The Fountain of Youth

Date posted: August 25, 2010

 
Oh to be a kid again! Hey, I can still indulge in that world from time to time. I often do, and it’s so worth it!

This summer, we had six of our nieces and nephews come visit for a weekend, and boy, did we have fun! While our plans didn’t unfold as we expected, rolling with the punches resulted in us having an even better time.

Friday night, after grilling out and devouring some good grub, we break out the dominoes for a rousing game of Chicken Scratch (also called Mexican Train). What? You’ve never played? Oh, you don’t know what you’re missing! Check it out here! For newbies to the game, what starts off as a so-so time turns into an addiction pretty quickly. Don’t believe me? Give it a go.

Our Saturday plans to go to a waterfront concert are washed out by rain, so now housebound and humid, what shall we do? Our niece, Olivia, saves the day by pulling out packs of colored string, and teaching us all how to make bracelets. Some of us (ok, I) don’t give it much of an effort, and instead, opt to sit back and watch them all create, interact, laugh, and sing. How cool to have their energies infuse our house!

After the bracelet making marathon, we, as the hosts, wrack our brains trying to figure out what to do next. The kids keep assuring us that they are happy to just all be together at this cousin’s weekend away, but we want more. It’s now 6:30 PM, and Olivia chimes up with a thought. “Aww, we should have done a scavenger hunt.”

“We still can!” I say. So Melissa and I head into the other room and quickly come up with 10 clues that will send the kids all around Newburyport on a photo scavenger hunt.

We divide the six of them into two teams of three, and each take a team in a car. We act only as the chauffeurs and can’t help solve the clues. Not being from this area, they’ll have to get creative to figure out some of the answers. And not only do they need to solve the clues, but they also have to take photos of themselves to prove they found the right places. The first team to the pizza shop, where we’ll all have dinner, with their completed list and photos, wins!

As we scramble around town, tourists and residents alike are more than excited to help out the teams.

“Can you tell me where you can get really cheap hot dogs in the area?” my niece asks.

“Sure! Head to the Richdale Convenience store just up the road. They sell them for 25 cents.”

And off they go, sprinting, as I, the photographer, try to keep up with them in my flip flops.

As my team searches for an authentic gelato shop to get a picture of a teammate indulging in a bite, we run into the other team. Playful panic and laughter erupt!

“How many clues have you guys solved?”

“We’re not telling, but probably more than you guys!”

And we’re off again! This time, they need to figure out what branch of the armed forces was founded in Newburyport (Coast Guard) and get a picture next to a monument indicating such. This clue tripped my team up and ultimately cost them the game, but only by mere minutes. When we pulled into the pizza shop’s parking lot, the other team was just getting out of the car and making a dash for the door. Oh, so close!

In our haste to throw the hunt together, we neglected to come up with a prize for the winning team. Oops! So, pizza it was — for the winners and non-winners (I can’t call my nieces and nephews ‘losers’!) alike.

The other clues on the list?

  • a picture of your team in front of a boat like they own it
  • a seashell
  • a picture of 3 different team members with 3 different strangers
  • a picture of your team with an airplane
  • a picture of the whole team with the Gorton’s fisherman-looking statue
  • 1 cup of sand
  • a picture in front of a restaurant’s sign whose initials spell out an animal with a curly tail that likes mud

Having loved scavenger hunts as a kid, I, even only as the chauffeur, had such a blast! Talk about drinking from the Fountain of Youth!

After we arrive home and fill our faces, it’s onto karaoke! Melissa hooks the machine up to the TV, tests the microphones, while I break out the new karaoke CDs I bought. One-by-one, the kids trickle into the family room to take their shot at fame. There are solos, duets, full room sing-a-longs, of all kinds of songs.

 

After finally giving in to sleep around 2 AM, I fell asleep to the wonderful sounds of giggles in the other rooms. We wrapped up our weekend with breakfast out the next morning, followed by some shopping and watching the World Cup finale.

Our weekend together gave me new thoughts and ideas on how to spend time with friends. Getting together doesn’t always have to revolve around going out to eat. Next up? Scavenger hunt for (sometimes) grown-ups! It’s a weekend I won’t soon forget and hope to repeat soon.

So how do you dip into the Fountain of Youth? What does being playful mean to you? Leave a comment and let us know!

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  1. Kerri, You guys are the best! What fun for your neices and nephews. Now if I sign up for one of these weekends will the Fountain of Youth work on me? 🙂

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