canoeing, balloons, and stuff

Today we went canoeing, which was lots of fun. The retreat where we are staying has a small reservoir and a dozen or so canoes, and myself and my extended family took over all of them.

I was in a boat with my sister. She asked to ride in the back, in the steering position. I was nervous but consented just because I know that the person in front provides the “power”, and all things considered I’m in good shape for that right now.

In spite of my¬†trepidation, honestly, I am really glad I agreed to the front position. I have a little experience canoeing- emphasis on little. I did the canoeing “class” at summer camp two or three different summers, plus I think I did some kind of day camp once with that, so I have a little bit of instruction in “proper technique”. At the very least I know a bit about the best way to conserve energy while paddling, and because of that I honestly think ours was the fastest canoe on the lake. I was surprised and pleased with how much power I was able to put into the strokes.

After a few minutes of paddling, the retreat staff got us started with a canoe version of “capture the flag” (using ropes with floats and rubber chickens). That was okay but honestly not my favorite part of the afternoon. I would have been happy with a relaxing, laid-back canoe ride, and instead I spent a long time dodging other canoes who were chasing us. Some of my (adult!!) cousins got really into it- majorly aggressive, to the point that I’m pretty sure several of them were breaking “rules” to win the game- and that’s the very thing that turned me off to athletics for so long. They were splashing everyone, trying to swamp or overturn canoes- nothing relaxing about that. Another (adult!!) cousin got whacked in the face with a paddle, which to me is just so far beyond the line between “a casual and fun game” and “I will win no matter what I have to do”.

Anyway… I might get a chance to go horseback riding tomorrow, and if not, I will at least probably get to swim with my sister in the pool, which I’ve heard is very large (maybe even olympic size?) so I will be able to get lots of good lap swimming in. Also my sister used to swim competitively and knows a lot more than I do about “technique” so I am sure I will be able to learn from her!

Oh- a totally different little story- tonight, after our evening entertainment, I was talking to a cousin (well, technically a cousin-in-law, but who’s counting?) when one of the younger people at this reunion (a different cousin’s son, maybe 7 years old?) whacked one of us with a balloon. I’m not sure how it happened, but we “engaged” him in a long game of “don’t let the balloon touch the ground”. A couple other cousins joined in, and it was just such a carefree time of hitting two or three balloons around. It was like a flashback to my childhood- when we would have a birthday or something and I’d play this same game with a balloon. There was giggling and jumping and sprinting and hitting- it was just so, so nice. It makes me wonder when I lost the carefree joy of just playing with a balloon.