it fade out, and we were done. Have to admit, it was sad to walk away from the now-empty gathering place. It’s been a good week.

Lake Tahoe Seen Through Trees 2012Of course, the day wasn’t entirely done, as individuals and groups went off to enjoy the afternoon in their own way. Some brave folks biked to Angora Lake, undeterred by the fact that the trip includes 1000 ft. of climbing (yikes!). Others spent time hanging out one last time by the lake, going on less strenuous bike rides, or just soaking up the sunny weather. And I’m willing to bet that a few of them — me, at least — are already looking forward to next year’s Family Camp.

 

Day Five: All Singing, All Playing

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

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The morning program resumed today with a focus on singing, or more precisely, on how to use our voices more creatively and socially. To get a sense of what this was like, turn to the person next to you and sing them a song about bears or airplanes, varying your voice tone as much as possible. Then try singing them a lullaby about oceans or trees, either with or without words. Like many of the other activities we’ve done this week, it was about going outside your comfort zone and finding really cool stuff out there.

While we were serenading each other, the youth were playing charades and water games. After lunch, they took part in another MPC Family Camp tradition: mini-golf. Well, they say that spiritual disciplines come in all shapes and sizes.

Family Camp Mini Golf Photo Set

The day closed with another tradition: The Talent/No-Talent Show, otherwise known as Skit Night. Highlights included a Tahoe-oriented game show, a magic act, some rope tricks, Sarah Bush’s first solo performance and (of course) plenty of jokes. The final act, a reworked John Denver song called “Thank God I’m at Family Camp” (see below right) is sure to become a Family Camp standard. As always, the show was warmly received by the Most Friendly and Supportive Audience in the World (even though things were a bit cold & blustery by show’s end).

Talent Show Photo Set

(posted by Steve McKiernan)

 

Day Four: Sandcastles and Barbecues

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

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Wednesday of Family Camp week is “do whatever you want” day, capped by a sandcastle contest and an evening barbecue on the beach. In the morning hours, Family Campers went off in all directions: to 20-mile bike rides, to trout fishing, to boat trips on the lake, and whatever else took their fancy.

In the afternoon, the sandcastle contest began. MPC youth and teens descended upon the beach and started carving away. Everyone wins in this “contest”, so the purpose it more about community and fun and less about actual competition. Still, there was plenty of creativity seen on the beach today, including a giant hand/foot (a ‘hoot’) and a japanese zen garden.

Family Camp sandcastle photo set

In the evening, we gathered at the Camp Richardson picnic area for a barbecue/potluck. After eating our fill of burgers, watermelon, strawberries and the various salads contributed by campers, we settled in for the awards. First, the sandcastle awards were presented, and each team member received a fine green plastic flamingo goblet (seen below on the right; it’s better than an Oscar). Next up was an MPC Family Camp tradition: the KneeHighAmiah award, named after the shortest prophet in the Bible (not really). This award is given to anyone who goes ‘above and beyond’ at Family Camp; each recipient is given a frisbee. It was a great end to a very fun day.

Family Camp Barbecue Photo Set

 

Day Three: Dancing Hands and Climbing Ropes

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

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Family Camp Hands

Today began with the second day of our morning program with Melinda McLain. While yesterday had been mostly about general body awareness, the bulk of today’s session was about hands. First we were invited to move our own hands in a focused, yet free-flowing fashion, as a way of becoming more aware of our own movements. Next, we tried ‘hand dancing’ with a partner: first, just mirroring their movements, then taking turns leading and following. We soon found ourselves in “interplay”– a state in which neither parter is leading, but you’re working together nonetheless. It’s hard to describe without sounding spacey, but it was fascinating.

Family Camp Youth Ropes CourseWhile the adults were this “hands on” morning session, the youth were employing theirs in a very different way: at a local ropes course. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, a ropes course asks individuals to test the limits of what they can do in terms of climbing, heights, etc. while building a sense of teamwork & self-reliance. Our own MPC youth had a wonderful time, scaling rope ladders and tree trunks, and returned to camp exhausted but happy. Appropriately, the most challenging part was called “The Leap of Faith”: it involved climbing to the top of a 40-foot-high tree trunk and then leaping (with safety harness, of course) to a trapeze 6 feet away. I think that ‘hand dancing’ was more my speed.

We finished the evening with a s’mores-and-storytelling gathering. After we’d had (more than) our fill of marshmallows and chocolate, the floor was opened to anyone who wanted to tell a story. There was quite a range: spooky stories, funny stories, substitute-teacher stories, and even made-up-on-the-spot stories. A great time was had by all.

Smores Photo Set

Side note: in case you’re wondering, playing Capture the Flag in the dark (see yesterday’s post) is exciting, confusing, and fun. It’s a bit like watching glow-in-the-dark deep-sea fish swimming around, except that the fish are screaming and (occasionally) accusing each other of cheating. :)

(posted by Steve McKiernan)

 

Day Two: Burning Marshmallows and Body Wisdom

Monday, June 18th, 2012

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Family Camp Morning Program 'Play' Sign

Melinda McLain at Family CampWhen we gathered this morning for the first day of the program, we were met by tie-dye letters spelling out “Welcome to Playspace”. Our presenter, Melinda McClain of Interplay (shown at right), was setting a tone: be ready to be experimental, playful, even goofy. Throughout the morning, she led us through various intriguing, active, and often strange exercises to help us get more in touch with our physical selves: where we are, what we need, and what new behavior patterns we want to develop. I’m very curious to see what happens in program tomorrow morning.

Family Camp Ice Cream SocialAfternoons at Family Camp are often a free-for-all, but today was a bit different: the families staying in cabins (as opposed to tent camping) invited everyone to drop by for “Burning Marshmallow”. In this oddly-named activity, each cabin offers something different to visitors: ice cream, dart games, Tai Chi demonstrations, card games, and even portrait photography. It’s our version of “Burning Man” (hence the name) except that ours has the distinct advantages of not requiring tattoos or driving into the desert. The ice cream did melt incredibly fast, though. :)

Still on the horizon: this evening, the below-20 crowd are playing Capture the Flag in the dark, with teams identified by glow bracelets. Tune in tomorrow for details…
(posted by Steve McKiernan)

 

Day One: Welcome, Campers!

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

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Hello from Lake Tahoe!
Camp Richardson CabinsSchool is out, summer is here, which means it’s time for MPC Family Camp. In case you don’t know much about MPC Family Camp, here’s the quick version: for over 20 years, a large number of MPC members and friends have gathered for a week at Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe. Typically, we have a morning program that often (but not always) has a spiritual theme; this is followed by group activities, hiking, biking, and lots of time on the beach (but not very much in the lake itself — it’s cold!). It’s a great way to build community and enjoy the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe.

Family Camp Dessert Potluck and Nametag MakingAt this moment, I’m sitting outside the Camp Richardson lodge; it’s the only reliable wi-fi for a mile or so. We’ve just had our first regular Family Camp event: a Dessert Potluck, held in the campground that we use as a regular ‘meeting place’ for a wide range of Family Camp activities, including the morning program. Tonight’s potluck featured plenty of strawberries, cookies, pie, and catching up. There was a new wrinkle tonight as well: we were given paints & markers and invited to create our own nametags. We’re off to a great start, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning.
(posted by Steve McKiernan)