Steve & I were super excited to be able to send our big girls to summer camp this year. Attending SEP, both as campers & as workers was definitely a highlight for both of us. Getting the chance to provide a similar experience for our kids has been really important to us! Having moved from Utah to Florida since making plans for them to go definitely complicated the process of figuring out the logistics of getting them to SEP Rockies in Colorado. Our initial plan of just flying them turned out to not be so awesome either because of the escort fees required since Alyssa is still eleven. Steve's persistence paid off though, and we were able to secure a spot for them on a van leaving from East Texas. Still, we are living a looong way from East Texas! Steve had the genius idea of seeing if someone might be willing to come pick them up from the Welcome Center in Mississippi at Vicksburg & drive them to East Texas to catch the van. Soooooo....despite my initial misgivings, we found the perfect couple to grant them safe journey from Vicksburg to Big Sandy....all I had to do was drive 330+ miles with all 5 kids to drop them off & another 330+ with the remaining three littles back to Florida. After 2,000 miles from Utah to Alabama, that should be nothing, right??
|I think they missed each other|
It was a little crazy getting them all packed up, & I know they (& I) were both excited & nervous! The drive to Vicksburg was uneventful, and we met up with Doug & Bonnie Strub without incident. It was kind of hard to say goodbye, but I knew we all had a lot of miles yet to cover! I have to be honest & admit that I missed the help of my bigs every time I had to stop for gas & bathrooms on the way home! See that picture of little feet dangling off the toilet?? Yeah, this happened while I was in the middle of changing Katie's diaper, and of course, he locked the door....it was a bit of an adventure getting him out & cleaned up & such, but hey, we managed!!
|This was what he was up to when I was changing Katie's diaper|
The reality that we were actually leaving home first hit me after Mom dropped Alyssa and I off at the welcome center with Mr. Doug and Mrs. Bonnie Strub. Until then, the whole camp thing seemed a distant event, but I realized that it was really happening during the drive to Texas. This was the first time I had ever been away from home for such an extended period of time, so I didn't know quite what to expect. Alyssa and I stayed the night with Mr. George and Mrs. Sarah Strub. It turned out that we really got along well with their daughter Rebecca.
|The crazy boys on the van...|
The next day we got up at 4:30 am and drove to the Strub's church, where we then left in a van to make the journey to Colorado. I will admit I was a bit taken aback at the large quantity of boys aboard the van, but I managed to survive ;) After a full day of car time, we finally arrived in the Denver area, where we stayed a few days before the camp started. We had a whole Saturday of free time, so we took the opportunity to go to the mall where we played glow-in-the-dark mini golf.
|Girls Tea Party|
The next day we drove to Conifer, Colorado, the home of SEP Rockies. Naturally, I was intimidated by the large crowd, but it didn't take too long for me to acclimate myself to my surroundings. I didn't even have time to be homesick because of all the activites! The camp sported riflery (one of my favorites), dance, tracks, volleyball, soccer (another of my favorites), ultimate frisbee, drama, and more. Alyssa and I both had Miss Brittany Egbert as our counselor, which was an adventure in it of itself :) I think camp was a great experience and I can't wait for next year! I feel like I grew my relationship with God and I enjoyed spending some time around quality people and some great kids, too!
#1. Apprehensive -- I was overwhelmed by the fact that I would be staying with and spending time around so many strangers. I also felt unsure about the fact that I was an "exception" and everyone else would be twelve (or older), while I was still eleven.
|The girls' crazy counselor|
|Alyssa and her counselor Ms. Egbert (Brittany)|
I feel like I've finally made peace with my life right now. I miss the camp experience & the friends I made there, and I can't wait to go again next year, but I'm learning to choose contentment in the place God has for me right now. Now I understand why my parents told me that camp had the potential to impact me for always. Some things that I've learned and experienced there will be with me for the rest of my life.
And back again!!! (By Mom)
I have to admit that it was a wee bit nerve-wracking to not hear anything from our girls all week! I knew that no news was good news, but still... I was praying for them, and the other campers & staff, for the week. I know how life-changing camp can be, & I was praying that for all involved! Steve & I were excited to see how Shanan & Alyssa were impacted. I was admittedly a bit afraid that they would be quiet as a mouse when I picked them up, & information would filter out slowly.
It was so awesome seeing them come running across the parking lot when I picked them up! Watching Katie's reaction, especially, was so cool! She was clearly enchanted with them, and it was so obvious that she'd missed them...& the feeling was mutual! And...they were bubbling over with all sorts of tidbits about things that happened! It was awesome to see how good the whole experience had been for *both* girls! Totally worth all the complexities of figuring out how to get them there! And, we're happy to make it all happen again next summer, complexities & all! :) A big thank you to all of you who helped make SEP possible for Shanan & Alyssa this summer -- you know who you are! :)