Saturday, March 13, 2010

Winter Fun at Camp Jewell

A few weeks back I got a little crazy and took the the kids to a YMCA winter camp for a few days. My friend Deb has blogged about this place called Camp Jewell a couple of times and I always admired it and knew my kids would absolutely love all of the activities there. So when Deb asked if we had any interest I knew it was the time to go. In order to get the costs down I asked a couple other friends and we ended up booking an entire cabin for the first ever Winter Family Camp!! So what we had were 5 moms and 16 kids heading off to stay together!! Who knew how it would go, how the weather would be, if the kids would get sick, how Chica would handle it????? For me, though, it was worth the risk.

So after I made arrangements for the dogs and then packed up my truck to the rim with winter gear, skates, bedding, clothes, medicines, snacks and toiletries....3 of 5 families went off in a convoy to our destination.

Admittedly it was an iffy start. A snowstorm had begun and we were driving right into it.....on curvy, dark, hilly roads. The snow was coming really down and the roads were slick. I was thankful that Chris insisted I got brand new tires before the trip. We made it there safely despite our white knuckles!

The storm left a beautiful 6+ inches of snow and the most perfect of temperatures for our stay at Camp Jewell. After we checked in we lugged all of our stuff into the cabin and made claims on our beds. There were 4 rooms of 6 bunks and Chica and I shared a room with most of the other ladies on the trip and the boys stuck with their buds. After we settled in we were off to some night tubing. I was feeling pretty good about things when I went to bed that night.

The next couple of days was a whirlwind of activity and fun. (Oh, and one of the best parts of the deal was that all the meals were included. And the food was actually REALLY good!!) It felt so good to be outside and enjoying the beautiful weather. The activities were nonstop and we found ourselves separating into different activities based on the kids' interests.

One of the great winter attractions at Camp Jewell is the tubing hill. Chica and the 6-year old crowd really enjoyed the tubing, despite the long walk back up the stairs with the tubes.

The boys were very anxious to do Target: both Archery and BB-guns. I enjoyed that too but did not have very good accuracy.

Jack and Ben went cross-country skiing with a big group and loved it. I regret not joining in but will definitely participate next time!

I took one group out ice fishing on Triangle Lake. There were holes drilled (the ice was 17 inches thick!) and poles with hooks and real worms. The fishing was a nice chance to rest for a bit. Ben had real hopes to catch something but came up empty. We had a long walk back, but it was beautiful when the sun came through the clouds.

Everyone enjoyed some quiet time at Arts and Crafts. The Camp offered Leather Crafts, Shrinky Dinks, Painting and a crowd favorite.....Candle Making. I loved the Candle Making. Aside from the cool candles we created, it was quiet and relaxing.

The Camp had a little farm of animals that the kids (and I) loved to visit and help feed. I about died when Stanley appeared looking for his leftover ort. He popped up on the fence like a dog. It was a sight to see. The turkey had stunning colors but we were a little nervous of him since we were told he was protective of the chickens.

The Camp offered a break-out session by age group where the counselors would take the kids and the adults could hang together for an activity or do something on their own. I chose to get my good camera out and take some photos. I captured some of the big kids in their snow ball fight. They built snow forts and fought against the counselors and another group.

The last morning of our stay the kids all got a chance to do the "Flying Squirrel" where they get hoisted up into the air with a chance to 'fly'. And my baby girl got right up and took a turn. This activity left a lasting impression on the kids and they all said it was a favorite.

There was also Campfire and Smores night......

And a Dutch Auction where groups had to work together and come up with quick skits. (This is not my strength.....or Ben's)

And if this all doesn't sound fun and exhausting enough there was also a competitive Broomball game which I played in for over an hour and 7 a.m. snowshoe hikes that Jack and Ben went on!!!

I'm still not sure how we got it all done. We lived in our ski pants and boots for 3.5 days (except bedtime, of course). But what I DO know is that there was nothing I would have changed. The counselors were awesome,the hot chocolate available around the clock was outstanding, the cabins were comfortable and warm, the food was tasty, the company was fun, my four kids passed out on the way home and we will definitely be back.

Here is our group minus one family who had to leave early.

And here are the kids and I as we were heading out the door toward home.

I can guarantee the kids will forever remember this trip. The fun outweighed the effort 100 fold!


Craigwp said...

All I can say is "what a great mom".

emlocke said...

I found your blog because I'm feeling a little "campsick" for Camp Jewell, where I was a summer camper and staffer for 10 years. I always miss it more this time of year, when I know their kicking off the summer. I didn't ever do Family Camp in the Winter Season, but your pictures cheered me up! I hope you WILL go back!