It was the night we’d all been waiting for, and we could not have chosen a better evening for it. Both with the Falcons camp, and the Fox camp, it was as if we had reached peak summer. As Hayden had explained, this was the “crossover episode” of the season, and once everyone had been dropped off and introduced, we all made our way down to Cow River beach.
We made quite the parade as we walked down to the beach, and we made quite a splash when we hit the water, too. Amid backflip contests and frog-catching, handstands and sandcastles, it didn’t long for the hours to pass, and soon it was time to head back to the old school and get set-up for the night.
We were pitching our tents down by the river, and as we wound our way down the footpath and into the valley, everyone was amazed as the beauty and isolation of our camping spot. There was an island in the river, with two water crossings to access the other spaces, and it was a mad dash to claim a tent site that best suited everyone.
Through a flurry of tent poles and tarps things slowly took shape (very slowly, in Abby’s case) until we had established our own tent city. Once every had staked their claim, it was time to eat.
Fresh off the lessons of cooking that we learned at our campfire cookout back on the beach, everyone was ready to get down to business and make something good. For the FalconCamp, we were cooking over the fire down at the Gnarled Root, and it took a concerted effort to carry pots, pans, utensils, food, tables, and benches all the way down there, and it was just as much work to keep the fire going. A malfunctioning can-opener was an impediment to progress, but with Mr. Paton’s hatchet, and Reagan’s persistence, it was nothing that we couldn’t handle.
On order was cornbread (thanks to the Olivias), spicy hot ramen, and chili (special thanks to Sarah for having the patience to cut and cook those veggies) with our secret ingredient: salamander! Everything was a boiling hot mess, but it was our mess, and come supper time we were happy to eat it.
Over on the FoxCamp side, the fire ban took the spark out of our cooking ideations, and so we moved things up to the school grounds, where through a wild setup of grills, electric kettles, and pizza ovens we did what we do best: we made do! Savannah, Michael, George, and many other helping hands got to work on the chili, while Avery prepared the best banana bread I’ve eaten in the woods.
We had an entire army boiling hot water as it was needed, with Ella, Lexi, Kennedy, Bella, Serena, and so many more helping lead the charge. And I must say, by the time supper was ready, we’d sure earned it, and it was the spiciest thing we’d ever eaten!
It was around this point that it began to get dark, and that is when things really started to get exciting. Now, there’s an old saying that what happens at camp, stays at camp, so it was here that we started to put our cameras away, and let the magic of the night take over.
The Foxes began with the “Schoolhouse Swap” game, where everyone received a lovely article of clothing, and had to switch seats in the old school based upon the instructions that they drew out of a hat, with the objective being to finish the game while wearing the beautiful purple sweater that Markus so warmly embraced. And while there were several winners at this game, the real winner was Logan, who rocked the best outfit of them all, in red pants and a football jersey.
It was then that both teams made their way down to the old root, where it was time to taste and try some of the wildest treats we’d ever imagined. After that, the stories began to flow like a river, a trickle at first, but became a cascade of disbelief as the woods grew dark. The Foxes learned the story of the Bears and the Bandifrigs, while the Falcons heard the details of the Wookalark, and the Story of the Stone Children. In both cases, something buried beneath the fire proved to be the height of imagination, and with this treasure unearthed it was back to the old school, where magic was afoot!
Magic is a slippery thing, and to explain it, is to forego it, and so it will suffice to say that everyone at FoxCamp learned about the hidden potential they’d held inside themselves all along, while those at FalconCamp discovered that magic, real magic, is much closer than they had ever before known, and that there was more to the story than mere make-believe.
Within an hour we were back into the woods, where fun and fear had reached a fever pitch. I’m sure those that were there will gladly tell more about what happened, but tragically I myself am sworn to secrecy; but let me say this: an egg was buried, an attic was explored, a potion was unbottled, a chest was unlocked, a key remained hidden, a book was signed, and a legend was born that will last throughout the ages.
And then, just like that, sleep came knocking, and one by one our intrepid campers made their way into their tents, where they lay down under the stars, amid the trees, and beside the river. All except Rita, who some say is still singing the music from The Little Mermaid, even to this day. In all cases morning came quickly, and then it was a flurry of french toast to feed our hungry campers, as dawn seized the day once more. It was soggy shoes, and lost socks, and ‘where’s my bowl?’ [hint: I still have your bowls, please come and get them!] and then, like stars on the horizon, the parents arrived one by one, lest their children be abandoned in the wilderness.
By 9AM it was all over, and Jesse and I were left sitting on the deck, surrounded by wet towels and forgotten mason jars, satisfied in the knowledge that for at least one night, we were kids again, and that in those moments, the world was ours.
Yours in adventure,
Nathan and Jesse
Wishing a special thank you to Zoe O’Regan, Brooklyn MacInnis, Georgia Fraser, Amadea Llewellyn, Ella MacAulay, and all the neighbours and parents who helped to make this possible. We couldn’t do it without you!
From the very first mention of ‘Lazy River’ we knew that it was going to be a hit, however when everyone learned that we were being dropped off back on the Hermitage Road, there were those who were skeptical, hearkening back to the River Rally we did on Week 4. Skeptics were soon proven wrong, however, when we took a turn towards the north, in order to uncover an unparalleled river, just ideal for floating.
Things are never as easy as they seem though, and this week’s challenge saw players transporting potatoes down the river, in order to score points with them at the end. This challenge aside, the pace was leisurely and relaxing, and while at times the wind was cool, it made for a perfect summer’s day.
All along the way there were sightings of eagles and large trout, and there were dreadful rumors (and purported sightings) of beavers! Water levels ranged from ankle deep to nearly eight feet, and the drop off was one to remember. Each team took their own pace and charted their own way down the river, but I am sorry to say that no one was able to claim the $20 reward that was hidden at the bottom of the swimming hole, and that prize instead went to Jesse, who was able to find it late on Friday evening!
Some teams enjoyed floating at their own pace, while others joined the tube-train, being pulled along by Mr. Paton as Jesse led the way with those up ahead. For the Coyotes there were lost shoes, while for the Falcons there were seaweed fights. Ravens led the way in song, while the Foxes took a detour to the Cow River pond, where the most frightening thing in the water was Mr. Paton!
By late afternoon it seemed that cool winds prevailed, and I think that for some of the teams the best part of the day was a hot shower behind the Red Rock! We would also be remiss if we didn’t give a shoutout to Liam McNally, who got a “splinter” so large they had to use pliers to pull it out, and to the Ravens, who were the only team to bust any of their tubes, and who busted three of them within five minutes.
Without a doubt it was a week to remember, and I’m certain that it has established a new Red Rock river tradition! As for the scores, it was a rollercoaster of a week. The Coyotes established themselves as contenders from the get-go, losing only two potatoes and scoring 90 points, while the Ravens dug themselves into a hole, by dropping 12 of their 25 potatoes. Falcons swooped in for a comeback though, nearly doubling their prior week’s score to earn a total of 105 for the week, while Foxes settled in nicely at 85, keeping the competition close. The tallies for the total scores are as follows, with only two weeks remaining, and as you can see, it’s all coming down to the Coyotes and the Falcons.
Scores from our Paddle-Boarding adventure will soon be posted, and I know that we are all looking forward to making our dirt shirts next week as well.
With summer winding down, we can't wait to see you all again;
Yours in adventure,
Nathan and Jesse
We saw an entirely new side of our Red Rockers when it came to our Campfire Cookout. Beginning with the Coyotes, we welcomed special guests Peter and Paul who showed us how to light a fire using ferro-sticks and a fire bow. Everyone took turns lighting last year’s cattails and dry grasses with the ferro-sticks, with Hayden getting a big burst of flame, and Dawson hard at work on the fire bow.
Between the pancakes and the food fights, the Ravens took to the fire-building component like a fish to water, and thanks to Charlie and Liam, by the end of their time with the fire they had a blaze going that was the envy of all the other teams. In fact, it burned so big and so hot that when the Falcons arrived the next evening, they weren’t provided with any matches or ferro-sticks at all, and instead were able to light their own fires using the embers left over from the Ravens.
Skies soon turned cloudy though, and we watched as lightning struck out over the water amid rumbles of thunder, with a downpour threatening, and when a bolt struck out across the harbour it was a mad dash into the shop to take shelter from the passing storm. Falcons kept busy with the ‘hot marshmallow’ game, (where Olivia A. and Ruthie soon learned how sticky it could be!) and when the rains passed everyone was dry (except for Jesse), and we all headed down to the beach for a swim.
For the Foxes, they were kept busy making their own fires, and found that after the heavy rain parts of the beach had turned to quicksand, and discovered that if they ran fast enough they could make their way across it without sinking, a discovery which was put to great use, while the boys worked away on their fort, which is still there today!
On the cooking side of things, the Red Rock kitchen was a wild and crazy mess as potatoes were cut and peeled, carrots were sliced, fish was fried, lemons were squeezed for lemonade, pancakes were prepared, gravy was stirred, eggs were boiled, and so much more in preparation for our sea-side meals. It just seems that everything tastes better when cooked over a fire beside the ocean, and I think that all our Red Rockers would agree. Everyone learned of the treasure that is Boston-creme marshmallows, too.
It was a fun and relaxing time, but everyone knew that, just like any other week, points were on the line, being scored this week through fire skills, cooking skills, and teamwork and cohesion. And while cooking skills were less than refined, each group managed to muddle their way through until the end, however, it was the Foxes who made a comeback and claimed the first place victory, after being shut out from a win since Week 1.
We will be back to our normal scoring and postings, once this weekend's camp-out concludes and points can be accurately tallied.
Yours in adventure,
Nathan and Jesse.