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Many of our long-time readers have sent in emails
complaining that the photos need updating, the humor is weak, the colors
don’t match, the downloads are slow, and the links are broken. Other than
that, I guess they were OK with it. Several new visitors have made nice
comments about the background picture on the Home page. They said, “that’s
a nice picture of Allie as a newborn, but she is 2 years old now.. maybe
you should update”. The conversation turned hostile when we explained that
picture was of Avery 5 years ago. The original Camp Alexander website was
built almost 6 years ago. Back when the information superhighway was a
gravel road, 28.8 was a fast modem, Mosaic was the browser of choice, and
small investment in Dell stock would have made us Millionaires.
“Webified” That’s a George Bush word that means
the Camp Newsletter has been formatted to run on the Camp Alexander Website.
You can read the newsletter online at the Camp Alexander Website. Any word
that is underlined, and italicized is hyperlinked to a photo,
or webpage. (We had planned to use the “Cue Cat” Bar code system, but ran
out of time)
Avery has been involved in plenty of organized sports.
(That is if you consider ballet and tumbling sports) Last year one of her
friends, Holly, played soccer, so Avery decided that since all her older
cousins had played, that she certainly should. The Camp Sports coordinator
signed Avery up to play for the “Dragons”. If you have never witnessed
a dozen 4 and 5 year-old kids trying to kick
a ball around
, its something you need to see. The most memorable
part of the sports year was probably her first day of practice. The afternoon
leading up to practice was filled with the excitement of soccer clothes,
pads, shoes, a tiny, kids size soccer ball, and dreams of playing the game
of those that came before. When the family arrived at practice, Avery,
Allie, and her friend Holly bolted into action kicking the ball around,
laughing, and playing with all the other kids. Then came…”the coach”. No,
the coach wasn’t a scary guy, not a loud John Madden type. In fact, Coach
turned out to be the best coach you could ever want.
But for some reason, when coach tried to start the practice, Avery retreated.
She ran to mom and dad saying she changed her mind, and absolutely, without
reservation, did not want to play soccer. At the suggestion that she just
walk over to the team and listen to the coach, she broke down to tears
and begged to go home. Fortunately, after watching the practice in the
safety of mommy and daddy, she reluctantly walked over during a water break
and stood next to Holly. Coach Brown came over to talk to her, and she
finally lowered her guard long enough to return a kicked ball. In the end,
she had a great season. After the season was over, they had a pizza party,
and everybody got a trophy. Avery was beaming! After the party she said,
“Coach Brown told me that I did really good, and he wants me to play on
his team next year”!!!
Beth is going on her second year as full-time Camp
CEO, and apparently is ready to extend her contract into next year. Along
with all the duties of being a full-time Mom, she also feeds all the critters
(horses, dogs, pig, guineas, fish), picks up the horse
, and keeps the pool clean. Somehow, she also finds time
to Teaching music at church, lead the Stephen
, and host an email prayer chain. Oh, she also takes
care of the neighbor kids after school, and full-time in the summer.
Its always fun when a new Horse comes to stay at
Camp Alexander. However, there are always exceptions. If you follow the
newsletter closely (or have your copies archived in a hand-tooled leather
binder for safe keeping) you may remember “Trooper” from Christmas ’98.
Sadly, Trooper broke his leg and had to be put down. His owner, Greg, a
long-time Camp patron, bought a new horse last spring, and named him Ranger.
If you follow baseball, you know that the Texas Rangers baseball team used
“attitude” in their advertisements this year. Well, Ranger the horse had
a lot of Attitude, and he advertised it in the worst ways. He didn’t try
to buck you off. He would stand on his back legs as high as he could go,
and jump up and down until you would slide off the back!! Sounds fun, but
it’s not. Greg decided that somebody had to leave, and it wasn’t going
to be him, so Ranger was sold to a trainer who said Ranger
has received a serious “adjustment” and is doing fine now.
Not the pig, the bird. Guineas
are from Africa, and resemble large quail. Last spring, an elementary school
teacher friend from church raised one from an egg as a classroom project.
When summer came, the class said, “What are we going to do with the guinea”?
…You’re way ahead of me, but yeah, Camp Alexander adopted, the bird, and
the girls named her
someone convinced us that “You can’t just have 1 guinea”, and Crissy would
quickly outgrow the aquarium she lived in. So, the Builder of all things
great and small (David) was enlisted to build a chicken coup. As it turned
out, with a little work, the old horse shed (replaced by the new barn several
years ago) was perfect for a bird pen. So, David spent a Saturday while
Beth and the girls were in Atlanta, and built Crissy a home. He did some
research on the Web, and buried the bottom half of the 2X6 boards along
the bottom to keep “varmints” from diggin under and snacking on the guineas.
Then, while the girls were still out of town, David bought some more guineas,
and put them all in the new pen. The next night, something dug under the
fence, and ate all of them except for Crissy! Undaunted, David returned
Crissy to the safety of the aquarium, and spent the next Saturday digging
an 8” trench along the bottom of the pen, and filling it with concrete!
After buying more guineas, and returning them to the new, improved, concrete
reinforced, high-security dwelling, David was feeling quite confident.
However, the forest around Camp Alexander holds many dangers. That night,
one of those dangers pulled 2 guineas through the chicken wire, and pulled
out “parts” of 2 more. It was a major setback for the project. David considered
staying up all night with a shotgun, but realized that even if he was able
to dispose of the guilty varmint, more would come to feast on the feathered
food. He decided that his revenge would come when the carnivorous critter
came for a third banquet, and left hungry and defeated!!! This was War.
Another $10 investment for a product called “hard wire cloth” would surely
do the trick. This product, sewn into the chicken wire on the inside, combined
with the strength of wire fencing (just in case the predator was a coyote)
finally stopped the bloodshed. Now, every night, when Beth feeds the Horses,
the girls herd the guineas into the pen, and LOCK the door. There have
been a few occasions where a hardheaded guinea spent the night outside,
but I’m pleased to report that the surviving
are still spending their days eating grasshoppers, and crickets
at Camp Alexander.
David has taken on the task of co-chair for their
church’s first Adult Mission’s committee. In late February, David and his
friend Bob Pacheco will be taking a group of adults to Mexico to build
a small house for a poor family. They are working through the “AMOR
missions group out of San Diego, and already have 15 people signed up.
say small house, David says
it really will be a small house. He refers to the plan as a “nice tool
shed”, but a tremendous improvement over the pile of old pallets that most
of the AMOR clients live in.
This year, Allie joined Avery at the Church Preschool
on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They carpool with their friends Holly and Erica
from the neighborhood, and keep Beth busy. This year, Beth decided to be
the Preschool music teacher on Thursdays. She has a lot of talent in her
class, but does not anticipate publishing a CD this year.
The year would not be complete without a couple
of projects. You may recall that 3 years ago, David built a
across the creek to connect Camp Alexander to
the Walnut Grove
. That bond package also included a second bridge
to allow direct access from the barn. Voters initially rejected the second
bridge due to weak return on investment. However, after a friendly neighbor
donated 5 concrete culverts, the project was back on the slate. An
shows how the trail system is directly connected
to the Horse barn using the new
Sunset at Camp Alexander now includes the lowering
of the Flag (sometimes). David was getting some free fence posts at the
site of an old barn that we being demolished for development when he found
a 24’ aluminum flag pole. As you know, David’s motto is, “if its free,
its for me”, so the pole was quickly snatched up, and installed.
Riders at Camp Alexander are no longer shackled
by the need for daylight. All that had been in the way of a new, lighted
was a huge stump (and lights of course). So, on a cool
crisp February day, Greg and David dug a deep trench around the stump and
built a huge bonfire around it. Beth was surprised that it took an entire
day, 2 pounds of shrimp, 4 hot links, and whole case of beer to remove
the stump! The marketing department at Camp Alexander is still looking
for a name for the new arena so David can build a western
to put above the gate. Please send your ideas.
The latest attraction at the Camp Alexander pool
is the Log Flume.
Another tightwad project built in the barn of locally available material.
It’s really amazing what you can do with a horse trough, 2X4s, and some
PVC pipe. In an interview with Camp Alexander’s newest swimmer, Allie said,
“No Fear”, and went down the flume head first on to the awaiting raft.
Beth’s dream of owning the Circle T ranch in Westlake
were doused when Ross Perot Jr announced his plans to develop it with a
golf course, and a Mall. Fortunately, Beth and David were able to participate
in a charity trail
across the ranch before it is gone forever. It was a
memorable day for another reason. Texas had the worst drought in history
this summer without a drop of rain for almost 3 months. At the end of the
day following the trail drive, they had a dance in the big barn. Lynn Anderson
came on stage to sing her big hit, “I Never Promised you a Rose Garden”,
so Beth and David hit the dance floor. When the wind picked and it smelled
like rain, they went outside to dance, and it started raining! Inside the
barn Lynn Anderson was still singing, and if you know the song, it has
a line that says, “there’s got to be a little rain sometimes”.
Beth and David spent beat down a pretty good path
to Atlanta this year. Her little brother Rob officially added a new member
to the family by getting married to Cheryl. The wedding was done in traditional
with bagpipes and with works. The Alexanders also made
a trip to Atlanta for Beth’s 20-year high school reunion. I know, she looks
like a teenage, but its true. Beth also spent a month in Atlanta in May
to have some time with her parents.
As mentioned above, the summer was brutal. During
the heat of the day, Camp visitors were in the house, or in the
. Avery continued to refine the swimming style she developed
last year, but Allie did her first real swimming this year. She is completely
different from Avery in that she is completely fearless! By the end of
the summer, she refused to wear a floaty, claiming that she could swim.
had to watch her every minute to make sure she didn’t go down the log flume
by herself. One afternoon, all the big kids were taking turns jumping off
David decided to join them, and Avery was having fun holding hands and
jumping together. Allie said, “me too”, so David helped her up to the top.
He picked her up and asked if she wanted to jump with him. When Allie said
OK, David looked at Beth, who was sitting across the pool, and said to
Allie, “how bout I just throw you to Mommy”? Again, Allie said OK, and
everyone in the pool had a big laugh.
The evening activity of choice this summer was to
go to "Downtown Southlake
and get ice cream. The girls would run around
for awhile and then go to the "smelly shop", which
is what Avery and Allie call Bath
and Body Works
because of all the things to smell. They love
to try out the sample lotions and potions marked with the "tester" label.
By the time everyone got back in the car, it would smell like a salon.
As you could imagine, Avery and Allie
love to ride Durban
. This summer, Avery was able to go on some
short trail rides with her Daddy, but most of the
was in the safety of the arena, and was always done
with Mommy or Daddy leading the horse around. However, at Avery’s 5th
birthday party she got a special surprise. David let her ride around the
arena by herself!! Avery was grinning ear to ear.
Life is Grand
Being the editor of a major publication can be challenging,
and rewarding. Attempting to summarize the events of an entire year at
Camp Alexander into a single publication is really tough. So many wonderful
things happen, that it cant be summarized in a single newsletter. Even
though the year was filled with many fabulous events, and special times,
it also held some sadness. The passing of Beth’s father this summer, and
then the passing of a young mom in the neighborhood in the fall made everyone
stop and reflect. Never take anything, or anyone for granted, because everything
can change in a moment.
Merry Christmas from Camp Alexander