Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spring Fishing Trip on Black Lake

Our scheduled Bullhead Fishing Trip in April had to be postponed because of unforeseen Police Department staffing needs (the day we planned to leave got red lined). We were unable to reschedule until May 21st (a little too late for good bullhead fishing). However, it was much warmer and we could not have picked a more beautiful weekend.

The bluegills and sunfish were biting which gave the children lots of action on their fishing poles. Officer Burdick took some of the children out in a rowboat, some fished from canoes, while others fished from the dock. Plenty of fish were caught and released--and some were saved for the frying pan.

The weather was exceptionally warm, allowing the children to spend a lot of time swimming or playing on the Slip 'n' Slide. We also taught the older children how to safely tip over the canoes while out in the lake. Once they mastered rolling the canoes, emptying the water from them, and starting over, they teamed up and played games trying to tip each other over. It started out girls against the boys, but once a canoe was tipped over, it appeared to be everyone in the water against the up-righted canoe. It's amazing how difficult it is to tip over a canoe when you have two people inside working as a team to prevent it. Eventually, they would get it tipped, but it required a lot of work from the swimmers in the water.

One of the girls in the fishing boat with Officer Burdick saw the kids swimming and having fun with the canoes and wanted to jump out of the boat and swim to the other kids. Officer Burdick, who was rowing towards the dock, insisted she wait until he got a little closer. Once they were close to the dock and the other kids, she yelled towards the shore to us (her father, who was a chaperone on the trip, and I), asking if she could jump now. We all gave her the go ahead and she jumped into the water. As soon as she was in the water, she panicked and began screaming. Her father sprung to his feet and began running toward the dock. Foreseeing a nasty belly flop and a needless rescue, I yelled for the girl to stand up. Officer Burdick, in the boat next to her, echoed for her to stand up. Just seconds before her father reached the end of the dock, she stood up, said "Oh," and waded over to play with the other children in the water.

We also, managed to get some ATV riding time in over the weekend. Officer Burdick mowed a large circle in the middle of our 5 acre hayfield across the road from the Lake while I rode with the kids on the ATV. The circle in the middle of the open field was ideal for the children who were big enough to operate an ATV. They could drive around, following the mowed path for a couple of laps (I rode with them of course). Once Officer Burdick was done mowing, he drove the smaller children around the field for a ride.

After dark we had campfires and made smores. It is always a challenge for us adults to manage multiple pointed metal sticks with flaming marshmallows on the end. We have a pretty good system until one of the children decides to extinguish their flaming marshmallow by waving their stick rather than by blowing it out. There were no injuries to report other than the warm tongue my Labs usually get because they are watching and waiting for such an opportunity. After making and eating numerous smores, several games of Hide and Seek took place with Officer Burdick leading the way. He considered himself to be fast and sly in Hide and Seek, but he was no match for the kids, especially AJ, who is also quite quick and sneaky. Once Officer Burdick tired the children out, it was time to head to bed to rest up for the next day.

On Saturday afternoon, one severe thunderstorm drove us all inside the house for an hour. We had snacks and played games until the storm passed and then it was back outside to enjoy the outdoors. We even received a surprise visit from a few swans this weekend, something you don't see too often on Black Lake.

We took 16 children on this trip, and we all had a great weekend. Thank you to all who made our trip possible. Your donations are valuable to us. Although, at least one of us adults is outside watching the kids at all times, we still require them to wear a life vest anytime they walk on the dock, swim, or go out in a boat/canoe. It's a rule they have easily adopted, and they are faithful to remind each other to put on their life vests. Most of the vests I own can't take the abuse the children give them (I generally have to discard 1 or 2 per trip). Thus, life vests are constantly needed and any donations are greatly appreciated. If you are willing to help provide them for the children, vests with zip fronts plus the buckles are the best for our use (if the kids break off a buckle, the zipper still keeps the vest on). As you can see from our photos, we use vests of all sizes (5yr-adult). You can even see AJ still wearing his life vest when we celebrated his Birthday Saturday night (when the kids get one of the zip vests on, they don't want to take it off). Another item much needed at the camp is paddles and oars. I have 4 canoes and 4 rowboats at the camp, but I do not have enough paddles and oars to allow all of those canoes to be in the water at the same time.

Our next summer camping trip is scheduled for July (possibly the 9th - 11th).
Once again, thank you for all your support,

Officer Clarke

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