2011-07-29 / Columns

Your owen CountY CommunitY Foundation

Farm Camp
Mark Rogers, Executive Director

When Pennie and I bought the Rogers family farm from my parents back in ’99, we knew ownership came with a special responsibility to maintain a country place for family to visit and enjoy. With my oldest grandson and youngest nephews reaching an age where they could really enjoy visiting the beautiful landscape we call Owen County, we instituted an annual event called simply – Farm Camp. This week, we are enjoying the company of grandson Chuck (12) and nephews Nate (13), Cal (13), and Joe (12) for a week of Farm Camp in some daunting heat and humidity. The Camp laundry is already reporting some of the scariest loads of laundry ever. The plan is to enjoy the Farm and each other while working in as many little adventures as possible.

Our major project was to build a shelter from one of the many plans detailed in a 1914 book, Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties, by D. C. Beard. The campers picked their preferred plan on day one and we began to gather our building supplies and lay out our construction plan for the week. Plans are made to be changed, however. The frame for the sod hut went up pretty well, but cutting sod by hand is a bit more than we bargained for in the end. After the first square of sod required more than an hour of sweaty torture (including rest breaks), we all agreed that a nice tarp stretched over the frame would be more airy and colorful. Project complete!

The shelter exercise provided some good experience working on a group project and allowed for discussion of social issues like, “Uncle Mark isn’t having us do all this work kinda like child slavery?” A couple of trips to the Spencer Dairy Queen seemed a good way to change the subject. After all, there are a few yard chores we should be able to knock out this week in our spare time. We also planned some practical educational sessions like gun safety which the boys have limited opportunity to experience in their suburban lifestyles. They acted very responsibly as they learned some basics on their great-grandfather’s (great-great for Chuck) .22 long rifle. Their favorite part, though, was when the instructor pinched his hand cocking an old Walther PPK and bled like a stuck pig. Lesson learned – don’t cock a PPK like Uncle (G’pa) Mark.

The campers also learned a little about nature here in Sweet Owen. We’ve been hearing an unfamiliar birdsong all summer, so the campers were challenged with finding the bird performer for identification. After listening to the song over and over, we decided the call sounds like “Thank you, Jerry. Thanks for your career.” Nephew Cal won the first nature prize by identifying the scarlet tanager as the singer. We’ll stick with our “Thank you, Jerry” call over the boring description in the bird book of a robin with a sore throat saying “chik-burrr.”

Farm Camp also allowed a little focus on family. The boys took some time to write “Welcome Home” notes to their cousin Andy who just returned from his second tour in Iraq. And we spent some time talking about the fund that Grandpa and Grandma Rogers set up at the Owen County Community Foundation. The nephews will be advisors to the John R. & Elizabeth Rogers Fund after their parents’ generation is gone and will be invited each year to make recommendations on where the fund’s grants should go. We value the tradition of charitable giving just as much as holding that old worn .22 that great-grandfather used as a boy. Our Farm Camp here in the beautiful hills of Owen County allows our family to celebrate and carry on our best traditions. We feel fortunate to be here in this special place.

The Owen County Community Foundation is committed to helping our communities become better places to live, grow, work, and host a Farm Camp. We value the beauty of Owen County and we value community involvement and charitable spirit.

If you would like to know more about how you can work with your OCCF to create a family tradition, give me a call at 829-1725, email me at mark@owencountycf.org, visit us online at www.owencountycf.org, or visit us in person in our office on the second floor of the Owen County State Bank building at 201 W. Morgan Street in Spencer.

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