This past weekend I went to camp! Every Sunday, my daughter Emily and I lead a class of third grade girls at our church. That is how we got looped in with other leaders, and ended up taking 200+ third and fourth grade kids up to a weekend camp in the mountains. I’ve been to this camp a few times before with older kids. It’s a great place but… it had been awhile. I wasn’t quite sure I was up for the challenge. Emily REALLY wanted to go so she twisted my arm and I agreed. I’m glad she did. I had the best time!
We headed out with a car full of girls around 1pm on Friday. It’s a quick 45 minute drive which is the perfect distance for many of these 1st time campers (and their concerned parents). We unpacked and headed to the first big event… a camp version of the Amazing Race! We ran all over the place to stations doing messy, gross, physically and mentally challenging tasks. We didn’t even come close to winning, but it was fun.
We had a number of big group meetings where all 200+ of us would meet in a little chapel. We would sing loud fun songs to Jesus, watch hilarious skits, and listen to short, but powerful sermons that were geared toward these third and fourth grade students’ hearts. We met in small groups where we would talk through the ideas that were presented so the girls could share what they thought.
On Friday night, we were supposed to have a big bonfire but it rained! So… what do you do with 200+ campers who are stuck in a small little chapel? A big dance party of course!!
As is typical camp fashion, I think I got 3 hours of sleep the first night.
On Saturday, we had more group sessions in the morning. Then, the whole afternoon was free time!! Our 5 girls wanted to follow us everywhere but we told them to GO, HAVE FUN! They weren’t used to such freedoms. It was so great for them to explore and be independent within a safe camp setting. We met up with them at different times to do the Big Swing and zip line though. Emily and I went canoeing and did the zip line together… I had never been on a zip line and it was so fun!
On Saturday night all the boys and girls split up into two big groups and all the ladies took the girls down to the big field to talk to them about how special and unique God made them! Afterwards, we played glow-in-the-dark capture the flag with glow sticks and face paint! We heard that the men took the boys up the mountain with war paint and high energy games and had the same sort of talk introducing the strengths that God has given them.
Sunday morning, we had more group times and packed up to go home. I was exhausted but so glad I went. This was Emily’s first time going to camp as a leader and I was so proud of her hard work, kindness, creativity and the initiative she took. I think we’ll be back next year but I’ll need at least that long to recover.