Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cousin's Camp

Back at the beginning of July the kids and I attended the first annual Sparks' Cousin's Camp.

As I've discussed before, Ryan and many of his cousins have taken the task of procreation very seriously over the last 4 years.

To date, 14 babies have been born into the Sparks' family over a span of just 4 1/2 years.

These babies, toddlers, and preschoolers rarely get the chance to all be together, so Ryan's dad decided to plan a big vacation this summer for all the cousins
and their parents.

This grand vacation was deemed, Cousin's Camp.

Pigeon Forge, a very kid friendly place, was selected as our destination.

Since the whole point of this vacation was for all the cousins to get to play together, staying at a hotel wouldn't provide the constant camaraderie needed, so a 15 bedroom lodge was reserved for our party of 37.

Our Cousin's Camp Cabin

A few weeks before the vacation, Ryan and Uncle Andy had to back out due to work commitments, so
Aunt Holly and I were tasked with driving 5 kids
5 1/2 hours from Birmingham to Pigeon Forge.

Surprisingly enough the trip
was fairly quiet and uneventful.

We arrived around 11:30 pm with 5 very sleepy and disoriented children.

Needless to say the first night was pretty rough, by about 2 am, Luke, Aubrey, Levi, and I were all in bed together...thankfully it was a nice King size bed!

We were awoken the next morning to the smell of waffles, bacon, and coffee.

Each family was given a meal to prepare, so we saved on food cost and had warm, homemade breakfasts and dinners each day!

The campers hoped for four fun filled days of cousin bonding, and the trip did not disappoint.

The kiddie area of Dollywood was perfect for our group.

Luke, Aubrey, Parker, and Kellen on the bumble bee ride
Hillarie, Hadlie, and Paige riding the pigs

Parker and Luke fishing for prizes.

The award for the youngest daredevil of the group, goes to 15 month old, Paige. If you look very carefully at the picture you will see the top of her hat and the bottom of her shoes high in the air on this death defying ride.

Playing outside all day sure can build up a big appetite.

Waiting for our Varsity inspired hamburger and hot dog dinner prepared by the Atlanta cousins.
This camper was so worn out from the day's activities she couldn't stay awake long enough for dinner

While the kids loved Dollywood, Splash Country, and riding go carts, I think everyone's favorite activity was gathering around the fireplace after dinner and singing, enjoying puppet shows, and just watching the kids have a blast together!

Bigg and Mama (Ryan's parents) led the kids in several Bible songs. Bigg even learned how to play the guitar just for Cousin's Camp.
Aubrey doing the motions for Deep and Wide
Kellen had some original moves to go with the songs :)

When the puppets came out,
Aubrey was beside herself with excitement

Granny and Levi watching all the craziness

The last evening we set out to take a group photo.

Ryan's parents had tie dyed shirts made for all the campers, and ball caps that say "Grandma (or Grandpa) loves me best".

We started by putting all the cousins on a ledge, and they all sat pretty still and looked in the general direction of the camera.

Then some one had the brilliant idea of hiking up a big hill with 14 kids to get a picturesque shot in front of the mountains.

At least the mountain is pretty

Everyone loved the first annual Cousin's Camp so much that the week after we returned a cabin was already booked for next year.