How Firm a Foundation

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!


Emily said…
It sounds like it was such an amazing spiritual experience for you! I am glad you were able to make it through - and to have such a special time with the girls! Very cool! :)
Yeah! I've been waiting for you to come back. (to sl)
Jen said…
Oh I'm so glad it turned out well, especially after a rough start. I swear, my self esteeem never took more of a beating than when I was a new YW president. Oh, I struggled!

But there's nothing like a camp early on in the calling to help cement relationships quickly! Great job. And go take a nap.
Sonja said…
Those girls are so lucky to have you as their leader. You are such and amazing leader.
I am always amazed at how things fall together when doing work for our Father in Heavens children. I can tell the love that he has for each of them.
Jessica said…
Thanks for your post on my blog! I hate to use the whole 'misery loves company' bit, but sometimes it helps to know that I'm not the only "dummy" out there who slips and makes mistakes! :^)

Anyway, I was reading your post about YW's camp and I can really relate to feeling like I made some enemies with some of the girls. We live in Korea and the District doesn't have that many YW (only three Branches and 20 girls were at YW's camp this year), so it was like camping with a large ward with huge unity problems. So, no matter what sutle efforts I or the other leaders made to unify the girls a little more, nothing seemed to work. After it had been pouring down rain for two days straight (it's been an early Monsoon Season here this year)and 20 miserable girls, emotions were on edge. So, when we had the girls pull everything from their tents into an auditorium nearby, because all of there things were getting soaked, all of the branches divided themselves into completely different sections (there was a loft, gym-like floor and a stage) of the auditorium (were were planning on sleeping there). After I had learned about this, I went in and found that my branch had taken all of their things up to the loft, much further away from the rest of the girls! So, I made them bring all of their things down and told them that everybody will be sleeping on the main floor. All 6 of my girls gave me the dirtiest glares I'd ever seen from them! I left them to do their work and cool down. I went in a little while later and they were "singing" some hymns, but it more sounded like they were yelling them they were so mad! I went away and let them cool down a little more before I went back in and called a branch meeting and talked to them about the reason I did what I did and bore my testimony of YW's camp and the closeness and friendship opportunities that can be made there. I think they really took that to heart because they made a much better effort after that and some of the girls even bore their testimonies about the same thing during testimony meeting. And others of the girls came up to me and said I was "pretty cool" because I had my rules and stuck to them, but I wasn't mean and I was pretty "chill". So, all turned out well. :^) Aaaah. I love YW's Camp!