Tubes, canoes and family reunions

When I was a teenager, my dad’s family would all get together on Memorial Day weekend for their family reunion at a place called Harvey’s Circle B Campground (I think that’s right) for the Henderson gathering. My great-grandma Henderson (Grannie) had a couple thousand children and they would all bring their families every year.

The drive was a little long as we lived further away than a lot of the other family members. However, it was always a lot of fun but included much intoxication on the part of the male adults, which I mostly tried to avoid (the intoxication, not the male adults). My cousin, James, and I would usually spend our time hanging out in the game room at the campground’s convenience store with some of our other cousins. Many of the Hendersons lived in Southern Missouri and this would be one of the few times that we would be around them so we always had to catch up.

Every year, we would take a float trip on one of the afternoons. This was a combination of canoes and innertubes that made up the highlight of the weekend. A group from Harvey’s camp would take us up the river and drop our group off at a point where we could put our canoes in the river. The trip would take a few hours to complete and would end when we arrived back at the campsite. It was pretty much a guarantee (as there was one part of the river that was difficult to navigate) that at least one canoe would be overturned by the time we concluded the trip.

These trips have also provided quite a handful of interesting stories. Everyone would stay up pretty late to visit with each other and most of those visits revolved around the campfire. After the convenience store closed, the kids would all make their way back to our camp as well. So, I would usually head over to the campfire and listen in to their conversations. One year, my uncle Bob got really drunk and (as he was getting up for some reason) fell into the campfire. Everyone jumped up to quickly pull him out. That was pretty exciting and he didn’t get hurt so all is well.

Directly across the river (it ran along the border of the camp) was a rock bluff that had multiple jumping points (three or four at least) as you made your way to the top. People would climb the rock face and then jump off into the river. I was only allowed to jump from the lowest point, which was fine. The river was extremely deep on that side, so there was no danger of hitting the bottom. It was pretty intense and only the bravest of men or the drunkest of drunks would attempt to jump from the top.

We made this trip for four or five summers in a row and it was always something that I very much looked forward to. This was our family tradition for a few years until Grannie passed. How about you? What are your family traditions or reunion habits? What are some neat places that your family made a habit of visiting?

Let me know in the comment section.

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And, as always, Life is Strange. Live it Well.

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