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.