For the past six years, my sister and I and our families have taken a weekend camping trip during the summer. This year our destination was Big Foot Beach State Park, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Several weeks before our trip, I thought up a project that seemed like a good way to spend an hour of our time together, especially if there was bad weather. My idea was to decorate coordinating t-shirts for the kids, using sponge stamps and bleach. It seemed easy enough, so I went and bought the shirts, and started looking for alphabet sponges. The sponges turned out to be the first problem - because I guess they don't exist. I should have realized right then and there that this project was not going to turn out as planned. I did find a substitute for the sponges, and thought I had things all figured out.
Several days before the trip, I decided I better test out my method, to make sure the kids could do it. I got out my bleach and my sponges and tried it out on the inside of one of the t-shirt collars. Nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing. I couldn't get any bleaching action. I've never had problems bleaching things before, so I was stumped. Maybe it was the sponges? So, then I had a really brilliant idea: why not use those stain removing bleach pens instead of liquid bleach? The kids could probably manage that a little better anyway, right? Well, considering my track record so far, I decided to test that out too, before running out and buying a few more of the pens. Guess what? Those didn't bleach the t-shirts either! These were plain old 100% cotton t-shirts, but they were not about to give up their color to bleach in any form!
Well, by this time I was rather annoyed that my project was going so badly, so I started digging around in my baskets looking for some way to salvage this thing, and I found some fabric paint. I figured things couldn't really get any worse, even if you factored in my lack of self-confidence when it comes to fabric painting. So, I printed up some templates and got to work:
For the template, I just poked through the paper with a pen, so I'd know the general shape and placement of the letters. It wasn't very sophisticated, but it worked, and I didn't have any better supplies on hand. For the tents I just free-handed, hoping they would be recognizable objects.
I got the t-shirts done with JUST enough time to dry and set properly before we left on our trip, but then the worst problem of all occurred. The "Third Worst Storm of the Century" hit the southern part of Wisconsin, very close to where we were going to camp. With more bad weather coming, we began to consider cancelling for the first time in six years, which would have been very terrible. We did some last minute rearranging, and managed to save the tradition and have a wonderful time, weather or no weather.
So, it turns out that all is well that ends well, both for projects and camping trips.