Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Camp Lakamaga

I think I've mentioned here that Maisie joined Girl Scouts, right? Maybe?

Maisie joined the Girl Scouts this year! She's a Daisy, which is the level for girls in Kindergarten and first grade. She really enjoys it. They meet twice a month and pretty much just do craft projects. Sometimes they do other things, too - there was a trip to the zoo for Scout Day, cookie sales, and caroling at a nursing home this year. This past Saturday, we had another special adventure: all the troops from around Lake Nokomis were invited to Camp Lakamaga for the 2013 "Encampment." (I don't think I'd ever seen the word "encampment" before this past weekend, but Google tells me it's a legit word that means "a place with temporary accomodations, usually huts or tents, typically for troops or nomads." So there you go: encampment!)

"Go Confidently in the Direction of your Dreams" - as you leave the dining hall
 Some troops of older girls spent Friday and Saturday night there, but for us, it was just a one-day activity. We arrived bright and early, ready for our scheduled fishing activity at 9:00.

Unfortunately, the weather didn't really cooperate... so the girls just played outside for like an hour and a half instead.
It was a LOT of playing outside!

Then we had a snack and played outside some more, until we headed up to the dining hall for lunch at 12:30.
There was a little display of old Girl Scouting artifacts just outside the dining hall, which included this little diorama. I liked the gigantic coffee pot and the adorably tiny badger. So cute!

They also had posted the Girl Scout Law. So just in case you were wondering, here it is:

"I will do my best to be:
Honest and fair,
Friendly and helpful,
Considerate and caring,
Courageous and strong, and
Responsible for what I say and do,
And to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout."

Admirable goals, I think.
So - waiting for lunch to be ready, and then waiting for our turn to eat, was booooooring.

We passed the time by making faces and taking silly pictures.

After lunch, the girls had a dance class, which was going to be followed by an arts & crafts activity. But by 2:00, mid-dance, it was pretty clear that our Daisies were starting to wilt. It was a long day!

The camp staff had told us to each bring one item of clothing that they'd silkscreen the camp's logo on. So while the troop was dancing I headed over to the Old Lodge, which had the arts & crafts studio, to pick up our troop's silkscreened items. They weren't quite done, so I hung around for a few minutes while they finished our silkscreens. I saw some cool things posted in the cabin, and asked the staffer about them and about the camp's history.

She told me that Camp Lakamaga has been around since the mid to late '50s. The Old Lodge, the cabin we were in, was one of the oldest buildings at the camp. I'd figured that out from this piece of birchbark nailed to the doorframe... it's older than I am!
If you can't quite make it out, it says "Troop Stay Staff 1965" and then lists names. They're mostly silly nicknames - "Cutter" and "Needles" and "Sparky" and so on. (Cutter and Needles? Man, that is one tough Girl Scout troop.) But I think it's really neat that it's still up there from 1965.

The cabin is also ringed with these square tiles that have designs in the middle of them, each with the name of a country. The staffer said that they're also from the 1960's, and are Girl Scout or Girl Guide insignias from the different countries' girls who'd visited Camp Lakamaga.

Obviously I had to take a picture of the Suomi Finland one!

Anyway, after dance class, Maisie and I headed home. A few girls stayed, but I think most of the other Daisies in her troop left then, too. It was a long day already, and almost an hour's drive back to Minneapolis. I was pretty wiped out, and I hadn't even danced or sledded!

Maisie had a lot of fun, and proudly wore her silk-screened Encampment shirt to school on Monday. I don't know how long she's going to want to stay in Girl Scouts, but for now, she really loves it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Weekend update - Salolampi edition!

This weekend we did something different from our usual trips around town to the zoo or to the museum. Along with several other families from Suomi-Koulu, the Finnish language school, we all went to Salolampi, the Concordia Language Village's Finnish language village, for the weekend!

This was in our cabin. Love it!
Salolampi is just outside Bemidji, about a four hour drive from Minneapolis. And while I thought that we had snow... I had no idea just how much snow they still had! We had plans for nature walks, and Ella wanted to climb trees... instead, the girls spent a ton of time sledding and building a snowman and looking for animal tracks and just generally having as much fun in the snow as possible.

Spring in Bemidji

So, I have two stories to tell from the weekend. The first is kind of scary. SPOILER ALERT: everyone is fine.

So, some of you know that Maisie's had allergic reactions to tree nuts before. We had her tested and nothing came up, but her pediatrician advised us to err on the side of caution and avoid nuts, so that's what we've done. She knows that she's allergic to nuts, and we put it on all her health forms. So when we were preparing for this trip, I told our group's leader about her allergy, so it'd get passed along to the kitchen staff. Well, there was a slight communication breakdown, and at dinner on Friday night, Maisie turned to Aaron and said, "this cake is making my mouth all itchy." I went to the kitchen to ask about ingredients, and turns out the cake had ground hazelnuts in it. GAH!

Fortunately, there is a nurse on-site whenever there are kids at the camp, so she came over from Waldsee (the German village) right away with some Benadryl, which took care of Maisie's itchy mouth, tongue, and throat. Also fortunately, the reaction never got worse... there was no swelling or trouble breathing. The nurse gave us another Benadryl just in case (never needed it), and we checked with the staff about any other food items on the menu with stealth nuts (Maisie had to skip the apple cake Saturday night, and the muesli on Sunday morning).

I talked to our pediatrician this morning, who said that allergy panels can be inaccurate, and this third reaction pretty much confirms the allergy. He called in a prescription for an epi-pen in case of a severe reaction (like trouble breathing), and confirmed that Benadryl's a good choice for the milder reactions (itchy mouth but no swelling). So, here we are now, in food allergy land! Friday night was scary, but it's not the end of the world, and it definitely could be worse. Tree nuts are pretty easily avoided, as opposed to allergies like egg or milk protein, and we're now prepared just in case she does get accidentally exposed. And the lovely camp nurse said that a lot of children outgrow allergies, so this might not even be something she has to deal with her whole life.

(I seriously wanted to hug the nurse. She was so good with Maisie, and very reassuring and calm with panicky me. Yay for nurses!)
Now, here's the fun second story. All day Saturday, the girls were clamoring to go SAUNA! Salolampi has two saunas: an electric one in the main building, and a more traditional one with a wood-burning stove out in the woods. On Saturday afternoon we heard that the wood-burning sauna was hot, so we put on our swimsuits and made the trek through the woods to go sauna!

Whoever said it was hot wasn't kidding - it was up to 160 in there, and they kept throwing water on for lisää löyly (more steam), making it even hotter on the top bench! It was a nice, big sauna - we had five adults and six kids all hanging out in there, relaxing and being kind of silly. We started talking about jumping into and rolling around in the snow, as you do when you're in a steamy hot sauna in the snowy woods. Eventually, Maisie and I decided to take the plunge! We stood on the bottom step of the porch, held hands, counted 1, 2, 3... JUMP! We landed on our butts in the snow.

We were the first to do it, and that was my only snow-jump, but eventually all the grownups and all but the littlest kids did it too. Maisie and one other mom made snow angels, and one mom rolled and rolled around. It was hilarious and so fun! Maisie went in the snow four times, for which everyone said she was rohkea (brave). The walk back through the snowy woods was lovely, too. We'd gotten cold on the way to the sauna, but we'd gotten so heated up that the cold air and snow just felt nicely cool and refreshing. It was wonderful!

So those are our two big stories from our Salolampi weekend. When we weren't going sauna or having/panicking over allergic reactions, the girls were doing crafts (Maisie's now a REAL weaver!), and playing with other kids, indoors and out. Maisie and Ella each met and bonded with a girl just about her own age, which was quite sweet. We also ate a TON of yummy Finnish food, marveled at all the stars, and just generally enjoyed being together, out in the woods and off the grid for a weekend.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Easter at the Zoo!

Ah, springtime. Sun and green grass and trees budding and flowers growing. Isn't it great?

Well, yeah, unless it's Minnesota... in which case it's some snow melting, but a high temperature of 34 degrees. Brr!

On Easter, we met some friends at the Minnesota Zoo. We'd all planned to go out to their family farm exhibit to check out the zoo babies, but brrr!

We did make it as far outside as the grizzly bears with our friends. We got to see one of the zookeepers adding fish to their pond. He said the bears would probably wake up and eat the fish, but they were more interested in snoozing than snacking.

Around lunchtime/naptime our friends headed home, so we bundled up and set off to check out the farm babies at the family farm. It was a chilly walk, but once we got there, it was super fun. We walked through the different barns and saw piglets, ducklings, lambs, and chicken eggs hatching.

We had to feed the goats, of course. There was a volunteer hanging around in the goat yard area, who told us that the girls could come in and brush the goats. YAY!!!! This was apparently their fondest wish. Who knew?!? So we went off to brush goats.

The goats were super friendly, and enjoyed being brushed. But they were also REALLY interested in my phone. Every time I tried to take a pic of the girls brushing the goats...

Get off me!!
..someone would think that the phone was edible, and needed checking out.

What's that in your hand? Mind if I take a look?

This goat here actually jumped up on me like a dog just a moment after I took this - he put his front hooves up on my chest to check out my phone! Down boy!!

A little privacy please?

This goat was surprisingly compliant about posing for a pic while Ella brushed him. Hmmm, I wonder why? Well, see how her tail's up? Turns out that means she's about to poop.

Anyway, the girls had a ton of fun brushing the goats. It was a long day at the zoo (we were there until almost 2:00!) but really, really fun. We saw a lot of baby animals (Bactrian camel and sloth, in addition to the farm babies) and despite the weather, a lovely time was had by all.

A goat was trying to knock me down while I took this; that's why it's skewed.