Saturday morning broke at 6am, to the sound (and feel) of cannon fire! This was the big day.
It was a warm-feeling 40-something temperature, and I turned on the heater to just take the chill off. We did a quick breakfast of oatmeal, so we could be ready for the shooter’s meeting at 8am.
After going through the safety briefing, we hit the trail. TBear’s shots weren’t all the same as mine. The first three shots were some larger targets, and I was frustrated at missing them all. TBear suggested it might be my 30+ pound day bag that was hanging on my shooting shoulder. Sure enough, removing it improved my marksmanship considerably!
Overall, I had 22 shots to make, but not all targets were for all shooters. TBear was sharing all my ‘accessories’ so it slowed him down, as he traveled back and forth to his 12 shooting locations. I had purchased a pistol-style “tear drop” capper as an upgrade, so he had my old one to use. He made about 75% of his shots, while I only averaged about half. I found I can hit small chains, ‘teasers’ and such, but the larger long-distance shots need more practice.
At 10 the Peewee events (12 & under) began, so TBear went to that while I finished up a couple last shots. I came back to camp to find Birdy holding back from the events, due to someone’s behavior. I told her to take the others to have their, fun. I stayed behind with the child and had productive conversation until things turned around. We joined the rest just in time for the scavenger hunt.
While the kids were scavenging camp for feathers, bugs, coins, nails, information, etc. we prepared lunch. An icy breeze was kicking up, so we roasted sausage dogs over the fire to go with our sides. After turning in their findings, kids shot “BB Gun Trail” which were metal targets. Next was hawk & knife, while BB Gun Paper was setup. TBear’s trail name is “Hawkeye” because last year it was his best event. This year was the opposite, so it hit him pretty hard.
Instead of throwing tomahawks and knives, they had a bean bag toss for the littler kids. LilPill tried real hard, and managed to get one through the hole! The other kids were having fun regardless of performance, but that didn’t stop me from mentioning the practice round I had setup for all of us.
After the afternoon Peewee events, we went back to camp. TBear and I cleaned guns, while Birdy tried out backpacking stoves. She even softened the cream cheese for the chocolate oreo lasagna dessert. (All that was left from potluck that night was a foil pan.)
TBear & I went to do the hawk and knife course, so we could turn our scores in by 5. This gave the kids a little time to play around camp before potluck at 6pm. They start off judging the dutch-oven cook-off and homemade spirits. Then with some announcements, folks dig in. The club provided a massive cauldron of chili, and everyone else brought a dish to share. The sheer volume of tasty dishes was sweet, sweet torture!
After dinner, they did a piñata and Easter egg hunt for the kids. (Earlier crafts included a play tomahawk, satchel, & beadwork.) We went back to camp where they had some candy for dessert. This time TBear sang his rendition of ‘Ghost Chickens’ to see who’s was better. It was a draw. Exhausted from the day, LilPill passed out on my lap. Birdy took the cue, and put all the kids down for the night.
While Birdy was in the trailer, the rest of us huddled by the campfire in hushed voices, to plot. Originally, I had planned on taking her on a walk, but had worried that it might be difficult for her to leave the kids. My friend had the brilliant idea that she ask her to go on a ‘night shoot’ with her sister, to make it a girls thing, taking pictures of stars and moonlight on the river! (Good thing too, because by the time I entered the trailer she was in bed, half-way to dreamland, and I don’t think a walk with me would have coaxed her out.)
I waited, ever so impatiently, to give the girls time to walk down to the river, and get into photography. The camp wished me luck, and I snuck down behind them. The light remote was in one sweaty hand, the ring box in the other. I got close enough to see and hear them, then I hit the button. WHOOoom, the lights lit up the night, revealing the ladies in waiting.
Birdy’s first thought was, “what’s that noise” then “what’s going on, those lights will ruin our shots.” Reflecting back, when I appeared, she was sure some kid-catastrophe had happened, and I was there to summon her back to camp and away from the fun. Stunned & confused I gently said, “this is for you,” as I took her arm and led her to the lit canopy.
Up till this point, most was going according to plan. The photographer could simply swing her tripod around and…. “oh no… HOLD ON…. no…. JUST A MINUTE… wait… NO….” (technical difficulties).
I wasn’t gonna let the moment go, so I slowly recited the poem I had rehearsed in my head:
It’s been a few years now, since that first awkward date.
I now know how great you are, and the hour is getting late.
I’ve brought you here tonight (please don’t run and flee)…
To ask you the important question, “Will you Marry Me?”
She said yes with a vigorous nod and, prompted by spectators, I made sure to put the ring on her finger, and pose for a few shots. Once things calmed down a bit, we turned things off to return to camp. At this point, our friend offered to do some ‘real’ night photography, so they decided to stop at a clearing to see the night sky. “Great,” I said, “I’ll meet you back at camp!”
Then it occurred to me, “I’m coming back to camp alone… after a proposal, I could totally mess with people!” I proceeded to calm myself, invoking my best junior-high acting skills, and strolled into camp silently. I plopped down by the fire, and stared off. I tried to think of what I could say, but I could tell the dead silence was working. Besides, I was struggling to contain myself. After what seemed like an eternity, someone asked “so is that it?” . . .
“OH, I’M JUST MESSING WITH YOU GUYS!”
The camp erupted in relieved sighs, curses, and congratulations. (I got them SO good, they were totally gearing up to be supportive…)
The next morning, Birdy broke the news to her kids over breakfast, with mixed reactions. (I don’t think they all comprehended what that meant right away.) There was some time to kill while they did shotgun in the morning, so TBear and I took our hand at the “string shoot” where you get the prize off the string you break. However, the strings zig-zag behind a board, so you can’t see what you’re gonna get. It felt good to get 2 out of 3 shots.
Next, they did the candy cannon which the kids made short work of. The awards ceremony followed at 11, starting with the peewee group. Every kid placed in something, receiving a plaque, and a prize. Additionally, TBear got metals for his performance in the ‘Little Trappers’ division, with a 2nd place overall. For his blanket prize, he got a powder horn, which he’s very pleased with. I retrieved a gas grill smoking pouch for my prize. My score was in the middle of the pack, so I didn’t feel so bad. Someone likened it to a golf score, you should be competing with yourself.
Most of the kids slept on the way home, where I parked the trailer before driving another 3 hours to drop off TBear. In all, one of the best weekends of my life. Thank you all.