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"My son played Fluxx and Nanofictionary while working on a mission trip in West Virginia -- kids from a California church introduced the game to the group, which included churches from Florida and Chicago. Our son loved both games. We're anti-drug conservative carnivorous Christian Republicans -- but we do like flowers, happiness, bright colors, long hair, the environment, creativity and games! Don't you just love America? May you have a peaceful, joyful day -- and thanks for helping us to keep thinking and smiling with your games!" -- Sandra of St. Petersburg, FL

Thursday, July 28th 2005
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

What's Going On? Alison's Report on Second Session

Greetings! Not much is very different really since my report of last week... we're just a little further along on all the same stuff. Last week, we sent card artwork for EcoFluxx to the printers; this week, we've sent in some corrections, and we're finishing up the artwork for the tuckbox. The packing project is moving along rapidly now that I have help... James has inventoried over 1300 of our books so far, and I've sealed up 26 more boxes in the last week (bringing our current total to 170). With Origins behind us and our newest games off to the printers, the main thing on my mind for the rest of the summer is packing up our stuff so we can sell our house and move. So focused am I on this now that I've decided to skip both GenCon and DragonCon this year, much as I'd love to go to both, so that I can focus on my primary task.

While I'm staying home to concentrate on packing, the two women I live with will be doing a lot of traveling. Kristin is going to Hamilton for a week in August, then she'll be attending GenCon and DragonCon along with Russell and various other rabbits, helping promote our games. Just like at Origins, there won't be a Looney Labs booth, but our games will be sold by almost half a dozen vendors in the exhibit halls.

As for Alison, she's only two-thirds finished with her adventures at camp. (She's home right now, between Second and Third Sessions, to quickly finish up the artwork she's doing for Family Fluxx.) She took the photo above while on a hike during second session... and since her week was much more interesting than mine, I'm going to step aside and let her describe it for herself. Over to you, Alison...

Well, this past week and a half, I've been at a little camp called Burgundy Center for Wildlife Studies, located in West Virginia. (Really little -- 32 campers, 16 staff.) The focus is mainly on nature study, although we have a fair amount of straight-up hiking, crafts, games, splashing around in the pond, etc. The campers are 11-15 years old. We try to emphasize respect for the environment and each other, and in general try not to take ourselves too seriously.

I got to camp late (after the session had started) and so almost immediately, we began preparations for overnights. This was the "advanced session," so the whole camp was doing two-night overnights, most in Monongahela State Forest (Dolly Sods Wilderness Area). My group was doing fairly straightforward backpacking. Our main challenge was to figure out a route that wouldn't overlap the other hiking group. Dolly Sods has some really nice spots that practically every group wanted to hit, so it was pretty tricky figuring out a route that would take us to all of them at different times than the other groups, and still be hikeable in the three-day/two-night span of time.

The most unusual member of our hiking group was the newest addition to the Wunderland bear clan, one Monongahela. He was just dying to see the forest they'd named after him (well, you know bears, they get confused about these things). After all, Manhattan had gotten to visit "his" island...

We camped the first night up on what we used to call Bear Rocks, but which we now call Lion's Head, and which, on the map, is called Breathed Mountain (go figure). A nice pine-forested camping spot, with a path out to this impressive rocky promontory. Although it was rainy, we ate breakfast the next morning out there, with Mongo in his "rain gear": a plastic bag and my hat.

Then we set out to bushwhack over the hump of the ridge to avoid an annoyingly rocky stretch, and cut off some distance. We looked at the map and decided, rather than cutting down to the path immediately, to try roughing it all the way along the ridge to where the path came up again. After a while, however, the going proved rougher and longer than we'd thought, and one of the campers had a previous ankle injury that was taking it hard on the lumpy terrain. So we ended up cutting down to the path later along the ridge, having lost a lot of time.

Then we had a decision to make: at this point, the spot we had planned to camp at was a long way away, starting with a steep hike up to the Sods (high plateau wetlands with lots of blueberries). On the other hand, if we went ahead with that plan, we wouldn't have time for a swim in Red Creek, another centerpiece of any trip to Dolly Sods.

We went conservative, stayed at the river and hiked to a closer camping spot. After all, we had an injured camper, and several others had some misgivings. It was a tough call, though. Ideally, we'd have gotten to swim at the beautiful waterfall AND pick blueberries up on the beautiful Sods, but oh well. Mongo enjoyed the waterfall as well, although he didn't actually go swimming.

After we got back to camp, evening activity was "Beat Night." We create a sort of hip teahouse (no coffee for campers) atmosphere in the main lodge, and have people present impromptu poetry, songs, performance pieces (usually themed on the recent overnights, but in this case also honoring several kids who had birthdays). I got to MC, which was fun.

Piling on the fun, the very next day we had scheduled another regular session outing: the River Trip. Campers have the option of leaving early to take a trip to Caudy's Castle (an awesome pinnacle of rock) then hiking from there along the Cacapon river all the way to the cookout site, stopping to swim along the way, and arriving just in time for dinner. Non-hiking campers leave after rest period, and have free time and swim by the river at the cookout site. I was still pretty fatigued from the Monongahela trip, so I volunteered to help cook.

The rest of camp proceeded pretty much as usual. I suppose. For the first half of camp, the mornings are filled with teaching workshops on various advanced naturalist topics, and for the second half, the campers choose a project to work on in the mornings. I had two project people, doing variations on edibles. Bronwyn wanted to do "everything cattails" -- they're eminently edible, but she ended up focusing more on weaving a mat out of the leaves, which was a nice twist. Cody wanted to make wild edible soup, which turned out to mean mostly a lot gutting smelly fish from the pond.

Near the end of the session, we hiked the whole camp up to the Bald (pastureland at the top of a mountain) to play The Ant Game. The campers had been looking forward to this, and prematurely anticipating it for the entire session. Naturally we hiked up in several groups by roundabout routes to prolong the suspense. The Ant Game is loosely based on ant behavior and most closely resembles Capture The Flag. I was one of the last people coming down in the dark, and managed to sprain my ankle pretty badly. Luckily a car had already been summoned for a camper who'd gotten ill from overexhaustion. I thanked him for arranging transportation for me.

The "Final Exam" was a very successful Moth-themed quest-fest, which I didn't participate in, as I was exhausted from painting awards late into the night, and anyways, I had a sprained ankle. But I heard that it was a great success. Groups of campers had to do stuff like: follow a short orienteering course, bring back examples from five different orders of insects, find a camouflaged staff member along one of the trails, spot several types of birds, do a yoga "sun salutation," bring back four different invasive plants. They won bits of a puzzle that they put together to make models of moth pheromones, ostensibly to attract extra moths to our "moth army" which was needed to defeat Godzilla. Did I mention that this is a really wacky camp?

Final ceremony, typically after a cookout on the Bald, was to be combined with the traditional Bald overnight. A bold move, but what else could we do? The session had been so jam-packed with activities, it was our last chance to do the sleepout. Unfortunately, after the cookout, we decided that although it looked like the 50% chance of rain would skip us, the weather was so windy that we could hardly hear each other. So, reluctantly, we headed everyone back down the mountain to have final ceremony in the main field. It was nice, the usual feel-good presentation of music, put-ups (the opposite of put-downs: little thank-yous) and hand-painted custom-named awards for all the campers.

Here's a final plug. In between second and third sessions each summer, we have what's called "Adult Weekend." It's basically a little camp for adults. It never seems to attract quite enough participants, however, so I've decided to make it my personal mission to get more people to go to it. I know lots of people who would love to go to Cooper's Cove and hang out for a weekend, doing activities, taking hikes, swimming in the pond, and learning about natural stuff. Heck, I know some people who'd be able to help lead some naturalist walks. Anyhow, I guess it's a little expensive, but it's worth every penny. The food is great, and there's no other experience like it. However, it's this weekend, which probably isn't enough notice for this year, but there's always next year!
AndyHave a great week, and thanks for reading!

Thought Residue
"Marijuana smoking -'even heavy longterm use'- does not cause cancer of the lung, upper airwaves, or esophagus, Donald Tashkin reported at this year's meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society.  Coming from Tashkin, this conclusion had extra significance for the assembled drug-company and university-based scientists ( most of whom get funding from the U.S.  National Institute on Drug Abuse )... It is Tashkin's research that the Drug Czar's office cites in ads linking marijuana to lung cancer.  Tashkin himself has long believed in a causal relationship, despite a study in which Stephen Sidney examined the files of 64,000 Kaiser patients and found that marijuana users didn't develop lung cancer at a higher rate or die earlier than non-users.  Of five smaller studies on the question, only two -involving a total of about 300 patients- concluded that marijuana smoking causes lung cancer.  Tashkin decided to settle the question by conducting a large, prospectively designed, population-based, case-controlled study.  'Our major hypothesis,' he told the ICRS, 'was that heavy, longterm use of marijuana will increase the risk of lung and upper-airwaves cancers.'" -- Fred Gardner, "Study: Smoking Marijuana Does NOT Cause Lung Cancer"

"The Jedi order [are] the geekiest people in the universe: they have beards and ponytails, they dress in army blankets, they are expert fighter pilots, they build their own laser swords from scratch. And (as is made clear in the "Clone Wars" novels) the masses and the elites both claim to admire them, but actually fear and loathe them because they hate being dependent upon their powers.... I lap this stuff up along with millions, maybe billions, of others. Why? Because every single one of us is as dependent on science and technology - and, by extension, on the geeks who make it work - as a patient in intensive care. Yet we much prefer to think otherwise. Scientists and technologists have the same uneasy status in our society as the Jedi in the Galactic Republic." -- Neal Stephenson, "Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out"
"This game is the reason I had to buy a second 3DO. My mom got so hooked on this that when I moved out of their house after college, she made me leave my 3DO and Icebreaker! She still plays it to this day. I never got into it as much as she did, but it is a great game. I'd dare say in the same class as Return Fire as far as fun!" -- comments appended to the DigitalPress "Sleeper of the Week" review of Icebreaker

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