Friday, September 30, 2011

Calvin Camping - August 2011

This past August, Calvin held another of its annual Camping weekends.  I never know who's going to come out to this event, because it's in the summer and people are on their vacations.   

This year there were fewer than other years, but the group that came enjoyed a great weather weekend  (It's finally paying off...all those rainy weekends couldn't go on forever you know : ) )   and great fellowship as well.  

We were not the first to arrive at Charleston Lake's group campsite.  Stuart and Christine were already set up by the time we drove in at around 2 pm.  

There are those who would say that I love to camp with my tent trailer.  That's not entirely true.  I love to camp with my family AND my tent trailer.  : )  It takes about as long to set up as some of those newfangled tents out there, but I'm off the ground and that's just fine by me.  Here we are set up and ready to head to the beach.  

The water was warm and so was the sun.  Christine and Joycegina talk it up in the shade.  

Little Luke loves the water and so did his sister, Hannah, but Thomas seemed indifferent to the whole idea....

Katrina decided it was time to create something at the water's edge.  

I'm not sure what she ended up creating, but I'm sure it was amazing.  : )  You can see that Luke is still enjoying the water.

Now Christine loves to camp....Stuart, not so much.  It's the reverse for Joycegina and I.   We have camped for many a year though and have pretty much all the supplies we need to ensure we can eat, stay out of the rain, etc.  

Christine is still acquiring those things, and it seems that she forgot one very important ingredient, propane.  We gladly let her use our stove in the absence of fire on their site.  

Food always tastes better when you are camping.  

Not only does Stuart not like to camp much, he's even less fond of me taking photo's of him.  I guess you'll just have to imagine what he looks like.  They had hamburger helper for dinner, and the best part was they had leftovers.....yummy.  

Luke loved the air matress in the tent.  

A touching moment between brother and sister.  : ) 

Luke following his big brother. 
 "Wait for me Thomas, wait for me!"

I like to take Larry along with me when I go camping. 
 Some even say we look alike.  : ) I can't see that.  

With camping, comes fetching water for cooking and dishes. Hannah's doing a great job of that.  

Our little munchkin, Katrina doing her part.  

After supper there was time for some boccie ball....  

...or some theological reading between father and son. : )   

Gerry and Michelle arrived after dinner and set up his one person tent.  You know, the tents of 30 years ago (I still have one like that, only it's a two person tent).  

It slowly started to take shape.

Soon it was up and ready for occupancy.  

A work of art.  Must not be easy to change in one of those though....hmmm

While some played, others relaxed and read. 

Soon a game of "pass the pigs" broke out.  
Luke looks frustrated about something.  

Eric and Sonya arrived just before dark and set their stuff up.  

Now this was something I just had to take a picture of.  This air matress of William's is supposed to fit into that small tent.  "No way!" I said.  There's just no way......

Apparently William has a system.  
It FIT!  
I couldn't believe it! 

Though our numbers were small, we enjoyed a great campfire, with some roasting marshmallows and even having smoors if I remember correctly.  The moon was so bright, you didn't even need a flashlight.  There were shadows in the evening.   

Morning came quicker for some than for others.  Here Thomas takes his first look at the morning, but I don't think he wanted to get up...I'm with you on that one Thomas!  : ) 

Father cooking, son reading.....
what's wrong with this picture?  : )  

Little Luke enjoying his little chair.  

The girls working on the morning dishes.  
My son could learn a few things from these girls.  

After breakfast, it was time to head for the beach once again.  A GREAT day, but most of us adults kept to the shade.  Notice that nice non face of Stuart's again  (tee, hee).  

I managed to get just a profile picture of Stuart.  It'll have to do.  

The kids decided to make some sort of hot tub or something.  They spent a very long time digging.  

The end result wasn't that bad.  

Ah, the joys of summer's at the beach.  
Start out reading, end up snoring.....  : )  

Back at the site once again, with a game of boggle.  When you play with Stuart, you haven't got a last year, he comes up with words we've never even heard of...I find it great fun to watch, not to play!  : ) 

Even Luke was getting in on the action.  

Chris and I spent some time throwing a Frisbee around.   I'd shoot it high and on an angle past Chris, and it would come back to Chris.  Hey, we match as well...I didn't even see that. 

As the evening began to make itself known, a fire broke out, and so did the marshmallows once again.  

Another bright evening.  A beautiful full moon.  

Gazing into the dark, or the fire, or nothing...I can't remember.  : ) 

A new morning, and time for some coffee and breakfast before tearing down camp and heading for home.  

I forgot my ladder, so Katrina on Chris' shoulders made for the next best thing.  We were all packed up by noonish and headed for home.  We had to get Chris to work, and Hannah,  Thomas and Luke had had enough of camping.  Eric and Sonja and the kids and Gerry headed for home as well. 

It was a great weekend, with great weather and good fellowship together.  We hope to host another weekend again next summer, and maybe more of our Calvinites will be able to attend.........

Lofty Studies Summer Camping Weekend 2011

For the past few years, Lofty Studies (Calvin's group of Young Adults) has organized a camping excursion and once again we decided to continue on with the tradition (This would be the first camping trip for a few of us). Phil, who some of us dub our "social planner," gladly took on the responsibility of finding us a suitable place to set up camp. There is a lot of preparation that goes into planning a camping trip with a group. You need to consider the number of people who are coming, how many sites you will need (only 4 people per site in this park!). There is also the issue of groceries and meal planning and transportation and finding out who owns what equipment and what they can bring. It's a chaotic process when you are dealing with a bunch of busy college and career people, but Phil did manage to bring it all together and I want to thank him on behalf of the group for the effort he put into it!

We agreed to go to Lac Philippe, a popular campground in the hills of Gatineau Park. As I said, this park only allows 4 campers per site and so we needed 3 sites. It worked out rather well because we were pulling a trailer with us to bring some kayaks and a canoe that Leanne's parents had graciously let us borrow, and the extra space was quite nice to have. It was also still cheaper to rent 3 sites than a group site.

Our goal was to meet at the church at 5pm, which allowed us time to make a quick run over to Food Basics for any items we may have forgotten and to get the cars packed and organized. It didn't take that long and soon we were on the road. My vehicle spent the better part of the hour reading articles from the Banner, as well as catching up on the latest news from Synod. Surprisingly, no one fell asleep on the way up. :) It led to a great discussion.

The campground is not that far of a drive so we arrived with plenty of light to set up our tents and to start a campfire. I forgot to take pictures of the first part of our camping trip so you will have to wait a paragraph or two more for photos. The only photo from the first evening was of this toy soldier we found who was probably MIA from his unit. He gladly accepted the responsibility of being our group mascot and boldly protected us from prowling raccoons at night. 

I was mistaken. I did take another picture. Here we have a few of our group enjoying the campfire on the first night after our tents had been set up. We roasted sausages on the fire for a simple dinner (even the simplest meals taste fantastic when you are camping!), explored our closest route to the washrooms, admired the awe-striking beauty of the stars from the beach, and enjoyed each other's company around a crackling fire. Ah, the joys of camping and curing our NDD (Nature Deficit Disorder - July's Banner page 20!)

After a restful night (not without a few bruises from a stone I could feel poking at me from beneath the tent, or a few echoing sneezes from Jackie, or someone yelling so loud it terrified the guys), we awoke the next morning to coffee (a necessity in order to function, right Phil?), and a quick breakfast of oatmeal. Some of us were anxious to rush off to the beach, but all in good time. Dishes needed to be done and the place organized. Once that was out of the way we packed up what we needed, canoe and kayaks included, and headed out.

Now we are all used to the freedom we have from Ontario parks when it comes to beach etiquette. The presence of lifeguards in Quebec and the strictly enforced rule of staying within the designated swimming area were completely foreign to us. Aside from being able to use the boats, our first visit to the beach was a bit of a disappointment considering the tiny and consequently crowded area of water we were subject to. We decided to pack up, go back to the site for lunch, and return to the beach after Amy had joined us and the lifeguards were no longer on duty. When you are camping with 6ft-something tall guys, a swimming area that comes up as far as their waists just doesn't seem fair. : )

I promised photos and here they are! I will continue the rest of the blog in Ron's traditional style of photo captions….

 Preparing for lunch, Jackie took out her uniquely decorated picnic plates

Waiting for lunch to be cooked, Kevin takes a break from activity. He had forgotten his hat at home this weekend. He usually brings it camping with him.

The one thing I don't like about doing dishes when camping is that you have to wait for your dish towel to dry. Simon demonstrates an alternative way to dry dishes. I hope no one accidentally used his plate after that.

Although we had brought a bunch of card games for the weekend, the most popular seemed to be Eric's Rubik cube. I was impressed that both he and Phil were really fast at solving it. I think it had been solved at least 10 times during the course of the morning. That's something I think I'll need to add to my bucket list of things to accomplish. (Ron's note:  When we went camping with the YP in September, Jeannine brought the cube along....let me just say that it's STILL on her bucket list, and boy, does she get grumpy when she's trying to solve that thing.......  : ) )  

Two thumbs up for Manwich! We almost had a crisis when we forgot to bring ground beef with us! Thankfully, we were able to contact Amy before she came and she brought us some…and even cooked it up for us at home first! Thanks Amy!

We never used the picnic tables for eating. It just worked so much better to sit in our lawn chairs.

Mel took on the wonderful responsibility of leading us in devotions for the weekend. We decided to have a little bit of a listening and personal reflection time before continuing on with the days activities. She read us a chapter from "The Sacred Romance" - an insightful book I am thinking about picking up.

I didn't have a bulletin to draw on while listening, so I made a picture in the dirt. (Some habbits die very hard: ) ) 

We hit the beach again at around 6:30pm, once the lifeguards were gone. 

There was a lot more space in the swimming area to move about and so a game of Frisbee ensued….

Simon really got into the game and began diving in front of everyone for the Frisbee.

Oh! Too bad, Robert! You just missed it. 

It wasn't supposed to be a game of tackle Frisbee, but these things just tend to happen… (Sounds like our Youth Camp Out's.  I think some of them must have read the blog and decided to make this happen.  Hopefully not as many bruises as we get !)

As you can see, we are able to swim a little further into the lake now. Phil came to visit in one of Leanne's kayaks. If I remember correctly, it was his first time in a kayak. He must have liked it a lot because he spent a great deal of time in those boats. 

Either Simon is taller than we thought or that buoy is a little deceiving…: )

Oooooh! NOW I understand why we weren't supposed to swim out of the roped off area and near the boats….THIS is what happens when you do.

..or maybe the boats shouldn't be coming near the swimmers…Looks like Leanne picked up a couple of leaches or something. She can't seem to pry them off the sides of her boat!

Ian was very determined to sink it, though it took a bit of effort. And poor Leanne hadn't planned on swimming….that's almost an open invitation, Leanne! lol

And this was a guaranteed result!

Simon stole one of the now empty kayaks and paddled away to find Kevin who had taken the canoe out to try some solo canoeing.

Leanne decided it was worth it to stay in the water and joined in with the Frisbee games. Either that or she's trying to block the sun. I didn't think it was that bright…  : )

Back to the campsite and it's time for a campfire and a back of chips in eat hand, right Simon?

And let's not forget a campfire tradition….s'mores!

There's only so much you can take of a camera flash going off ever few minutes : )  
(Nice to see Jeannine following in my footsteps. )

This picture makes it look like everyone else got a suntan (or in Mel's case a burn) except for me.

The next morning was our last day at Lac Phillipe. It was a little bit of a trek to the bathrooms from our site, but we were actually quite impressed with the state of the comfort stations in this Gatineau park. They were always kept very clean.

We took up three sites, but the majority of the weekend was spent on this one since it had the most space for our lawn chairs to fit around the fire pit. 

Leanne's parents raise chickens and so she treated the group by bringing eggs from home, as well as some bacon, for a delicious breakfast! Thanks Leanne

We learned never to speak to Phil in the morning until he has had his pot of coffee (and yes, I said pot, not cup). : )  (I'm with you on that one Phil, minus the pot of coffee.  Supposedly I'm not a Christian until 9 am...really, read my office door sometime......  :  ) )   

Mmm…eggs fried in bacon grease. 
We're such a heart healthy bunch, aren't we?

Simon prepared the last of the campfire wood, just enough to last us the rest of the morning through breakfast and devotions

We ate all our meals around the fire. Once we were finished eating we had to pack up the campsites and load the cars. We then spent time around the fire reading through more of a devotional. This weekend really seemed to kickstart our renewed interest in Bible study, something we had been talking about continuing with as a group. 

The bags were packed, the sites were cleaned up, and guess who we met this weekend! Doug and Louise! They had biked in and we bumped into them when we were at the beach. They spent a bit of time with us at our campfire that night which was great! It's such a small world :)

Time for a group shot! 

Apparently, there had been quite a bit of rain at one point in the park and a road had washed out. We had to wait for 6 minutes because both directions of traffic had to share the same road. Time to get out and stretch the legs!

...Or do a Chinese fire drill around all four vehicles in line.

Jackie wanted to see if she could get a heart shaped tan line. I don't think it worked...

Lac Phillippe is known for their caves that campers can explore. Since we had left our campsite we needed to go near the entrance of the park to park the cars. This meant we had a long hike ahead of us. It was a rather nice hike, however. It took us all around the edge of the lake. 

A few of us were faster than others, but Leanne has hiked up Mount Kilimanjaro so I'm sure she knows the proper pace to be walking.

The last 500m of our 5k hike! Phew! Most of it was uphill!

Group shot before entering the caves!

The caves were cool and refreshing! You could really tell a difference in the temperature. Some of us had been there before so we knew to bring flashlights. Headlamps really come in handy at this point! :)

If you've never been to Lac Phillippe before and want to try out the caves, I highly suggest it. If you're claustrophobic please note some of the following photos were taken solely for the purpose of a great photo and you wouldn't have to actually squeeze through any super tight spaces.  (I'm one of those claustrophobic people....sorry Jeannine the explanation doesn't help me......  : (  

Just inside the entrance of the caves. 
You can see why the flashlights would come in handy.

There were some areas where you'd have to crouch a little bit, but mostly we snuck to little corners to take a couple of pictures. 

…except for Kevin. I think he just about explored every nook and cranny he could find! Ah, I'm not THAT brave.

Hi Leanne! Don't get stuck!

Phil found a hole to crawl through as well.

I was not so comfortable with all the little caverns….
There are crazy monsters in the cave! 

Some of us preferred to find a place to sit and hang out with the stalactites.

About half way through the caves you come to an opening where you can get out and stretch a bit before crawling back down underground. Mel's just about to go back down and popped her head up for a picture :)

Robert helping his beautiful fiancĂ© down the little underground waterfall. Such a gentleman!  
(Not married yet, are they (tee, hee)! )  

Some rooms had little windows into other rooms. No, we did not have to squeeze through this, though I'm sure Kevin tried…

Here he is emerging from who knows where.

This was the only spot where you really felt like you were forced through a smaller area, but it was only that the water was deeper here…and COLD!  
(Nope, NOT for way, no how.....yuck.....!!!!)

Almost near the end! You can see the opening to the outside world just behind Ian's head. 

Yay! We made it!

Leanne found a dog. Tsk tsk, Leanne. 
You shouldn't pet them when they are working! :  )

We enjoyed the trek through the caves so much that a bunch of us decided to go back through them a second time. Leanne and Jackie stayed behind to dry off.

Taking a break on our hike back to the cars. 
It was just such a beautiful day :)

Phil stole Kevin's knife, but this photo is more amusing because he's starting grow a bit of a mullet I think. I guess a few days out in the wilderness would do that to you. 

Ian found a chipmunk and spent quite of bit of time trying to coax it to eat out of his hand. It didn't help that everyone else was throwing it food. 
Sorry, Ian : )

Final meal of leftovers! 
What a great way to end the camping weekend :)

I just want to add that if you're reading this blog and want to find out more about Lofty Studies, please feel free to contact the office at Calvin CRC! There are also tidbits of information about Lofty Studies tucked away on the church website (we admit it is a bit dated). We hope to update that soon.