Monday, April 25, 2016
U is for Under the Stars
Build a campfire at night. Allow the kids to stay up late for storytelling. Under the Stars and around the glow of the campfire, take turns telling funny stories from your childhood. If space allows, have tents set up so cousins can sleep outdoors together. The move from campfire and storytelling to bed will be easier when bed is a tent in the backyard!
If you can get lodging in a resort that has access to a lake, forest, sand dunes, rivers, and cliffs, it will make for a memorable experience. Taking a walk under the stars in the light of a full moon will be a rewarding experience. The shadows of grasses and trees cast by the full moon, and the animated shadows of those walking along make for special memories.
If someone in your group has a telescope, have them bring it along. If you’re far enough from a city, the number of stars in the night sky will be enormous. An amateur astronomer in your group can point out the Big Dipper, the North Star and other constellations. A trip to a planetarium for some education and viewing of the sky with even bigger telescopes is a not to be missed experience if you are near one.
Chances are, when you were children, you spent a lot of time outdoors, even if you grew up in the city, and nighttime activities always seem fresh and special. Does the location of your summer reunion coincide with the activity of lightning bugs? Children from another area of the country may have never seen any, so if you’re lucky enough that they are active, take an after dusk walk in the humid summer to go looking for them.
If you are taking a walk at dusk, especially if it’s in a natural area, be sure to have flashlights along. It can get very dark, very quickly out in the forest, and you will want to be able to see on your return trip if you have miscalculated the time or distance involved.
Other animals that come out at night are bats. Bats really will not harm you unless you disturb them, as with any animal. I recall a trip to Death Valley, Nevada one June, and at night, in the natural spring pool, bats swooped down from their hangouts to catch bugs on the surface of the water. It was beautiful, never frightening, and an experience that we all remember fondly.
Telling stories always seems more fun around a campfire, roasting marshmallows to make s’mores, and keeping warm if the night is chilly. Break into some ghost stories too. Perhaps there is a haunted house nearby you could take a tour of one evening. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the hosts are sure to put on a good performance for you, one that may carry over once you get back to your reunion, perhaps prompting memories of other strange occurrences that you can elaborate on for one another.