Saturday, June 16, 2012

Girl's Camp & Nature People

Camping and summer are two things that seem to go hand in hand. Some people are not very enthusiastic about camping. Some people head out as soon as the weather hints at warmer temperatures. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we understand that there is something special about getting out into nature and away from our regular lives. It can be a time for reflection. It is a time to appreciate and enjoy the beauty that our Father in Heaven has created for us.

Because of this belief, every summer, the Young Women (girls, ages 12-17) and their adult leaders (whether or not they actually like camping) pack their stuff and spend a few days camping. I am a Counselor in our Young Women Presidency, and so, I had the opportunity to go camping this week with our girls. Our ward (congregation) was joined by the Young Women from the 5 other wards in our stake (neighborhood), and while we had time with just our girls, we also combined for a few things with the entire group.

It's funny, as a youth you don't realize the amount of time and stress and sometimes frustration that actually goes into preparing for this camping trip. How hard could it be? You sing annoying/pointless songs, you eat, you sleep in tents on air mattresses that don't stay fully inflated, you make crafts, you wear serious amounts of sunblock and bug spray; add in a hike, a Snipe Hunt, and a few Spiritual moments around the camp fire, and you are good, right?

Sun Jar
Ha, ha. Sounds so easy. But there is so much work and craziness that it just isn't terribly simple. The sweet girls who come don't have any idea the weeks and weeks of preparation that goes into it. Then you are running behind on your schedule, this craft has to move to a different day, you may have to put the "Thought of the Day" on the back burner for a while, and hopefully the food is cooked all the way (don't worry--it was). The time seems to fly by (where did our block of free time go?), the sun jars (which are beautiful despite their flaws) won't cooperate, clean up takes longer than anticipated, and it seems as though an entire day has disappeared completely. And then, before you know it, camp is over.

Our ward's Camp Director and I looked back over the last few days to give out "Camp Awards." We gave out things like "Extra Miler," "Camp Cheerleader," and "Compassionate Camper." As we were looking at what each girl should receive, we realized that despite all of the stress and frustrations, it was all worth it. The girls in our ward got along so well together. There were no petty fights or bickering between any of our girls. Looking back at my experiences camping as a Young Woman, the fights and tears were ALWAYS part of Girl's Camp. It seemed we could never have a camp without it. But these girls are stellar! We had a relatively small group of girls and one really huge tent, so they shared it. Sounds like asking for fighting, right? But there wasn't any. We, as leaders, slept in a smaller tent together, and we let the girls bond. But it spread from our girls to the rest of the camp. They befriended girls from many of the other wards, and left secret notes of encouragement in the mail boxes of several girls who were not their assigned "Secret Sister." They tried to include as many girls as possible in anything we were doing. And really, we had a marvelous time.

One thing that I enjoyed was a little craft we did on the last day. We made little "Nature People" out of stuff we found while hiking and in our camp ground. I first thought it was kind of a silly idea, but decided my boys might enjoy them. So I made two. They turned out so cute and ugly, and my boys played with them all day today. They are sitting proudly on their dressers now. I am glad I chose to make some and bring them home as a token of camp. I now have one Girl's Camp under my belt as an adult leader, and I think I'm a bit better prepared for next year. And it's going to be a blast.


Carrie said...

Camping, in general, requires A LOT more as an adult with children thanI ever realized as a kid. But girls' camp even more so. Glad you enjoyed it. But I couldn't quite tell, do YOU like camping?

Elizabeth said...

I loved hearing about your camp experience. And I'm so glad that the girls were nice to each other. I don't remember much bickering at camp, but I do remember that the girls in our ward were very clique-ish. I'm so glad your girls aren't like that and they involved others girls from other wards as well. I loved your camp awards!

My VT partner is the Stake YW president. She's been in YW for about as long as I've known her. I used to be her VT quite a few years back. They do a LOT of preparation and their focus is to make camp a time for spiritual growth. That is pretty awesome.

Grasshopper went to Scout Camp last week. They actually call it Helaman's Camp in our Stake and make sure to have lots of spiritual things for the boys to do each day in between all of the merit badge earning. They have an Enos Experience, where the boys are sent off into the woods with their scriptures and instructed to pray, with a specific question in mind, and to read the scriptures. They have a testimony meeting afterwards. Grasshopper said that was his favorite part and I heard reports back that his testimony was a pretty good one. They are also given a challenge (called Helaman's Challenge), which was three or four typed pages of requirements to fill while at the camp. Anyone who completed it got a tie with Helaman on it. Grasshopper earned one. Guess how proud his mom is? I'm so glad that our stake has put an extra spiritual focus on Scout Camp and I'm so glad that Grasshopper has the example of worthy priesthood holders in the ward to guide him on his way. Did I tell you? He was set apart as Deacon's Quorum President the Sunday before Helaman's Camp. I'm so proud of him!

Thanks for sharing about your camp experience. I love to read your blog!

xo -E