Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Camp Wow part 2

 So, yesterday I told you all about the fun the kids and I had at Camp Wow. Today, I want to share a little bit about my experience at camp as an adult. It was truly a life-changing week!

I signed the kids up for camp all the way back in November, right before Thanksgiving. At that time, I already had decided that I was going to be going down to help (it's only about 25 miles from our house) during the day with whatever needed to be done-making sure kids got to where they needed to be, watching kids at the waterfront, sitting next to kids during service to help with behavior, etc. The main reason I was going was for Landon. He'd never spent the night anywhere other than grandma's house and because of his school experience, I was a little nervous about how things would go at camp. For multiple reasons, I didn't want to stay at camp at night, but planned to stay until lights out and then head home.

As soon as the kids were signed up, I began to pray for camp-not everyday, but a couple times a week at least. Mostly, I prayed for the kids to be safe and healthy during camp and that they would grow closer to God. I also prayed that they would have fun and make new friends or get closer to their old friends.

A few days before camp, we had a meeting and were given our leader packets. In them, were the schedule for the week, the devotion topics for each day, the kids' cabin assignments, and team assignments. That's when I learned that I wasn't going to just be a "helper", I was going to be a co-leader of a team! For someone who's main goal is to be invisible, this was a big deal. To say I was nervous about this is definitely an understatement.

That same evening, during our Wednesday night service, Pastor T. had two posters at the front of the church-one for youth camp and one for kids' camp. He asked us to write some specific things that we were praying for our kids during camp week on each one. Since I had kids going to both camps, I wrote on both of them. For youth camp, I wrote friendship and for kids' camp, I wrote confidence. Those are only two of the million things I prayed for my kids to get from camp, but at that moment they're the things that were most on my heart.

The day of camp arrived and I had to be at the church early for a leaders' meeting and to help get kids' checked in. We took over 100 to kids' camp alone, so it was a bit crazy for a while. Once things settled down, the kids went to the gym for lunch and pictures. I stayed with a couple of other ladies in the lobby to catch any late arrivals. We had such a good time just hanging out and getting things ready to go. It was a great way to get my camp week started.

When we got to camp, the kids headed into the cafeteria for orientation while several of us ladies stayed at the cabins (or dorms or whatever you want to call them) and unloaded luggage from the trailers. Then, we helped the kids get settled into their bunks. Making beds for 20+ little girls is a big job. There were 4 other moms in my cabin. I had talked with them some at church, on facebook, and one mom is even in our homeschool group, but I didn't really feel like I knew any of them well. That was definitely going to change! I have to say that those four ladies are some of the funniest ladies I have ever met. We laughed so much!
Cheyenne took this picture of me from her top bunk on day one. 

I told you a little about how we spent our camp days in my last post. Remember the picture of Landon playing the game with the cotton balls on his nose? Well, I failed to mention that there was also a competition each night between the leaders of each team. Again, not in my comfort zone AT ALL. I try really hard not to draw attention to myself (in person anyway. Online is a different story-ha!) But when you're standing in front of 100 kids and your team is cheering you on, it tends to draw attention to you. 
This is me on day one playing the oreo game. You had to move the oreo from your forehead into your mouth using only your facial muscles. I'm not sure if it was legal for me to have my hands up there or not, but after I dropped the first one within 30 seconds, I wasn't taking any chances.
Luckily, I had an awesome teammate who gave me some good advice for round two. 
 Each night, one team was eliminated from the competition. Wouldn't you know, our team stayed in the whole week, so I got lots of chances to get out of my comfort zone and in front of the group.

There were so many more amazing things that happened during that week, more than I could ever fit into one post. Times I felt loved, accepted, appreciated, and valued just for being who I am. Times I did things that I never  thought I would do. 

One night, as I was walking to my van at the end of the night-way later than I should have been leaving-a group of ladies pulled up in an ATV. I won't give away their identities, but it was 4 of these lovely ladies (you know who you are!) 
They told me that they had found something cool that I needed to see and asked me to jump in with them. When I got in, they said "put on your seatbelt." Uh-oh! As soon as I was buckled up, the crazy driver hit the gas and we took off. It was a crazy, fast, bumpy, buggy ride (I think they really just wanted me in the front seat as a bugshield!). If I had known what they were up to, I NEVER would have gotten in. But it was SO MUCH FUN! I haven't laughed like that in so long! After a few minutes of fun, we switched drivers and took off again. I think the second driver was a little crazier faster than the first. At the end of her turn, she pulled  back up to the parking lot by my van, got out, and said "Your turn!" I tried to resist, but when they started chanting my name (peer pressure anyone?), I gave in. I still can't believe I drove that thing! We somehow managed to make it back to the van in once piece. I headed home and they headed back to the cabin. (Thank you, ladies, you'll never know how much that little buggy ride meant to me!)

Here they are showing their true colors-hahaha!

 Everything that happened that week was fun and I wouldn't trade my experience for anything. But, the best part didn't come until the last night during the evening service. At the end of the service, Pastor B. asked the leaders to come to the front as the kids came forward for prayer. I had the opportunity to pray over several kids, something I had never done before except little bedtime prayers or at mealtime with my own kids. I don't know that I was very eloquent in my prayers or that I even did it right, but I do know that it doesn't matter because I did it from my heart. I can't even describe the feeling I had that night! 

After we were home and I had a chance to reflect back on my week at camp, I realized that the things I had prayed over my kids for their camp week turned out to be the things that God chose to bless me with. Health, safety, fun all were a part of my camp week. But the most amazing thing to me was that He chose to give to ME the two specific requests that I prayed for my kids on that Wednesday night before camp-frienship and confidence.

And I will never be the same!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Camp WOW!

Last month, the kids and I went to church camp.It was so much fun! Camp Wow-which stands for Walk on Water-definitely lives up to its name. We all had a blast! The girls went to camp last year, but this was Landon's first time and my first experience with being an adult "sponsor". It was an amazing experience and I'm so thankful we had the opportunity to go. Here is just a little of the fun we had.

The kids were divided into six teams. On the first day, we met with our groups and came up with a team name and a cheer. My team was the Purple Champs. Landon was on the Orange Cheetahs (also affectionately known as the Orange Cheetohs). Sierra's team was the Green Angels. Cheyenne was on the Blue Thunder team.  We also had the Black Rolling Thunder team, and the Red Lightning. Each day, we met with our team for morning devotions, to work together on the low ropes course, and to compete against the other teams in rec games. 

 While we were having kids' camp on one side of the campground, the teens were having youth camp on the other side. It was basically two camps going on at the same time, although we did overlap with them a little during mealtime. Dakota was at youth camp while the rest of us were at kids' camp, so I didn't see her much. Their teams were named with letters from the Greek Alphabet. I believe she was on Zeta Phi. Next year, I'm going to have to make sure I go over there and get some pictures of her, too.

(Most of these pics aren't mine. Thanks so much to our pastor's awesome wife, Shinista, for letting me use her pictures!)

This was the spider web. The challenge was to get your entire team through to the other side only using each hole once. Harder than it sounds when you have first and second graders as the majority of your team-ha!

Here's Landon doing the trust fall. I remember doing it when I was in high school. It's an amazing feeling when they catch you.

Here's my team doing the trust fall. This one wasn't sure she wanted to do it after she got up there and saw how high it was. It took a little convincing but she did it!

This is Sierra and her friend on the trust vee. There are two wires in a vee shape. As it gets wider, you have to lean on one another more and more to keep your balance.

Here's Cheyenne's team (she's on the left in the black shirt) playing Giant Soccer. The staff member who was in charge of this game was so much fun! During the game, she would randomly yell out "mooing". The kids had to drop to their hands and knees and moo like cows. They could win their team spirit points for this. I'm proud to say that our team won the spirit points for our game.

Trying to balance this giant seesaw was tricky. The first day we tried, it didn't work very well because everyone wanted to be the person in middle and the kids on the ends kept moving around. The second time, though, they got the idea and we were able to balance it.

 Once rec games were over, we had a little bit of down time before the kids had their afternoon free time. During free time, they could play basketball, volleyball, go to the snack shack, or go to the rock wall/zip line.
Cheyenne hanging out in the cabin on the first day.
Sierra's favorite place to be during free time was the volleyball court, but not to play volleyball. This girls LOVES to play in the sand!  

I didn't get a picture of the rock wall and zip line, but it was a favorite! All four of my kids did it at least once. When it's your turn for the rock wall, you can choose the easy wall, hard wall, ladder, or cargo net for going up. You also can choose to climb the power pole.

The first day, I was in the cabin when Cheyenne decided to climb the power pole. When she told me about it, I promised her that if she did it again the next day, I would come watch and take pictures. She did it and it was awesome! I was so proud of her!

That thing is so tall! I don't think I would ever have the nerve to do it.
Once you get to the top, you have to balance on the tip top of it.
She said it was really shaky at the top.
Just getting to the top was a huge accomplishment, but she didn't just climb it...
She jumped off! She missed the bar by just a few inches. If she had been a tiny bit taller, she would have had it. I still can't believe she did it! She's much braver than I am!
After rec games, it was time for the water front. The lake at Camp Wow is so much fun! The kids can swim, zip line into the water, go down the water slide, swim out to the platform and jump off the diving board, go on the "blob", or ride the tube behind the jet ski. I didn't get any pictures because I was too busy swimming! I didn't brave any of the other things, but it was fun to watch. I think my kids' favorite thing was definitely the tube.

I did get this one picture of Cheyenne ready to head down to the waterfront the first day for the swim test. Everyone has to take the swim test on the first day to see whether or not you have to wear a life jacket in the deep areas. I was pleasantly surprised when I actually passed the test. It's been a very long time since I have swam that far.
All the games and activities were super fun, but the real reason we were there was to help kids grow closer to God. Each day, we began the morning with a short worship service and each evening we had another service after dinner. I loved getting to worship with the kids at camp! It touched my heart every day.
Cheyenne and her friend waiting for service to begin.
Kids worshiping God together (that's me at the back on the left). Can you see Landon down front? He's the one with both hands in the air.
At the beginning of each service, there was a boys against girls ice breaker game. For this one, Landon had pertroleum jelly on his nose and had to use it to pick up cotton balls and move them to the other end of the stage. It was too funny!

The best part of every day.

I had such an amazing time at camp (have I mentioned that already?). I think I had more fun than the kids! I can't wait to go again next year!

Friday, July 6, 2012

4th of July

Where in the world did June go? This summer is flying by! We're still plugging away on the end of our school year, but there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Landon, Sierra, and Cheyenne have finished their math books, Sierra just finished Language Arts, Landon has two days left of reading, and Dakota has just about 4 days left in her math book. We officially still have 28 days left that we'll be filling with science and history along with some reading and math games.

Our 4th of July celebration was a little different this year. Daniel found out on Saturday that he was going to be leaving Sunday evening on a two week trip for work. (He ended up only being gone 5 days! Yea!) Since he wouldn't be here on the 4th, we celebrated with him on Saturday night.

We started with a trip to the fireworks stand. The kids had fun picking out their own little bagful of fireworks. It was funny to see their different personalities when it comes to spending money. A couple of them went through and bought whatever they saw that looked cool until their money was gone and a couple of them worked really hard to get as much as they could for their money. They all ended up with some pretty cool stuff.

We came home and hung out a while until it started to cool off a little. Daniel fired up the grill and cooked us some yummy hot dogs for dinner. While we were waiting for dinner, we played with a few of the daytime fireworks. 

We did some snakes,

 sent up some satellites,
(boots and shorts-he dressed himself!)

ran through some smoke bombs,

and made a huge streamer mess with party poppers.

After dinner and dishes it was dark enough for the fun stuff.

I took about a million pictures of the kids playing with sparklers. Here are a few of my favorites.

I love this picture of Sierra!

Sunday morning, we all went to church. It was the first time in a really long time that Daniel's been able to go with us, so it was extra special. After church, we went to Grandma Debbie's house for lunch and homemade ice cream. We hung out there until it was time to drop Daniel off for his trip. 

On Wednesday, we started our celebration with some "fireworks" pancakes. Yum!

I'm trying to get us through these last few weeks of school as soon as possible, so I didn't want to miss a day for the holiday. We did a 4th of July version of our school day. We spent most of the day watching a documentary about the Revolution and talking about it. Then, we did some 4th of July worksheets and coloring pages and watched a video of God Bless America on Youtube.

At lunch time, I tried a version of the red, white, and blue drink I've been seeing all over Pinterest . I used slightly different ingredients, so mine didn't turn out quite as cool as the examples, but they weren't bad. Cheyenne told me they tasted like gummy worms. Mmmmmm!
Here's a version without the red.

That evening, we headed out with Grandma Debbie to watch the fireworks at the fairgrounds. It was crazy because we somehow missed the memo that they were changing the location of where they were going to set the fireworks off. For years, they have set them up on the softball fields to the west of the expo center, so we were all set up to watch them there. When it got dark, there were fireworks going off behind us. It's not unusual for people to bring their own fireworks and set them off while they're waiting for the big show, so we didn't really pay attention the them for the first few minutes. We finally realized that they weren't stopping and figured out what had happened. We missed the first 5 or so minutes (well, I think the kids actually were watching them, just the adults missed them) but the rest of the show was great!

When the fireworks were over, all the kids loaded up with Grandma Debbie to spend the night at her house and I went home to a very quiet house.

We missed Daniel a lot, but we had a pretty good day. 

What kinds of fun things did you do with your family for the 4th?

I hope everyone had a fun and safe holiday!