At one camp the Craft Hall and the Nature Center worked together whenever we could to combine crafts & nature. One of our favorite shared projects was to make plaster castings of animal prints. We kept our eyes at for good spots; along the nearby river or the on-site pond served rich with tracks of animals coming in for water.
One sunny afternoon a small group of staff (including me and the toy Pomeranian that lived with me on site) took a group of kids and headed towards a creek that was fed by the river. It was rich with tracks of deer and raccoon of all sizes. There were some wonderful & delicate tiny prints from baby raccoon. To make the castings the animal print in filled in with the plaster of paris mixture, let dry, removed, allowed to dry thoroughly, and cleaned. (We always made sure to put the camp name and year on the bottom as well.) This meant you had to get to the print to fill it and then again after it set.
On this particular day, some of the kids found some great prints on the other side of the little creek, that seemed rather shallow. My five foot three frame started across the muddy space, while one of the younger staffers stayed on the bank with the kids and my 5 lb. dog. The bottom was muddy and my feet stuck a few times, but mud and dirt are a part of camp & nature. No big deal, right? I thought that, until I got stuck. It wasn't just a little stuck, I sunk and as mud and water moved up past my knees and towards my waist I wasn't able to get myself unstuck. I probably would have sunk more, but I found a hard surface on a log that had fallen into. (If it wasn't a log, I don't want to know and would rather continue to believe it was a log.) A few of the kids were worried, I was drenched, and my little dog was freaking out from his perch in the dog purse. (I know it doesn't sound very camp-like, but most of the staff had dogs on site, mine was just small and elderly.) With a little help from the fellow staffer in the muck and mud with me I was able to get freed from the mud and back to dry land. I was covered in mud from toe to waist, but the dog and the kids seemed much happier to have me unstuck.
We got a number of good castings that day and I was able to sen a younger staffer to find me a change of dry shorts from my cabin while we cleaned them up. I may have been stuck in mud up to my knees and water a bit higher, but mud is a part of life sometimes... and definitely a part of camp life.
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