The minute summer reading is over each year, the kids and I head out for JAKES (see here for a description of what exactly that is!) Daddy was already up at the campsite with the trailer, so once we got there we just had to put a few things away before going out to play.
|Queen of the Mountain!|
Our friends Cody and Allee were right next to us. Allee is our dog, Kela's best friend...and just a little spoiled.
It started to rain, and the kids got completely soaked and cold and muddy. Made for a slightly cramped camper, because I had to make supper inside with soaked, cold, muddy kids bouncing all over the place. The next morning dawned nice and sunny, though:
we could hang things out to dry a bit,
and set-up was quickly under way.
|Lots of agencies and people involved with JAKES!|
|Getting kids registered|
Making some mud (which my child is of course sitting in the middle of) is inevitable, but this field will be reseeded and left alone for a bit, so it will recover quickly.
Our clothes, maybe not so much.
|Checking things out as they get set up.|
|I guess if I'm finding one of my kids in a police car, the front seat is preferable.|
State Police Officer Baker passed out frisbees, among other goodies, and we made new friends right away. This is our new buddy Jimmy, on the left,
|It's not soccer, Christopher.|
and this is his puppy, Roxy:
Roxy was a bit timid until she caught a gopher. Okay, it was already dead, but she pulled it out of a hole (much to her Mommy's surprise), and was quite proud of herself. She spent the rest of the weekend searching other holes, and strutting around like the mighty huntress she is.
Finally, it was time for opening remarks,
and some wildlife identification.
Shane saw that rack in the back of a truck later, and pointed and said "Elk!" So, he, at least, was listening.
Logan, however, is my bug boy, and he spent twenty minutes or so in the back, playing with these guys.
|Just a little bit grubby!|
Most important part of the weekend: safety briefing! We have never had a single accident at one of these events, because the first three rules are all: safety!
The kids were super about paying close attention.
All except Shane, that is.
I took him back to the camper for a nap, so I missed lunch (thank-you for bringing me a burger, Mike!) and the start of the shooting afterwards. I finally had to wake him up so we didn't miss everything!
I found my other three at the archery range, retrieving arrows from their first round,
and then going again.
Christopher got the mountain lion in the throat!
Logan tried hard, and got his final arrow in the target. I wish I had a video of this, he was SO excited!
On to the next station.
|Logan decided Mr. Scott was his new best buddy.|
I had to tease Game and Fish that they were obviously more interested in fauna than flora. Made for a pretty picture, though!
The littler/less experienced kids had much more hands-on instruction:
and they did pretty well!
|Laughing because Sheridan is bossing Curtis around.|
|On to the muzzle loaders - with my buddy, of course.|
Those muzzle loaders pack a bit of a kick! You'll notice, though, how much of a hold the instructor had on the gun - even after Logan dropped it and ran off, it was still secure.
Shane's ear protection wouldn't stay in, so we sat way back. He was a little worried he was n trouble for pulling the bark off this log,
and tried valiantly to put it back!
Everyone was being so safe, in fact, that our EMTs really didn't have anything to do.
Logan tried to make up for it: one bee sting on his hand, a scrape on his cheek, and two bloodied knees.
|Even the EMT's dog was relaxed.|
|Improvised booster seat.|
There was plenty of down time for exploring and climbing.
And stealing people's snacks. I have no idea where he got those.
Logan found a "treasure box" up here and brought it to me. Oops! A geocache! I explained what it was, and we returned it as closely as we could. I e-mailed a local geocacher when we got home, so they can hopefully get it back to the exact spot.
Time for supper! Pulled pork, potato salad, and pasta salad.
...because I won't let him eat out of the trash.
|Kids off exploring with new friends.|
|Sheridan and her new friend, Madison.|
|I still won't let him eat out of the trash.|
|Must have had fun!|
I didn't have too much trouble getting everyone to sleep that night.
Back up early for breakfast burritos!
Logan found a good rock to spread out on, and shared it with everyone who came along.
Morning sessions included campfire building,
|Good fire pit.|
|Baaaaaad fire pit.|
wilderness fire fighting,
|Future Hot Shot!|
|Look at that determined face!|
and predator-and-prey games.
Christopher did really well at this, between speed and strategy!
Shane went out to provide reinforcement a couple times.
Sheridan stayed back at the 'nest' and kept track of the 'food' Christopher brought home.
Smokey showed up, too, for a group photo - some of the kids had already left.
I totally missed taking pictures during the first part of the awards, when the kids earned everything from sleeping bags to binoculars. Logan got a neat lunch cooler, Christopher chose a sports bottle, and Sheridan - showing that she knows her brothers well - picked out a first aid kit! She has been carrying it everywhere with her, so if you sever a limb, just give her a call!
|Jason commending everyone on a job well done.|
|Officer Baker giving his closing remarks.|
Then it was time for the big awards - the three top shooters all weekend.
What's really cool is, the first two had never shot before! Jason commented that he couldn't make the young man in the middle miss, no matter what he tried. Definitely some naturals here!
I think everyone had a good time (except maybe the gopher). Thanks again to everyone who put in so much work, and to everyone who came to participate!