Here are the Top 10 Things I am taking away from Girls Camp this year...
10. Don't complain - it could be so much worse.
When we arrived at Bonham State Park in the middle of the afternoon, it was pretty darn hot. Hauling all of our stuff from the parking lot to the cabin was making all of us sweaty and tired. We were certain that the little window air conditioner was not going to be able to keep all 20 of us at a comfortable temperature through the night. But each day that we were there, the breeze stopped breezing, and both the temperature and the humidity kept rising. By Friday night, everyone was longing for the milder temperatures from earlier in the week. And guess what the forecast is for this week! Over 100 everyday! I'm SO grateful that camp was last week.
9. Don't forget to pray.
I don't have one of those stories to go with this...about how we didn't pray and some terrible thing happened. But all week, I kept feeling like we should have been having morning and evening prayers together as a ward, and we didn't. We prayed in devotionals twice during the day, and personal prayers were being said all week long, but if I could go back now and change one thing, I would have wanted our girls to be more like a little family and say family prayer at the beginning and end of each day. Next year...
8. Some things are better with a group.
I like to be alone. I feel like I'm more efficient and more content when I'm by myself than with a lot of other people around. But at camp, I realized how much more quickly a thing can get done when you do it in a group. Cleaning the bathrooms took all of 5 minutes because there were so many of us doing it. And memorizing The Living Christ was so much easier when we chunked it up into smaller pieces and divided it between the groups. And one of the most important rules of the week was to ALWAYS have a buddy. There are definitely times and places when being alone and quiet are best, but some things are better with at least one other person.
This year for -Camp, all the girls were divided up by year and then randomly assigned to a Team with other girls from the stake. Most teams consisted of 7-8 girls and only one girl per ward which meant that the girls spent the majority of their time with people they had never met before. When this plan was first presented to the leaders, I hated it. I worried that the girls would be uncomfortable and not enjoy camp activities as much. But by the end of the week, as I watched girls making new friends, I realized that the stake leaders who had made those decisions about camp were totally inspired. Not everyone loved the Teams, and not everyone made a new friend in a different ward, but some did. And in the coming years, those girls (especially the younger ones) will see those familiar faces in the hallways at the enormous high school, and in seminary, and at Stake dances, and they will be more likely to walk up to those girls and say hello. Who knows what kinds of little seeds of potential friendships were planted this week because of those Teams?
6. All things testify of Christ...even Dr. Seuss books!
This is going to have to be it's own post, because it's kinda long...
5. Heavenly Father is aware of all of us, all the time.
It's amazing to me that even at camp...in the heat...in conditions that are not exactly perfect, there are little reminders that Heavenly Father loves us and is with us all the time. The stars. The quiet moments that happen even when you don't think it's going to be quiet. A surprise visit from a friend and the time to sit and chat with her. Just the right scripture at just the right time. We're never alone. He's always with us.
4. Be where you're supposed to be
Because our schedules were so tightly packed all week, there were times when we all felt like we would rather just sit or sleep-in than go to yet another devotional or spiritual thought (and sometimes we did skip a few things...just not the spiritual ones.) But I found that when I dragged myself out of bed and down to the lake for our morning devotional, or to the pavilion for a lesson, or down to the primitive camp sites for a night hike, I got something...something good...something that I would have missed if I had stayed in the cabin or taken a shower. There are definitely places I was supposed to be this week, and the more I made myself go to them, the more little "somethings" I got.
I'm typically NOT very relaxed about stuff like messes and dirt and whining and a large group of lively girls. But this week, I decided that I wasn't going to get stressed out about that stuff. I decided I was going to let my own girls do what they would do at camp if their mom was NOT with them. I decided I wasn't going to tell any of the other girls to go to bed or stop eating candy or to clean up their stuff. I decided I was just going to take care of my stuff and be where I was supposed to be. (I did remind the girls to put on sunscreen and I did tell a few to hang their wet towels outside, but that's about all the nagging I did.) And it worked! For everyone...especially me. I wasn't uptight all week about dust bunnies or crap all over the floor. I didn't clean up after anyone. And I didn't get frustrated that they weren't cleaning up after themselves. There's a lot to be said for natural consequences. Occasionally a girl would lose a t-shirt or a water bottle or a shoe, and they would whine and get frustrated about it. But I didn't rescue anyone. (I'm not a rescuer anyway, but I especially didn't this week.) And guess what...everyone survived. No one went anywhere naked. Everyone had shoes on. No one died from living on Skittles all week. No one lost anything of any value. And they all managed to have a great time at camp and come home safely. Relaxing is a very good thing. Now if I could just figure out how to get that to stick at home...
2. Relationships are more important than schedules.
The girls time was heavily scheduled at camp. They had devotionals, games, certification activities, crafts, spiritual thoughts, meals, and hikes that were all scheduled for them. And as a "shadow leader" of a Team, most of my time was also scheduled. But every now and then, some of our girls would need to sit with their ward friends for dinner. Or one of my daughters would need to hang out with me instead of their Team. Or I would just need to connect with the other adults from my ward. One afternoon, all of the Mia Maids and Laurels ditched their afternoon activities and just stayed in the cabin with me and one other leader (also ditching our activities.) We hung out in the air conditioning together for several hours and talked and played games and got to know each other SO much better. I loved having time to spend with just the older girls. That was the right place for all of us to be. We needed to bond with them much more than we needed to play water baseball and swim in the lake.
1. No matter what, home is the very best place to be.
The very best part of the week was walking into my house after 4 days of being somewhere else. I loved camp. I loved being with the girls. But where I'm most happy and comfortable is in my own home, with my own bed, and my own family.