The Peace river is traditionally the best campout of the year and 2017 was no different. With temperatures from the mid-50s at night and low 80s during the day it was perfect weather for camping. Many campers arrived on Thursday afternoon to enjoy the chance to experience the camp ground before the rush of the Great Sun Nation hits on Friday afternoon, its truly the peace river on Thursday night. Friday was busy as always with tents and sites being erected, meals being cooked, stories being shared, old friends being reunited, shark teeth being found and bones being broken on rope swings. Saturday saw 100 canoes from the Great Sun Nation go down the beautiful peace river starting at 11 am and with the last campers docking at the Arcadia outpost dock around 5 pm. The water level in the peace river was lower than it has been in the last 10 years and the results were more shark teeth than ever before! Saturday night was the broken arrow ceremony which saw about 10 Fathers and Kids break their arrow, it was a great sight to see these kids who started around 4 or 5 break an arrow and still want to camp with their dads around the age of 15! Sunday morning saw the mad rush of campers leaving the campground and heading back to the real world, can’t wait till next year!
On March 26 over 40 members of the Great Sun Nation descended upon the brand new Ball Park of the Palm Beaches to watch the Nationals take on the Astros. The ballpark was a fantastic site and the facilities top notch. We have beautiful weather with a cooling breeze and $6 craftbrews! We sat on the right field berm. The younger kids were much more fascinated with rolling down the hill then the actual baseball game. Lenny made the best catch of the game – pushing away a couple of kids to catch the t-shirt being thrown by the mascot. A great time was had by all. Next year we should have 100 people out to the game.
Caloosahatchee River Park, Alva, FL, February 10-12, 2017,
Bicycle paradise! If you like bikes, this was the campout for you. As Friday afternoon led into the cooler evening, the GSN tribes had a chance to settle into their sites for dinner, dessert, campfires and a rare astronomical triple play of full moon, lunar eclipse and comet – along with Chief Chupacabra and his Spirit Stick!
Everyone was up early on Saturday to start a full day of activities. With 768 acres of pine flatwoods, scrub oak, cypress swamps and oak hammocks, the options were open. Some of the Dorados started with the hiking trails. The Chesapeakes started with the bike trails. Despite being only 5-10 years old, their kids took on the intermediate trails and took down all 3.6 miles of trails, hills, jumps and stunts. Their parents are so proud. Later in the day, the Catawbas tackled the advanced trails with ease!
Events for Saturday afternoon and evening were represented well by all tribes. At 4 o’clock we had a critter race, with a spider and a butterfly racing to win. 7pm was the GSN Lighted Bike Parade. The kids bikes were all decorated with glow sticks, Christmas lights, magic wands and the like. After meeting at the Caloosahatchee Boulder, the dozens of GSN kids proudly paraded their bikes throughout the entire park, getting much applause. The Arawaks were very well represented, as Becca took one prize, along with Sam of the Chesapeakes for best decorated bikes.
Just as it was time to start settling down, the Dorados and Chesapeakes put on movie night, with The Secret Life of Pets entertaining the kids (and dads). With the kids tucked into bed, the dads huddled around the campfires for another gorgeous full moon night. Unfortunately, on Sunday the weekend was over and it was time to go home. After driving through the sites for final inspection, not a single piece of litter could be found – the GSN was well represented.
On January 13-15 over 250 members of the Great Sun Nation descended on Circle F Dude Ranch in Lake Wales, FL for our biggest campout. On Friday when everyone arrived, they were greeted by their new flags with their tribe name on it. No question which cabin you were at. Friday nights’ main activity was a talent show. The kids really showed us what they had and we might even have a few stars in the making. Saturday was filled with activities. The Arawaks set the pace winning the Egg Toss competition, and not to be out done, the Chesapeakes won the Chili cook off. There were many activities ranging from tug-o-war, saxophone fill, trinkets in the hay, rock wall and zip line, and the ever popular BB Gun and Archery range. The evening was capped of with the Bear Claw ceremony for all our first time children and their fathers, followed up by a fire ceremony and firework extravaganza put on the Walla Wallas. The weather was perfect and everyone had a great time.
On Dec 7th, over 30 members of the Great Sun Nation participated in the 45th annual Boca Raton Holiday Parade. We had an incredible float with a tee-pee, tent, fire, and of course Chief Chupacabra and the Spirit Stick. The float was led by our children holding our banner while other the other kids were handing out candy and flyers. The dads looked good in their headdresses and kept the kids safe. We were greeted with applause up and down Federal Highway. A BIG HOW goes out to Lenny for building the float and driving it along the parade.
HOW HOW MIGHTY GREAT SUN NATION !!!!
This is a short recap of what was one Great family outing. With over 250 people things went perfectly. The weather was cooperating with warm days and cool nights. This was the first time we used an RV camping loop! From the feedback I have received, everyone enjoyed accessing electricity, water and cable TV! Parking was such a pleasure!
By 6 p.m. Friday we had all campers checked in and fires were burning . I saw quite a few members watching fireworks at the beach followed by a movie and s’mores at Camp Arapahoe.
Saturday morning our loop was stirring with a buzz of activity! The Shoshones set up a rope line and built special teepees out of Spanish Moss in the field with the Arapahoes. Now, that’s what I call teamwork! Plenty of kids played tether ball and soccer games before breakfast!!
As the day got warmer, it was certainly time to head to the pool. Pool time with the GSN was over the top with the largest dodge ball game that the staff had seen in years. When Disney staff shouted out to the guests “ Where are you all from?” It was clear that GSN was in the house. What was meant to be a 30 minute game went on for an hour and a half. As the sun started to go down and the air cooled off it was time to get ready for a fun night. The Arapahoes were treated to a group bus ride to Disney Springs. We ate at Bongos on the water with almost 40 kids and adults! We were blessed with dancers who took the kids on a congo line through the restaurant to give the parents time to eat and relax. After dinner, it was time for a walk and we ended up at the Lego store where the kids built race cars and had a bunch of fun. Now with a quick call to Disney, a bus was brought to a special spot that took us directly back to our camp site. Saturday night was wonderful with groups of tribes walking the loop and hanging with each other and we all found a common bond. We had a great turn out for the new Star Trek movie with lots of great snacks.
Sunday was our final day and most of our group was packed up and on their way but a few hung out till 1pm . I was pleased to walk the grounds with the Disney Management Team after everyone left. The place looked almost as good as the way we found it and we have been asked to come back next year. Good news -after my meeting with Disney Management, we have been offered a full loop next to the pool!! We can block this off to have it totally to ourselves. We look forward to seeing you all soon! And thank you, for being part of such a great group and making everything ‘just right’!
On October 27-28-29 the Great Sun Nation participated in Shriek Week at Sugar Sands Park. This was a great event put on by the City of Boca Raton, with haunted houses and other Halloween activities. The highlight for the kids is to go through the Trick-or-Treat Trail. The GSN had a table and gave away around 2000-3000 pieces of candy to the young kids. The little kids loved our headdresses and we were one of the most popular tables. We also were raffling off a tent and collecting names of potential new members. When we told people about the GSN and what we do, they became very excited. It was great to team up with the City and have a successful recruiting event and getting our name out to the public. Special thanks to the Arapahoe, Arawak, Dakota, Dorado, Seneca and Shoshone tribe for volunteering at the event.
On October 21st 46 families traveled north to the beautiful Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, Fl. We were treated to one of the most beautiful natural springs. The water was crystal clear and cold. We saw manatees and many other fish enjoying the clean waters. The highlight was tubing to the spring head and enjoying the natural beauty. There was wild life all over the place with raccoons, armadillos and peacocks roaming the grounds. On Saturday night we gathered together for our first every Corn Ceremony to celebrate the harvest. We have over 40 carved pumpkins to mark the ceremony. Each child threw a handful of corn into the fire, returning our small kernels of thanks for all that you have given us. Then we made tons of s’mores. We were also treated to the coolest weather in a long time, with overnight temps dipping into the low 50’s.
On Saturday Sept 10th – 133 dads and kids invaded the Museum of Discovery and Science in Ft. Lauderdale. We started off with a pizza dinner and then had went to our lab. We built roller coasters out of foam tubes and masking tape. There were some amazing designs and some even worked. I think the dads had as much fun as the kids. After the labs, we had the run of the museum. The Mars rover and flight simulator were very popular. We tried in vain to get the kids to sleep by midnight, but even turning off all the lights didn’t help. Everyone had a great time.
The Great Sun Nation got some good press today in the Sun Sentinel. Click on link to read the story about Chief Chupacabra.