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.


Tell me again. Why WindWalkerCamp this summer?

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My muse taps me on the shoulder around ten or eleven at night to write this blog.  So here I sit in front of Mr. Dell’s little machine, the wife drowsing in one ear, the cockatiel seed-cracking in the other.  My knit buffalo hat keeping my ears warm.  Thinking about summer camp.

Do other Camp People think about summer camp in the middle of the night?  I don’t really know.  Maybe.  I know I do is all.  I really could be finishing the remodel on the shower or sweeping the shop since the last herd of PineWoodDerbyWorkshop kids came through.  I do my lesson-planning before I leave school . . .

Songs and haiku at summer camp.  Now there’s a topic.  What makes a summer camp song?  There’s a loaded question if ever there was one.  I still remember YMCA day camp songs from the ‘50s in Amarillo.  Uh, they aren’t socially acceptable any more.  I’m not sure they’re really wrong, but even I don’t think like that any more.  And the great stirring, patriotic songs from Scout camp in the ‘60s are just sort of “meh.”

I’m thinking “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog” is good.  And “Greenback Dollar” is good.  And “I wear my pink pajamas” is a keeper.  I’m even leaning toward “I Want to Teach the World to Sing.”  You remember, before Coke bought it and commercialized the lyrics?  There are others.  “The Wind Blew Through His Whiskers Just the Same” is a good one.  And then for round songs there are “Zulu Warrior” and “One Bottle of Pop” and . . . I’ve gone blank, but it’ll come back.

And then there is haiku.  Oh, holy syllables, Batman.  What can you really say in seventeen syllables? I’ve learned that kids can pack C-47s into seventeen syllables when they work at it.  They’ll make you laugh, make you cry, make you wander what you were thinking about, make you proud of what they’ve learned . . .

When I taught English (before standardized testing got out of control) Thursday’s were Haiku Days, and my students tore it loose.  All they got for their labor was a daily grade and a medium to express themselves in.  Ten years later I still get haiku by mail from past students.  I picked up my laundry once a couple of years ago and the clerk (one of my former students) handed me my shirts and two haiku.  When I went to the funeral of one of my former students, I handed his mom a pair of haiku I wrote while I cried for all our loss.

At WindWalkerCamp haiku is one of our foci (like that?).  Focuses? (Nah, foci.)  Throughout the day on the archery range or the gun range or in the woodshop or on the flying field, or the campfire,  wherever we are, the guys’ll be turning their phrases behind their eyeballs because at dinner everybody recites at the Haiku Slam.  Every haiku will be recorded on paper.  And they have to follow the rules (www.englishisnotforsissies.org — check the “haiku” link).  No artistic license.  Seventeen is seventeen.  If a gardener can strive with a warrior through poetry, that’s power.  Any way, at dinner a panel of judges for sure, and maybe a call of the hall will determine that evening’s Poet Laureate.  And he will be awarded the fourragere to wear with his dinner dress shirt.  For the rest of the week.  He keeps that lanyard on his shirt.

“Dinner dress shirt.”  Let’s talk about that..  Summer camp is how a society passes its tacit values to succeeding generations.  Even more than through formal education.  Maybe more than through church.  There are gigaboodles of church summer camps, friends.   And every tribe, every segment of our society has a uniform, tacit or explicit.  Bankers don’t wear t-shirts to work, and bakers don’t wear suits.  (Just like “real men don’t wear plaid” and golfers will wear anything!)  Well, the summer camp uniform is shorts and a t-shirt and sneaks or sandals.  But dinner and campfire .  . . well, those are different in my book.  When the community breaks bread, that is important.  It certifies the bonds forged during the day.  When everybody wears “the shirt” the group identity is reaffirmed, the ‘fellowship of the ring,” the knights of the Round Table,” the “band of brothers.”  It’ll just be the shirt.  We don’ need no stinkin’ neckties . . .  But the shirt will be the palette where everyone’s achievements will be painted and celebrated.  It’s important.

Go to the website www.windwalkercamp.com for the stuff that is more or less cast in stone . . . or at least scratched in the sand.

Thanks for reading.

Uncle Pat

What the hands learn the mind can’t forget.

Why WindWalkerCamp this summer?

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I have often thought about why I want to set up and run a summer camp.  I have thought often and long about that.

 When I went to summer camp as a kid I thought the counselors must have descended from Mount Olympus.  They knew honest-to-Pete everything.

They knew how to tie knots I hadn’t even heard of.  On the rifle range they could shoot the crutch out from under the grasshopper standing on the left side of the target without even rustling the antenna of the grasshopper shining the first one’s shoes.  These guys could use a rock to knap a chunk of flint into a perfectly lethal arrowhead on a piece of leather on their knee. And maybe, just maybe, Robin Hood or William Tell could shoot a bow better.  But I’m still not too sure about that.  They could navigate unerringly through the wilds of North Texas with a compass.  If they wanted to show off a little they would put their compass in their pocket and take their watches out (remember watches with hands?), put it on the ground with a stick aligned along the hour hand, and half a hour later – after we’d all caught our breath – point out north.  Dead north.

They could cook.  They could sew a pair of moccasins.  The guys at the pool all made bikini swimsuits by stitching pairs of uniform neckerchiefs together at the point and tying them around their waists.  We were scandalized, and feverishly pestered them to show us how they did it.

Tanned as fine Corinthian leather.  Sun-bleached hair.  Babe-magnets on Campfire Nights.

My one goal in life was to be a summer camp counselor.

The summer after my first college midshipman cruise (Norway, England, Belgium, France), I came back and got to be a summer camp counselor.  I worked in the office.  I didn’t get to swagger in front of the campers . . . or their big sisters.  I had to arbitrate between the ladies in the kitchen about whether to put one or two tablespoons of butter in the mashed potatoes.  (That’s true.)  But I had total access to the rifle range on the weekends.  And the archery range.  And cantaloupes with ice cream on the weekends.  And I got to drive the camp jeeps (loaned to us by the Army helicopter base at Fort Wolters).  And Life was sweet.  And Life was Good.

Then I enlisted in the Navy, finished the university on the GI Bill, got a succession of jobs, and ended up as a schoolteacher (which I LOVE doing, by the way).

The whole time, forty-nine years – so near half a century as makes no never-mind – I have remembered the glories of summer camp.

I have written and rewritten curriculum for summer camp.

I have devised and revised menus for summer camp.

I have mapped and traced and retraced road trips for summer camp.

I have collected and edited designs for summer camp shirts.

I have collected and discarded songs for summer camp campfires.

I have walked several thousand acres of lands in a half dozen states for sale as potential summer camp sites.

I have taken summer camp course-director training courses.  I have the certificates to prove it.

I have taken trainings for summer camp first aid personnel.

Well.  It’s time.  I have put this step off for a myriad of reasons that made sense at the time.

Nobody will want to send their kids to Missouri; it’s too far away.  (Six or seven hours.)  People will want their kids to sleep in cabins.  (Whoa; whoa now.  I never slept in a cabin.  Besides we have Blackfoot tribe pattern tipis.  On platforms, out of the grass!)

I don’t have a kitchen built out yet.  Excuse me.  People pay a ton for outdoor kitchens in their back yards.  And I have eaten extremely well from a grill and a fire, thank you.  We don’t have a dining hall yet.  Uh, we have a dining fly.  And we even have mesh walls.


Ask me about summer camp at WindWalkerCamp.  What do we do there?  Why go there?

We make real-world stuff with our own hands.  Rockets, robots, boxes, trunks, vests, pewter tableware.  We learn table manners and social skills.  We compete in teams to master skills (tracking feral watermelons by compass in moonlight)(sometimes during the watermelon mating season, when the cow-melons are bearing young, we track the every wily chocolate- peppermint ice cream – these can turn and rend you in the length of a tablespoon).  We launch rockets we’ve built . . . and bring them home.  We canoe on the three rivers near the Camp.  We have a good time.  We read around the campfire.  We have designated times to write postcards home (not emails).

We are scouting a site for a chapel where we can reflect on things we can’t see.

All in the wilds of Outer Missouri.

Go the our website: http://www.windwalkercamp.com to check out dates and fees and available discounts.
Thanks for reading.

I got to orating.  I’ll talk about table manners and haiku another night.

What the hands learn the mind cannot forget.

Table manners, haiku, and badges

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Summer camp is coming already . . . can you smell it in the air?    With the bun warmed on the grill so it has the same char marks as the burger itself?  With an icy-cold root beer to wash it down.  Can you taste the root beer on the back of your tongue?

 Friday I ordered a 5-Gallon Root Beer brewing system.  As I’m writing this, I just realized I forgot to order bottles.  Shoot fire and save the matches!  Well, I’ve just priced three cases of bottles (per five-gallon batch).  I’ll call in the order Monday.

 Now, we have to talk about table manners.  Breakfast is informal.  Lunch is informal.  Dinner is a separate deal altogether  Dinner is formal..  Camp Dress shirts with patches and braids.  White tablecloths (really).  Multiple forks and spoons. And multiple glasses and cups.  We’re going for the gusto here.  It won’t be easy to execute, but we’re going for it.  With the Staff setting the standard, the guys’ll get with the program because it’s cool to be classy.  To be stylin’.

Dinner is for more than just refueling.  It’s knife, fork, and spoon (not “shovel”).  But it’s a time for real conversation and discussion as well.  It’s time for manly beauty.  –The girls will thrill to a guy who knows which fork to use at the restaurant with her parents after church on Sunday.  —  That is why we will have an emphasis on excellent manners . . . and a haiku contest at each dinner, with every camper contributing original poetry from memory.  The winner of each evening’s competition will be awarded a black lanyard to wear on his dinner dress shirt for literary excellence.  We’re still working out all the details, but you get the picture.

We’re gonna have a good time.

 After dinner, before lights-out, the absolutely best thing you can do around a campfire is read a book.  A really good book full of short stories.  Oh, the stories I have read . . . Civil War ghost stories, science fiction (?) short stories, stories of the battles of Julius Caesar or George Custer or Henry V at Agincourt.  Books of poetry now and then – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  Or Homer’s Odyssey.  Good bloody stuff.  Like Shakespeare.

 A couple of nights we’ll have a movie with the award of mission patches . . . Have you gone online to see the joint mission patch for the Russian/American joint mission aboard the Leonov to rescue Discovery in a decaying orbit around Jupiter in 2010?  We’re working on getting a sewing machine out there to put the patches on jackets right after each movie.  Or how about the squadron patch for The Last Starfighter?  
Go online and look them up; they’re really cool.

The guys are going to look like the Ruratanian Secret Police!

 We’ll talk about other awards another night.  But patches and cords are a heck of a lot more fun that grades.  I’m a teacher; I know.

Go check out our website at www.windwalkercamp.com.  Between there and here you’ll know a whole lot more about what we’re going to be doing.  This is not a camp for geeks, but it helps if you’re smart and like to work with your hands to bend the fabric of the Universe.


What the hands learn the mind cannot forget.