CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

When yours, mine and ours converge to create a family of twelve you know that camping is going to be part of the plan. When Gail met Wayne they both brought children into their now 25-year-old marriage. Together over the next two and a half decades they fostered seventy-five children in need of care, eventually adopting four sisters to bring their number of children up to ten – an even dozen in the family.

Life was busy on their small Ohio farm with horses, sheep, alpaca, barns and creeks, and camping with lots of kids! It must have seemed hard to picture the light at the end of the parenting tunnel for Gail. If the truth be told though, she really didn’t want to see it end. But kids grow up despite their mother’s protests and as that dim light at the end of the tunnel began to give off real light, she found herself thinking of ways in which she might fill the gap.

Gail, mother to many and friend to all she meets is the perfect person to act as Camp Host at Beaver Creek.

 

Gail grew up in Ohio but not in a camping family. She had just one sibling, a brother with whom she is still very close to. But Aunt Jean and Uncle Bill generously provided cousin Kaylynn, 9 months younger than Gail, to be a lifelong best friend. Aunt Jean and Uncle Bill were campers and more than happy to take Gail along on all of their adventures. The two cousins loved their campouts and Gail in particular developed a real love for nature.

The camping bug stayed with Gail, and when she and Wayne merged their families, camping became a big part of their lives. Over the years they camped in tents, a pop-up, and travel trailers. The family loved fishing and the outdoors, but none loved it all as much as Gail whose childhood memories with Aunt Jean and Uncle Bill never left her.

While raising her large family on their Ohio hobby farm, Gail honed many skills. For years she has been a fiber artist, a respected teacher and member of many knitting clubs, as well as at one time the host of a podcast on knitting, spinning and dyeing wools. As the kids grew and left home to make their own lives, Gail had more time for her interests.

These hobbies lead her to volunteer as a reenactor of feminine arts at the Beaver Creek State Park Pioneer Village in East Liverpool, Ohio. On the first of every month she dons Colonial garb and sits spinning in the restored log cabin while school children on field trips and families on day outings observe what it took to create a hat or sweater in days gone by. The park became a second home for Gail and Wayne who often fished there in the river that runs through it.

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GET OUTSIDE AND PLAY

When Sandy Newkirk was growing up as an only child in the New Jersey suburbs, her mother never had to yell at her to “get outside and play.” Her favorite place to be was outside. Whether she was gardening with her mother, playing alone in the backyard or riding her bike with her best friend Francine, she never wanted to come inside unless she absolutely had to. She was on an adventure in her mind the whole time.

 

 

She was traveling her neighborhood and exploring all the things an eight year old can explore in their boundary-filled worlds, but inside she knew that someday she would cut loose and practically “live outside.” In the meantime she had Francine and a very creative imagination. When the weather was too bad to be outside they did all the things that girls growing up in the 1970s did. They had Barbie campers, which they played with on the living room floor using the TV as their “drive in” theatre. The two girls did all the craft fads of their era: woven pot holders on the metal looms, sewing doll clothes and finger knitting but they preferred the outdoors to all other forms of play.

 

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HAPPIER TRAILS AHEAD

 

Carole with her snowbird parents!

 

At the age of 6 weeks Carole Steinberg went on her first camping trip. Her British parents took her tent camping in Wales and she has been camping ever since. She and her younger sister Jeanette lived an outdoor life camping all over England and Wales with their parents. When Carole was seven the family boarded the Queen Mary and, landing in northeast Pennsylvania, continued their active outdoor life there. Carole became a US citizen when she was 16.  When Carole married a military man and set out to make a life, camping was in the cards. Together she and her husband, Eric, moved wherever the next deployment took them. They lived in the Azores and Japan and camped there with their sons. Once stateside again they moved every few years. Raising their two boys and a foster son who became their own, they all enjoyed the outdoor life.

 

Carole in her Sprinter before it went in for customization.

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JOY, JOY, JOY, JOY, DOWN IN HER HEART!

 

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier. 

-Mother Teresa

 

There are people in this world who just make you happy. Being around them raises endorphins and inspires hopefulness. They are natural born doers. Everything that is interesting to them is something to be studied, assimilated, processed and reimagined in their own inventive and creative way. They tackle new things with a gusto that looks like a train whizzing by to the rest of us. Before we even know what is happening, they are publishing a book on it.



Kaye England is one of those world-class doers. Her contagious energy gives lift to those who are “thinking about it.” Whatever the ‘it’ is that others are thinking about, Kaye is doing. In her life she has become a well-known quilter and teacher of quilting with many published books on the subject. She’s a gardener, farmer, goat and llama breeder, writer, interior decorator, scrap booker, and fabric designer. At various times, she was also the owner of five different retail shops. These are but a few of her accomplishments. I have to take a nap after just listing these achievements. To Kaye however, these are not accomplishments, just the way she lives her life. She doesn’t set out to achieve. She sets out to explore what interests her and she has a way of taking it to the next level! In the process she inspires all who know her and are lucky enough to be part of her world. Her presence in a room lightens moods and encourages activity.




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WE ARE FAMILY!

We are family! I’ve got all my sisters with me. We are family. Get up everybody and sing. Everyone can see that we’re together, as we walk on by. Hey, and we fly just like birds of a feather. I won’t tell no lie. All of the people around us they say, can they be that close? Just let me state for the record, we’re giving love in a family dose. – Sister Sledge

 

I think it is certainly safe to say that we live in times in which the image of what constitutes a family has changed. There are many people who, for varied reasons, find themselves in the position of not having “blood” kin to share their lives with. Growing up in Ohio, Sister on the Fly, Pam Elson could not have imagined that she would ever find herself in need of family. Her parents and two brothers were a close family with cousins and aunts and uncles in nearby Kent, Ohio. They enjoyed camping vacations and first owned a pop up trailer and then graduated to a little “canned ham,” Metzendorf. Pam recalls the fun of traveling to Novia Scotia to camp and hoped to one day recreate those happy times with a family of her own.

 

Upper left: the family wagon with their Metzendorf trailer behind it

Upper right: Pam with her brother and dad toasting marshmallows on a family camping trip

Lower left: Pam at her campsite in the 1960s

Lower right: Pam, the future cowgirl!

 

In her early twenties Pam married her first love, an Ohio farmer, and set out to make a life. Let’s just say that things didn’t go as planned and she filed for divorce less than two years later. In her mid-twenties and single, Pam found a job at Fed Ex. For 17 years she was a Fed Ex driver. For another ten years she worked in the Fed Ex offices. During that time Pam was socially busy but never met “the one.” She bought a house near her family and enjoyed holidays with her parents and brothers. She has an incredible eye for design and enjoys thrifting, flea markets and furniture arranging! With or without a husband and children it was her need and desire to “nest.” She created a beautiful home near her parents and brothers and life was good.

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