Aug 26 2010

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Goofing Around

Posted at 9:56 am under Blog Post

Once a year, Judy and I gather together our grandchildren for a four-day “summer camp.”  No parents allowed.  Every gathering has a different theme.  This year it was all about the jungle so there were lots of apes, frogs, insects and other wild animals in the mix.  Imagination turned our back yard into a rain forest, and there was no shortage of fun.

Brightly colored orangutans dangled from strings stretched across doorways.  We watched part of a documentary about the rain forest canopy to see the real ones in action.  We painted lizards, opened a coconut, made tribal masks, swung from a rope like Tarzan in the movies, and hung out in the tree house that I built for the occasion.  The kids loved the tree house.  It spoke to them in ways that I, as an adult, just barely understand.

With a theme like the jungle, there are plenty of teachable moments, but for the most part it was all about goofing around.  While I was pretending to be a wild man living in the tree house, the kids stole my mascot, Peewee – a monkey carved from a coconut.  And somehow that became the driving symbol for this year’s frolic.

Peewee is silly looking and silly is good.  I was all excited a couple weeks earlier when I found Peewee in a store.  Judy thought I’d gone crazy when I showed it to her but somehow I knew the kids would love it.  Perhaps I’m more of a kid than I’m willing to admit.  Despite all the gravely serious philosophical rumination that I do when I’m alone, either at home or in deep woods, I still gravitate to silliness.  That’s for the best, I think.  It’s not healthy being serious all the time.

Kids like to jump, run, laugh, play, imagine and generally goof around.  Judy and I did our best to keep up, but we were exhausted by the last day and glad to see it all come to an end.  Now back in adult mode, a couple days after reordering the chaos, we sink into melancholy.  We miss the kids even while thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet.  We look at the pictures taken during the gathering, amazed by how much we missed, and speculate about what we’ll do differently next year.  One thing’s for certain, though.  No matter what the theme is, silliness will abound.

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