Benning’s most delectable camp food was pizza, but he didn’t care for fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, Gray went nuts over spinach “with a whole bunch of ranch dressing and cottage cheese and hot sauce all over it.” He also was partial to foods wrapped in foil and grilled. A banana boat was made with that fruit, two marshmallows, chocolate chips and peanut butter. A hobo meal was concocted using chicken, beef, bacon, potatoes, vegetables and cheese.
At a baking class, Gray learned how to transform a can of biscuits, marshmallow, cinnamon and powdered sugar into homemade doughnuts. “Too much powdered sugar” was his verdict.
Thanks to Riley Children’s Foundation and donors, the cost to attend is $400 for a one-week session and $800 for a two-week one, according to Mueller. “A sliding scale is available depending on household income. Every child can attend Camp Riley regardless of their ability to pay.” Gray says, “I would like to thank Tri Kappa, Osgood; great-grandma Marita Billman, Osgood; grandparents Jerome Billman, New Point, and Mandy Collins, Osgood; and my mom and dad for helping me go.”
The boys were too busy to get homesick. Benning says, “People in my cabin were my friends and I made other friends, too.”
According to Gray, “On my first summer I cried when I left” Bradford Woods because he had to say goodbye to a memorable Irish counselor named Brendan. “We really bonded.” He and the young man still send letters back and forth and Gray announced to his parents he wants a high school vacation trip to Ireland. He intends to e-mail two new friends he made this time in Noblesville and Columbus.
At home, Benning, who has three brothers (Sean Guenther, 23; Ethan Guenther, 20; and Trevor Benning, 11) likes playing video games; watching TV, especially “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” and “The Suite Life on Deck”; and shooting a bow and arrows at a turkey target. Gray is big into 4-H, listing recycling, microwave foods and gardening as his preferred projects. “Next year I’d like to do collectibles.”