8.06.2010

The Truth About Girls' Camp

Camp Courage 2010

This last year has been a year of polar opposites. We are very, very blessed. Since Bron and I moved here to New York at the beginning of last summer, we’ve seen and explored so many new places. We live in a beautiful area saturated with trees and farms. We live in a giant three bedroom duplex and the rent is easy on our check book. And because we live at the institute where Bron works and researches, I see him most afternoons during lunch. It’s something I actually look forward to everyday. To top it all off, I’m a brand new mother to the cutest baby boy. I’m a lucky girl. I get to stay home with him and enjoy all of his smiles and little milestones. I am a very happy woman.

But our move here has also been a struggle. Our hardest adjustment, however, is church.

Church is very much a big part of our lives.  We're LDS. We attend church every Sunday and some days in between. We pray several times a day in our home and live our religion as best we can. The Church is small here in upstate New York. We attend an undersized branch. (It’s actually more like a twig.) The members here are very friendly and well-meaning, but it’s a circus. Some people are just tactless and weird. Some people are extremely needy. They live off of the welfare both the Church and State give to them, whether they are capable of working a regular job or not. And because we belong to such a small congregation, every bit of drama seems magnified. It’s just plain nuts.  I lost my sense of humor about it all months ago.

Both Bron and I have been given responsibilities in the branch. We’re one of the few dependable members there. If someone else doesn’t show up to church or drops the ball, Bron or I often fill in to teach the lesson, etc. It happens week after week after week. We now come prepared for a minor disaster. I sometimes wonder if Sundays for bishopric members in wards out West are just the same for them; we just didn’t ever realize it. Church can be REALLY HARD WORK!

Well, the combination of it all usually leaves me feeling more irritated than uplifted on Sunday. I’ve questioned over and over why I even continue to go to church! But I continue to go because I know the gospel is true. I go because I know Christ lived and died for me. I go because I know where I came from and I know where I’m going. I go because I want my family to be together forever. I go because I said I would. Talk about enduring to the end!

In March, when I was eight months pregnant, I was asked to be the District Camp Director. (That’s the equivalent of Stake Camp Director, only on a smaller scale. I’ve decided, however, if I’m going to prepare camp for a dozen girls I might as well prepare camp for 200; you just buy more stuff!)  As you can imagine, I was in no shape—mental or physical—to put together camp after Jed was born. I could barely get the laundry done and dinner on the table. Sister Schank, the Young Women’s District President, pushed me though because she truly needed me. No Young Women’s leader in the entire district had ever been to camp before as a teenager. I was the one with the “experience”.

Well, planning camp was an experience for sure! As camp approached, I was stressed to the max and running around town like a chicken with my head cut off. Poor Jed. I had never planned anything on a scale this large before in my life and I felt so unorganized with a baby always in one arm. Worse still, is that the district comprises a massive area and communication and adult interest in camp is always minimal. It was just going to be three of us throwing it all together: Sister Schank, Sister Lawrence and myself. Sister Schank and Sister Lawrence took care of the food and the logistics like toilet paper and tables. I took care of the rest. Okay, let's face it.  Sister Schank took on the most. I couldn’t have done it without those two women!

Girls’ Camp was July 27th – 30th. It was a better week than I ever imagined! I can’t believe it all came together so well! Camp centered around a rustic cabin with no electricity, a cute outhouse, and fire pit. Only nine young women total attended, plus a few more girls of all ages rotating through when their mothers came to help. Luckily, I’d bought extras of everything. We didn’t get to all the activities I’d planned because with just nine girls it was easy to read their mood. We did whatever, whenever! We did crafts, made blue bird houses, visited the VIC’s center, and swam in Horseshoe Pond. The food was astounding! We ate and ate and ate again. And it was all so delicious and healthy! I think I gained a pound or two.

And yes, Jed came to camp with me. Many women told me they would not have even attempted to camp with such a tiny baby. Frankly, I didn’t have a choice; I was bulldozed into going.  But we survived with a few mosquito bites to show for it. Our saving grace was the camper Jed and I slept in. It helped keep us more comfortable and warm, although I can’t say I slept too well because I was always worrying about Jed’s temperature! It was just above freezing one night!  But Jed loved all the attention the girls gave him. The little flirt. He’s a lady slayer in training.

There was a spirit of sisterhood and service at camp. I realized that every single woman and young woman there is a convert or parents are converts to the Church. I thought about the lifestyle changes and sacrifices these girls have made and continue to make in the world they live in. They are so strong! So much stronger than I ever was as a teenager. I was impressed. I’m glad I went after all.

So what have I learned? I've learned how to put together a big event and have ideas of what to do better next year.  I have also concluded that Bron and I are simply adults now with real responsibilities for the first time.  Growing up often comes with growing pains. However, I feel like we've been thrown to the wolves here in this dinky district. BUT I am needed here very much, whether I like it or not. And most importantly, sometimes I must “feed the sheep” instead of being fed myself.

I appreciate what my leaders did for me so much more now!

3 comments:

  1. I can't believe how well you handeled all that responsibility, and with Jed too! You defintely are a "grown-up". Here in my little Mormon town we have problems with people not showing up on Sundays to teach their classes too. That really suprised me when I was given responsiblity. Since being made Elders Quourm President in June, my husband has come home from church pretty irritated a few times too. I'm sure our problems here are really small compared to what you face! Anyways, I'm glad that you got to go to camp and that it was such a good experience for you!

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  2. Good job on getting that all set up! That is an amazing accomplishment!
    I just laughed as you explained the church there.. I have been in Branches and Wards there in Central NY and can say I know EXACTLY what you are going through. Its definitely stressful but helps you learn and grow!

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  3. Sounds like you made a very challenging experience a good one even when you had a lot of reasons not to. I hope I too will continue to serve and not get too caught up in being a spoiled pregnant woman.

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