Grown-up Friends and Families and Scouts . . .

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I have been busy with PineWoodDerbyWorkshop and School, and this week we have to move our beehives to Missouri.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But this is what I have in the oven for starting with people in the campsite . . . 45 incredibly beautiful, quiet acres in McDonald County, Missouri.

This is the listing I have at the website: http://www.windwalkercamp.com.  Click on over there and check it out.  This is for grown-ups.  Former students (college age or better), teaching buddies and their kids.  This thing will be free-form.

View Series - across the flying field from North to South . . .

View Series – across the flying field from North to South . . .





deck panorama 5

Uncle Pat’s First Primitive Do-It-Yourself Camp for Teaching Buddies, Former Students, and Scouting Friends
Come out; bring your friends; bring your kids. This is a camp for pretty much anybody I’ve taught with, taught at, or camped with and their kids. It’s a family camp that includes singles. Here’s how we charge and what we’re doing.
We charge $85/day for people over 12; $65 for 12’s and younger if you bring your own tent/trailer. If you would like to sleep in one of the tipis, we charge an additional $25/person/night. (We like to put six people in a tipi.) This includes meals and a wood deck whereon to pitch your own tent or a grassy spot to park your camping trailer. We serve family-style breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, snack. Iced tea and iced water all day.
You can haul your family or group over to canoe trips at several outfitters on the three rivers within an hour or so of us. There are caverns within another hour. Or, heck, you can drive to Branson for the day, or over to Rocky Ridge Farm to see Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home in Mansfield, or to George Washington Carver’s farm right up the road in Diamond, or into Joplin to see Harry and Bess Truman’s home. Or you can sit on your cannister and not stir from the place and just listen to the wind hushabye through the trees.
You can bring your own .22 rifle (no pistols or larger calibers, please) and plink on the gun range. We have paper targets and tin can lids. If you want to start saving tin-can lids, by all means do; it’s very satisfying to plunk those things. You can use our long guns.
We will brew a little root beer (takes two days to fizz up right . . . and you HAVE TO KEEP IT COLD, or it tastes yeasty. We will crank out a little homemade ice cream. We will make s’mores from free-trade chocolate around a campfire or whatever works if there’s a burn ban.
Yes; we will have sardine-tasting parties and haiku slams.
Yes; there will be organized nature walks — with sketch/photo opportunities.
Yes; there will be opportunities for butterfly/bug collections and leaf collections.
And all kinds of Citizen Scientist stuff.
Rockets, engines, and ammunition are available from the camp store.
There’s more, but I have to leave a little to the imagination.

You don’t need to stay the whole week if you don’t have the time, but you are welcome to do so if you do.
I realize this is short notice, but, what the heck, why not go for the burn . . .

Respondez sil vous plait.


Root Beer, Campfire Onions, Family Camp

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The weather is staying cool enough that I can stash root beer in the woodshop.  Other people have a garage where they park the family cars . . . I have a woodshop where kids and I can build pinewood derby cars (www.pinewoodderebyworkshop.com).  I like my way better.   So I’m going to move a shelf into a corner of the shop over the weekend and stash fifty-three 12-ounce bottles of root beer out there after they have fermented for three days.  I’m wondering if I should rig up some kind of basin around the base to contain the overflow should any of them pop their tops.  Well I’m just going to have to figure that out.  Keep reading;  I’m never totally sure where tomorrow is going to wind up.

 That was prognostication.

 This two bits is history.  “Campfire Onions” is a really simple recipe for baking onions in aluminum foil in the embers of a fire or in your oven in the kitchen.  My Fellow Americans, this recipe works.  Delightfully so.  After forty-five minutes at 350 degrees, the onions came out just crunchy enough, not at all squishy.  And the flavor is sweet without the tang of a raw onion because of the brown sugar.  I’m not certain what the beer added (I use non- alcoholic) except, possibly, undertones to the brown sugar.  But this is a delightful addition to the family/camp cookbook.

 I’m still working on the mold for pewter-casting a spoon and a fork.  I will figure it out.

 I’m looking at the last week of WindWalkerCamp schedule this summer – 21-27 July—–

and I’m figuring out how to work this.  We’re going to have a ga- boodle of options.  I think we’re going to set it up so that each family has a tent . . . as opposed to camping kids away from parents . . . then having separate activities for moms, for dads, for kids, for moms and dads together.  It’ll be “interesting” to schedule, but it’ll be a good time.

 Thanks for reading.  Stay thirsty, My Friends.


 What the hands learn the mind cannot forget.


To pour or not to pour a foundation, that . . .

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Thanksgiving Break is officially over . . . well, it will be when I crater into the sack tonight.  I’ve been back from WindWalkerCamp two days now, and I’m missing it even more.

This week I am ordering the first batch of bottles to test my root beer brewing skills with . . . a single batch makes fifty-three twelve-ounce bottles.  I’m going to have to find a testing audience . . . I feel like the Little Red Hen.

Tomorrow on the way home I’ll be stopping by the auto parts house to pick up some plastic auto-body-filler and the teacher supply store for some modeling clay.  I have a couple of spoons and forks I want to be able to cast, and I have lots of pewter ingots and “dead” lead soldiers.  (Lead soldiers are pewter.)  While I have, indeed, cast a couple of thousand knights and soldiers, I have never cast a spoon or a fork.  Something new to try.  And share.

I have been researching what kind of “alternative” insulation to use in the walls as I build out the covered deck to make it a lodge.  My intent is to make the entire camp as authentic an experience as humanly possible.  I’ve explored raw wool – straight from the sheep, shredded recycled blue jeans, straw, cellulose (shredded newspaper).  I don’t want to use fiberglass.  The windows need to be large enough to take in all the beauty of the hills . . . so I’m looking for recycled storefront glass or recycled patio doors . . . that sort of thing.

The power co-op will run a power line a given distance into the place if we have a foundation.  Hmmm.  That will give us electric power from the grid to run the tools to build the solar collectors and the wind turbine towers.  I’m going to have to look at that.  Again, the design objective is to have a summer camp (actually year-round camp) completely off the grid.  One of the questions is: how do we get there from here?

Lots to do.  Lots to think about.  Right now I’m mid-process in building a pinewood derby car based on a 1912 Mercer Raceabout.  I’ve spent four hours in the woodshop, and my glasses were so covered in sawdust from exotic woods that I couldn’t really see.  So I cleaned my glasses and washed my clothes.  Now I feel more human.  It would be more fun out in the Missouri Ozark foothills.  With solar/wind-generated power for the shop tools.

Come summer camping with us, and give us your input.  And pour your own root beer and your own fork and spoon.  And eat like a prince off the grill.  And sleep like a chief in a tipi.  And track the deer through the forest like a Choctaw.  That’s what we’ve been doing.

Thanks for reading.  Stay thirsty for root beer, my friends.

Uncle Pat

This week I’ll also update some of the stuff at www.windwalkercamp.com.

What the hands learn the mind cannot forget.


Woodshop at WindWalkerCamp

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Summer is coming already . . . can you hear it calling through the trees?  Above the noise of the cars going by on the street?

Can you feel the bark of the trees in your hands?  The oaks?  The walnuts?  Those doggone blackjacks with thorns that’ll flatten a tire?

I’m taking a break from straightening the garage back into a woodshop.  I tried to listen to the talking heads pontificating about the Election.  Yes; I voted, but sometimes there’s not a dime’s difference betwixt ‘em.  Lordy, but I love being in a woodshop.  It is so cool to take a piece of wood and measure lines on it and work it through the tools and watch it take shape in my hands.

When you sand a wooden car . . . I love building little wooden cars . . . you finish shaping what you cut on the bandsaw with 60 grit on the disk-belt sander.  That, my friend is an industrial process.  Then you make it real by finishing the work by hand.  Blue.  Red.  Yellow.  Black.  Those are the four colors of the rainbow in the shop.  Blue is 80-grit; it’s basically the same grit as on the disk-belt sander, but now your hands are cushioning the wood as it rides back and forth in your fingers.  This is the paper you use to remove any last small saw cuts that went too deep, or to bring a little corner of wood that’s proud of the line back to its designed shape.  Your car becomes as smooth as the velvet in your big sister’s prom dress.

And that’s smooth.  But it’s not yet smooth enough.  What the red, the 120-grit paper, does is to take the soft smoothness of velvet and make it as smooth as Dad’s starched shirt.  It takes out the small scratches the blue paper leaves in the pine.

And that’s smooth.  But it’s not yet smooth enough.   It really start to get it smooth when you take the next color, the yellow, and fold it into fourths to get the right grip . . . and you go over the car again.  Now it’s starting to take on a life of its own.  This takes off that last little softness from the cotton-smooth and makes the wood start to glow, like maybe it had a candle inside it, and you’re starting to think, “You know, this is starting to get pretty slick.”  And it is.  Ask your Mom to let you feel the skirt of her red or her green taffeta party dress.  Now, My Brother, you’re starting to talk smooth here, but now you’re getting the fever.  This is where you turn to me and ask . . . “Hey, Uncle Pat, you got anything finer than 240 grit?”

And I just sort of grin and say, “Oh, yes, my child; I have the black paper; it’s 400 grit.”  And  I unlock the strong box and hand you a quarter of a sheet of midnight.   You grin back at me, because you know the secret that few others learn.  I can’t reveal it here, because I’ve sworn a blood oath only to whisper it amongst woodworkers.  But you know, don’t you?  And you take that quarter sheet of 400-grit and you dance your fingers across the glowing yellow pine, crooning an ancient medicine song to the tree spirit that pulled its life from the earth and the river and pushed its branches toward the sun.  You sing to the drumbeat of your heart, and the little car gets smoother than a moon rocket, smoother than a mach-2 fighter, smoother than the West Wind through the elm thicket.  And the light of the full moon gets trapped in the grains of the  wood and the little car  glows quietly in your palm.  It’s as smooth as a Hershey bar right out of the refrigerator.

And sometimes you paint it to celebrate its speed.  And sometimes you just varnish it to celebrate its life.

And you made it.  In the woodshop.  With your own hands and eyes and mind and heart.

At WindWalkerCamp the woodshop never, even when it snows in the winter, becomes a garage.  Ever.  It’s always a magic place.  Sometimes as rowdy as a school carnival.  Sometimes as quiet as a library.  But always a magic place.  We shape the fabric of the universe in there.  And it is beautiful.

Now for this exercise I do have photos.  Go to the other website: www.pinewoodderbyworkshop.com and check out the photos of kids (boys and girls) with cars they have made.  Sometimes with just a little help.  The woodshop in my house is better equipped than almost any high school in the country.  You ought to come see it.  The woodshop at WindWalkerCamp is still on the drawing board . . . we’ll be doing other construction projects.  But it’s going to be grand.

Nobody wants to go to camp alone.  Especially not the first time  Sign your guy up with a buddy, and we’ll throw in a “Buddy” shirt for both of them for free.  Remember, if you enroll before 30 January, you can get the Early Bird discount.

“We’re gonna have a good time.”