I have so much to do and so little time, but I wanted to blog a bit about Girls Camp. It was a wonderful experience! Of course, getting used to 95 degree temperatures and high humidity with no cold mountain mornings was a bit of a new experience (especially since we had SNOW last year at camp!), but luckily we did get some rain and we housed ourselves in an air-conditioned building :)
Since I was only called into YW a month ago, much of the preparation had already been done, which was great. Our theme was "How Firm a Foundation" and we focused on the words of that hymn, Helaman 5:12, and the YW values. I had an amazing Camp Director who had never been to camp before as a YW or as a leader, and she poured her entire self into preparation with every aspect of it covered. The assistant camp director was the former YW president. She is an all-around awesome woman, someone who is uplifting, genuine, supportive, and fun. We also had my secretary and my laurel advisor there, who both offered suggestions, support, and filled in wherever they were needed, many times without being asked. Our YCLs were amazing, as well. They helped plan and carry out camp and did it without complaining (at least 95% of the time). And, last but not least, we carted three babies with us up there (ages 10 months, 8 months, and 6 months). Our bishopric was very understanding of our needs as young mothers and supportive of us taking the babies, and overall, the three girls were VERY good and the YW very helpful in helping us out with them.
This was definitely one of the most spiritual camps I have been on. In the week or so prior to leaving, I kept praying about what else I could do to help incorporate the theme. I felt inspired to talk to the camp director about adding a builder theme to blend the How Firm a Foundation and the YW values. When I mentioned it to her, she said she had had the same impressions earlier but dismissed them, thinking it was too much or too late in the game. We got together a week before camp and were blessed to really mesh all the ideas together. It was a testimony to me that Heavenly Father was working on all of us separately to create the camp He knew these girls needed. We started with a foundation (Jesus Christ) and then, using a talk by President Monson, I had the girls add to the depth of the foundation every time they prayed, read their scriptures, or performed acts of service. Each tent group built on their future home by adding framing (integrity), plumbing (faith- living waters, flush out the bad), paint (good works - brings color), doors and windows (choice & accountability - choose whether to let in the light and open the door for Him). The priesthood brethren added electricity (the priesthood is the power), and the leaders put on the roof (leaders provide safety and protect). It came together better than we imagined!
The first day was a little rough for me. Despite the "no cell phone" rule, we had several girls come with cell phones. Most were willing to let me confiscate them, but I had a run-in with one girl AND her mother, who was adamant her daughter have a cell phone. I really felt like I needed to uphold the rules and stand my ground, but it was hard. In the end, they agreed to let me keep the phone, but I made an enemy in the process. Actually, more than one enemy, since her friends thought I was being the meanest leader ever. And all of a sudden, I had been YW president for a month, and the girls hated me! Between that and lack of sleep, and I felt horrible! The former YW pres took me aside, let me cry, supported me, and prayed with me. When we had our Golden Hour that day, she sang to the girls "Walk Tall, You're a Daughter of God" and it was beautiful. The girls were crying too, because they felt the spirit and because they love her. And she told them she had a testimony that I was called to be the new president for a reason. It was still stressful, but she brought the spirit to that meeting and most of the girls felt better about me afterward. The one girl was still grumpy at me, and I had to deal with that. That night, though, after dinner, she asked to speak to me. And then she apologized for being a brat about the phone! I was floored! It's hard to admit you're wrong (the whole pride thing) as an adult, and here my 13-year-old YW was doing just that! We hugged and then spent the rest of the camp as friends, and she respected me! What a blessing!
We had so many great unifying experiences - the girls swam together in the lake, worked together during a service project, helped out with cooking and cleaning, pranked each other (of course - but mostly good pranks...), helped each other with certification, shared stories with each other, and sang together. These girls loved to sing, not just funny camp songs, but songs that brought the spirit, too. It was just awesome. The final night, our bishop shared a wonderful message with us and we had a testimony meeting around the fire with such a tangible spirit present. I pray that the girls will remember always the spirit we felt while at camp this year! That last night, one of the YCLs told a few scary stories and the girls got scared. My super laurel advisor told them a story that brought the spirit and then the girls started singing hymns and other church songs. And they sang and sang and sang. It was so beautiful and sweet. I fell asleep (at 2am) listening to them sing. It touched my heart!
Although we all came home exhausted (I'm still recovering), I wouldn't trade this experience. I've been to some more elaborate Girls Camps (both as a YW and as a leader), but this camp, without much fanfare and basically just us, was one of my favorite! I thought I would never love any YW as much as I loved the YW in my last ward, but I really love these girls! They are beautiful, funny, stalwart, charitable young women who are trying to do what's right when there are so few of them and so many temptations. I am just floored at how amazing they are and want to be more like them when I grow up!