Lessons about Scheduling and Moderation in Caseville, Michigan

On July 30th, Laura, McKenna, and I left the Outer Banks beach house to head straight to Caseville, Michigan. Typically, we stop at home on our way, but this year we were bypassing Midlothian. Rather than going our normal way through northern Virginia, we took the more scenic West Virginia route.

Bonus: we got to see Rocky Mount again.

After spending a night in Beckley, we woke up early and drove the 9 remaining hours to Caseville, arriving about an hour after the 3pm check-in. It was a good thing we were on time. As we would find out, punctuality would be crucial to this vacation, as we already knew due to the fact that in the months and weeks prior to the trip, there were literally dozens of emails sent to schedule dinners, cocktail parties, Zooms, and games. The sheer quantity of emails completely overwhelmed the “conversation view” function in Gmail. It is the first vacation to need a listserv moderator for emails.

That’s right – even the pre-vacation Zoom had a schedule!

So it is possible, just possible, that this vacation was a smidgeon overscheduled.

10am Sunday: Daily Schedule Invalidated by Uncooperative Forces of Nature

Originally, a boat trip was scheduled for Sunday morning, but Mother Nature had the bad form to disregard both the high priority email with the typed and color-coded events calendar as well as the sheet-protectored hard copies of the schedule. High winds led the captain of the boat to postpone the trip.

Great, the schedule is ruined. Now how are we supposed to have fun?

The boat captain clearly made the correct call in postponing the three hour tour.

The tiny boat would have been tossed.

Plus, the temperatures on this day were only in the 60’s, which, of course, in Michigan meant…

Swimming weather

7:00pm Sunday Cocktail Hour

On Sunday, we had the first of 5 consecutive scheduled cocktail hours. Although these events were great, some days were so overloaded with events that going to a cocktail hour felt like a chore. I know, I know…

Plus, all of us peasant cocktail hour planners knew that our cocktail hours would pale in comparison to the megladon event held by Alex and Liz.

Show offs.
Hey, guys, want to come see the Baby Yoda piñata we have at OUR cocktail party? Guys?

Plus, the non-Alex and Liz cocktail hours probably would have been a bit more enjoyable if they actually been cocktail HOURS. Some were interrupted by meetings. That’s right: we somehow opted to import the worst part of any job into a vacation, like we were part of some kind of sociological experiment to see how many features of a work environment could be adopted by vacationers before they realized that they were working.

7:30pm Sunday: Caseville Olympics Organizing Committee Meeting

Each year since 2015, we have had “Olympic” games at the Caseville Vacation where we get into teams and play crazy games. However, last year’s Olympics included the Great “Rock, Paper, Scissors” Fiasco, when the chaos and noise of a mass rock, paper, scissors event caused people to flee the State Park shelter where the Olympics are held with the same urgency that they had earlier shown in evacuating during tornado conditions and a downpour in 2015. To ensure that this year’s Olympics did not drive people away with the same frequency as a life-threatening weather event, the Olympic organizers, Liz and Rita, called a meeting during the first cocktail hour to set the stage for the games.

Meeting Stage One: Organizational responsibilities for the meeting had at first been delegated to Laura. Laura, having failed to read the Caseville Olympics Mission Statement in email #473 Section C, did not properly represent the committee’s vision for compulsory fun and was removed, vaudeville style.

Meeting Stage Two: Laura was replaced by a member of the Olympics Committee who modified or superseded the guidelines presented in Stage One in order to bring the event in line with the Caseville Olympics Mission Statement. Team selection rules were altered or reset depending on your familiarity with the Unabridged Caseville Olympics Compendium, found in emails 248-596.

Meeting Stage Three: LOUD NOISES.

“I should have had more cocktails.”

Meeting Stage Four: Somehow teams were created and then given 60 seconds to generate a team cheer that was in line with the vision of the Committee. Team rosters and cheers were to be represented on Committee-provided posterboard in neat columns (see email 158).

What. Is. This.

Team 2’s disregard of community formatting rules and posterboard etiquette was clearly a threat not just to the Olympics but to civilization itself. It could not go unpunished.

Decapitation of recalcitrant vacationers followed, as stipulated in emails 43-47.

Meeting Stage Five: Laura was invited to once again speak after engaging in a session of public self-criticism.

“I freely admit that as a capitalist roader I failed to recognize the People’s Will as articulated in emails 9-16.”

12pm Monday: Boat Trip

On Monday, Alex and Liz and generously chartered a boat to take the whole family around the Caseville waters. The captain, after postponing the trip once more (gasp)from early morning until noon, was ready to take us on the now-calm waters.

It was a good thing he did. We could barely climb the ladder to this top deck in absolutely calm waters.

Once the boat got going, the breeze did make things a bit chilly.

The 3-hour tour gave us some freedom to explore.

Ho! We have discovered savages who vacation without a typed itinerary!

8pm Monday: Mackenzie’s Graduation Party

Just in time to re-ignite the buzzes that had been fading from the boat cocktail party, we had an 8pm combined cocktail hour and graduation party. My first attempt at a cake for the party had formed some kind of brownie-ish ooze rather than a cake; it turns out that ALL of the ingredients are essential to cakes attaining cake-ness, in much the same way that Voltron can’t form when a lion is missing because, once again, hot-headed Lance does some stupid crap with Red Lion. After the boat trip, we went back to the house to finish the cake and cupcakes.

Miles helped me put the “covid” in the Covid Cake.

To save time, we fused cocktail hour and the graduation party into a grad-tail party. Wait, that sounds bad. A cockuation party. Nope, that’s even worse.

In spite of the sometimes awful effects of trying to do too much at one time, we avoided serving these wholesome young people the cocktails. It was Covid Cake only for them.

9:30am Tuesday: Prep for the “Easy Does it” Fashion Show

It was at about this point of the week that the schedule began inducing the kind of anxiety people usually have only in dreams about work or school.

  • It’s so quiet. Where is everyone?!?! Did my alarm not go off?!
  • It’s 2pm. Is something happening at 2pm? IS SOMETHING HAPPENING AT 2PM?!
  • Is there going to be an exam on those emails I didn’t read?
  • Am I naked in public again?
And: Why is everyone but me wearing a sombrero?!?!

10:30am Tuesday: “Easy Does It” Fashion Show, followed by shirt decorating

In spite of the planning PTSD, the fashion show prep went smoothly. Once the children had decorated the contestants, it was time for them to display their fashion choices on the “runway,” the driveway of the cottages.

The migratory patterns of this bird follow a strict schedule. Of course they do.

This was the kind of spectacle that attracted complete strangers to observe, some of whom boldly took pictures mere feet away from us while others preferred to keep a pane of glass between themselves and our group.

It seems likely that these aren’t the only pictures of the event on the Internet.

2:30pm Tuesday: First Caseville Olympics Event

At its best, the Caseville Olympics provide a diversion and silly fun during the vacation. The first event, a standalone event on Tuesday called “Pass the Bucket,” was a good example of this. The event started slow as there was some confusion over how the rules of the game.

It apparently had something to do with socks? If only there was a written explanation somewhere.

The failure of virtually 100% of the vacationers to read the rules forced Rita to take an unprecedented step: brandishing naked copies of the rules stripped of their polypropylene defenses.

In the face of the awesome power of the unsheathed rules, we had to avert our eyes like Indiana Jones did when the Ark of the Covenant was opened.

Now that we were familiar with these rules, success was guaranteed.

12pm Wednesday: Main Olympic Events

On Wednesday, the day for the full Caseville Olympics had arrived. Surely, now that the rules had been posted for four+ days and people had seen the need for the rules during the first event, people would have familiarized themselves with the rules.

Is there a TL;DR version?

Unlike the standalone “Pass The Bucket” event, which provided just the right amount of wackiness and entertainment for both us and random passerby, the main Olympics violated the maxim “Everything in Moderation” by having more than five events in a day. When our family drives from Michigan to Virginia, eating chocolate in moderation can be a great morale-booster on a long trip; but when McKenna ate an entire bag of chocolate given to her by Nana, she ended up puking in our driveway at 1:30am. Five events to complete was more on the immoderate, “vomiting in the driveway” side of things.

This is how people competed in real time in order to finish all of the events and stay on the vacation schedule.

In an apparent effort to maintain the original spirit of amateurism at the real olympics, before the United States and other countries started openly sending professional athletes in the 90’s, the Caseville Olympic organizers forbade contestants from practicing events like the “Hula Hoop Circle” below.

That made McKinley, who had played this before as part of a teambuilding exercise, the equivalent of the Soviet army captain whose duties somehow only involved training to be an “amateur” Olympic-class figure skater.

The Committee claimed that practicing was forbidden because the idea was that the events were just for fun. Who cared who won?

See? No caring here. Just fun.
Winners and losers don’t matter, right? RIGHT?!

It was only the joy of competition that mattered.

Or the joy of shootin’ sh%$.

By the end of another Caseville Olympics, we all learned some valuable lessons.

Do NOT choke the chicken, kid. Unless it’s on the schedule.

8:30pm Wednesday: Talent Show

The Caseville Olympics were not the only major event of Wednesday. Following a cocktail party/rehearsal for the talent show (a cockhearsal?), the Caseville talent show began in front of a packed house. Last year, the kids had performed to the opening song to the play Hamilton, and this year, they were building on that mostly impromptu performance with something more polished and choreographed.

While all of the performances were great, I am sad to report that the quality of the show may have been impacted by the performers illicitly practicing.

Thursday and Friday: An end to scheduling?

The vacation up to this point had seen some exciting moments, but the packed scheduling made it exhausting. McKenna, who has only time napped once in the last 8 years, when she had the flu and strep at the same time, actually took a nap. The busy agenda at Caseville had roughly the same effect on the human constitution as the fusion of two virulent diseases. With the majority of the scheduled events behind us, we could recover and enjoy our surroundings.

Turns out you can see the sun set from where we were at when the sun cooperates with our vacation schedule.

By Friday, we actually had time to sit on the beach and relax. That moment of peace was interrupted by a strange sight.

Does this man have a shovel stored in his asscrack? And, if so, is this possibly our next Olympic event?

Our interest piqued, there was only one suitable course of action: a scientific inquiry into the nature of this man’s shovel storage.

  • What did the man hope to find with his metal detector that would justify shovel storage in the asscrack?
  • Did the shovel storage stem from drunkenness that occurred outside of the hours designated for a cocktail party?
Careful surveillance and the scientific method enabled us to confirm that this man was, in fact, using his ass crack as a shovel pocket.

Clearly, though, we could identify with this man’s need to multitask, combining his metal detecting with his scheduled digging for Caseville beach treasure in order to stick to a busy vacation agenda.

Just as we can understand why Tanner would try to inhale this sundae before he was summoned to the next event.

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