* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Another camp fall work week

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 01Once again, we just spent another week up in the mountains volunteering at a children's camp facility to do whatever upkeep was necessary to keep everything in workable condition.  Both the Doc and I have developed our areas of personal interest or expertise, and we tend to do the same things every year, but each time does bring its own version of challenges and experiences.

One of my favorite current views is from the fire pit I rebuilt last year looking over the grounds I've personally done my fair share of reclaiming from wild nature.

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 02
My gorgeous fire pit, the beautiful volleyball field, and laundry!

When we first went up last spring after my total rebuild of the fire pit the previous fall, I discovered somebody had already started loading it up with a bunch of non-appropriate junk.  I was not a happy camper!  This time, it was a year's worth of weeds starting to reclaim their space. 

As my primary role is to take care of the laundry, I got that going first, then I tackled the unwanted vegetation.  Instead of the whole week involved last year, it only took a couple of hours to re-dig the pit clean, move the rocks and get the lurking hidden roots, then dig out a little retaining circle that will hopefully keep them back until next year.  A few pieces of wood will hopefully remind guests what the purpose of this pit is!

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 03
Time for dinner!

We kind of ended up with two separate crews this week, plus a handful who were there the whole five days. 

Sadly, it did not involve the woman who always organizes the week and feeds us, as her cancer has returned and her current treatment is really harsh. 

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 04
A relaxing mealtime before the next day's plan of attack

I forgot to take my camera, so I don't think there was even a photo taken of the first group before half of them went back home. 

But the picture happy second group managed to capture their first dinner hour.

We work hard during the day, then we get fed well at meal times.  What a trade-off!

As most of the people more in charge don't have a clue about what's needed on the grounds, and as I have a real horror of all the interior necessary scrubbing and avoid it as much as possible (sometimes there aren't enough of us), I end up finding my own project I'd like to see accomplished. 

The first years involved working all day long all week long trying to tame some of the overgrown brambles.  When I moved on to doing the laundry, I needed projects easy to take a break from.

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 05
Preliminary searching of the rock size

Last year I rebuilt the fire pit (which is just so pretty and we couldn't use because the burning season doesn't open until next month).  This year I decided to start tackling some of the buried rocks that destroy the lawn mower every time with their tips that stick up like icebergs.

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 06
Yes, I could get that baby out of there!

When I started picking at the worst ones, I discovered they were surrounded by lots of smaller ones, the whole bunch contributing to all the lumps keeping the ground from being flat.

I looked for the worst ones that get buried by the high grass, while some are large enough to easily mow around.

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 07
Sitting there looking so innocent
2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 08
Not so innocent

Not knowing what might be underground, I was relieved when this one turned out to be a reasonable size, although its shape and size bore no relation to what it looked like in the ground with its often mowed peak. 

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 09
More lawn mower friendly

I was rather pleased with how I managed to pick down the ground after the rock was out to make a much smoother area.  Although I tried to smash down all the grassy weeds I'd dug up, they'll probably all die back soon. 

But this should be much nicer next year when new growth gets going, and then it will be more pleasant to mow this whole area. 

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 10
Dangerous little hard surface
2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 12
Not so little after all
My biggest challenge turned out to be almost more than I could handle.  This one was particularly large and dangerous for cutting machines, so I decided it should just go away!  Rocks can be beautiful, but they need to play nice with humans, and this one just wasn't conforming.

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 11
Pickaxes -- good for toning
2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 13
Making the guys prove their usefulness
But watch out when Alpine Queen has a pick in her hands and determination in her head.  Most of the time, rocks don't stand a chance.

However, in this case, I didn't have the force to pull it out of the ground and needed a bit of help.  Fortunately, the youngest and the almost oldest guys managed to haul it out of its hole.  Then I had a deep pit to fill with no dirt to fill it with. 

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 14
What to do with this crater?

Not to worry, digging up the earlier rock provided me with a whole lot of little ones I dumped in there, then I was able to pick the surrounding ground enough to flatten it all level and cover up the baby rocks. 

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 15
Fill it in and smooth it over!
I left it looking pretty good with roots that will also probably die off, but I'm sure the mountain spring rains will allow it all to fill back in with nice greenery by next summer.

Ah, the things I do in my spare time when I take a break from all my fun sewing adventures!

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 16
Drudgery with a smile

While I do my best to avoid the interior work, that all still has to be done.  My only tribute is one solitary worker out of several who is working in the hallway on dealing with a few extra mattresses that need some special attention while others are cleaning the room they came out of. 

She typically does a lot of the scrubbing behind all the nasty kitchen equipment, so this was probably a pleasant change!  But all the beds need to be vacuumed down before being restocked with all the bedding I was washing, the windows washed, the cabinets cleaned, the floors mopped . . . And so it goes.  Year after year.

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 17
Where I tried to help nature be more user friendly

Another lovely view is from the chalet looking over the rocky grounds, with the fire pit and game field to the left. 

Before I started digging the rocks out of the main grassy area, I attacked the piles of rocks that had been thrown under the trees years ago with dirt and weeds eventually covering them.  The mounds were always impossible to trim, and again the lawn mower kept hitting points. 

The ground is now a little bare from flattening it all out, but this should also look quite nice by next year and certainly be easier to maintain!  Unfortunately, wild boar managed to get in and really tear up the slope which had otherwise at least been green.

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 18
How to take a break
2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 19
Aren't we a great gang?
Our weather was much more pleasant than last year, when I had to keep fighting the rain to get the bedding dry, and we ended up having lunch several times out under the trees.

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 20
Red = current camp; Green = for sale
2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 21
Analyzing future possibilities

There is some land for sale right next to the back of the camp property, which the owner has offered to the camp.  It would be lovely to have it, but there's always the question of payment, isn't there? 

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 22
Always a moment for a nap

However, we took a break from all our individual jobs and went for a little visit to check it out.  It's not a very big piece, it can't be built on, and has no access, but it would give the camp some tenting or temporary building space. 

Not to mention keeping somebody else from doing something with it that could change the atmosphere of the camp. 

Some of us did a little better job of dreaming about it than others.

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 23
Discovering new nature
2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 24
Enjoying an awesome moment
We ended up at the back end of the camp property which is bordered by the river.  It's a really beautiful peaceful area that normally isn't very practical to use. 

The young guy had never been back there before and loved it, while the Doc and another volunteer just relaxed in the tranquility as the river gurgled over the rocks and boulders.

2015 Camp Fall Cleanout 25
The wrap breakfast

So after a week of beautiful weather which allowed the planned work both inside and out to get totally accomplished (this is not always the case), and with a fair number of volunteers available to do all the necessary manual labor (this has definitely not always been the case), the whole endeavor turned out to be a great success.

While the mandatory always somehow gets done enough, it was rewarding to know we left the camp in great shape for all the succeeding fall and winter occupants.

Even Doc Leo was pretty satisfied at the final breakfast before we all went our separate ways.  Until the spring mini-effort!


  1. Like I said in my Amazing Incredible Women blog, you do stupendous feats of strength and energy that would make lesser people feel faint just thinking about it. Looks like a very good, rejuvenating week for both of you.

  2. Looks like gorgeous weather! And yes, that was a monster rock. The fire pit looks as inviting as it did last time. It's really too bad you couldn't get to enjoy using it. Overall, though, it sounds like mammoth amounts of work got completed but with some relaxing down time as well.


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