Our Pathfinder club attended the Northern New England Conference 2012 Fall Camporee last weekend. The theme was “I Can Do All Things” which is the beginning of Philippians 4:13. The rest of it is “through Christ who strengthens me.” We learned about dealing with handicaps, but I think I’m getting ahead of myself.

We arrived around 5:00pm, and it was pouring rain. I had the kids pitch their tents, and they did so with alacrity and efficiency. Maybe they find the rain compelling. πŸ˜‰ When I put the tents away, I always place the fly inside the canopy and spread it out on the floor, just in case it’s raining when we have to pitch it next time. It paid off this weekend. Once they spread the tent out and the rain came down through the screen roof, it landed on the fly as they got the poles up and the tent raised. Then we would carefully pull the fly out, trying to keep all the rain that had collected on it from spilling into the floor. That’s not very difficult to do – just raise the corners before dragging it out. Thirty seconds later, the fly was on top of the tent, and the floor was still dry enough that a couple of paper towels were sufficient for finishing that job. Pouring rain, but dry (on the inside) tents was a good way to start the weekend.

Next we set up the canopy shelters. We had two of them this time, and I just love that. Two are more than twice as good as one. We designated one of them as the kitchen, and the other as the dining room. In no time at all we had the whole camp set up.

Kitchen (foreground) and Dining Room (background)

Kitchen (foreground) and Dining Room (background)

The Keene club was gracious enough to feed dinner to everyone (they are located pretty close to the campground). We found their shelter and had some spaghetti.

Dinner with the Keene Conquerers

Dinner with the Keene Conquerers


As you can see from this photo, my lens fogged up, for all the photos I took Friday evening.

After the evening program we returned to our campsite. I sent the kids under 13 to bed at 10:00pm, and the teens helped me anchor down the canopies (that was neglected during setup).

In the morning I had one of the teams fix breakfast. I had three new staff members on this trip, and they were all fantastic. The two ladies brought an innovation that I just loved. When the kids woke up and needed to use the restroom, she made them bring their toothbrushes and take care of that then and there. Yes, even before eating. That saved a second trip and an enormous amount of time.

With the help of the new (and old) staff, we had breakfast cooked and eaten, the dishes washed, the kids in uniform, their tents straightened, teeth brushed, hands washed, and ready for flag raising in record time. I think this was the first time we have ever had all that done on time. After flag raising we returned to our campsite and were ready for inspection.

Show me your uniform shirts!

Show me your uniform shirts!


We passed the inspection with flying colors. There are two aspects to the inspection: the campsite, and the personal inspection. I believe we got a perfect score.πŸ™‚

Then we assembled for a parade.

Ready for the Parade

Ready for the Parade


Then we had a church service, during which the kids got to try things to simulate a handicap. Here, Beth is trying to draw a smiley face with no hands.
Beth draws a smiley face

Beth draws a smiley face


We also tried drawing the smiley face while blindfolded. It was a real… “eye opener” for the kids (and for the adults).

After lunch we went through the “round robin” activities. My friend Peter was teaching sign language.

Peter Wannemacher teaches ASL

Peter Wannemacher teaches ASL


He is an exceedingly gifted teacher. I didn’t think it was possible to learn all 26 letters (and twenty numbers) in under ten minutes, but man… Peter led us through it with such skill that almost everyone there had that part down pat. He explained where the signs came from which really helps when it comes to remembering. He had everyone’s attention. I wish I could teach the way he did.

Another activity involved trying to find your way around without the use of your eyes.

Finding her way

Finding her way

After supper we went back to the pavilion for the evening program. In our conference, the Saturday evening program is presented by the clubs. It is always one of the highlights of the trip. Our skit was received almost exactly as I thought it would be. Punchline. Confusion. Understanding. Laughter and applause. David said it was the most terrifying two seconds between his delivery of the punchline and the commencement of the applause.

After the evening program we gathered around a campfire. The kids roasted marshmallows and enjoyed one another’s company.

Fun around the campfire

Fun around the campfire


We would have had S’mores, but I forgot to buy Graham crackers. No one complained though. I tried to make up for it by making a dump cake in my dutch oven (which you can see in the fire pit). Dump cake is an incredibly simple recipe that any idiot ought to be able to make it, which is why I failed so hard at it Saturday night. All you do is dump in some peaches, a box of cake mix, and a pat of butter. Do not mix. Set it in the fire and wait until it’s done. Somehow I managed to get the ingredients in backwards. I have no idea why I did it that way, but I didn’t figure it out until it had been in the fire for ten minutes. I fetched it out, stirred it up, and put it back on, and it came out kind of OK. But not nearly as good as it could have. Everyone in the club was super nice to me about it though, and all of it was eaten (except the bottom quarter inch which was jet black and stuck fast to the bottom of the dutch oven).

In the morning four of my staff shepherded the kids through more activities while three of us stayed behind and packed up the kitchen. By the time flag lowering came around we were almost ready to go. All we had to do was strike the kids tents and make sack lunches for the ride home. We were out before 1:00pm, which is to say, in record time.

Before we went, we posed beneath this spectacular tree.

Central NH Flames Pathfinder Club

Central NH Flames Pathfinder Club


The campground owner took this shot of us. I found out later that she is selling the property, so this could have been our last trip there. If it was, it was sure a great trip, even though it rained off and on during the entire stay (and no one complained! What a great group of people!)