Let’s face it. Having fun can be a lot of work.
We’ve just gotten back from dropping the girls off—they start school tomorrow—and it’s so quiet in the almost-empty campground now! It’s been a fun start to our week at Campbell Point. Six-year-old Emma, thirteen-year-old Skye and her friend Anna kept us busy boating and tubing and teaching the older girls to ski; and you haven’t lived till you’ve tried to find sleeping spots for two adults, two dogs, two teenage girls and a little one in a one-bedroom-with-a-short-pull-out-couch camper. We’re so glad they got to come with us, though. These granddaughters always bless our lives; even now, when they seem to be unaware of anything but the cell phones in their hands.
“Okay, girls, while you’re on the boat, phones in the console,” Papa commands, holding the cover open. The looks of panic on their faces are disturbing. This generation’s dependence on their devices certainly seems to qualify as a new kind of addiction, doesn’t it! Reluctantly they surrender to his “you don’t wanna drop them in the lake, do you?” and then surprise themselves by having a good time in real life as long as we’re on the water.
The two-person tube that hasn’t been used since last year has a leak. The girls find the tiny hole but the cold patch we get from the marina doesn’t quite do the job. It will last a while, though, so we’ll make it work, and we can always go back and air it up again. The lake is calm—my kind of water—but, as he’s done for three generations, Mr. Mac weaves and circles and makes his own waves and whitecaps and the girls scream as only teen age girls can.
“I wanna ride. Can I get on?” Emma has, unfortunately, inherited this grandmother’s fearful nature, but Gramma Kim has done a masterful job of teaching her to face her fears and she’s ready to take on this new one. She jumps into that big, intimidating lake like a pro and paddles the short distance to the tube. The girls make room for her between them and we’re off again. If we could see her knuckles, I’m sure they’d be white. When you’re thirteen this is a slightly boring ride, but when you’re six, you hang on for dear life. All is well and I get some pretty good pictures until the girls decide to make their own excitement. Then that bouncing, twisting tube is just a little beyond Emma’s courage limit and the tears come.
“I want off! Let me off!”
“She’s crying, Mom Mac. Stop and let her off.”
But Papa knows that if she gets off in fear she may never get back on. “Hang on, Emma. I promise the girls won’t do that again. Don’t give up.” He pulls them a little more slowly until the tears stop and the smile returns and she’s proud of facing her fears again. Finally we pull her in so the big girls can have another more daring ride, but she’ll be more than ready for another try later on.
“How many kids do you think you’ve taught to ski, Mac?” I ask. We’re in the midst of the umpteenth “…bringing the rope around again… right behind you… grab it!” to an eager Anna. He just smiles and calls to his determined student, “Okay! You’ve almost got it… now next time, as soon as you’re out of the water, stand up. You’ve got it!”
She does, and we cheer as she skis all over the cove. Then it’s Skye’s turn, and after several tries and falls and “c’mon, stand up, stand up,” she decides she’d rather ride the tube. That’s okay. There’ll be another time. You just don’t belong to this family and not eventually learn to ski.
Finally the tube needs air and it’s getting late, so we decide to head back to the camp. There’s dinner to fix—they vote for hot dogs, of course—so there’s a campfire to build and then s’mores to enjoy. And we celebrate God’s goodness as the shower that’s been threatening all afternoon falls just as we’re finishing our s’mores.
That proves to be the pattern all week, in fact. Cool at night and just warm enough during the day to enjoy getting out on the water. Little showers that come during the night or just as we’re coming back to the campsite for the day. A cloudy day or two after the kids leave that are great for sitting and writing, or walking the dogs around the campground, or just doing nothing around the campfire. And I thank our merciful Father. He knew these girls needed good memories and these oldsters needed a breather after a really traumatic week trying to get here.
It was one of those Murphy’s-Law, anything-that-can-go-wrong-will weeks. Having fun can be a lot of work and Mac had worked so hard to make sure everything was ready to go. Camper and boat in for check-ups, truck checked out, mowers and weed whips tuned up and ready for that last mow-before-you-go. Then suddenly it was back to the camper repair place again—twice—and the boat repair place—twice—and trips to the mower repair shop—twice. No second trip for the big string mower, though. It’s a necessity for this weed-friendly place but it was just done, so now there’s a shiny new one in its place. To be honest, though, by the time we’re packed and loaded and picking the girls up we wonder if we’d even be going if it weren’t for them.
“I really miss our lake house, Gramma!” So do we, Skye. It was a great place, full of three generations’ memories, and it was certainly a lot easier to just drop by on the way and pick up a few groceries and know everything else was there waiting for us; but in this fallen world, sooner or later all things must end. Table Rock Lake has been our other home for most of our married life, but kids grow up and lives change and trying to maintain two homes a hundred miles apart had become more trouble than it was worth.
So Mac has a new toy. He’d been eyeing them even before we sold the house, and this 32-foot fifth-wheel RV seems just about right for our needs—we’ll figure out sleeping arrangements somehow the few times we have company—but it’s definitely a lot more complicated now. One just can’t pull a 20-foot pontoon rig behind a 32-foot camper, so it’s two trips down and back if we want to boat. Plus of course, there’s making sure everything is working and finding the right campsite and then loading and making the trip and setting up and leveling and unloading and launching the boat and… and…
The week school begins is a great week to be here, though. Since Sunday night we’ve had almost the whole campground to ourselves and the weather just couldn’t be better. (Thanks, Lord, for heading us off last month when it would have been so, so hot!) We’ll have neighbors again this weekend, but even that brings blessings. We’ve found that RV-ers are a culture of their own; in general friendly, courteous people, always willing to help anyone around them. We always meet someone we enjoy and as the campground begins to fill again we laugh that it’s a good thing that unhappy older couple that complained about our dogs left when they did.
There seems to be some unwritten law that you must have at least one, preferably two, dogs (on leashes or in cages, of course) and they wouldn’t have been happy at all surrounded on all sides by hairy critters of all shapes and sizes that just will bark now and then.
By the time we’re packed up to leave Sunday evening, most everyone else is, too, and we find ourselves wishing we had a few more days in this peaceful place. Seems like a week is just time enough to begin to truly unwind and we agree this has been one of the best. But it’s time to go home and wedged among the dirty clothes and bedding to be laundered and unused food to be stored and forgotten kids’ stuff to be returned are more sweet memories of the lake. Having fun can be a lot of work, but whether it’s from the spacious deck of a lake house or the campsite of a little RV or the seat of a cluttered pontoon rig, each moment with our kids, and with each other, is a precious gift from God.