Monday, June 23, 2014

Wagon Train

This past week we escaped to Hume Lake in the Sequoia National Forest. My entire tribe went to Wagon Train. My kids were campers and my husband and I served as counselors. The week was devoted to growing the kids in their faith through a number of extremely fun activities. 

The kids rappelled and focused on trusting the ropes - trusting in Jesus to get them through even the most daunting tasks. They shot arrows as they focused on the bulls-eye - learning to focus on God before aiming for anything.

It was an incredible week of growth for my kids and my husband and me. We slept in covered wagons that were not the most comfortable or the warmest of conditions but it was a fun experience nevertheless. Each wagon bunked nine children and one counselor. I was thankful mine only had seven girls. We had two extra beds for the volumes of luggage little girls bring. One of my campers had a complete set of gear from rolling suitcase to toiletry bag and everything in between!

All camp attendees had chapel twice a day and two hours of recreation with our trail guide. This is where the campers rappelled and shot BB guns and played an awesome game of David and Goliath...campers verses counselors. Recreation was followed by three hours of free time in which campers scoured the camp and did any number of fun activities. They canoed, swam, played Gau Gau ball, did crafts, zip-lined, conquered the big swing, explored the Hermit's Cave and reached the very tops of an amazing forest tree was endless amounts of fun!

The coolest thing was that Wagon Train is a private camp. Kids can't get out and people can't get in. The kids have this amazing ability to run and have all this fun without being helicoptered by a parent. We counselors were always around and often took groups to different activities but it wasn't required. My kids enjoyed freedom like they have never experienced.

I learned so much too. I learned that my kids can do far more than I believed they could. When I saw my daughter pop on down the rock rappelling with no fear I realized she is SO capable of so much. I learned that fun can be a ball and an open space. Not all fun needs to be planned into a formal activity. Fun can be anything! I also learned to be present. A week without technology was blissful. I learned that technology can kids are what is important and I want to give them the best bits of me. They deserve more than the remnants of mom.
Each evening after dinner the counselors and campers would head to the field for a camp-wide game. This was a ridiculous amount of fun. I ran like a kid and cheered and whooped! The game was different every night but just as fun as the night before. The camp is divided into Wildcats and Blackbears and I am happy to say the Wildcats were recognized as camp champs by the end of the week. 

It wasn't an easy week and I desperately longed for my shower and bed by mid-week but it was fun. It was a gift to be treasured. My kids can't wait to go again next year...and maybe I will too. We'll see what the God Lord has planned. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer is here!

Summer is in full swing at Smokey Acres. The outside thermometer is pulsating in the heat and the air conditioner is whirling non-stop even though the house is closed and the shades are drawn. We tapped out at 109 degrees the very day we left the cool of the Pacific Ocean and return to our drought-stricken valley.

After the kids ended their school year we emptied out backpacks and lunch bags and then promptly retreated to Pismo Beach. The coolness of the air and the crash of the waves was enough to let our spirits recharge. Well, recharge until it was time to climb into a tent with two steamy kids and no ventilation. It smelled like feet laced with halitosis. But, smell, uneven landscape, and condensation was a great trip.

We were able to rent the kids some wetsuits from an interesting old codger who looked like a salty old pirate. With wetsuits keeping them warm, the kids were able to enjoy their boogie boards ALL day. And I mean, short break for lunch, then back to the waves...ALL day! They had sand in every nook, cranny, and crevice but that didn't stop the smiles. My kids are inexplicably drawn to water so to spend the day in the crashing waves was pure joy!

I am so glad we kicked off summer with a trip west. The beach is not far from us but it still takes planning to get the tribe gathered and gone. We joined friends at the campground whose kids are classmates with mine. They were ready to welcome summer with s'mores and hot dogs on a skewer like us. 

Now we are baking back home in the valley and preparing for Wagon Train! We will actually sleep in covered wagons at 5,200 feet elevation. I am excited but also nervous. I will have 10 giggly girls in my charge. I have not been to camp before and I have never be a counselor of any sort so this will definitely be an adventure. I am praying it will be a great experience! I am excited for my kids too. This is their first adventure at summer camp. My dear friend says she can't wait to hear the stories when we come back. She said were we go, the stories follow. I hope I don't disappoint and I hope the stories are all something to laugh about!

Monday, June 2, 2014


One more week and the kids are off for summer. I am quite excited about this. I know there will be days when I will want to bang my head against my desk and weep when I have to work and the kids are circling me like sharks. They will know my question before I ask it. "Uh, Mom? No one is bleeding but..."

While the hubs and I must continue to earn paychecks this summer we do have adventures planned. Some short and some longish. It will be a good opportunity to spend time together as a family and remember why we like each other. The kids are excited to sleep in. They are happy at the prospect of not hearing me sing my way down the hall to wake them up at 6:30 each morning. Somehow, Zippity Doo Dah, is not music to their ears.They are looking forward to play dates occasions to hang out with friends. They minds are set to swimming and s'mores and sand. 

I am hopeful that the weeks of summer will not travel by too quickly. I need to recharge and I hope the weeks dawdle a bit. I don't want to speed through summer and enter the school year at full throttle prepared for burn-out by October. We have to at least make it to November before the morning battles begin!

We'll see what the summer brings! Four days and counting!