Friday, August 28, 2009

Young Women Camp 2009

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of spending the week at Girls Camp.
( I suppose I should say Young Women Camp. Old habits die hard.)

Last spring I was called to be the Assistant Stake Camp Director. Our Stake Camp Director, our Stake Young Women Presidency, and our YCLs (Youth Camp Leaders) had already been hard at work planning. I jumped in and fulfilled some assignments and tried to get caught up on the plans. A few days before camp I got a call from the Stake Camp Director. Sadly her nephew had passed away. She felt strongly that she needed to be with her family in Utah instead of coming to camp. It was time to really step up. Our Stake YW Presidency members were right there by my side, whispering in my ear, guiding me , and giving me confidence to do what I needed to do.

They were awesome. The girls and leaders were great. The weather was beautiful. It was an AMAZING week!

Day One consisted of driving the 2 hours to camp at 6am to get it all set up and welcome the girls and get them settled. After orientation (note to self- need to make orientation shorter or at least more interesting), swim tests, get to know you activities, etc. our YCLs did a presentation about our camp theme- "More Precious Than Rubies". They did a fabulous job. The theme is based on the scripture found in Proverbs 31:10 "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." This was such a nice message and tie in with the new Young Women's Value, virtue. I learned from the YCLs that rubies are often considered more valuable than diamonds because they are so rare. How rare is a virtuous woman these days? Sad. So glad we can encourage virtue in our girls.
After our message of our value being more precious than rubies, it was time for camp songs. So. Much. Fun.
Jillie and her friend Madison. We were so glad to have Madison come to camp with us- and that she had a good time. (She's not a member of our church and only knew a couple of the girls there... but made lots of new friends.)

It was a nice way to end the first day of camp.

Tuesday - Thursday were similar with certification time and free time activities each day, but there were some highlights. Tuesday we had a service project for everyone to be involved in. We decorated inspiring journals and quilted some blankets for a woman's shelter. The girls did such a nice job, and were very thoughtful in their messages they wrote in the journals.
(By the way, Good Mail at Girls Camp is still a hit!)

Tuesday night was also Ward/Branch night. Since we camp by certification level, this allows the girls to spend some time with the girls and leaders from their own congregations. I got to spend some time with our stellar OP young women and their fabulous leaders.

Wednesday night was skit night.. WooHoo! These girls put together some F.U.N.N.Y. skits! They had a time limit and some strange words to include in their skits and that was it. We had some pretty interesting characters show up that night. I laughed so hard. Good, good times!

Wednesday Night was also our YCL sleepover. The YCLs usually sleep in the cabins with the younger girls that they are working with at camp. They miss being together though so we planned one night to be a sleepover for them.
More laughter, more good times. These girls are all so amazing, mature, responsible, and fun. True leaders. I couldn't have been more proud. We had a fun game of "Kowasaki" going that night- though I chose to just watch and take pictures so I didn't have to do some crazy dare. :) (note to self- get out of your comfort zone more often!)
The funniest moment of the night was when the girls went around telling what they most like in a guy- personality trait and physical trait. We were rolling on the floor laughing when Sister Newman scoops her hands like this and talks about her husband cute behind. Ahhh!! Too much!

Thursday was a busy one with hikes, Trauma Day, and a Field Day activity that the 4th years organized for us all. We had our Golden Feast for dinner which included some special guests from the stake and wards. The best moments of camp happened that evening. All of the adults in the camp went to prepare for the evening while some visiting priesthood leaders and I supervised some campfire time.

At dark we brought the girls down to the big fire pit. They were met by "Sariah", Lehi's wife from The Book of Mormon. She told us about a special time in their family when her husband received a vision of the tree of life. (found here and here.) Then she walked away saying, come, walk with me. The girls traded in their flash lights for a glow stick and in small groups quietly made their way through the darkness following their guide.

My group was led by Emily (my Bishop's wife, one of our camp nurses, and a good friend! :)) As we walked in the darkness we could hear voices. In the cabins were flashing lights, laughter, and voices calling for us to come join the party. In the darkness we could also hear people quietly calling to us, "Hey! Come here. Come over here for just a minute. You can go back. Just come here...." Then we came to a rope leading the way down the path (our iron rod from Lehi's vision). Emily turned around and said, "Please remember to always hold to the rod." The girls grabbed the rope and continued along the path.

Most did anyway. I hung back when I realized one of our girls was just standing there, not knowing what to do. She kept looking back over her shoulder at the "party" going on. Then she said, "I think I should go over there." I was shocked, but this experience mirrored her personal life. She is often tempted by the parties and "fun" of the world. I said, "What did Sister Christopherson tell you to do?" She thought for a minute and replied, "to hold to the rod". I waited some more, she kept turning to the cabins. Eventually I walked to the "rod" and said, "Come with me." Finally she came along. The whispering from the darkness got worse. They started insulting us and calling us names. We reached the end of the rope and found on of the Stake YW Presidency members dressed in white leading us around the corner.

There in front of us stood our Stake President all in white in front of this tree...

(picture taken after our evening events)
The hymns played quietly. Once everyone had arrived, our Stake President spoke to the girls about virtue, and then we began our testimony meeting. The Spirit was so strong at camp all week, but on Thursday night there was no denying it.

Often times girls camp testimony meetings can have some fluffy 'testimonies' about how much they love their friends, etc. That did not happen tonight. Every girl that spoke was solid. They made some excellent points about what they had just experienced- about the importance of families working toward the same goal, the reality that it is often voices we know, our friends, who are trying to pull us off the path, that no goal is more important than returning to our Heavenly Father. One girl who we'd had a few problems with swearing spoke about how she understands better now that if God is King and we are His daughters, then we are princesses. It hit her that princesses don't swear, they don't judge others, they are modest, they set a good example for others, and that she needed to change. Jillie bore her testimony of getting an answer to a prayer during that week of camp (warms her Mommy's heart!). The entire meeting was excellent.

I was the one who had to decide when to end the meeting. That was a tough call. You know there are young girls out there working up the courage to speak what is in their heart. You want them to have that opportunity if at all possible. Finally at about 11:15pm-11:30pm we ended. It was so cold, most of the girls had born their testimony, many were yawning. Still, I found out after of a few girls who were almost ready and were disappointed that they didn't get up. :( The overall feeling there was so nice. Everyone lingered there in the light of the tree for a while. Girls were hugging each other. "I love you" was spoken all around. Jillie's friend Madison, and another non member girl both told me that they felt so inspired and almost got up too. Wow. What a night. I pray what they all felt that night will stay with them and uplift them now that they are back out in the world.

Friday was the day to break down camp, hand out cabin pictures to all the girls, and finally watch the slide show of the week before heading home. Oh that slide show! One of the leaders put it together for us, but as I returned to my room Thursday night I found her in trouble. She made it in iMovie, transferred it to iDVD, but then realized that her drive doesn't burn DVDs. Mine does, but it took us HOURS to figure out how to move her iMovie to my iMovie program. Eventually I accidentally hit the wrong button, but it was the right button. (a little divine assistance around 3am I think) Thankfully it worked and it was the perfect way to end Girls Camp.

I am so excited about next year. Excited to have Jillie AND Reagan with me next year as we grow and learn and are filled.


ryan and laura said...

love all the girls camp photos! you did a great job

Sunny said...

YEA!! I want to be at that camp too with Reagan AND Jillie! I can't believe that! What will Greg do without you Jillie OR Reagan. The house will be a bachelor pad for a while! Great pictures Nik! Fabulous post as always.

Cara said...

In CA we had a beautiful camp site like the one you went to. It even had a lake for our swimming pleasure. Not here - the girls have to sleep in tents and there are no bathrooms or showers. YUCK!!!! I opted out of girls camp for 3 years while I was a leader - no thanks!

Dad said...

one word. AWESOME!

creed and tiffany said...

You did such an amazing job Nikki. You are a very good leader and I know the girls LOVED it. I loved it and am so glad I could come! Thanks so much for coming to my rescue in the middle of the night with the slide show! Geez! You did a really nice job documenting the week!

Leanne said...

I love the 'hold to the rod' activity. Sounds like it was successful. Thanks for sharing that. I'm always inspired and filled with the spirit when I hear that this activity works so well on our young people.

Your cabins are so big and clean! We are used to icky, bug filled small cabins or just tents. Looks like a great camp!

I'm sure because NIKKI was in charge, the whole thing went off without a hitch!