Last weekend was my family's annual camp out. For 16 summers, I have gone camping with my grandparents, parents, sister, uncles and aunts, cousins, and a few family friends. We cook, eat, and sleep together, we play bocce, we lie in the sun, and we play music. We used to change location every few years, roving Vancouver Island for the best site, but we've been in Cowichan Lake for several years now.
For many years we ended the weekend with a talent show. No prizes we awarded or anything, but we'd practice songs or skits all weekend and then arrange our lawn chairs into a scattered audience. Recently, my dad re-discovered an old video of 4 of us cousins as children, performing a dance routine to a Backstreet Boys song! There was another of my oldest cousin playing the flute while three toddlers danced about in tutus! Now, it seems, the cousins would rather tan and swim than plan skits, and since we play music all weekend, there's no good reason for a showcase.
This, however, is apparently the last year we will all be together. Our parents are getting tired of tenting and attendance is diminishing as less cousins are showing up as they move around for school or work. Fair enough! The handful of remaining cousins will continue the tradition with a shorter, "cousin only" camp out, and perhaps welcome our parents during the day! There are three of us at VIU right now, and there may be more in the future, but even though we go to the same university, we don't always see much of each other during the year. The bonds we've developed were generated through camping. Hopefully we'll be able to keep them strong.