Thursday, June 30, 2011

Boys In Camp

At lunch yesterday, the girls from the Pioneer Unit (13,14 &15 year olds) were instructed to stay after dismissal for a brief meeting. The rest of us listened from the porch because we knew what this meeting was all about. As Ally announced that at 2:30pm boys from a neighboring boys camp would arrive for a camp 'social,' a mighty cheer arose from the teenage girls! They couldn't have been more excited. After a quick soap dip,* they spent the next hour primping and waiting for the three van loads of guys to show up. The counselors had several activities planned and quickly divided the group up. Some put on swim suits and went tubing; some came here to the grassy ampitheatre for a rousing game of one-base kick ball and a human knot competition. No awkward moments...boys and girls quickly beame friends and competitors with lots of chatter, cheering and laughter.
After a burger cookout, the teens danced to iPod tunes in the Rec. Hall. Every girl I talked to said they had a great time and made new friends.

The little campers were really funny. They were shocked to see boys in camp. "What are boys doing here?" several asked me. "Well, you see, when girls get older they like to talk to boys," I explained.They thought that was pretty icky and gross. Just wait a few years!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Learning the Mysteries of the Canoe

A week into camp and already the girls are mastering skills that will last them a lifetime. They've gone from eyeing the stored canoes with trepidation to...
learning and practicing their skills on dry land to...
venturing forth on their own!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Water Rescue

One of the pre-camp trainings at RPC was practicing water rescue for the life guards. Here the victim is being strapped on a backboard supported by the life guards' floats, and her head is immobilized.
Then the injured swimmer is carefully floated/carried to shore.
This is the way we want to see the rescue backboards...empty! Especially on a day like today--cold, windy and rainy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

And The Rains Came

All 114 Red Pine Camp girls arrived yesterday! In the morning, parents dropped off their daughters, and at 4pm, two busloads of girls arrived from Chicago to cheers and singing from the campers already checked in. Each and every girl had to come to the Health Center and be seen by either me or Nurse Kathi, who was helping Kate and I complete the check-ins. Do I need to tell you that by 10pm last night I was exhausted?? And this morning, we awoke to pouring rain, thunder and lightening. Breakfast was delayed by 15 minutes until the weather broke enough for campers to walk to the Lodge safely. But it was still raining hard. As our Director says, tho, 'this is camp. They're gonna to get wet.' Everyone was in good spirits despite the rain. We did a fun Storm Game while we ate...everyone made noises that replicated the storm outside. First we rubbed hands together, then we snapped our fingers. That was followed by everyone tapping the table, then stomping their feet. The Head Table began flicking the lights on and off, and soon we had a full-blown storm both inside and out. Try it at does sound like a storm. And what a fun way to keep little campers from being afraid of the loud sounds outside!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Campers Coming!

We awoke to a steady rain this morning. It began last evening, but by noon had stopped. The clouds remain and it's cool. Wet, rainy, and cool isn't an auspicious beginning for camp, but it's forecast to be clear tomorrow. And ready or not, sun or clouds...tomorrow is the day. Campers are coming!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lights and Sirens

I've provided nursing care and EMS services in a lot of different places and in many different settings.
I've ridden in the back of a lot of ambulances and cared for patients in a variety of helicopters. I've even raced to the scene of an accident on horseback. But going 'lights and sirens' in a golf cart is a new experience for me. This is the nurse's ambulance parked by my back porch.Can you see the lake in the distance? Believe it or not, I've never driven a golf cart before; Connie checked me out in it and I passed with flying colors. I'm amazed at how speedy it is. It definitely gets me places faster than I can walk. It's perfect for the little paved roads and dirt trails that meander around camp.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Just Stopping By

We found this pretty thing resting on the grass by the waterfront this morning. I think she was stopping by to rest on her way someplace. Any idea what her name is?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ally, Where Are You?

This week of pre-camp has been incredibly busy. We've had first aid/CPR/AED training.All the departments have met to write their curriculum for their classes. There have been numerous staff meetings and ice breaker games and activities. I've been checking staff in and completing paperwork for both staff and campers. Our 'Accountability' leader has discussed and reviewed all the emergency camp processes and procedures. This morning we drilled the procedure for a 'Lost Camper' scenario. At three blasts of the air horn, everyone in camp jumped into action. Each zone of camp was searched. I'm responsbible for the Health Center and the grassy ampitheatre where the campers play soccer and meet for raising the lowering the flag. Ally was our lost camper. All through the woods you could hear voices calling...Ally, where are you? The goal is to find the camper without frightening her or making her think she's in trouble. Worst case scenario, of course, could happen at the waterfront where all the life guards and water staff put into action an organized search plan. Each area of the waterfront is covered by girls (and a handful of boys who work at camp) swimming, diving and searching as their leader calls out the rhythm. "Everyone up? three strokes forward, dive!" "Everyone up? one step back, stop, three strokes forward, dive!" They continue, passing the team coming from the opposite direction until they come to the end of their area. Then they turn and begin the drill back again. Two spotters stand on the dock watching the searchers, taking head counts and assuring that exhausted searchers come out of the water and are replaced by fresh swimmers. It was amazingly well organized. After searching my designated area, I also report to the waterfront with my emergency equipment to stand by...just in case. This was a highly successful drill. And yes, Ally was found!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Day in the Life...

LIfe at camp has been incredibly busy...and the campers haven't even arrived yet! As of yesterday, all the counselors and other staff are here, and the energy level has risen expotientally. I can already tell that no two days will be alike, and that I'll be doing lots of fun things. Let me tell you a little about my yesterday. Up at 5:30am and walked two miles with the Camp Director...a perfect opportunity to discuss issues and plans. Breakfast in the Lodge. Dining is a totally different experience for me. The girls sing both before and after most meals. Food and dishes are passed a certain way and everyone's manners are impecable. I spent most of the morning checking in staff, ordering emergency supplies, and organizing medications while my nursing assistant worked on organizing the files. Afternoon found me planting impatiens in the ten flower boxes around the Health Center and playing 'newbie' rider for the stable girls. They are learning how to teach the campers the essentials of English riding and needed a 'practice dummy.' That would be me! Here I am sitting on my barrel horse, Charlie. I was a perfect subject for the girls to learn on. I have never sat an English saddle and don't know the first thing about how to hold the reins, position my hands and legs, direct and indirect rein English style, or even dismount. I was a real challenge for them! But I can say, they were able to teach least on Charlie! More fun and adventures to come...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I'm Here!

I arrived at Red Pine Camp in northern Wisconsin on Thursday afternoon. Not a hard drive, but a long one. Miz Red Belle is parked  in front on the Health Center which consists of three good-sized rooms. One room is my quarters which includes a little kitchen. The center room is the office/reception area with a bathroom and shower. The far room is for overnight campers. It holds four single beds and is open and airy.Camp itelf is absolutely beautiful. The buildings are mostly vintage 1940s-1950s, but are extremely well-kept. This are lots of woods, lots of open space, and lots of waterfront. Counselors and staff are arriving daily and our numbers are swelling. Everyone eats together in the dining hall, summoned by a ringing red bell, just like at home on Red Bell Farm. Campers don't come until June 20th, but there is plenty to do until they arrive. I've been non-stop busy. I'll be back as frequently as I can to update you on RPC adventures.

I took this photo standing on the front step of the Health Center. That's the lake you see beyond the trees. Not a bad view, huh?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Little House on the Train Tracks

I've just received confirmation from my friends, Josie and Patrick that I will be able to rent their little house on the train tracks when I return to France in September. I'm very excited! As you can see, it's right above the river. And it's only two houses down the tracks from chez Laury. While you can't see its big neighbor, the Chateau which is perched high on the cliff to the left, the house sits right in its shadow.There are many of these little houses that were built everywhere the train tracks cross a road. I'll blog more about them when I return to France and can show you other photos. This petite maison has two bedrooms upstairs, one bathroom, a very updated kitchen and comes with some basic furniture. Oh, and just so you know...the train doesn't run anymore; the tracks are abandoned and quiet.

I leave tomorrow for my summer job in northern Wisconsin. There will be a break in blogging until I can get settled and figure out my internet access. When I return, I'll share my adventures at Red Pine Camp with you. A bientot!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Charlotte Gray

Have you seen the 2001 movie, "Charlotte Gray?" Based on a novel by Sebastian Faulks, the movie follows a Scots woman who joins a special unit of the British army during WWII and parachutes into Vichy France to search for her lover, a downed Royal Air Force pilot. Working with the French Resistance, her mission is to pass vital information between the maquis and Britain, a dangerous and sometime deadly job. The French village part of the movie was filmed in Saint Antonin-Noble-Val, which is a village in the Tarn-et-Garonne, the department just south of the Lot. It's a wonderfully dramatic story of love and war. But the reason I watched it again this weekend is because one brief scene near the end of the movie was filmed the bridge that crosses the Lot River at Cajarc. Charlotte is desperately seeking her friend and two young boys. As she chases the freight train bearing them to a Nazi work camp, you see this lovely bridge in the background. If you look quickly, you'll also see the house on the Salvignac-Cajarc side of the river.  Cajarc townspeople filled roles as crowd 'extras' when the scene was filmed. And while the village scenes were shot at Saint Antonin, they could have easily been shot in the old part of Cajarc; it looks very much like the images in the movie.

As I searched the internet for information about the movie, I came across the Warner Bros. website that I've linked above. I spent an hour looking through it. If you have any interest in WWII, the French Resistance, or the brave women who were real-life "Charlotte Grays," please click on the link. It's fascinating to read the stories of these women and see artifacts from their work. And it's heartbreaking to learn that not all of them survived their missions. When captured, they were executed by the Germans or sent to concentration camps where they, like many others, died.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A New Adventure

Time to give you a preview peek of the new adventure that will begin unfolding next week. I leave on Thursday morning for Red Pine Camp in the north woods of Wisconsin. Camp nursing is one of the few areas of nursing that I've never explored; this should be a fun challenge! There will be a lot more to come about RPC in the next couple of months.
Don't let the red star confuse you...RPC is actually located just north of Rhinelander. That's Lake Superior to the north and Lake Michigan to the east.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


This is George Cole-Duvall. I'm taking a break in  blogging about my life to share a bit of George's with you. George is the son of Rev. Canon Milton Cole-Duvall and Rev. Canon Mary Cole-Duvall. Mary is the priest at my church, St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in West Des Moines, IA. George graduated from high school a few weeks ago and is currently spending his first year of college studying abroad. That in itself is remarkable; freshmen don't normally spend their first year doing that. The fact that George is doing this year abroad in southern Sudan is even more remarkable. A political science major, George and his family thought living in southern Sudan to be witness and participant in the building of the world's newest nation would be a unique experience. Our church has a connection there with Bishop Samuel Peni, who spent time studying in Iowa and became well-known to our parish. So, George is now half-way around the world living an adventure that some of us only dream of. He's teaching, he's mentoring and he's learning how nations are formed. I'll let him tell you the story himself. Click here to read about it at "My Southern Sudan Journey," George's blog. Be sure to read the entry entitled "The Son of Iowa." It's one of my favorites.
"Iowa and Son of Iowa"

Please remember George in your thoughts and prayers. As a mom, I can tell you that having your son go away for college is a trauma; to have your son half-way around the world has to be an even bigger emotional event for Mary and Milton, and George's sisters, Mary Scout and Leah!  Please remember them as well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May is History

My friend, Randi, over at Dukes and Duchesses did a nice summary of her blog for the month of May. Reading it made me think back over my May which brought me from Cadrieu through Paris and back to Red Bell Farm. Here's a photo collage of that journey. May is history. New adventures are ahead!
(And thanks, Randi, for doing the monthly blog update. I thought I'd read every one, but was delighted to see the 'Pie in a Jar' post which I missed. I am definitely going to try it!)