Sunday, August 7, 2016

JAKES 2016

For many people, the first full weekend in August means tax free weekend. For those few sane people, who have no intention of braving sale-crazed crowds for the sake of 'saving' $5 in taxes, it means JAKES! If you're not sure what that is, do a search for the word in my past blog posts, or just read on - you'll get the gist of it!

Friday was my first official day of vacation, so after cleaning up after the dog who met up with the skunk the night before, the kids and I headed out the door and up the mountain. Daddy had gone up the day before, so the camper was all set up and waiting for us.

The kids started off by decorating:

Then they found the rocks, and the flowers were quickly forgotten!

They spent HOURS all weekend jumping from boulder to boulder.

Or just sitting.

The rocks are a barrier put in since our last visit, to keep off-roaders from tearing up the field beyond.

Can you see my children? Or my dog? They are out there somewhere...

They are also home to a few horned toad lizards, both big

and tiny!

I got the littles down for about a twenty minute nap after lunch, but that was it.

We spent the afternoon exploring and hiking around, as a few more people trickled in here and there. Saturday morning was when the action really began, though.

More friends arrived, setting up tents and campers.

Game and Fish, Forest Service, the Otero County Sheriff Department, Border Patrol, and of course the Wild Turkey Federation started setting up stations.

...and...the cows arrived.

Baker wants to be a cowboy when he grows up.

Too many gopher holes to ride a horse, though.

Registration officially began at 9AM.

Then opening remarks and a brief rundown of what to expect. About 45 kids, and the limit was 50, so just about right.

Part of JAKES is teaching ethics, which started with the "Poach Coach". Game and Fish officers talked about hunting laws, and making sure you were hunting the right animal in the right season, and with the proper license. Using pelts and mounts largely confiscated from hunters who did NOT follow the law, the kids learned what animals are protected and which are not, and when it is okay (or not okay) to bring home an antler you find in the woods.

Then they got to checkout the pelts and mounts up close, asking some great questions along the way.

This was a really bright group, they remembered what they were taught and showed they were really thinking about it all with their questions and comments!

While that was going on, lunch preparations were under way.

The Montoyas come every year just to cook for 100 or more people. They are amazing! And so sweet - somehow Sheridan came home with a whole stack of tortillas wrapped in foil, because Mrs. Montoya knew she liked them. My little scam artist.

Next up, and most important: firearm safety. That is drilled into the kids from the opening remarks on. We have never had an accident - in fact, I don't think the EMTs gave out so much as a band-aid this weekend - and we want to keep it that way! If we can't teach the kids to be safe around firearms, there is no point in teaching them anything else about them.

This, by the way, is one of the few pictures I got of Christopher. Just a couple years ago, he was stuck to my side, refusing to go up and ask other kids if he could play with them, when he so clearly wanted to. This year, he was out the door of the camper first thing, and I only saw him in passing until bedtime! So cool to see him blossom!

Finally, chow time! And here we see Sheridan all by herself, with Logan already through the line. Nobody needs me any more, *sniff*.

Oh, wait, Gracie and Shane do! For now, anyway.'s easier to eat that from the side, honey.

After lunch, the kids were divided into groups of 6 or 8, and started through the different stations. New this year, we had an ATV simulator, teaching kids how to shift their weight. Harder than it looks, when you are pushing against gravity, but a lot of fun as you can see by the faces.

They also talked with parents about how to pick the right size helmet and ATV for their child (upper legs should be parallel to the ground, if you're wondering:)

Logan was a little scared by the whole thing, but Marcelino was very sweet and patient, and he finally decided he would try sitting on it as long as it wasn't moving.

Sheridan, on the other hand, took a second turn.

I was afraid we weren't going to get her off!

Fortunately, the next stop was a pretty cool distraction.

When you go to SWAT team training, do the teach you what to do when your vehicle is covered in gremlins?

They're everywhere! I'm out of here!

Even more cool toys next door, with the Border Patrol agent whose name I never got.

Apparently I look really funny in infrared.

The BB gun tent gives even the little ones a chance to try shooting. Although we may want to bring a step stool next year.

Plenty of time to play while waiting for your turn.

Or, to steal a baby! This little doll's mother used to be one of my students, now she's a pretty awesome teacher herself.

 Archery is my personal favorite, because it was the only week out of each school year I didn't completely stink in PE. It seems to be both Christopher and Logan's top choice, too.

He hit the deer target several times! Don't worry, though, deer, he shrieks so loud with excitement, you'll hear him a mile away.

Good form, Sheridan!

We met up with Daddy at the muzzle loaders. Shooting is all done one on one, with an adult by each child.

Even better when the adult is Daddy.

 Shotguns next.

Even with ear protection, those were a little loud for the younger siblings tagging along. Fortunately, Miss Ellie had goldfish crackers and some mad drawing skills to distract them.

The .22's were a little easier to handle.

Logan did pretty well with this one, judging by the pinging of the target!

That all made for a pretty full afternoon! Time for a little break before supper. And, where did half the kids head?

Hey, I even found Christopher!

Maybe some day, little man.

Now there's a team, Shane and Grace. Heck, I'd run from them!

Speaking of running from, Lana here was determined to get a hug from Shane. He was just as determined it wasn't going to happen.

Grace was obliging!

Shane...nope. Pretty girls are all fine and well to look at, but they aren't supposed to look at HIM.

This JAKES was extra special, because it was also my friend Daniel's BIRTHDAY! How cool of a party is this?! 100 people, camping, awesome activities, freedom - what more could you need?

Oh, right - cake!

100 cupcakes (give or take), frosted during the brief rain shower, then handed out just as it stopped. (Camping means you can have dessert before supper!)

Now, while I was helping to frost the cupcakes, I asked Daddy to watch the children. And he watched them. Everybody watched them. The Forest Service guys apparently were getting quite a kick out of them. I guess I neglected to put the word INTERCEDE in my instructions.

While everyone else was huddled under shelter during the rain, my kids...weren't.

That's pretty darn impressive, Gracie. And I think we all know I don't mind a little dirt. BUT, it was almost time to eat, so...

Cleaning Gracie up became a team effort.

I didn't have the heart to tell them it wouldn't last. In fact, by the time she sat down with her food, her hands were already muddy again.

Miss Independent again, got her food and sat off all by herself.

 More rock climbing,

followed by a bonfire and S'mores, then everyone pretty well crashed!

In the morning, the smell of sausage and eggs lured everyone back out.

Shane found a hip bone somewhere, and had to show it to Game and Fish. He got a sticker from Marcelino, which he carried around for the rest of the day!

The Forest Service brought in one of their fire trucks, and after talking about fire safety, they let the kids operate the fire hose AND the sirens.

It got a little loud for a while.

I think any wildlife still hanging around was effectively chased off by that point.

Except for this bear we ran into:

Oh, sure, you'll hug the big giant bear in a hat, but not poor Lana!

One last try...

That's about as close as she got. Next year, maybe!

There was also a hike led by the Forest Service, but I looked at the uphill climb and decided the littles and I would pick up trash, instead. Collecting shell casings is a great way to occupy toddlers for half an hour! I was afraid Logan would be sad about missing that - he loves collecting "boolets" - but he came back from the hike munching on a giant marshmallow and quite happy!


JAKES always ends with awards and clean-up. Everybody goes home with something, but there are a few special awards given to kids who showed perseverance, or skill, or good ethics.

A tent for the young man who conquered his fear of the ATV simulator.

A bow for the young lady who showed great promise on the .22's

Um...somebody help me out with these two? I think this was when Gracie decided she was bored and wanted to wander off...

This one I definitely tuned back in for, though: a new bow for Christopher, for being helpful and responsible. As I told him, hearing things like that make me prouder than if he had shot a hundred bulls-eyes!

As I said, everyone went home with something. I went home with this thing:

And, with that (and a snack of fruit and "gorilla bars", as Logan calls them), it was time to, in fact, go home. Grace was not the only one sad to leave,

although she was the only one who screamed "NO!", plopped down in the field, and refused to move. Her first time ever camping, I guess we can say she enjoyed it!

The rain threatened, but held out until everyone was pretty much packed up. It hit us about two miles out of camp. I was turning on the wipers and explaining to Christopher why you have to drive extra slow when you know the road has just been oiled and it's wet and...WTH is THAT?

About 200 feet of it. In August. When I just got a sunburn.

And at the end of 200 feet, no rain, no sleet, blue sky. Welcome to New Mexico!

Thanks for a fantastic weekend, everyone who helped put this on! And now...on to the laundry.

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