Jul 30, 2012

Girl's Camp 2012 Part III: The Epic Conclusion

Fridays are by far the best day of Girl's Camp. Not only is it our last full day and night (and I do look forward to coming home and showering and sleeping in a nice bed) but we usually have a powerful testimony meeting that night.

We woke up early Friday morning and got our gear together to head up on our huge hike to Mount Naomi. Mount Naomi is the highest peak in Cache Valley reaching 9,980 feet! It was a a six and half mile hike (round trip) and it was amazing.

It must have been the lack of sleep but I was a little wired for the hike. I decided to teach the girls a chant that I learned from Daniel Bryan from the WWE. His gimmick is to run down to the ring pointing in the air "YES! YES! YES! YES!" I got most of them to do it before we started up the trail some of them were too embarrassed to do it but by the end of the hike I had all of them doing it.

During the way up we would stop and one of the leaders would tell a story of a strong woman from the Church. It all started with Sister Atwood speaking about Abigail from the Bible, after she spoke we got a chance to find a place by ourselves for reflection. We took along our journals that we made and we were able to write a few thoughts down. After about five-ten minutes we then hiked some more until it was time for another leader presentation. What was rather interesting and inspirational is that each leader did their own presentation without really telling anyone what she was doing. And there was a natural progression as we went up the mountain. Kristy than shared a story about her great-great-great grandmother who crossed the plains at a terrible price to come to Utah. The leader presentations were unforgettable and really stuck with my mind. Sister Arnes spoke about her grandmother and how she was buried with a fork when she passed away. Her grandmother always taught that everyone should keep their forks after dinner since dessert is coming. So we should always keep our forks (faith) because dessert (a greater reward) is coming up. That certainly made an impression on me.

Unfortunately during the hike, Maeve got a little sick and couldn't make it up the rest of the mountain. I think she was a little tired (it was her first girl's camp) and perhaps a little dehydrated so Kristy took her down the mountain back to the lake so she could rest and the rest of us soldiered on. We stopped again a little bit later and had a fantastic true story of Sister Baker that really hit me hard. After her talk I laid down in a small grove of trees in the shade. I could see the sky and feel a slight cool breeze. I had been struggling lately with a few people that I thought were friends. I have been very disappointed in these people and it was beginning to affect my work in the church. That all disappeared, right then and there, it all disappeared and now I no longer feel that it is an issue. I know that my prayers were answered and I know that this experience was not only good for me but it was good for the girls. Especially for them to learn that they will have experiences that will be hard but they could have a "happily ever after" since ladies not that much older than them have gone through the same thing.

The last part of the hike grew to be a little more difficult. It was a lot warmer and a lot more steeper and we were much more exhausted by this time. Some of the girls really had a tough time going up the mountain but we were close. It was hard for me to watch some of these girls really suffer but it warmed my heart to see others each out and help them out. I stayed in the back to make sure that all the girls were in front and not missing so I was last to make it up the mountain. Finally I got to the end and suddenly I could hear this chant. "YES! YES! YES! YES!"

These girls rock!

I looked up and saw the girls that had already made it cheering! It made me want to run the rest of the way to join them. We finally reached the top and it was awesome to make it. I looked around and saw many girls crying from excitement that we all reached the top. It was an unbelievable feeling. We caught our breath and sat down and heard Sister Allen speak to the girls. Her talk was simply amazing. It reminded me of a scripture found in 1st Nephi 9:1
"And all these things did my father see, and hear, and speak, as he dwelt in a tent, in the valley of Lemuel, and also a great many more things, which cannot be written upon these plates."
There are things that I learned and heard that they were just too sacred to talk about. One of the things that I can share is that a mirror was passed around to the girls. They were to look into the mirror at themselves and ask if they are truly happy. It was interesting to watch the girls (I was sitting up above them) and see their reactions. After ten minutes or so the Bishop invited us to go a little further up the mountain to see a view that was absolutely breathtaking. We sang some hymns and the Bishop had some neat and simple words for us. Then it was time to hike down the mountain. Part of me didn't want to leave. The Spirit was so strong up there. But the best was yet to come. 

We were so high up. It felt like we were on top of the world.

We came home exhausted but energized by what we have been taught. It was a long hike and we were happy to come back to camp. All we had to do was help prepare dinner and have a celebration for those girls that completed their Personal Progress. When we arrived at camp a few families were already there helping prepare dinner which was a relief to a lot of us. We also invited our cool Camp Hosts to come eat dinner with us. We had a nice short presentation for Sister Baker, Taylor and Kara whom all earned their Personal Progress medallions. They each shared their thoughts with all of us and it particularly made an impact on our camp hosts. Rick and Marilyn both told the girls how much they enjoyed us being there. Rick quoted the Bible and said that all of the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians were found here. And then he told the girls that he had been to a lot of other denominations and said that they all have a morsel of good and the rest was ugly but he liked what he saw in our church. And then he said that our church did not contradict with the Bible and that he and his wife were going to look into the LDS church. I glanced at the girls and saw the Emily girls burst into tears. What a fantastic experience for them. We knew that the camp hosts were not members of our church but we didn't seek them out to convert them. The girls were just being themselves, they were not putting on a show, they were just being who they are. So impressive that they have that much influence and power to make a difference in someones life. The camp hosts were so impressed with us that when Marilyn had to go to the Instacare (she got sick) they made a special trip to the store to buy us all doughnuts and a bag of those extra-large marshmallows! They also made a special stop at every one's campsite (we shared the campsite with other people) and told them that we were having Girl's Camp and to not worry about the noise.  The camp hosts and some of the parents then left to go home and we were left at the campfire for a quiet and close testimony meeting.

The testimony meeting was astounding, there really isn't any other way to put it. The girls bared such simple and tender testimonies. There were a few that hit me pretty hard. One girl in particular impressed me with hers. She was one that I didn't know all that well and I knew that she had some difficulties during the week but she was so strong. She has been strong all her life, she was the only one in her family that went to church and she has gone all on her lonesome. I was impressed with her strength. Here she was only 14 years of age but she had strength well beyond her years. Another bore her testimony of how the hike was physically the most difficult thing she has done. And she did it for her dad, to show him that she is strong and can make it. She said that when a few of the girls outreached their hand to hers it was like if Christ himself did the same thing. There was not a dry eye among everyone there around the campfire. Every single testimony built mine, every testimony strengthened mine. There is a lot of stuff that I could write down but I feel I should keep it private. Let's just say that this was one of the best experiences I have ever had and what a group to share it with.

Now I am going to get a little sappy. We said that whatever is said/done at Girl's Camp stays there but I want to share something. I absolutely love Girl's Camp and I love each of these girls. Some I have known for awhile and some I had barely met but I love them all just the same. I love and appreciate them for who they are. I want to be around them because of who they are and I desire that for Kristy and Logan. I want my family to be with these people.

Since Girl's Camp, I have had the special opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with others. I find it kinda funny, I am not a Young Women, I am not a Young Women Leader but I was chosen to share my experiences with the whole ward about Girl's Camp.

Then it was time to pack up and go home.

Jul 27, 2012

Girl's Camp 2012 Part II

Logan and I woke up early and headed out of the camper to a nice cool morning. Logan and I played around while the girls did more camp certifications. Soon it was lunch time and Manuel (one of our neighbors) came up so he could take my place while Logan and I went home.

Logan was sad to leave since he likes to spend time with the girls as much as I do. We came down the canyon back into Logan and it looked like he was going to fall asleep in the car. I let him ride in the front seat since he get smacked on top of the head by the trunk hood of our car. We got home and I gathered some supplies we needed and then I jumped into a nice cool shower and use a real bathroom. I have this strange phobia of using the can while camping so I was happy to have a break from Girl's Camp. We ran to Smith's first to grab Sister Brown a Diet Coke (which Logan thought was so cool, "she is just like you dad!") and I dropped him off at Aunt Lynn's and I made my way back to camp singing Broadway tunes.

I had to walk up to camp from the lower parking lot. I packed my backpack with a ton of cheese and walked up. All of the leaders and girls were up by the fire when I came strolling in. Keisha saw me and yelled out "Doctor Pepper!" and ran down to the road towards me and about knocked me down as she hugged me. At first I was a little embarrassed by this show of affection and then I looked up and saw some other girls heading my way. Then I knew what was going on, they had just finished up this epic water fight and they were all soaked to the bone. They were trying to get me all wet as well! I knew something was amiss.

After I was "welcomed" back I grabbed some dinner and sat by Brother Atwood who was telling me that he really wished I was here for the water fight. I guess it was all the girls conspiring against him. I was suddenly very glad that I was gone for this activity. And then without any warning (thanks Atwood!) I got doused by this huge bowl of cold water. I jumped up and saw two girls running away, Serena and Anna. I raced right towards one of the large coolers of water and twisted off the top and looked savagely for the girls who wronged me. They ran into the food tent thinking that they were safe in there. Boy were they wrong! I crashed into the tent and both girls were in a different corner cowering. Poor Kenzie Davis was right in the middle washing her dishes like a good girl. I first drenched Serena and then I acted like I was going to get Kenzie and then I flung the water and got Anna! Anna then told me that she was innocent in the whole drenching and I didn't want to have gotten someone who didn't deserve it so I made a pact with her. I would get her her food and clean her dishes for the rest of the week. She accepted the terms of the deal which was good because I didn't want to watch my back and sleep with one eye open for the rest of the time here.

One of the things that girls do at Girl's Camp is to perform skits. Each group took a night to perform them (I forget which was which so I am cramming them all here) and they did a real good job with them. They were funny and they taught a principal of the Gospel while doing it. Then of course they got to sing all those silly camp songs.

Even the Leaders get into it.

Some were a little too excited for skits that they forgot when to deliver their lines.

This is EXACTLY what it looks like. Bharti knows how to make a garbage bag dress look good!

After Bharti got married she tossed some toilet paper like the wedding bouquet. Taylor was so happy she snagged some. I don't think I want to get in the way!

Look familiar? Yup, same song.

After all the skits and the girls went to their tents, Brother Atwood asked if we should have some leftovers. One thing I learned about this man is that he can certainly pack it away. We warmed up all the leftover chicken and some of the potatoes and we had a large hearty meal way late in the night. Before we were able to eat, Kayla came over to us, sadly she was sick. She had a fever, body and headaches and was not feeling  good at all. We got her some medication and I asked her if she would like a Priesthood blessing. Both Brother Atwood and I placed our hands on her head and blessed her. She then went back to her tent and slept the whole night. We were going to then eat when Bharti and another girl came over and said that she was struggling with panic attacks. Brother Atwood and I blessed her as well and invited them both to stay and eat with the rest of the leaders. I could tell that the blessing was working wonders already because she acted much more relaxed. I am thankful that I have the ability to do this.

I slept really good (must have been the food) so I woke up with a lot of energy for the new day which was nice and laid back. In the morning after a yummy breakfast and a great lunch the girls did their certification for camp. It was nice to walk around a bit and chat with the girls. I ended up sitting with my wife and a group of them and just sitting enjoying the shade and chatting. After lunch we headed to the lake to play around. We had a lot of girls and so we were thinking of cramming them in the camper so we could use as little vehicles as we could. I was not so comfortable driving the camper up the mountain with the girls in back so I voted not to do it. Shanda kinda felt the same way so we decided not to go and she also said that she didn't trust the truck to even work. We walked over to the camper and tried to turn it on and it was dead. She said that this does happen quite frequently. Kristy then mentioned that it was not worth risking the girls to save a measly five dollars anyway. I mentioned that you just watch, the camper will turn over when we get back so we know it was a good idea not to take it up the mountain.

We all climbed in our cars jammed and sang along with some music and went to the beautiful lake. One of our neighbors brought us all this extra gear to play with, kayaks and floaters. We walked to the beach area and I sat down in the shade and watched the girls have fun. It was nice to just sit and watch in the shade. I sat with a few other leaders and threw grapes at girls and other people and ate a ton of hummus.

Kristy took the kayak across the lake to meet the girls at the beach.

It looks like Rossy has no legs.

I absolutely love this picture. They are the sweetest girls.

After a few hours we packed up and came back to our campsite. That night at dinner we said goodbye to Brother Atwood since he had to go home. The girls presented both of us with a t-shirt they made for us, a huge "Thank You" card and we also got a Young Women pin that we can put on our suits. Interesting story about the pins. I knew about the pins since Logan and I went and got them Tuesday morning before we left. We got to the store and there were no pins left. I asked the guy and he said they were out. I was disappointed. Logan and I were about the leave when he said he remembered something. He walked behind the counter and pulled out this small little package. He said that someone ordered some a few weeks back and have not picked them up and that I was welcome to them. Out came three pins, the exact amount that I needed! 

Cool pin eh?

The front of my new shirt the girls made me. 

The girls wanted to give me a new nickname but luckily Kristy talked them out of it. But now instead of Dr. Pepper, I am now know as Sister Pepper. Not sure if that is a promotion or a demotion.

Shanda and I also went to try to figure out what we need to do with the camper. It was facing inward and it would be hard to get another car to try to jump it. We lifted the hood and tried the camper and nothing. Then I lightly pushed down on the battery cable and BOOM! the truck turned right over. Both Shanda and I looked at each other happily that the truck started but also amazed. We all think that this was not a coincidence. It was the right thing to do by not putting the girls in the truck. I joked to the girls when I told them this story that I saved their lives. Sure, nothing could have happened if we did take the camper. But deep down I feel that it could have ended up disastrous.

We told the girls to go to bed early since tomorrow was our huge hike. But us leaders stayed up late trying to scare the girls using the walkie-talkies we had. It didn't work as well as we wanted but at least it kept us very entertained!

Jul 25, 2012

Girl's Camp 2012 Part I

I know I have not blogged in over a month and I apologize for that. I just can't seem to keep the habit. But I knew I had to blog about my experiences at Girl's Camp this year. I look back on last year's entries and I am so thankful that I have a record of my time there. So without further ado, here is what happened at Girl's Camp 2012!

The week at Girl's Camp was some that I will never forget (or want to forget, hence this blog) and it was filled with a lot of fun and a ton of unbelievable experiences. I already have a soft spot for these special Young Women and spending this week with them only solidified this. There is a special bond that happens between the girls and luckily between them and I as well.

I will warn you ahead of time, I will be documenting almost everything. All the funny moments along with all the truly spiritual moments as well, and let me tell you there are a ton of them. And I may getting a little sappy too.

Logan and I ran some errands Tuesday morning, we had to fill up our car with gas and we met my dad at Lee's to have a doughnut. Then we came home and packed up and met at Sister Allen's home at noon. Both Kristy and I were driving and they asked me if I could take the camper up which I initially didn't have a problem with. We met all the girls (there  ended up being eighteen of them) and we had a quick devotional before we headed up Logan Canyon to our camping spot outside of Tony Grove. Logan came with me in the camper and was planning to stay just one night. Originally he was going to stay with us a couple of nights but Kristy and I learned of a little drama/resistance from someone else so we only took him overnight. I really don't want to go over that since by the time camp ended I absolutely had no issues with this certain person.

Look how nice and clean they are! That wouldn't last.

The drive up the canyon was more than I bargained for. The brakes were really REALLY soft and that camper felt like it was shaking and sliding all over the place. We took that first curve in the canyon and both Logan and I got a little sick to our stomachs. Logan hated the drive but the longer I drove it, the more used to it I got. Doesn't mean I liked it though.

We finally got to our campsite and we had a quick lunch and then all the girls set up their tents. Logan and I were lucky enough to get to stay in the camper so we didn't have to worry about setting up a tent.

One of the things girls do at camp is their hair. Who knew right?

Now I don't like to camp. I don't mind it if it is only a day or so but we were not leaving this place until Saturday afternoon! The other male leader that came with me was surprised to hear that I would happily go to Girl's Camp but that I don't like camping any other time. Well, let me tell you why I love Girl's Camp.

I get treated like royalty.
These girls treat me so good. They are always willing and wanting to serve somehow and they like to make sure I am taken care of and included too.

I am well fed.
There is always plenty of food and it is part of my job to make sure that all the food is taken care of. The food is always fantastic and I like to do my part.

I don't fear for my life.
I have been to Scout Camp. When I go to sleep at Girl's Camp, I don't fear that my tent will catch fire. I don't fear that one of the girls will take revenge on me in a scary way. I get to go to sleep peacefully, well as peacefully as I can with all the giggling and talking going into the early morning hours.

 I learn something.
(Here is where I may getting a little sappy) These girls are absolutely wonderful. They are tremendous examples and because of that, I learn something and typically it is something that I should already be doing. Being around these girls really make it easy to be a good person.

I get to serve.
Most of the times they are doing nice things for me but I do manage to get a chance to serve them. One of the reasons I like to go is because I get the chance to use the Priesthood to serve them. 

The rewards definitely outweigh the negatives of camping. 

After I chopped some wood, Logan and I found some shade by the road and sat down. Unfortunately Logan accidentally scraped/bruised himself while shaving some bark off the wood. He is alright but it did hurt him pretty good. He was not the only one that got hurt. When I split this huge log, part of it jumped up and smacked my thumb. I looked down and it looked like my thumb was a little out of place. I twisted it back and felt it slip back into place. I don't think I fully dislocated it or anything but it did look/feel like it was out of place a bit. Logan and I took a break from the wood when two of the girl's Taylor and Kara came over and wished me a happy birthday. I looked over and they had made a paper bag journal just for me. See what I mean? They are always looking to serve and I am touched that they thought of me.

 You can see the bruise starting to form on Logan's hand.

This was after I twisted it back into place. It was sore for only about a day.

Now I like to be a little devious at times with some gentle teasing. I noticed that Bharti was going to get some water in a large heavy bowl. I challenged her to try and raise the bowl over her head knowing that the water would probably spill over. And I was right, she tried to lift it over her head and spilled some of the cold water on her head. That night Logan and I snuck down to the bathrooms and awaited some of the girls to come out. I jumped out and scared them and one of them about died. Her blood curdling scream I am sure was heard back in Logan. I noticed that I also scared Anna so I immediately took off running back to camp. She is a fast runner and I knew that they only way to get away from her was with a decent head start. She caught up to me and smacked me on the head. Luckily for me these girls can take a little teasing. At least I hoped so or it would be quite a long week for them.

After dinner Logan and I retired to the camper after all the girls were sent to bed. Both of us were really tired. So we changed and got into bed when Logan asked if we could close the windows. All of the curtains were wide open! So glad that the girls were already in their tents. How embarrassing!