Summer camp is coming already . . . can you taste it in the air?  I mean beyond the fried grease in the French fries?  And the . . . uh . . . “unique” aroma of the fast food joints with playgrounds inside?

 Can you feel the sweet sticky of the watermelon juice run down your chin and onto your chest?   And have you ever actually taken a tape measure to see exactly how far you can spit the seeds?

Somehow dinner tastes better when you’re eating it with the fork and the spoon you cast in pewter yourself.  I mean, I could be wrong . . . but I think it tastes better.  (Read the earlier post about “woodshop.”  There’s nothing in there about pewter casting, but that’s where we’ll work at night or if its raining.)  There are several skill sets that get polished in that shop.  One of them is casting molten pewter.

Pewter, as in “lead soldiers.”  They’re actually pewter.  Lead.  Tin,  Antimony.  Bismuth.  Knights in armor.  With swords and battleaxes the size of toothpicks and postage stamps.  Casting a horse is a lot harder – larger cavity, smaller legs – pain in the tail feathers, really.

You cast a spoon and a fork pretty much the same way Paul Revere and other Colonial  silversmiths and pewtersmiths did.  It’s the same process, the same metallurgy, the same chemistry.  We just use different materials to form the molds.  It’s quicker than carving the mold from stone.  And, no; I haven’t even considered trying that.   But now I am thinking . . . but that’ll come later.

The first day you get to camp you’ll cast the fork and the spoon you’ll eat with all week.  You’ll also wash that fork and spoon all week.  We’ll probably be working outside over a wood fire the way Benjamin Martin did it in the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot.  Unless we’re working on the bench inside.

But we won’t be casting ball ammunition.  Not this year.  In a couple of years, though, we’ll be shooting black- powder long guns on the  range.  THEN we’ll be casting lead balls.  Not pewter.

But, to get back to casting a fork and a spoon . . . you’ll need your fork to munch on the baked potatoes from the coals.  And you’ll need your spoon for the ice cream everybody’s cranked in ice and salt the way your grandparents did.  Heavens, it’s tasty . . . with cinnamon and peaches and chocolate.  Oh, dear me.

Oh, and did I mention the watermelon feasting?  When it’s light outside you’ll probably use your spoon on your piece.  But at night, after we’ve stalked the feral watermelons by compass through the woods under moonlight . . . well, those get carved up into chomp-down hand-held slices.

And the best root beer in camp is in the bottle you brewed yourself.  You won’t need your spoon or fork for the root beer.  Unless, of course, your ice cream’s floating in it.  Then it’ll probably be neater to go on and use the spoon..

          WindWalkerCamp is in the toenails of the Missouri Ozark foothills just a dozen miles west of Neosho, about three hundred fifty miles or so up US 75.  We’re in the trees, more trees, and still more trees.  And we sleep in Blackfoot-pattern tipis (six guys in a tipi) that are set on wooden decks.

For another way of seeing the place, check our website at

“What the hands learn, the mind cannot forget.”