Since I serve in Young Women's, I got to go to girl's camp this year! Most of us leaders were called into YW last fall, and I think all of us have been looking forward to camp ever since. We know that camp is a unique bonding experience for the group and looked forward to having that time to let our hair down together without the pretense that comes as a part of everyday life in jr. high, high school (and let's face it, adulthood too). Camp exceeded my expectations and I loved being with the girls and other amazing women. We had such a great time! Our camp directors were fabulous and have the ultimate talent of pulling off a fantastic event without breaking a sweat or making anyone think for a second that their job is stressful. It's a skill I hope to master someday. :)
I always loved going to camp as a girl, but the experience here was so different fom the years I spent at camp as a 12-16 year old. Growing up, camp was always organized by your year (first years together, second years, etc.) and because of that and the emphasis on certification, there was little incentive to go after your four years as a camper and one year as a youth leader. I always got really close to the girls I camped with, but they were generally sprawled across our ginormous stake and I was lucky to see them again at a stake dance later in the year. I would have loved to have that bonding experience with my own ward and leaders and my sisters. Camp here is ward-centric. If I were ever a stake camp director, I would definitely push for a ward-centric camp. I think it's easier to plan, more fun, relaxed, and you bond with the girls that you see and need to have relationships with everyday.
We had a small group this year (we have a small group to start with, but not everyone could come). We had eight young women at camp and six leaders. Sometimes our small size feels like a challenge, but in general we love it and the closer bonds that it affords. Plus, for camp it allowed us to do some activities that we might not be able to otherwise. Camp started on Tuesday and the girls set up, planned a skit and acted it out in front of the stake. I wasn't there that night, but ours was apparently a huge hit. Our stake theme was "Your Happily Ever After" and each ward was assigned a color and value (we were orange/choice and accountability) and supposed to choose a princess to represent them as well. When we got the orange assignment several months ago, we were kind of at a loss. There are no disney princesses that have orange anything... and then when Brave came out we knew we had the perfect fit! Our ward theme was BRAVE (Becoming Righteous And Valiant Everyday). Our resident redhead Dayna made the perfect Merida for our skit!
I arrived early Wednesday morning with two ladies from the RS Presidency. The RS Pres brought Jamba Juice (packed in ice) for everyone, which of course was a huge hit.
After breakfast we got all of our hair braided and our gear organized to bike down the dirt road that leads into camp. It was our alternative to a hike and the girls had a great time. I drove a suburban in front of our bikers to warn oncoming vehicles of the bikers behind me. Another leader drove a suburban with the bike trailer on the back in case anyone got tired along the way they could ditch their bike and hop in. When we got to the bottom of the 8-mile road, the girls wanted to bike back up. We let them bike half way and then stopped for lunch and a quick message about scripture study. Then we ended up packing up everyones bikes and heading back to camp (in cars).
When we got back to camp the afternoon was really relaxed. Girls took naps, played card games, and made darling necklaces like these.
Oh, and they pushed a suburban out of the mud.
And of course we had tons of yummy snacks to munch on all day. We got a nice little rain storm in the afternoon for about 30 minutes to cool things down, but it wasn't overly hot to begin with. After dinner and more games we gathered around our campfire (luckily the fire ban was lifted about a week before camp!), sang, made doughboys and enjoyed the evening. The RS leaders stayed until midnight before making the trek back to Salt Lake. I stayed at camp and camped with our ward.
Thursday was more of a stake day. We had flag ceremony, then meadow talks from they stake youth leaders (one from each ward), and some certification/game rotations.
All told this took about 3 hours and was a little long. I went back to our camp early to help get lunch ready. I need to mention that because we were in charge of our own food, and we had awesome camp leaders, all of our meals were delicious - not your typical camp fare. We had chicken caesar pita wraps for lunch and homemade cafe rio salads for dinner. We spent the afternoon as a ward again, making more cool crafts, playing games, painting nails, chatting, napping, etc.
Our camp director and her husband made these super cool bows and arrows for everyone (we were Brave, after all!) and we spent a good part of the afternoon working on our aim.
After dinner we had a stake fireside where all of the wives of the stake presidency, and the stake president spoke on modesty. It was the first set of talks I'd heard on modesty since being in YW here and I thought their approach to the topic was really good. We came back as a ward and had a great testimony meeting with our bishopric and their wives, sang songs, had homemade donuts and cocoa. Mmmmm.
The last morning of camp is never my favorite. It's not really camp anymore because the fun is over and you just have to clean up. It's the inbetween-ness that kills me... you're not fully at camp, but you're not home. I missed my Clara (it was the first time I'd left her for more than a few hours EVER) and was anxious to get home to see her and Spencer. So I was pleasantly surprised that our clean up was quick and easy and we hit the road pretty early.
I feel so blessed to work with the amazing young women in our ward. They are such strong, beautiful girls and they really are what I hope Clara becomes as a young woman - sweet, helpful, compassionate, living with integrity and full of light.