Here's a little video of some of the activities! It will make more sense after read about the reunion, or you could just watch the video to get a general feel of it all.
Woodruff reunion 2016 from Kimber Cutler on Vimeo.
Since I was the super eager one to get this reunion going in the first place I both volunteered and was peer pressured into being in charge which I gladly accepted. You can either say I'm a natural leader or bossy, whichever floats your boat.
The absolute hardest part of organizing the reunion was WHERE and COST. We could find some super awesome places but when the cost was divided was way too expensive. By some miracle I finally found a place that worked well enough, only after A LOT of stress and anxiety, ooy. If you're interested the link to it is here. It says it sleeps 60, we easily fit around 75 people there, granted half of those were small kids. At the moment we plan to use this location in again in 2-3 years with an even larger group, some will camp, and we can probably squeeze a few more kids in some of those rooms if you wanted to know. The kitchen was totally big enough we only wish there had been a little more outside grass area for play.
As our reunion was starting Wednesday we found out Tuesday there was a fire just 3 small canyons away and worried if we should go at all, is it safe, are we going to go and get kicked out from the free right away, it is worth it, what else should we do? In the end through email land after a lot of phone calls from my wonderful mom to the owner we decided to go forth with it and that it would be fine!
Thursday night was the ONLY night where the fire came over the little mountain into what was our canyon. It came over the mountain and we watched it from below with HUGE flames just bursting from the mountain, and it just kept traveling. The only things between that mountain and us were a bunch more homes. There was a voluntary evacuation that evening, we sent 2 family members to a fire meeting at the station and after all the information we obtained and after everyone's feelings we decided we'd all stay until it was a mandatory evacuation, even then they give you 2 hours to leave. We just felt that we had gone through all this work and preparation for the reunion that we'd only leave if the danger was certain. It is SOOOO much more fun to stay together in one area/cabin for a reunion than in separate homes. The conversations you have in the late evenings and early mornings are those that can't be duplicated in any other situation, it's something so special I really really didn't want to give up.
Thankfully Thursday night was the worst, and the remaining days the wind blew the fire in a different direction !
Ok so onto some reunion activities!
Here was our schedule that we followed pretty closely. Each family was mostly in charge of one meal by themselves with one other family, paid for it, prepped it, and cleaned it up themselves, we all agreed that worked really well. And activities I just delegated out to all the families. People were in charge of 1-2 activities mainly, some may have had 3 if they were easy.I printed out 2 of these in large poster sizes from Staples and hung one inside and one outside, so easy for everyone to go look at during the day.
Wednesday afternoon/evening is when everyone arrived and got settled into their cabin areas. We had a delicious dinner that night From Lorin/Debbie and Kelly's family as we sat and got caught up with everyone and worked on learning names, there are so many little kids now it's hard to keep track when you don't see them! Luckily my great mom made this awesome poster so it was easy for us to look at pictures to learn names! For some reason it's missing the Martin crew in this picture.
We had a little bonfire that night with delicious smores, how can you not when your out in the mountains!?
The children didn't go to bed until SO late, I forgot how late the sun goes down in Utah and just didn't keep track at all. I think the kids finally went to bed around 9:30! And of course were the first ones to rise in the morning, ugh, naughty children but they were cute, so it's ok.
My sister in law, Blair, and I were in charge of breakfast the next morning. She was SO awesome and prepped nearly the whole thing. She made 2 large batches of sausage gravy and we baked some frozen biscuits for biscuits and gravy. It was a great way to get the morning started.
My mom and Logan and Blair then organized a hilarious game of family Olympics with silly activities that had everyone laughing and cheering each other on. Hula hoop was awesome, 3 legged race, balancing a 10 foot PVC pipe on your hand, "shot put", etc. What made it so fun was we were all split into 6 random teams with adults and kids, cheering each other on and laughing, it was just the bet way to get started :)
Next up was the children's treasure hunt. Sue and Liz did such a great job! The 18 month-3 year olds started with little paper bags and cards that told them to look for 5 specific colored easter eggs. The babies were so cute and didn't get it at all, ha, and then at the end they got bubbles, a ball, and goldfish which made them all perfectly happy :)
I would say one of the bet parts of the reunion for me was the lack of having to watch my children! At least the first day or two wen everything was new for the babies. The area was so huge and there were so many older kids eager and willing to help with the babies that I barely had to watch my kids! I barely ever knew where Max was, he was so content playing with all the other kids, it was wonderful. The babies were the same the first few days and then got whiney again and followed me around and cried after me the last 2 days, meh.
After lunch we had hilarious minute to win it games organized by Aunt Amy. Again, so perfect to have random teams put together to cheer each other on and have family fun. A lot of the small children were asleep during this activity (at least mine were!) which made it less noisy inside which was great.
They had a great game of kickball and some water games in the afternoon. The area we had for kickball was tiny and totally different levels with huge rocks blocking off areas but they made it work! Ha, everyone had great old fun.
I would say the whole family's favorite new game of the week was spikeball. The Andersons and Bradleys brought it and it was just really fun. Casey caught on immediately and was super good at it. If I played with another good person I wasn't so terrible, ha, BUT when we got a group of girls together that was all new to the game we were all awful, it was hilarious. It's definitely a game we want to get for our family! Even Max had fun chasing the ball for all the adults when it went wild. The game is a combo of volleyball and foursquare :)
After dinner my dad and Grampa did a little Woodruff family history lesson. My dad talked about different articles and research that show how knowing where your family came from, what they went through, trials and good things, just everything, makes you a stronger person and able to deal with so many more things in life. So that evening (with the huge fire burning on the mountain in front of us) we learned all about Grampa Woodruff first hand, his birth, his mom, his bringing up, his college, mission, army days, meeting his wife and being first married. It was really so wonderful to hear.
We got an update right afterwards from 2 cousins who went to the fire meeting and decided we'd stay until we were completely evacuated. The flames just kept roaring closer on that mountain and into the night, quite a sight!
Also amidst all the fire stuff Lorin and Debbie made stinking delicious homemade ice cream, I think 4 or 5 gallons. Everyone raved over it. My kids got WAY too much ice cream due to Lorin's "generosity", jeeze, but seriously it was a really yummy evening.
That night we played a great game of family feud, mormon style. With hilarious answers and teams. My team came in second, Casey's just barely won :) I was proud of us!
Friday morning we woke up all happy and surprised we made it through the night and hadn't been evacuated, ha!
We had women's circle where great ideas were shared, how to start sourdough bread, make easy cute bows, braid hair, easy little recipes, family quizzes, meal passes, just a lot of great little ideas shared.
During this time Brigham and Logan did a little toddler time with the younger kids. I don't know what they did, ha, and I didn't care as long as my kids stayed outside and away from me.
Before lunch they had an epic nerf war, it was pretty funny to watch, I didn't participate, but watching was funny. Max had the best time running after all the big kids. They played a lot of different games like cops and robbers, something about saving the president, capture the flag, etc. The dads/adults seriously had just as much fun as the kids, it was fun to watch. The little kids would get 1 piece of candy for every 3 or 5 darts they turned back in, haha. I braided hair during all of this :)
After lunch (street tacos from Amanda), a big group went to a big pond close by for some cliff jumping and jumping off a rope swing. Max wanted to go but fell asleep in the car on the way there and was asleep nearly the whole time, ha, they woke him up at the end and mostly sat on Sarah's paddle board as she pushed a bunch of kids around the pond on it, they loved it. Casey loves thrill seeking activities like that too, ha
I stayed back with a few other moms and others who didn't want to join and we actually had the best time sitting and talking! So much laughing. Most the kids were gone or asleep, it was just so enjoyable to sit and be together in the daytime without lots of interruptions. We sat outside in the shade and had lots of fun.
It was while everyone was packing up to go to the pond that a news crew came and wanted to interview someone about our large group staying in the Pine Valley area despite the fires right there on the mountain, ha. I happily and quickly volunteered because things like that are hilarious. Here's the clip if you want to watch it. I think it's the second clip. The line "we're woodruffs not wimps!" comes from my grandpa the night earlier, not me ha.
Once everyone came back and got back settled we had a BBQ dinner from Liz and Sue, yummo and a crowd pleaser.
We had a bit of downtime in the early evening before out "birthday party" where we celebrated everyone's birthdays with 3 hilarious games of musical chairs,2 for the kids, so sad when the little ones lost first always. Landon who is in a wheelchair was pushed around by his mom to play absolutely loved it, it was fun to watch him too. And then the adults did a game of musical chairs which you can imagine was hilarious.
My children were so dirty and stinky every night. They always got baths and went straight to bed, at least the babies did, Max would then stay up for another hour since all the other little kids were still awake and he loved playing, he seriously missed so much sleep that week, ha.
That night we did another really fun family trivia by Uncle David there were 2 teams and the questions were mixed with family history trivia but also daily feud style questions of a questionnaire everyone at the reunion filled out, it was pretty funny to hear some of the answers from the people all around us.
Having such fun activities scheduled each night made such great memories. I feel like that's where you MAKE the memories is during activities so then in future years when there are just random dinner gatherings at cousins houses or during dinners at reunions you have these fun stories to look back on or information you learned from each other or silly activities that happened.
Our Woodruff side of the family really is pretty incredible. Of 26 grandchildren, all who have had the chance so far HAVE gone on mission and HAVE been married in the temple, and even their spouses. It's incredible that all these people have stayed true to the knowledge and gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel so fortunate to be apart such a wonderful family and allow my children to rub shoulders with these people.
I was amazed throughout all the reunion that even though we don't hang out with all these family members often at all, because we're family it's immediate familiarity and friendship to help with one another's kids, sit and talk for long periods of time, help with duties and activities of the reunion. I just feel oh so blessed that THIS is my eternal family I get to former be with!
Saturday morning started bright and early with a mile fun run by Suzie that Casey surprisingly participated in. Breakfast was a variety of sweet and savory breakfast casseroles, yummy.
Granada gathered everyone for a "grandpa's devotional." We are so lucky this 87 year old man is still so young and youthful and happy and willing and excited to be with everyone, he is the greatest.
There was a talent show where different little kids got up and did their cute little talents like cartwheels, counting, tricks,singing, and dancing. I tried to get Max up there to balance on Casey's hands but he had a conniption and freaked out, I think he gets a little people shy sometimes. Only one of the babies would get up to point at their body parts while Quinn screamed and cried instead, ha. They played reverse charades and limbo afterwards :)
Lunch was from Teresa and Nicole of chicken curry salad sandwiches. A really fun and yummy different dish.
We had a reunion council of most the adults to figure out what future reunions will be like. Again, such a great group people we get to try to keep having reunions with!
We had the best slip n slide Tammy put together. They borrowed a huge poster/billboard type thing an uncle had, put 2 sprinkler heads on it and everyone went crazy. So much fun, it was great having it so wide and not worrying about parts coming away from each other.
They made 400 water balloons (thank goodness for those fast fill up ones that tie themselves! Made it possible to have that many!) They all broke fast too, ha. They used a giant circle tarp (blanking on the name of this thing) that the kids played with and loved. They did water-towel volleyball. They were smart to double the balloon on the waterballons so they didn't pop as easily since they fell on the ground ever throw, ha.
After dinner a bunch of family had to depart due to Sunday obligations, those left that night did a hilarious newlywed game together. There were two sets of not married siblings that did surprising well and were just so funny. Casey and I didn't do too shabby ourselves, it's always fun to learn new things about each other. Tammy did such a great job on that game!
It was sad that it was the last night and it was all coming to an end but I am SO happy we planned it for 3 full days to get adequate time in with one another. It's the late night conversations that are the best and make being together as a family so much fun. It's so important to us to all be in one location.