recently, belize and i started participating in father/daughter hikes that are run by the girl scouts. it seems they have one every month or two and they are a great fun (if you live in the phoenix area and have a daughter and would like more info, please contact us and we can get you in touch with the person organizing them). through the person that coordinates the hikes, his name is matt, we found out there was going to be a father/daughter overnight camp at willow springs program center in prescott, az. well, belize loves the father daughter hikes and really loved camp last summer, so this seemed like a no-brainer. we signed up immediately. shortly after the camp was announced, matt sent out an email asking for suggestions on activities. this is where things got complicated: i asked belize if we should offer to lead a tie dye party at the camp. she immediately started jumping up and down in excitement, so i knew we were committed. matt and “fuego” (the camp director) both loved the idea (we offered to do it at the cost of the shirts since we would be there having fun too). our plan was to gather as many shirt sizes as possible and print a design on them so that folks had a memento of their camp experience.
we started with the design. after a few iterations back and forth with matt and fuego, we arrived at a fun design with the girl scout logo and a representation of the things we’d be doing (geocaching over mountains, or steep hills anyway, and singing around the campfire). as always, i printed these with dye instead of ink. i used the cold batch method, but used a new steam cabinet i built to set the dye. i had alot of trouble with consistency. i think ink gives much more consistent results when screen printing, but i really hate that plastic feel that it gets so i much prefer to work with dye. i also didn’t even think for one second when i volunteered to do this that there would be so many people there. we had a final count of about 120 shirts to print, which was far more than i’ve ever printed at one time. it was exhausting, but did give me a great opportunity to get the process down and to work out how long it take me to do a group of shirts. i created an aiming graphic with concentric colored boxes over the design and used my projector to project the image onto the press. this made it super easy to line up the shirt and get the designs centered. unfortunately, i was still printing shirts right up to the night before we left for camp (friday night). this made for a bit of a sleepy drive up to prescott the next morning.
when we got to camp on saturday, we started the usual check in process, but got immediately whisked away to the tie dye site by several of the camp counselors (i had intended to change out of my shorts and flip flops right away but was instead busy setting up which earned me the camp nickname “flip-flops”). everyone was very excited about our tie dye process and really helpful in setting it all up. we found out that “panda” and “shark bait” were assigned to help with the tie dye but we also had help setting up from “panic” and “jellybean”. the plan was for belize and i to stay through the first two group rotations and make sure panda and shark bait had things under control, then we could join our group on the other activities (we really wanted to do geocaching, led by “jellybean”, and outdoor cooking with “aladdin” and “lorax”, the rotation that we missed was team building which we heard was a great time, but we couldn’t resist the promise of food — sorry “juniper” and “panic”). after we got all setup, we had a few minutes to claim our bunks and throw our stuff in the cabin before the first group started. we drove to the cabin (after getting a bit lost) and found that most of the bunks were already taken. belize was relieved to get the last top bunk in her cabin, but i was a bit concerned that i was stuck with a top bunk in my cabin. funny how nearly 40 years will change your bunk preference so drastically.
the tie dye went amazingly well. the kids and dads immediately picked up the basics and were even coming up with patterns and color combos that really were fun. we have had a few share their final results on our facebook page, so be sure to check those out. i think everyone had a great time. belize really stepped up her game. she was helping kids tie their shirts and helping them choose colors and showing them how to apply the dye. panda and shark bait were great too! they picked it up right away, but were glad that belize and i stayed for a second rotation, just to make sure they had it all down. on the second rotation, belize pleaded with me to do another shirt because she had a new pattern idea. i agreed since there were a few campers missing due to illness and so there would be some shirts left over. we were having so much fun that i actually wanted to stay for the third and fourth group, but i knew that belize wanted to have other camp fun so we left the third and fourth groups in the capable hands of panda and shark bait. after talking with some of the folks from the third and fourth group, i think panda and shark bait did an even better job of leading the group than belize and i. everyone had a great time. after dinner, the consolers took the opportunity to tie dye shirts for themselves.
all in all, the tie dye was my favorite part of the camp (even though i forgot to do a shirt for myself). i just had so much fun watching everyone get into their patterns and colors. i really enjoyed geocaching (thanks aladdin for hiding the caches and thanks jellybean for leading us) and i loved the campfire songs
(thanks fuego, panda, jellybean, juniper, panic, aladin and lorax — sorry you missed it, shark bait, i hope you are feeling better and thanks for cleaning up the soda ash!). belize’s favorites were geocaching, outdoor cooking and, of course, tie dye. she also really loved the campfire songs as well. i’m not sure how, but belize talked me into a “night hike”. panda turns out to be an expert astronomer so she was able to tell us all about the stars. she and aladdin led the night hike and showed us all sorts of fun nighttime outdoor activities. we will definitely be coming back to camp again next year!