Perfect weather makes for memorable Manzke family campout at Sunnybook Farm

Susan Manzke
Susan is joined by her grandchildren Eli, from left,  Wyatt, on the first day of camping on the farm.

Our annual family campout usually lasts for a three-day weekend at the end of July. This year it started days earlier, at least for four of us.

On Sunday, July 24, my daughter Rachel brought her three children to spend the week with Grandma. Eli, 12, Arianna, 12, and Wyatt, 8, came packed for multiple days on the farm. They also brought a tent. Those three were planning on camping the whole week.

Tenting would be fun, they figured, as long as rain didn’t drench the tent. Another reason to sleep outside was that Eli is allergic to my house cats. A week inside with my trio of cats would make him miserable.

Their tent wasn’t far from my back door. Each night I’d leave the light on, in case they needed the bathroom.

Late Monday evening my cellphone beeped. There was a message from Eli. “Can you unlock the door to the house?” Oops. I had automatically clicked the lock. It was a good thing that they could communicate with me. As a last resort, they would have had to ring the doorbell.

Wyatt, from left, Eli, and Arianna watch the Demolition Derby at the Outagamie County Fair.

We four did an assortment of things, starting with the Outagamie County Fair. We went at the end of the last day to pick up my open entries. As it happened we walked over to see a bit of the demolition derby, which the grandkids loved.

On Monday, we started with arts and crafts. I showed them how to paint with alcohol ink on tiles. They were very creative and I was the only one who ended up with colorful fingers from the inks we used.

Tuesday led us toward Green Bay and a movie theater. There we watched Minions: The Rise of Gru.

Mid-week we went to Music in the Park in Seymour. My three grandchildren helped distribute door prizes, one of which Wyatt won. They were all so helpful and it turned out they were recognized as being the farthest visitors that evening. Each received a $2 gift.

On Thursday, Rachel arrived to help set up for the family weekend campout.

The grass was cut and the first tents went up farther back in my yard. By Friday afternoon, all my children and many of my grandchildren were ready to spend the weekend together.

Grandchildren Arianna, from left, Harrison, Wyatt, Serenity, and Eli and Charlie in front, play with glow toys.

In past years, we had rain, cold, and thunderstorms. Everyone kept checking their cellphone weather apps. The predictions were for a perfect weekend. It was almost hard to believe, but that’s what we had. Not too hot, not too cold, and no storms!

Much of the time we visited around a campfire, trying to catch up on all that had been happening since our last gathering. We played games and rode my carts. Also, Eli sent into the sky his model rocket. Once we found the rocket, but the second attempt had it disappearing into the cornfield.  

Of course, food was a big part of the weekend. All four families had chosen to take care of one meal. Everyone brought more than enough for our hungry mob.

Besides people, we had two extra dogs who camped with Rachel’s family. Most of the time Joy and Zola got along with Stella. Only a few snarls made me worry, but the three did okay together.

Stella and her sometimes friend Joy.

A group of the ‘boys’ cut down an old lilac bush/tree for me and carted it to an out-of-the-way corner of the farm. They also cut down a few odd branches that had sagged down after the big storm last month. I sure appreciated their help.

I didn’t cook anything. My chores were to supply the backyard, running water, and an indoor bathroom with a shower. No matter that I didn’t have a lot of chores for the weekend, I wore myself out. 

Eli with his rocket.

Before my family headed for home, they penciled in the last weekend in July 2023 for our next campout.

Now everyone has left my makeshift campground. It is very quiet here. I feel blessed to have such a family, but I think I’m ready for a nap.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 545165;;;