Fun & Games
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Water Fight!

by Kevin Horrocks, 57 (The adult)
by John D. Seylar, 13 (The nemesis)

The siege of Chipmunk Lodge

Published: July 1, 2008
Photo by Jac Coverdale
We purchased our cabin 25 years ago. It was built in 1908, and the original owner named it Chipmunk Lodge. The sweet name still fit the gentle nature and serenity we had come to cherish. But it was not to last.
The first unprovoked attack came more than 7 years ago, from their ringleader, 6-year-old John Seylar, who leapt into my yard and opened fire. I quickly disarmed the little guy and chased him
off with his own squirt gun. Apparently, he thought he was squirting an unprepared and tolerant adult.  Little did he know that he was antagonizing the most scheming, immature man-child on the lake.  
That first attack launched an incredibly fun feud that has been waged over nearly a decade; involving two-dozen kids and countless gallons of water.

Photo by Jac Coverdale
Best-Laid Plans  
Every year we kids draw out a map of his cabin and the surrounding territories. We take measurements of where our cabin is compared to his and vice versa. However, mapping is usually the least of our worries.

For the first several years they’d try to stick to little John’s diagrammed plans. What they hadn’t planned for, however, was that I would always be a step ahead.
They brought kid-sized squirt guns; I greeted them with a water pistol. They’d get water pistols; I’d pummel them with water balloons. They’d bring some balloons; I’d have caches of them hidden throughout my yard. They hid stashes in my yard; I’d use balloons and guns stored in my refrigerator to ice cold temperatures. They’d chill theirs; I’d screw a power nozzle on my garden hose and try for hypothermia. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t get the best of me.
Their morale quickly plummeted.
Photo by Jac Coverdale
Learning To Fight
Every time he beat us, it just made us fight harder. We recruited a bunch more kids to help us out. That meant more squirt-gun fillers, more water-balloon makers and more planners. Even though our numbers should mean we had the clear advantage, I never wanted to get too cocky. Kevin is quite the trickster and he always seems to be ready for us.  
There’s nothing he likes better than his garden hose. We’ll have fancy, multicolored, expensive squirt guns, and he’ll just turn on the hose and soak us back to the drawing board. So, we started sending in scouts to disconnect and hide Kevin’s garden hose.  
Detaching the hose was the easy part. The hard part was finding his hidden stashes of water balloons.

Each fight taught them a new tactic to copy. Their planning improved. One day my wife noticed our garden hose was “missing.” I realized an incursion was imminent and they found me waiting with a spare hose, which sprayed off their triumphant smiles. But I was running out of tricks – and they knew it. 
After years of siege, both sides had endured ice-cold water, jet streams to the face and stinging water balloon explosions. The kids had tripped off boardwalks, slipped and fell on wet grass, and conked heads like coconuts running into each other. But something had changed. They no longer turned to their parents for sympathy.  They had gotten tough, and they just kept coming. Finally, one day, John looked me in the eye and proclaimed, “I smell fear.”

Photo by Jac Coverdale
Student Becomes Teacher
My troops and I were fortunate last summer. The first place we looked, inside Kevin’s old outdoor hot tub, we found a tin bucket filled with water balloons. We grinned at each other, and then set about systematically destroying all of them. We were almost done, when I heard the slamming of a screen door.

I turned and locked eyes with an astonished Kevin. I grinned and turned the rest of the water balloons to mud before his eyes. Then the troops and I hightailed it back to the safety of our cabin.

But this victory was short-lived. Back at our cabin, everyone else was inside and I was outside, filling water balloons. I heard the sound of bike tires against the gravel driveway.

Appalled to see the kids destroy a balloon cache, I raced to their cabin by bike, nearly crashing into wagons piled with water guns and balloons. I snatched a couple of excellent water guns, dodged a protesting John and pedaled madly for Chipmunk Lodge.

I knew this invasion wouldn’t go unchallenged.

Photo by Jac Coverdale
The Siege of Chipmunk Lodge
When the time came we hauled all of our stuff to Kevin’s cabin and prepared to attack. All of a sudden, water balloons were raining down on us! We ducked under the shed, and dread crept over me.  
Kevin was on the roof!

The first few water balloons dropped onto their heads unannounced, and I couldn’t help but smile as I watched them scurry for cover.  
A kid scrambled for the air-filled water balloon “decoys” I’d placed around the property and realized his mistake as a 5-gallon bucket of water was dumped on his head.
I roared in defiance from the high ground where I had stockpiled buckets of water, coolers of water balloons and the “borrowed” water guns. Outnumbered and surrounded, I made my final stand.
The battle raged for what felt like weeks. Colored balloons and silver streams of water criss-crossed over both sides. But, of course, I eventually ran out of water-ammo. 

It took a lot of work to get him down from there. I got in a few hits on him, but not as many as some of the other kids, and not as many as he got in on us.

Photo by Jac Coverdale
The Last Stand
My weapons dry, I braved the barrage of water balloons and streams of water aimed at my eyes
(wonder where they learned that trick) and descended the ladder.
And that’s when I unleashed my secret weapon.
My friend Mark, father of two of the kids, strolled over to a secret bucket of balloons and joined the fray with well-placed throws. Then, we “retreated,” coaxing the little squirts out onto the end of our dock. They foolishly took the bait.

As luck would have it, the battle moved down to the lake – where our reinforcements lay in wait. We opened fire with the water guns that we stashed for just such a situation. All the kids that weren’t thrown in, jumped in, and we took the fight to the lake.
Photo by Jac Coverdale
We plunged among them and they swarmed us like piranha. We flipped them over our shoulders, splashed gallons of lake water in their faces and wrenched guns from their squirmy grips to try and drive them back.  
The siege had been on for nearly an hour and exhaustion was taking its toll as clutching, grubby hands began tearing off hunks of my t-shirt as trophies.
Wearily, John returned to land and attempted to declare victory.  We hung our heads and nodded – until he got too close.  We held him captive over our heads and bellowed one more victory for The Old Guard.

It is unclear who won the water war last year, as both sides got very wet. However, I was the one who ended up wearing the “crown” (an old bucket that once held ice cream or something).  When we all went back to Kevin’s cabin for post-battle cake and ice cream, the first thing I noticed was that the ground was covered in water balloon casings. There was evidence of a serious battle here. But there was also evidence of fun.

Photo by Jac Coverdale
Had we actually broken the siege?  Was Chipmunk Lodge once again a place of tranquility? Would the irritants move on?  

As Kevin talked and laughed with the other adults, I smiled to myself as I thought, “What can we do better next year?”

I may be older and slower. But I’m not stupid.  I recently bought a new water pistol and am taking an inventory of my balloons.

Kevin Horrocks thought he’d outgrown water gun fights until John Seylar showed him that, while you have to get older, no one said anything about having to grow up.
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