By the end of the day, one little boy was fast asleep with a puddle of drool soaking into his monkey car pillow. Two little girls were giggling over the barrier of car seats and trading secrets in language just this side of baby talk. Three mouths were stained M&M shades of the rainbow.
Four parents and one grandfather tuned into the hum of car wheels, sated with the sunshine of a July day and vicariously drained of all energy.
Day One of Cousin Camp 2011: A Roaring Success.
The concept is simple: each summer, congregate the three cousins, provide age-appropriate activities, meals, snacks, and crafts, and allow the magic of childhood (and related genes) to do the rest.
This was the crew circa Cousin Camp 2010:
This was the crew on July 4, 2011:
Can you tell the brother and sister of the brood vs. the cousin? This is what happened when I shouted and gestured wildly from behind the lens to “put your arms UP in the air.”
Thinking Little Friend might have better success following a “down” command, this is what happened when I amended the command to “Ok. Everybody DOWN!”
Yup. She’s all mine, folks.
Our Fourth of July Cousin Camp kick-off occurred in that most quintessential of “cotton candy – french fries – extended family picnic – doo wop performers – sunscreen greased – clickety clackety wheels – shrieks of fear/delight” kind of places: The Amusement Park. Specifically, the adorably twee and quaint Knoebel’s Amusement Resort in Elysburg, PA.
Really—Quintessential. Quaint. And so. much. fun. (That’s “super fun” in Little Friend speak.)
Little Friend’s top ten list in life used to look like this:
Well, today Carousels (and maybe even Thumkin) got knocked down a notch or two to make way for the following: Ball Pits, Bounce Houses, Trains, Ferris Wheels, Bumper Cars, and these little wheely doohickeys:
that make you squinch up your face like this:
(I’m sure there’s a technical term for the “wheely doohickeys.” I’m sure there’s a technical term for “squinch up your face.” Just go with it.)
The chapter that should have been included in What to Expect When You’re Expecting: “You Won’t Think About Stretch Marks When Your Daughter Takes Her First Dip Into The Ball Pit.” Couldn’t someone have told me the riches coming my way in terms of sheer vicarious joy?
Never has an amusement park been more fun than when experienced tethered to the sweaty fingers of an amusement-park-newbie toddler. The world awoke today and said Hello, Little Friend!
And really, shouldn’t someone have given me an advance copy of the soon-to-be-bestseller Everything You Need to Know About Driving You Learned at Age Two? Because honestly, what but an innate genetic predisposition could have taught Little Friend her demon skills behind the wheel?
Together, the Cousins of Cousin Camp 2011 rode fearlessly into the great Frontier of the Pennsylvania Wilds aboard the tracks of Pioneer Train.
Together, the Cousins of Cousin Camp 2011 rode fearlessly to great heights on the Ferris Wheel while Little Friend’s Mother (who shall not be named to protect the innocent) may perhaps have harbored white-knuckled notions of puddling into a little pool of trepidation each time that fearsome wheel swung anywhere north of six feet off the ground.
It was a day of perfection. A day of cousin love. A day of parents and grandparents loving watching the cousin love. A day of Little Friend’s Mother loving everything but the Ferris Wheel love.
And it only gets better from here. Tomorrow brings Day Two of Cousin Camp. Let the festivities begin.