Camp AJ :: summers with the last boy
In 2012, as the final day of school arrived, I had an idea to make the summer a little different for the last boy. The Dyl was turning 10 years old that summer, and he was involved in his first year of martial arts, but other than that his summer would be basically the same as years past. I was still unemployed, with far too much time on my hands, so the wheels started churning and I decided to create Camp AJ: a weekly day camp for just Dyl and me (known to my family as “AJ” for Aunt Jules). D’s mom and I brainstormed some fun ideas that wouldn’t cost much money and could be repeated during the summer, and I created an invitation to announce the event. D was thrilled at the idea and ready to begin right away!
That summer included fun stuff like swimming and field trips and a sleepover on the final night of the season, as well as a reading program, art projects, a writing journal, and a special celebration of the London Olympics. Mostly, though, these days of Camp AJ were about hanging out together and letting D spend time outside his own house. As the summer wore on our planned schedules became more lax, naturally, but the joy of being together never waned. Dyl and I have a special relationship that is more like friends than aunt-to-nephew and mostly takes place on an intellectual level, so the actual activities are less important sometimes than just doing them together. Which made the first Camp AJ a big success!
I decided to reprise camp this summer because it marked D’s final summer before middle school. Though we’ll always do fun things together, a true “camp” is not likely again for just him and me. 2013 camp activities had to be carefully planned and full of freebies. I wouldn’t say our second camp was as great as the first, but there were still some moments worth remembering.
With two summers worth of memories and photos I’ve decided to make four separate posts from Thursday through Sunday. First up are photos of our repeating activities throughout last summer. The next 3 days will include photos from our field trips, our summer reading program, and the activities from 2013. Come back each day for more untold stories of Camp AJ!
On our first camp day, Dyl created a couple of summer journals. We used a simple composition book for his writing journal and covered it with white paper that he decorated with rubber stamped images. I also gave him an art journal and colored pencils for his birthday so he could use it all summer for drawings and other fun projects we had planned.
The final creative project of the summer was story writing. D wasn’t very keen on the idea, but he relented when I told him that the journal was his, and his alone, and no one would be reading what he wrote in it. I guided him just a bit on using art pencils to illustrate his story, then D sat for an hour and created his own little story about himself and a friend. That’s all he would tell me, and I was happy to oblige his privacy. It made this writer’s heart happy to see his storytelling take to paper!
Dyl is fond of schedules and keeping track of time, so I accommodated him by writing out our daily activities. If we strayed from the plan he would always make arrows to show how we switched up our schedule, and he liked to cross off each item as we completed it.
Swimming was always on the agenda, and I had to limit our time. If left up to Dyl, he’d spend every Camp AJ hour in the water! After a few weeks he allowed his brother and mom to join us at the pool, too. But they had to go home afterward so that he could continue Camp AJ alone.
Visits to the library were made a couple times in the summer so that he had plenty of new books to help reach his summer reading goal. Most always he chose biographies about professional hockey players. He and his brother are sports-minded guys!
Sodapalooza at RaceTrac convenience stores is a mainstay for our summers, and the 69 cent price helped us keep the budget down while still enjoying a treat every week. For Dyl it’s always the same: layers upon layers of multi-colored slushes. For me, Coca-Cola or a frozen Coke with a single shot of frozen cherry is all I ever need.
One of the highlights of the summer, of course, was the London Olympics, and I made sure to include some fun projects for Dyl that related to the games. His dad was able to travel to London just a few months prior, so D was very interested in all things England. Dyl and I sought out some stickers featuring the city, and I helped him create the Olympic rings with paint and a glass jar. He added the other personal touches, like raindrops falling on the double-decker bus. Of all the little art projects he did, this one was surely his favorite.
My own favorite project was a gift I made for Dyl. I searched the interwebs for kid-level activities related to the Olympic Games and compiled an activity book for D to engage him even further into the festivities. His favorite pages were the ones listing every Olympiad and the year, along with the flags of the host countries. I didn’t know when I was creating it that D had been asking his family over and over about the years and locations of past Olympics. Funny how our minds are so alike at times!
You can view the entire book below (with Flash) or click here to visit Issuu.com.
Come back tomorrow for more stories and photos from Camp AJ. If you’ve missed any of this month’s Blogging Catch-Up, you can see a list of the posts on this index page. You can also subscribe to phrenetical and receive new posts via email. Just complete the form below.
Posted on 3 October 2013, in People I Love and tagged 31 days of blogging, a girl + 3 boys, Camp AJ, Dyl Pickle, family, Life Unabridged, photoblogging, storytelling, untold stories. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.