Keep It Simple Sister

Word of warning, this will be a long post. It’s six days worth of stuff in one post. Took me a few times to get it all down.

K period I period S period S period. That was the little acronym we used for Girls Camp 2012. “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” Alma 37:6

What a great theme! Let me tell you how this whole girls camp endeavor began. Back in January or February, I can’t remember exactly, I was approached by Sister Taylor, our stake young woman’s president. She asked me if I would be one of the Head LITs (Leader In Training) for girls camp. At first I didn’t say yes. I was still waiting for BYU to get back to me on whether I was accepted or not and I didn’t know if I’d be given the summer semester. Even if I wasn’t given the summer semester I was seriously considering going for the summer. I would get a head start at getting use to the college life before the majority of freshmen. It was a perfect way to ease myself in. And I’m sure they could have found another person to take my place as Head LIT. This left me with some decision making. Now, if you know anything about me you know that I can be indecisive. I see the positives to each point of view, I can’t just stick to one sometimes. There’s no one choice that’s completely right, you know? This could be why I’m awful with politics. But I knew that I needed to make a decision and soon. So I approached it the same way I did with housing. What happens, happens. I wouldn’t try to change it. If I got accepted to go to BYU, but I had to go to the summer semester, then I would do that. If I got accepted to the fall term I would go to girls camp and not change my semester. In case you didn’t know, I got accepted to go to BYU in the fall which meant I said I would be a Head LIT at girls camp. This began the tiring, stressful, totally worth it journey of planning girls camp.

Let me start by saying I had no idea this much thought, time, and effort went into planning things for the stake. I knew they worked hard and I knew they did a lot which I really did appreciate, but actually doing it yourself and being involved is a whole different story. There were so many meetings, decisions, bumps, and other things that you never really think about when you’re enjoying the event and not planning it. And this is all pre-camp. The before the movie type of stuff. We had two days of YCL training before camp to teach the girls how to teach the girls (a little confusing, I know). Those were interesting. I did not feel like a leader at all at that point, I just felt like a seventeen year old girl who was given this official title but didn’t really do anything to deserve it. It was a little intimidating to get up and teach those girls about teaching because I didn’t really know how to myself. I’m a go with the flow person, and that’s how I teach. I can’t prepare too much or I start freaking out and stressing and it’s just not a pretty picture. The whole time I was teaching these girls to teach I was freaking out, thinking they would see that I didn’t really prepare to teach other than knowing the material. And that’s scary. To have people think you’re not fit to lead or teach or whatever. It’s a feeling nobody wants.

Going into camp I still harbored the feeling. I felt stressed and I was freaking out slightly. What if these girls saw me and thought “Oh gosh, she’s our Head LIT.” I’d like to think I’m the kind of person who doesn’t care what others think, but that’s not true. I have to care. Everyone does. It’s how you react to what others say that makes the difference really. Obviously I wanted these girls to like me, they were going to be with me all week. Add your decorations not turning out the way you had planned them out to the stress and the YCL not doing what you thought they were. The first two days were a little rough.

Day One

The first day was just the stake leaders. I felt at ease because there weren’t any girls to run after, we could just relax, unpack, and begin the decorating and set-up madness. I’m not going to go into detail about the problems I ran into decorating the dinning pavilion because there were many. But what I will say is that I learned different ways to resolve problems and that just because things don’t go your way doesn’t mean they don’t go right.

But it was nice to get there before everyone else and calmly set up. I didn’t feel like I had to get absolutely everything done because I had another day.

Sister Rucker with the bullhorn she loved so much.

Day Two

Then YCLS came the next day. The stress from that day came from some people thinking I could control what the YCLs did. Well, maybe they didn’t think that, but that’s what I felt. But everything worked out. The girls decorated their girls’ cabins and did workshops that prepared them to certify the girls as well as getting to know each other. I got to run the get to know you games, which ended up being the “let’s eat m&ms and talk” game. Those girls probably learned way more about me than they ever wanted to. But it was fun, getting to know these girls. They truly are amazing people who may or not be obsessed with a certain British boy band.

We ended with a wonderful scripture discussion and an amazing journey to the Tree of Life. I wasn’t there for parts of the discussion because I was setting girls off onto the path toward the Tree of Life, but the parts I did catch were inspiring and touched my heart. To hear the small testimonies of these girls and the trials they’ve endured strengthened me. Especially this one girl who recently became a member. You would have never been able to tell that she was a new convert. Her spirit was so strong and her love for the Gospel was amazing. Then there was the last girl I sent off on the path who talked to me about getting her patriarchal blessing. I was so glad I got to tell her of the wonderful blessings it brings and that it’s definitely something to work toward.

Day Three

Open the gates because the girls were coming to camp. I spent a good part of the morning finishing up the dining pavilion, which would not have been possible without the help of Brother Field. When I went down to the leader’s cabin, where registration was being done, I was excited to see all of the girls come in. The best part was when my mom came. I’ll admit, I was missing her and felt a little homesick. More than usual. It may be because I knew that a few months later I’d be leaving home for real. You come to appreciate things more when you know that you’ll be leaving them. A highlight from this day was definitely skit night. All of the girls, divided into their years, performed skits along with the YCLs doing song parodies as “commercials”. Definitely a day full of fun.

Day Four

Picture day! We all woke up and put on our brightly colored camp shirts (which I like WAY more than last year’s camp shirt). Here’s the colors: Green was 1st year, red 2nd, yellow 3rd, blue 4th, purple YCLs, orange leaders. Now when you see the group photo you’ll know what you’re looking at.

Here’s a group shot of all of the campers and leaders.

This picture took a lot of work to coordinate. It was a challenge I accepted and I think it turned out pretty well. After this picture there were various camp certifications. I got to teach the first year campers all about the “Importance of First Aid.” It was my job to get them pumped to learn all about first aid. And really, what’s cooler than knowing how to save a life? Those first year girls were great. I love them so much, they’re always eager to learn and do all these camp activities. For our evening program we had Sheri Clark give us a talk. It was a truly inspirational talk. You would have never known she went through such a rough childhood with friends by looking at her. You see her and think “how can someone ever hate and tease this woman?” I think she inspired so many girls to be confident with who they are. I know that’s something I really struggled with when I was younger, and still kind of do. When making nightly rounds I spent a little more time with the first years. A few of the girls were so eager to learn camp songs that they would not sleep until I taught one to them. It was a lot of fun, seeing them sing this kind of silly camp songs. And let’s not forget the riveting conversation I had with Shelley Arrington and some first years about knitting.

Just when Abby and I were finally about to fall asleep (we had stayed up pretty late talking) there was a bang at the window. I swore it was a robber and I was about to jump out of bed, swinging my heavy duty flashlight. Thankfully it wasn’t a robber, just some really excited campers who “egged” our cabin with cute little paper eggs that had messages on them.

Each leader got a punny egg message along with various papers eggs tapped to the windows and doors and scattered across the floor.

Day Five

The last full day of camp! Again, we started out early. I was really starting to feel the exhaustion of camp. But I had to keep going. The day started out with the Pirate Shipwreck. Basically, the YCLs and some awesome bishops dressed up as pirates and went through various certification skits to educate the girls on the certification they had to learn for their year. And the Dowdy’s made the COPES course climbing wall a wicked pirate ship.

The White Pearl

Abby and I did a little improve skit at the treasure chest, the last stop the girls made. One of us played dead and when the girls moved our leg to open the treasure chest we popped up to scare them. Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Plus we got to sit the entire time in the shade of a tree. We just had to ignore the giant banana spider hanging above us.

After the shipwreck the girls got to do fun camp activities like the water slide, archery, canoeing, and crafts. While they were doing this I worked on the picture slideshow that would show at the end of camp, taking a short archery break to maintain my sanity. When I was done I went to help out with the craft when Sister Taylor needed a break from it. The girls were tie-dying shirt. If you’ve never tie-dyed a shirt before you should know that it’s messy and gloves keep the dye off of your hands. Common sense, right? Well, I forgot to put on my gloves before picking up my colored shirt. Once they were dyed, I gave up with the gloves and accepted the color on my hands and feet. You only live once, right? At the end Abby and I kind of went tie-dye crazy. I think it was the culmination of all of the stress and exhaustion. We had a grand ol’ time bowling with shirts to pick up the color that was spilled across the tarp.

Once I took a much needed shower it was time to get ready for the Tree of Life. Instead of walking the path I was going to stand as an angel. I was tasked as the angel who told the girls they had to journey the path alone. Needless to say they didn’t really like me. It was dark and the path wasn’t well lit. It terrified most of the girls. And I couldn’t really tell them that there were people waiting on the other side for them. As an angel I could say very little, just smile and try to communicate to them that everything would be fine if they stayed on the path that led to the iron rode (and actual rod Brother Dowdy placed on the path). This experience was such a testimony builder. To see the girls give into temptations (tempters played by various leaders) was hard. They ran from me, thinking I was trying to lead them astray. But the faith and courage of some of these girls really shined through. They tried to keep their group on the path and helped me reassure them that everything would be alright. At the end of the path was a tree wrapped in lights that represented the Tree of Life. President Pratt gave a talk about the Tree of Life and how we had to stay strong when we face temptations. I think the girls grew a lot from the experience. I know I did.

This was the Tree of Life that the path and iron rod led to

Day Six

We woke up at 5 AM to begin our sunrise hike. We walked a little way to the amphitheater where we watched the sun rise as we read our scriptures. It was a really nice way to start a morning, despite how early we had to get up. After all of the cabins were cleaned out and passed inspection it was the award/certificate ceremony. Each girl got a certificate for completing their year of certifications, four girls got the K.I.S.S. Award (this day it was Keep It Spiritual Sister), and four girls received the Liahona award. In the end my video ended up not working out, the video projector did not want to cooperate with my laptop. It was a little heartbreaking knowing that all of my hard work was for not, but I learned that when things don’t go your way you smile and move on.

Girls’ Camp this year was great and packed full of things, as you can see. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to be a HEAD LIT this year. I’m so grateful to Sister Rucker, Sister Taylor, and Sister Howse for their support. It was so much fun working with them and seeing them in a different light. They are definitely great examples for these girls.

Abby and I making the camp signature kissy face

The longest post in the history of posts is now done. If you read it all you deserve a cookie. When you buy that cookie, savor it.

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