Camp Mama: Greek Week (aka: Camp Halfblood)

Cross-posted from Cherry Blossoms The Blog.

 

The first week of summer is in the books and it was definitely one to remember! We packed so much living into one week and my children were engaged, creative, and hardly ever staring at a screen. So what did we do?

Everybody say "BACLAVA!"
Everybody say “BACLAVA!”

Inspired by the very popular Percy Jackson series, with which my children are very familiar, we devoted one day each to five Greek Gods with activities loosely organized to fit the daily theme. A friend of mine told me at the beginning of the summer that she was “all in” for Camp Mama, so the entire week was two mothers and seven children (six if you don’t count my baby who was in my arms most of the time,) only one of whom was a girl. They ranged in ages from barely 5 years to nearly 12  years, plus my 8 month old baby.

Monday: Poseidon, God of Water.
Activity #1: Water balloons! (Failed. I didn’t test my trusty water balloon pump and filler that I’ve used the past couple of years and it pooped out on me so we had a leisurely lunch and went straight to activity #2
Activity #2: Pool. ‘Nuff said. Dear ol’ Poseidon would have been proud.

Tuesday: Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, also over the sacred law.

One of the Greek pots — naked people not shown. Odd cropping of photo courtesy of one of the little helpers.

Activity #1: Temple grounds. We went to the local LDS temple and walked around the grounds admiring the flora.
Activity #2: Greek Pottery. After perusing all the books on Ancient Greece we had checked out from the library for examples of Greek pottery we took sharpies to terracotta pots and made our own. The boys definitely tittered at the images of Greek statues, naked and all, and my 9-year old hid one of the books under the couch because “it was inappropriate” which allowed us, when the friends were gone, to have a discussion about the difference between art and pornography. So bonus points for teachable moments. But as scandalized as the children were, I believe naked people (censored or not) made an appearance on nearly every piece decorated.
Activity #3: Planting. We sowed our seeds in the newly painted pots, of course. Will they grow? Probably not. I used some basil seeds I had on hand and it is certainly too hot for them to sprout.

Wednesday: Athena, Goddess of Wisdom.
Activity #1: Greek Roots. Inspired by these great visuals and armed with a list of English words from Greek roots the kids were each instructed to pick three Greek roots and make their own graphic to list the English derivatives. The kids were surprisingly more engaged than I thought and they were really thinking about the words they know and how knowing Greek roots helps us learn new words. Huge win.
Activity #2: Greek Alphabet. We wrote secret messages to each other by translating our messages into “code”. It was an exercise in phonetics and a bit of a struggle to find similar sounds when the alphabets didn’t quite match up, but it was a lot of fun.
Activity #3: Olympics. After all that learning we needed to move our bodies. After all, this is summer! The kids set up an obstacle course in the backyard and raced each other.

Thursday: Hephaestus, God of Forges (and so much more.)

It was fun to see the children get creative, one wanted a simple shield with no adornments, the other wanted all the bolts he could have for extra decoration (he has a leather strap on the reverse, not shown in the photo.)

Activity #1: Archimedes Screw. Admittedly this is a bit of a stretch and if anything would have belonged under the banner of Athena, but we stretched things a bit and considered Hephaestus the God of Making Things. This was very cool, worked the first time, and was completely assembled by the children.
Activity #2: Clepsydra. This was fun to do after learning our Greek roots so that they could identify “ydra” as having to do with water. We had enough supplies for the kids to work in pairs. Everyone had a job and was on task.
Activity #3: Shields. We couldn’t very well celebrate the God of Forges without making shields, could we? Using cheap pizza trays from WalMart (88cents), some leather remnants I bought in a pack from the craft store and some nuts and bolts, these beauties will protect our young warriors all summer long and beyond. This came out better than I had imagined and I was just so happy.

 

Friday: Ares, God of War

While waiting for the Nerf battle to begin we warmed up with lightsaber sparring and tested out the new shields.

Activity #1: Epic Nerf battle. I sent an all-call out but many of our friends had other commitments, still we had four families represented in this battle through the neighbourhood.
Activity #2: Mini Bows and Arrows. When they came in hot and tired from their battle, in addition to the snack tray and water, I had supplies for them to make mini bows and arrows using craft sticks, dental floss, and q-tips. Pew pew pew!
Activity #3: When the melee was over and the friends went home we concluded the festivities by watching one of the Percy Jackson movies while the baby actually napped in his crib and for longer than fifteen minutes and I folded the laundry I had washed the previous weekend.
Activity #4: Our family went out to dinner that night to a Greek restaurant that serves saganaki. Not all Greek restaurants do, and you can still get a good gyro at a place that doesn’t serve saganaki, but if you’re celebrating all things Greek and you have the opportunity to be served flaming cheese, why would you not?

 

Greek chicken salad sandwiches: canned chicken with tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, and onions. Add pickles for an extra crunch! (not shown) Baclava for dessert.

So let’s talk about food. We ate well this week. My body was so happy and my energy levels were good because I was nourished! I had purchased spanakopita, feta, and tzatziki sauce from Costco, the rest of the foods were from the grocery store or my friend’s garden. We ate lots of Greek salads, snacked copiously on sliced cucumber with tzatziki sauce, and the spanakopita was a huge hit (score! That’s a spinach pie you boys loved!) Every day they inhaled all those healthy foods, and so did the mums! I also made Greek chicken salad sandwiches one day: canned chicken, tzatziki sauce, onions, feta. On a whim at the end one of the kids suggested adding pickles and they provided a great crunch to the bite. These were delicious and I am definitely adding them to our lunch rotation. Finally, because I was feeling so good about what everyone was eating I made baclava. Long time eater, first time maker, and other than using a little more butter than Emeril suggested, I followed the recipe and it was a beautiful (and delicious!) piece of work. The baclava was a huge hit among kids and mummies. I will definitely make that again!

What didn’t make the cut? I had a lot of activities in mind that just didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. I had worksheets and stuff as backups that I was happy we didn’t have to use. I had wooden beads purchased that we were going to paint with a different symbol or design for each day (in the Percy Jackson books they get a camp bead for each year of camp) but we just didn’t have time. The water balloons, as I stated above, were scrapped at the last minute because I didn’t have time to come up with an alternate solution for quickly filling a bazillion balloons.

Tell us: will you do a Greek week with your kids this summer? What would you add?

Heather

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