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This past weekend would have been our annual Camp Manzke on the farm. Because of even the slightest possible virus contamination, we cancelled until next year. We didn’t think all the young cousins could or would practice physical distancing. During other camp outings, the youngest shared a single tent and we know no one can distance in a tent.

Instead, we had two Day Camps. No tents were involved and only lunches were provided by my visitors for the day. No need to pack cars full of food, camping supplies, or even changes of clothes—though with children, bringing a change of clothes, even for a short visit, isn’t such a bad idea.

On Friday, Rachel brought her three children, Eli, Arianna, and Wyatt. Rebecca stopped by with granddaughter Serenity. We did start with the idea of everyone social distancing, but as soon as our backs were turned, the cousins were all playing together—everyone remembered to distance from me though. This grandma was off limits, which is the real sad part of social distancing, no hugs.

I supplied some of the fun. Bubble wands had been stashed away here for months. A nice breeze helped blow the bubbles around the yard, adding a cheery decoration to the camp, even for a few seconds before they popped—bubbles have always been a favorite of mine. They are inexpensive and the bubble mixture can even be made at home. (Homemade bubble recipe: put 6 cups of water into a container, add 1 cup of Dawn dish soap and slowly stir until mixed. Add 1/4 cup of corn syrup. Stir slowly so it doesn’t foam.)

Besides watching those bubbles float around the yard, I offered the children another toy, squirt guns. We only had a small water fight and I didn’t even get squirted once—darn. It was hot. It would have felt good and I wouldn’t have melted, but the children have been trained well. “Don’t squirt the adults!” (I remember squirting my mother. This was after Mom had her stroke and I wasn’t a kid. The stream of water hitting Mom surprised her, but she laughed. I think it made her feel like part of the fun that summer.)

What brought the four cousins together that day was the cart. At first, they were driving solo, but the next time we looked all four were riding together.

Our instructions were more for physical safety at the moment. “Take it easy!” “No fast turns!” “Stay away from ditches!”

The day ended too soon. No star gazing. No camp fire. No S’mores. But it was a good day just the same.

The following day was another Day Camp. This time Russ came up with his wife and son—poor Harrison was sad that no cousins were there for him to play with.

There was more social distancing the second day. Russell’s wife is in the medical field and wanted to make sure no virus could have been transferred to me. But we still had fun and a good time together.

Too bad for Russ, I found a few chores for him to do. He filled the cart with branches he cut and took them down to the farm brush pile.

Little Harrison was asked if he wanted to run through the sprinkler. He said no. Without cousins it wouldn’t be fun. I bet if Harrison had wanted to get wet, his dad would have run through the sprinkler, too, especially after his sweaty work.

Another day without a campfire or S’mores or star gazing. Still it was good to have family here on the farm. I’ll take family, even at a distance or wearing masks, any day of the year.

We’ll have a few more weekend visits (Day Camps) this summer, but Camp Manzke will not take place until the summer of 2021.

I hope everyone stays away from the virus. If we work at it together, we can beat this thing.  

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54265; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog and on YouTube, too.

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Read or Share this story: https://www.wisfarmer.com/story/opinion/columnists/2020/07/30/social-distancing-colors-annual-family-gathering/5519551002/