Tuesday, August 05, 2008

girls' camp

Two days after returning from Oregon, I went to Girls' Camp. It actually started on Monday, but I had so much laundry and unpacking to do and I hadn't even thought about camp yet. I had been dreading it just a tad because of the timing. (I am just so ready to get back to my regular schedule after more than a month!) But I am so glad I went.

First of all, I am not a camper. At all. I can only remember going to Girls' Camp twice when I was in Young Women's. But Heber Valley Camp has made a camper out of me! We're talking luxury camping accomodations:

Cabins, actual bathrooms, showers, propane stoves. Every camp even has a small pantry room with a fridge! That's what I'm talking about.

Our camp director is all kinds of cute. Everything she touches turns to cute. She made this adorable banner for our cabana.

This centerpiece was complete with little tags for people to write down all of the kindnesses they witnessed in our camp, then we tied the tags on the branches.

Our stake theme for 2008 was "The Lord Looketh on the Heart" and each ward chose a different kind of heart -- we were a kind heart. We talked throughout the week about kindness, and also about the different ways we wanted our hearts to be: open, softened, courageous, giving, loving, slow to anger, discerning, as well as kind. A heart like His. We had so many great discussions.

We also had a lot of fun! The manmade lake had not yet been constructed the last time I went to Camp (4 years ago?). The girls were in canoes and the leaders in paddleboats, because the canoes almost always get tipped over.

We still managed to get plenty wet, since all the girls came by and splashed us with their oars, then tried to climb into our boats after they tipped their canoes.

Our steering mechanism broke and we could only turn left. That led to much hilarity as we were just going in circles. We eventually had to get towed back to shore by another boat!

We had a few pranks, but nothing that truly bothered anyone. Of course I had to document this!

Bears were sighted in our camp area last week. We were given flyers on how to prevent bear attacks and what to do if we had a bear encounter. Slightly scary, especially when he heard dogs barking nearby and found out later they had been sent to scare off the bears!

One Beehive that I have a special affinity for whittled herself a whole arsenal of "weapons", just in case. I love the way everyone's personalities come out at camp. There is just no way to duplicate the way everyone gets to know each other and the bonding that occurs during that week.

The only wildlife I saw personally was deer and about a million squirrels. Some people saw 3 moose on the other side of the pavilion, but I missed them. We even two deer charge through our campfire testimony meeting! Startling, then funny.

On Wednesday afternoon, the stake leaders invited all of the ward leaders to the pavilion for a "leaders' retreat". Never having been to a leaders' retreat before, I had no idea what to expect. They totally spoiled us! They were giving hand and shoulder massages, they set out basins of hot water with eucalyptus for foot soaking, they had reading materials for discussion, and a huge spread of gourmet food.

Italian sodas!

Beautiful fruits and vegetables, hummus, even chocolate fondue! Was I ever glad I brought my camera along -- otherwise I figured no one would ever believe we ate food like this at camp. (By the way, my favorite thing was the cucumber slices that you dipped in kosher salt and black sesame seeds. YUM.)

Don't worry, we did our share of Dutch oven cooking, too. But on Bishop's Night, a member of our bishopric who is the head of food at Thanksgiving Point brought dinner for us, catered by Harvest restaurant! Chicken cordon bleu, spinach salad, roasted vegetables, fruit salad, rolls, and cheesecake -- can you say spoiled?

As great as the food was, and the crafts, and the flag ceremonies, and our lip synch, and the leaders' retreat... the greatest thing of all were these girls. All of the Laurels came, and they really set the tone at our camp. They made a special effort to make sure that everyone was included, and they made it look effortless. There were two or three girls that we were a little concerned about ahead of time, that are shy or a little socially backward, that just hadn't quite assimilated into the group. Well, no more. I couldn't be more proud to be working with these young women!

As usual, Bishop's Night was the very best part, especially our testimony meeting. One of the really shy girls stood and thanked everyone for making her feel so welcome, and said it had been the best week of her life! Our bishop made reference to the vast difference between Scout Camp and Girls' Camp. He said that while he loved the young men, there was just something special about the young women -- he encouraged them to be patient with the young men while they worked to catch up! No doubt.

We had three mothers of young women in our group, and I watched them as their daughters bore sweet testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Tears streamed down my face as I imagined how proud and tender they must feel. I hope that I can experience that someday, as a mother as well as a leader.

The sixth year girls gave out the awards to everyone afterwards. I don't think anyone felt badly about their award, and that was a first as well!

We had a surprise: our bishop had hinted that his first counselor had a hidden talent he wanted to share with us at camp. The girls had been wondering all week what it could be, and they badgered him all Thursday night about it. Finally he divulged that he is a firewalker! As soon as they heard that, they all tried to dissuade him from doing it, fearing for his safety. (I got such a kick out of that, since I know the Scouts would have been egging him on!)

He told us that coals aren't as hot as you think. (Um, okay...) He juggled some, then took off his shoes and socks and walked across them! Crazy, and oh so unexpected.

After attending camp, it's hard to believe our new ward was formed just a few short months ago. There was more unity in our group of Young Women and leaders than I've ever seen! I went from struggling to remember everyone's names to having a history with every single other person there -- and ALL of our girls went to camp! I know that prayers were answered, and I feel like the Lord touched our camp. Now I can't wait for next year.


Kath said...

There is nothing better than Girls Camp to bring those bonding experiences!
Wow! You were totally spoiled! HVC is a total posh camp but your stake leaders made it even better! Lucky girl!

Jill said...

I'm so glad you ended up having such a great time and so many profound experiences. There's just something about girl's camp.

I love the kindness banner and the tree with the notes on it. What a great idea. I love all that cutsie stuff that goes on at girl's camp. It's so much more than just cute.

Cecilia said...

I loved reading all about your girl's camp stories...They brought back fun memories and tears to my eyes!

Thanks for sharing!

Amy said...

OUr girls are at Heber Valley Camp this week, and your post has me absolutely weeping (no joke!) over the fact that I'm not there! I'm so glad that camp was a good experience for you!

patsy said...

wow- what a great camp!!
I went to camp last month & loved every minute of it.
I'm so glad it turned out so well.

Your award- so fitting-

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Oh gee, what a great post recapping an incredible week. I hope your Stake YW president and camp director get to read this . . . it will certainly give them a boost. I imagine you as such a great asset to a young women's program, Michelle.

MeGhAn said...

Did you Stay in Marjorie Pay Hinckley site. That is where i stayed two weeks ago and i just loved it altough we went with our stake and i wasnt to thrilled about that i still had a blast. Oh we got soaked in the canoes but it was so fun!!

charlotte said...

I always loved Girls' Camp! However, we never had such luxuries! For a couple of years we had cabins, but no refridgerators. I'm glad you had such a great time! We had bears in my camp my first year--we actually had to evacuate to the nearest church building on the last night!

rmt said...

I really enjoyed reading about your camp experience. I have a lot of good memories of YW camp.

I've been to Heber Valley Camp with my girls at work, and you're right-it is VERY nice as far as campgrounds go.

Yay for spoiling the leaders! You deserve it.

Claudissima said...

hey....can i just say SPOILED! wow....CAN'T believe your cordon blue dinner.........yummy! i loved the branch tree with the notes...it looks awesome. How exciting to be part of these and be a leader, it beats being a scout leader huh? Great great great pictures, and the cucumbers...do look very appetizing.
what a treat.
loved the shoes...are those yours? they are adorable. adorable and they look like suede? with water? ohoh.....that is cool that you can go in the paddle ones while they go on the canooes.

how exciting.
thanks for the photos and testimony insights....

Natasha said...

Wow, what an experience, all the way down to that yummy italian soda!!

I was delighted to see you commented like mad on my blog. I actually took the frame idea from you and Jessie! I got all of the frames for under $20 total at Goodwill (it's a donation station, don't know if they have that out west?), then I took them apart and painted them black. Nothing like spray paint! I am looking for a cranberry colored bedspread and drapes so eventually I plan to add a few more frames and paint them some shade of red/cranberry.

Amy W. said...

You are amazing to go to camp! And let me just say that is the cutest decorated camp I've ever seen. Fun to check in on you. Your Oregon trip looked wonderful!

crystal said...

I'm so jealous that you got to go to Heber Valley Camp! Swanky. Actually, I'm jealous that you got to go to camp at all; I had to stay home this year due to newborn-itis. (worth it, but still...)

That banner! Holy frijole.

Your paddle-boat shoes are adorable. I hereby order you to email me & tell me what brand they are & where you purchased them. I must copy.

The beehive's bear-weapons reminded me of The Parent Trap (the old one), where the girlfriend hits 2 sticks together when the twins take her camping. HA!

Denise said...

I'm with Crystal--I want your paddle boat shoes! And, I think I want to move to Utah so I can go to your girls camp--what a great time! I've never heard of such luxury at Girls' Camp, but it sure makes it fun and memorable. Most of all, I'm happy that it was such a bonding experience for you and your girls. There really is just something about Girls' Camp. . . .

wende said...

fire walking? holy smokes! what a hidden talent, how do you learn to do something like that?

a leader's retreat is such a fun idea, i will have to catalogue that one for later.

i sometimes wish they had something like girls camp for the whole ward somehow - even though i know it wouldn't work the same way - because there is such fantastic bonding there. i somehow wish we would bottle the feeling there and have on slow release the rest of the year.

i love heber valley, i was there four years ago too and and i'm excited next year to see the water - so fun!

i'm glad you had such a fun time at camp, some day it will be with your daughters. allie's first year was this year with me as camp director and it made the whole experience so much sweeter! it's a whole side to them that you don't see and that's fun too.

Amie said...

This sounds like the perfect camp experience that we all hope our girls with have... it is great that you were able to go up and join them (I would have been tempted to skip out after such a busy summer).

Your award is so cute and so perfect for you.

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