When I spent what felt like a full day packing the car to prepare for a two days of camping, I was hoping that there would be a payoff.
I wasn’t disappointed.
In our church, the end of the summer signals the coming of our annual camping trip. These are sweet times with people who’ve done a lot of life and faith together. The chance to spend days together at a slow pace is a slice of watermelon and a glass of lemonade to my soul. So with several sites reserved and sufficiently amped-up children, we packed our vehicles to the brim and headed for Union Valley Reservoir.
It was my first time to this lake, somewhere in between the foothills and peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains. There was no chance I’d leave my camera at home. And since my friend Melissa let me try out some of her camera lenses, I was in a gigantic, natural playground. Mmmmm…fixed lenses.
I wasn’t the only one in a playground. By the time I got home, I found that most of the photos I snapped captured the twelve kids in our group having the time of their lives in their own forested playground. Below you’ll find a glimpse of the dusty, wet, and fun-loving times we shared that weekend…
Almost as soon as we arrived, my youngest made it clear he wanted to hike to the lake.
Before long, the sun set on the Union Lake Reservoir and it was time for dinner.
The hike back to camp went by fast. After all, s’mores were coming after dinner!
With the kids asleep, I wandered back to the lake for some starry night photography. Emphasis on starry.
Every once in a while I’m allowed in the shot, right?
Morning one: My little guy spent the weekend with campsite dust caked on his face. This moment occurred about five minutes after waking up.
Meanwhile, Liam practiced his sultry “I’m lying on a log” look.
Fortunately, Chef Ben was busy contributing something other than photography to our band of campers.
Much biking was done that weekend…
…only biking now includes a GoPro camera for kids. This is where I exclaim, “Kids these days!” in my most crotchety voice.
There was also this.
We made plenty of trips to this “fun size” bathroom.
Ashton spent most of his waking hours down in the dirt. With toys like these, can you blame him?
Later that day, we made it down to the lake again, only with swimming in mind this time.
Venturing together into the great (shallow) unknown.
Max perfected his rock jumping form…
…and Chacho perfected his cannonball.
Meanwhile, Ashton was busy working his plumber impression.
Later that evening, a few of us took the still not-yet-tuckered-out kids back to the water for some fishing. The beach had gone quiet.
Matt demonstrated casting for the amazed kids.
No real worms were harmed in the making of this evening fishing trip.
Theses ducks were also unharmed.
Kali stood there for quite some time, waiting for the bite that never came. She still had a blast.
The sun finally set on our fishing trip and we packed the rods in.
My tripod and I trailed behind the rest of the fishermen as the sun stole away.
Morning two: most of the kids’ shoes looked like this.
After two nights with spotty sleep, Liam looked like this. Note the dust. By the way Erica says this is one of her new favorite photos of Liam.
He felt much better as he slipped the spiky helmet on.
Kids, young and old.
Thanks to the church family for helping to watch all these kids. Thanks to Melissa for letting me try out the lenses. Thanks to my bride for the chance to explore!
Thanks to God for times like these.
What are the ingredients of your most memorable camping trips? Sound off in the comments below!