Saturday, July 18, 2009

Camp Day Two--Highs and Lows

(Again, fair warning that this is a very long post...and my apologies for no pics...I was very busy at camp and didn't have time to snap many pictures. I will have to get some from Annette who was very good to be our camp photographer, as well as all-around super woman ACD.)

Thursday morning the girls woke up bright and early, about an hour earlier than our 7:30 am wake up time...I think they were excited to get things going on the first full day at camp and I admit I was too.

For breakfast, the girls and Janna made us pancakes and Omelets in a Bag. Each girl mixed two eggs with toppings of their choice in a ziploc freezer bag and we dropped them into boiling water for about 15 minutes. I thought it was pretty good and I think the girls did too. I would definitely try these again.

At the morning flag ceremony, Taylor and Kaitlan helped with the theme and the patriotic thought. Then after some announcements and songs & silliness from the Stake, we performed our skit. Before camp, the girls and leaders brainstormed some ideas for our skit and the one we ended up doing was a Star Trek skit where Kirk and Spock visit different planets looking for good examples or "shining stars" to take back to Starfleet. The girls really made this fun and they were so excited to show it to everyone. Taylor played Kirk and she really hammed it up and Jessie was perfect as Spock. Everyone did such a great job!

Katelynn N. was a YCL and offered to record the skit for us while we performed. Unfortunately, my camera is kind of tricky and she thought she was recording when it was paused. But then, fortunately, we got a chance later in the day to perform it again for the bishop, and we got a video then (to be posted when I can figure out what I'm doing wrong!!)

After flag, we went back to our camp to begin our day of fun. The first activity we had planned was to make scrapbooks and rubber stamps to use for our Letterboxing activity later in the afternoon. In our pre-camp meetings, the leaders had expressed some concern about letting the girls use Xacto knives to carve stamps our of rubber erasers, but I was sure that they would be fine. After all, my 8 year old had carved her own stamp a while back and I was sure that we could supervise the girls and it would be fine.

Well, I learned a valuable lesson about listening to the leaders from now on because it wasn't 5 minutes in and we had our first casualty....Sister Belnap cut herself while she was carving. She was trying to keep it quiet, but we noticed and gave her a hard time. Then, not even 5 more minutes in Shyanne M. sliced her thumb too. I took her up to my car and used my first aid skills to patch her up and before I even finished, lo and behold, my own Taylor came hiking up to the car with a bleeding hand. She had sliced her thumb too!!!! Well, that was enough!

I didn't even put a bandaid on Tay before I marched back down to the table and banned the Xacto knives. The girls were not very happy with me, but I told them they let me down....I had higher hopes for them and they proved me wrong. ;) (All in fun, of course.) They did want to have stamps though, so I told them that if they designed their stamps, I would carve them out, after I patched up Taylor, of course. I was pretty proficient at the carving since I had carved a bunch for the letterboxes earlier in the week, so it went pretty fast. I had also planned for an alternative method of making stamps and some of the girls chose to make those too.

The scrapbooks were a huge hit, and not even a papercut in the process. We made them out of paperbags and the girls all decorated them with a page for each of the Values. The paper bags make them fun because you can use the bag openings and flaps for fun popouts and cards. Every single one turned out to be so cute!

Lunch was fabulous again and another birthday surprise for me...Sister Josie Robison brought cupcakes from 25 Main!! They are so delish! This was a special treat. I had a hard time deciding which were better though...Annette's from the day before or these...I loved, loved, loved Annette's strawberry frosting, so they actually might have the edge...but I digress. Thanks Josie for the awesome treat!

After lunch, it was time for our (drumroll, please)....LETTERBOXING activity!!!! Yay!!! I had been planning this for so long and now it was finally here. I had been hoping and praying that it would go well and that the girls would enjoy it. I started by telling them how my family had been Letterboxing for a while and that this was a special version for camp. I asked them to be reflective and reverent as they visited each box in preparation for our testimony meeting that night. We divided into teams and sent a leader with each group of two girls...Sister Cozzens from the Stake came with us too and went with Tori and Shelby. Unfortunately, Sister Reid and Sister Pratt weren't feeling very well this day so they stayed behind to rest too. I felt badly that so many of our leaders seemed to be suffering, but it didn't last too long, thank goodness.

As soon as each team knew what they were looking for and they had their instructions, they were off. Because of my illness the day before, I thought it would be better if I stayed in camp and while I was waiting, I felt inspired to write down some thoughts about how this activity relates to our lives. The word Treasure kept popping into my mind and I found a couple of great scriptures that were so perfect. I know the things that came to me were inspired of God and what He wanted these girls to know. I planned to process the activity later that night.

As the activity progressed, I was able to watch the different teams come through our camp. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves and Bro. Staheli especially seemed to be having an awesome time. He was partnered with Taylor and Aspen and he was so impressed with their thoughtfulness and spirituality. He told me so as they passed through. Each box was designed to help the girls pass off a requirement in their Personal Progress book. The requirements ask the girls to read certain scriptures and think about how they apply to our lives. One box had the girls writing down all the qualities they would wish for in a husband, then they looked at the list and crossed off the things that weren't really important to them. Another box asked them to list 5 qualities they admire in another girl at camp, and 5 things they liked about themselves. One asked them to guide each other through a maze, practicing faith in each other to lead them safely through. Another asked them to commit to providing an act of service for 3 people within the upcoming weeks. The others were equally fun and amazing!

Just before the girls finished, I went up to the amphitheater for some reason, and as I returned several of the teams had finished and were back at camp. When Tori Larkin saw me, she ran up to me and said, "Can I give you a hug? This was so awesome." I almost started to cry...well, who am I kidding, I did start to cry but I held it together. It meant so much to me that they had a good time. All the girls had positive comments and even though it was super hot they seemed to enjoy themselves. I really hope that it made a lasting impression.

By the time this was finished, it was time for the evening flag ceremony and for the bishopric to arrive for our Bishop's night. We enjoyed this so much. Though the girls might have been tired from hiking around camp all day, as soon as Brother Massey and Bishop Brooks arrived our girls came to life! They were so excited to sing all their songs for them and show them the skit. The dutch oven dinner we had tasted so good and it was fun to see the girls telling Brother Massey scary camp stories or trying to outwit the if. How I admire these men for their service and love of the girls!

About 7:30 we settled in for our Fireside and Testimony Meeting. This is always my favorite part of camp. We started with processing the LB activity. We talked about how the girls would easily find the treasure they were looking for if they followed the instructions exactly and about how that is so like following the instructions the Lord has given us to find His treasure for us...eternal life. That if we make a mistake or miss a critical turn we can back up--repent, retrace our steps and find the right path. We talked about how the opportunities we have to serve others and to attend camp and church are like the landmarks we look for to make sure we are following the right course. We talked about the treasures that are important in life...having a testimony of Jesus Christ, seeking to build His kingdom...and how they can follow the examples of their leaders who are such amazing women and pattern their lives after those who are following the Lord's path.

Brother Staheli then told us about a trip he took to Washington DC with some students who radiated virtue and goodness and how everywhere they went people were so kind and nice. The girls he took on the trip said that is what they would remember most about the whole trip. Bro. S told the girls that one of the "rules of life" is this: Others are a reflection of you. That people will give back to you what you put out into the world. He passed a mirror around the circle and asked the girls to observe that if they smile into the mirror there is someone smiling back! What a great message.

Brother Massey and Bishop each bore inspired testimony as well and then each of the girls took their turn around the circle. I had given everyone a packet of Fire Crystals with a quote by Elder Boyd K Packer that said, "Oh that I could teach you this one principle: A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! In the quest for spiritual knowledge their comes a "leap of faith" when one steps out of the light and into the darkness only to realize that the way is lighted ahead for a footstep or two." Something like that, anyway. And then I wrote, "If you choose to take the "leap of faith" tonight and bear your testimony, step out of the darkness and into the firelight. Place this packet on the flames and see what the light holds for you. We love you and are proud of you!" After each testimony, the girls poured the crystals on the fire and the flames would change colors. I kept thinking of the YW value colors and felt like this was a nice touch to the meeting.

My favorite part of the whole night was my beautiful daughter's testimony. She was so touched by the testimonies that she heard and when it was her turn to speak, she was moved to speak about each of her family members and friends in turn. She talked about me, her dad and Shaylie and how much she loves each of us. It was so wonderful to hear these innermost thoughts that she rarely shares and how funny and entertaining she was too. I was proud that she has inherited a portion of her mother's gift of gab. She also went around the circle of girls and said what she loved most about each of these friends. I feel like this was so important to each girl and really built up the unity in our group. One girl even ran up to Tay after her comment about her and hugged her and said, "You're my new best friend." Taylor has felt so apart from these girls for so long and I really felt like she was inspired to say these things. I couldnt' have been prouder of her! After she had been speaking for probably about 30 minutes, Sister Robison came up and put an arm around her and told her to wrap it up. I could have listened to her all night, but I know we were all thinking about the lateness of the hour.

I bore testimony shortly after Tay did and I feel badly that I made a stupid joke about her talking for "an hour" and I heard her gasp behind me saying that she had no idea she had taken so long. The rest of the testimonies went quickly and after the meeting I found Taylor crying in my car. She felt so badly that she had taken so much time, and I felt badly that one flip comment from me had pretty much ruined the effect of her beautiful words--another lesson learned. I tried to convince her that her testimony wasn't "pointless and stupid" as she put it. She was upset that she hadn't had a chance to bear testimony of the most important parts--her love of Jesus and the gospel. She felt like the testimonies that followed her had to be cut short because she took up all the time. I couldnt' convince her that what she had said was inspired and needed to be heard. She was beating herself up so badly over this that I needed to get reinforcements. I collected some of the other leaders to help me to encourage and support her and, for the most part I think this worked, but it did take me quite a while to get her settled down and into bed. I really do feel that sometimes the Spirit moves us to speak and we should all listen to that no matter how much time it takes. Taylor knows that what she did wasn't what was supposed to happen, but I'm convinced that it was what needed to happen, not only for her sake, but for who knows what other purpose. I love that girl so much and I pray that she will only have good memories of this night and know how much her words meant to me and others I'm sure, as well.

We did have a sweet mother/daughter moment about 1:00am. I thought I left her tucked in bed and went up to the bathroom, but when I got back she was out of her tent and sitting next to the dying fire. I sat with her and we looked at the stars and talked quietly until I convinced her that she really needed to get to bed.

The leader tent was a little less crowded this night, thanks to the heroic efforts of Annette Belnap and Jennifer Riddle who both bit the bullet and decided to sleep in their cars, so I was able to sneak into the tent without stepping on any bodies. We all slept like logs and I promise you no one was up early the next morning.

Again, a great and spiritual day at camp. I rarely feel the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit as strongly as I have at Girls Camp. I believe this is because these girls are so precious to the Lord and He wants them to know that they are in the right place and learning correct principles that will guide them to true happiness in their lives. I am so glad that I got the chance to be a part of this experience.

More about Day 3 and hopefully some pics...I did shoot a come!

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