Sunday, June 17, 2012

Girls' Camp

18 June 1976: This is me when I was a 21-year-old single girl
serving as a counselor at an LDS Youth Conference
at Camp Osceola in Barton Flats, California.

The last time I attended Girls' Camp for our LDS youth was in August 1977, almost 35 years ago.  I was a 22-year-old counselor and my 17-year-old sister Karla was one of the youths attending Camp Hemohme near Wrightwood, California.  Those were such fun times!

I never did attend Girls' Camp as a teenager myself.  I was so terribly shy as a teen that I couldn't face being away from home with other young ladies I felt I barely knew.  I wish I'd had more courage back then.  I realize now how much I missed out on!

Our ward camp director Kathy; Young Women president Wyndie;
YW 2nd counselor Mary (me); and YW 1st counselor Jennifer.

This week, as the 2nd counselor in our ward's Young Women presidency, I had the opportunity to attend Girls' Camp as one of the adult leaders.  What a great experience it was!

Twelve of the thirteen girls from our ward who attended camp this year.

We are blessed with one of the sweetest and strongest groups of young ladies I've ever had the pleasure to know.  I'm always impressed by the fearless faith and Christlike love they demonstrate in their daily lives.  They reach out to everyone around them with love and kindness.  Even the shyest girls know they are welcomed and wanted.  They truly live according to Christ's words, "If ye are not one ye are not mine" (Doctrine and Covenants 38: 27).

Our ward's campsite, with "Faith" banner.

The 2012 theme for Young Women is "Arise and Shine Forth," and the theme for Girls' Camp was "The University of 'U': Live It."  Each of the wards in our stake (made up of 7 wards and the Fort Apache Branch) was assigned a "College" of one of the 8 Young Women Values: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. 

The campers gather for camp songs, skits, competitions, and other activities.

Our group became the College of Faith.  We participated in fun tasks related to our college, such as filming a "college recruiting" video (featuring Angels of Faith taking classes to learn how to help young ladies develop their faith during times of difficulty)and cheering our class motto each time our ward was called on: "Faith, faith, that's our call, come and join us one and all!  Goooooo, faith!"

The beautiful grounds of Wallace Ranch.

In all, 130 young ladies gathered at Girls' Camp, which was held at Wallace Ranch again this year.  The camp they've used in the past near Alpine, AZ, was damaged during the Wallow Fire last summer, so Wallace Ranch has hosted us twice now while new facilities are built. 

This worked out well for me, since I was quite sick with a developing case of bronchitis during the 4 days of camp.  It's just a 20-minute drive from my house to Wallace Ranch (about 15 miles).  Not only is it a blessing to live right here in the beauty of the White Mountains, but it allowed me to go home and sleep in my own bed on the second night of camp and drive into town to see my doctor for an antibiotic prescription! 

One of our girls (pink shirt) tied for first place by balancing 7 Oreos on her face!

The girl on the left is a YCL (Youth Camp Leader) from our ward.
She was also the camp music director.  Here she is leading the girls in a camp song.

Four of our young College of Faith girls enthusiastically join in the singing.

President Jensen, President Shumway, and President Beeler
delight the girls with a skit as mustachioed college professors and an elements of life chart.

On the second night, our stake presidency came out to join the girls.  It was fun to see the less serious side of these wonderful men.  They were quite entertaining!  After their skit, they and their wives shared uplifting messages with the girls.

It wasn't easy to get pictures of the Singing Trees!

After dark following the presentations by the stake presidency, we participated in an inspiring activity called Singing Trees.  Each ward gathered their girls around a tree in the dark.  Then, one by one, each tree was lit up while the girls sang a song to represent their College. 

Our College went first.  Shining our flashlights up into the branches of our tree, we sang a Primary song:
  "Faith is knowing the sun will rise, lighting each new day.
    Faith is knowing the Lord will hear my prayers each time I pray.
    Faith is like a little seed; if planted it will grow.
    Faith is a swelling within my heart.  When I do right, I know.
    Faith is knowing I lived with God before my mortal birth.
    Faith is knowing I can return when my life ends on earth.
    Faith is trust in God above, in Christ who showed the way.
    Faith is strengthened, I feel it grow, whenever I obey."

Then we shut off our lights, and a moment later another tree was lit up and a new song began. It was beautiful.

Our bishopric prepares dinner for our girls.  Left-to-right:
Bishop Trace Wengert, 1st counselor Grant Berges, and 2nd counselor Joshua Hall.

After the stake presidency visit and the Singing Trees, we returned to camp and had our ward devotional, led by our two YCLs.  At that point, I drove home to spend the night in my own bed, but I returned the next afternoon after seeing my doctor.

This third night was the final night of camp, and it was devoted to the individual wards.  Our bishopric and their wives joined us for games and dinner, after which we walked back down to the gathering place to join with all 130 girls for more singing and competitions, including having all seven bishops and the branch president compete in a scripture chase (which, sadly, we did not win).

Until next summer!

Finally, the girls sang the camp theme song, "I Will Live It," for their gathered bishoprics.  It was a lovely end to the last evening of camp.  I'm already looking forward to next year!

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