As you may recall, in part 1 and part 2 of this Cousin Camp recap, I lovingly detailed how this year Cousin Camp was all about learning and creating a safe haven for the kids to interact and nurture these important family bonds. Sadly, a mere three hours into camp my plans were thwarted when a gang of nieces and nephews badgered me into allowing them to tube down the river near our house. This was not exactly uncharted territory. Indeed, three years ago we went tubing down the river (again as a result of badgering) and it was fabulous until an alleged snapping turtle attack and one nephew ended up at urgent care. This year I declared “NO tubing!” and cited the aforementioned incidents as the reasons why. They quickly poked holes in my argument. The snapping turtle incident was just a sighting they said (despite the fact that just weeks before I overheard an older cousin telling a younger cousin about “the time a snapping turtle leapt into their raft at cousin camp and attacked them”… I knew this was a fabrication, the younger cousin did not). And, they continued, the urgent care trip wasn’t a result of the tubing, it was the result of wading in river mud up to their knees. I could hardly argue with these points. And shortly I found myself saying yes to the tubing.
By the time the tubing had become a reality the eldest boy cousins had decided they wanted to tube down the river, under the highway. This meant going through a very long, very dark tunnel. I tested their preparedness with a slew of questions: “What will you do if a snapping turtle jumps into the tube?”, “What will you do if one of you begins panicking when your flashlight inevitably runs out of batteries?”, “What will you do when the alien zombie who lives in the tunnel emerges from the murky depths and attempts to steal your tube?”, “What will you tell your parents when you wind up at urgent care as the result of the alien zombie attack” (obvious answer: that Aunt Courtney had absolutely nothing to do with this horrible idea and that they alone are to blame). They passed this test with a reasonable amount of flying colors and I sent them down river. While their fellow cousins eagerly watched for signs of them emerging from the dark, foreboding tunnel, I lapsed into a mental freak-out imagining all the scenarios, including the alien zombie, coming true and trying to decide how long I would wait until I would have to walk up river, through the dark tunnel, to fetch them.
As luck would have it, there were no snapping turtles, no punctured rafts, no malfunctioning flashlights and, surprisingly, no alien zombies. While it took a ridiculous amount of time for them to float through the tunnel, they did eventually emerge:
The other children enjoyed a far more pleasant (for me) tubing experience. One where I could see them the entire time, where there was no dark tunnel to navigate, and where they were connected to a rope so we could pull them back to us:
Later that evening we headed out for our usual camp twilight games. With the sun slowly setting in the sky we played Sharks and Minnows across the soccer field. The kids have gotten wicked fast over the years and I no longer stand a chance in this game. Despite my determination and crazy-fast speed in my flip-flops, I was unable to get past the first round. It seems Pia was kept safe through several rounds by keeping her bike helmet on. That or her older cousins went easy on her and the other little ones. Hard to say.