Family camp weekend leaves a host full of memories

Susan Manzke
Susan watches as her grandchildren decorate their can koozies.

Adventures at Camp Manzke wouldn’t fit in one column. Today I plan on adding a few bits and pieces about our three-day weekend.

Six tents went up in my backyard. There would have been more but adult grandsons had to work and couldn’t stay beyond a few hours. I was just happy they came. Ethan and Seth even helped fill the junk dumpster.

Before any work got underway an art project took place. Can koozies for everyone.

Another tent wasn’t set up because of a painful back/neck issue. With Rebecca driving, Andy was lucky to survive the 40-minute ride over to join us. Rebecca took them both home each night, rejoining us each morning. (It really ticked Andy off that he couldn’t help this weekend, even though he has helped a lot in the past.)

Camp chairs and picnic tables went around the campfire. Bug candles were lit to keep mosquitoes away. They helped some but I still have a few itchy blotches around my ankles.

Eventually, the guys pulled out the homemade log splitter to replenish our supply of campfire wood. My younger grandchildren were drafted to empty carts filled with hunks of wood and stack for future use. The most efficient way to do this was to form a bucket brigade, handing pieces of wood from one stationary person to another.

Storm clouds over Camp Manzke.

Saturday afternoon arrived with a weather alert. I can’t remember the exact time that everyone’s cell phones chirped thunderstorm warnings. It said in thirty minutes expect high winds, heavy rain, and hail.

The yard was filled with tents, folding chairs, and many things that would fly away in a storm.

The Manzke team set about preparing for bad weather. My canopy was collapsed into a bundle and put in an empty grain bin. Everything that could fly away was moved to the bin or a building. All the while Rachel kept repeating, “It’s not going to rain.”

Up until this time, the sky was clear. Soon threatening clouds moved toward us from the north. When thunder began to rumble, we sent the children into the house.

As we finished battening down the hatches, it began to rain lightly.

That rain soon stopped. No wind arrived and no hail pounded our campground. It seemed like a false weather alert, but it wasn’t. The storm that missed us hit Green Bay with a fierce wind and rain. We were so lucky and yes, Rachel had called it.

Little by little, we started to set up camp again. The fire had never completely gone out so it only took a stir to get fresh flames crawling up on dry wood.

Sunrise Sunday left the camp and campers (Harrison) covered in a heavy dew.

Sunday morning arrived with a heavy dew. Tents had to dry out before being packed up. A brisk wind helped some with the drying, but it didn’t help when folding up the flapping tent material.

My son Rob looked at his quickly filling van. “I don’t know how we end up going home with more than what we brought,” he said as he tried to fit everything into shrinking open spaces.

I also had a similar feeling. It was like the five loaves and two fishes that fed the multitude in the bible. Baskets were left over.

When I went into my kitchen, I found ten times the food I had at the beginning of Camp Manzke. Some were leftovers that wouldn’t fit in coolers. Other things went into the freezer. No one was taking leftover ice cream home. I now have enough to host another party.

During 90% of family time, my cats were upstairs. They don’t like too many people, but they hate Rachel’s dog, Joy the most.

A toilet paper roll attacked by Car-E the cat.

It wasn’t a hardship for the cats. They had everything they needed, but the isolation got to Car-E. Any time he got the chance, he tore apart another roll of toilet paper.

Today, things are mostly back to normal. Sunny is sleeping. Car-E and Cruella are downstairs, reclaiming their territory and fighting for a place on my lap.

What I notice today is the quiet. It hangs heavy after all the laughter and noise. Hopefully, some of my family will stop by again soon to break up this stillness.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;