So this summer I got the opportunity to serve as a 1st year certification specialist for our stake girls camp at Camp Lehi in Santa Cruz. This was actually the 13th time I've gone to girls camp (6 as a youth & 6 as a leader), but it was the first time I got to go with one of my girls. Cadence was THRILLED to have me there with her.
We actually got there early Tuesday morning before the rest of the 1st & 2nd years & their leaders got there. Most of the other leadership was already there so we snuck into Helaman Hall (the chow hall) & had some amazing breakfast while we figured out where we needed to be. As we were eating breakfast, the men at camp caught this beauty under one of the tables.
The joys of camping - SPIDERS, SNAKES, SCORPIONS, oh my!
This was the biggest black widow spider I've ever seen in my life & I've seen a LOT.
The first day was great. I got Cadence where she needed to go with her 2nd year leaders & I helped the 1st years find their leaders & do the scavenger hunt. Then I headed back to Helaman Hall to set up for my certification while the girls set up their tents, etc.
The first day of certification was all first aid. I taught them the Heimlich, the 4 things you do in an emergency, how to stop bleeding, how to treat for shock, what to do if you're poisoned, etc. I taught them to fold a cravat bandage using a bandana & we talked about the importance of first aid kits & what goes inside one.
I sewed each of my girls these first aid kits to keep in their tents/purses/backpacks. I make them for my girls too & they love them. Inside are bandaids, gauze, alcohol pads, & moleskin. I have Neosporin & tick remover tools in mine too. :-)
I made each 1st year a lanyard with a checklist of everything they had to certify in before leaving camp. That kept me organized so I knew what still needed to be taught & where each girl was.
While I waited for certification time, I of course got a tick. . . because I would be the first person to get a tick & seriously within 2 hours of arriving at camp. That's just my luck.
Luckily I saw it on my arm & when I tried to brush it off, it ran up my sleeve. So naturally I ran up to the nurses hut to try to have them get it before it attached itself. But, it was a really mean tick & attached itself good & hard within seconds of seeing it. It took about 10 minutes to get him out & they got him completely out which was great. We had wonderful medical staff up there. However, we quickly learned that I'm obviously allergic to ticks. My entire shoulder & upper arm swelled up & locked up where I couldn't bend them for 2 days. Luckily nothing else happened & now everything is back to normal.
Our theme for Girls Camp this year was
The Force is Strong with Us.
I thought it was such a cute theme. The stake leaders went all out with this theme. From costumes, to decor, to even food. . . everything was amazing.
The 2nd day of camp was my big day. I had to teach my first year girls how to cook 2 things on a camp stove (basically make & eat breakfast & lunch with them) & then do a 3 mile hike that I planned myself. I've been going back & forth to these mountains for 3 months trying to plan this hike, clear it of poison oak, & just make sure I don't get lost. I've been SO nervous.
Breakfast went great. We made breakfast burritos on 3 different types of camp stoves & they were delicious. The girls loved them.
Then we set off on our hike. This hike was HARD. I'm not going to sugar coat it or make it out to be easier than it was. It was hard as hard can be. The first .7 miles is straight down a mountain using switchbacks with a cliff on one side. I prayed & prayed & prayed nobody would fall off the cliff. There were parts where we had to lift each other down the side of the mountain & it was just tough. The other 1.5 miles wasn't too bad. It was down a rocky road & we ended up singing some military cadences that I made up to fit Girls Camp. They LOVED that. We sang & sang until we lost our voices. Finally we made it to the Waters of Mormon. It was beautiful. I gave the girls a snack & also gave them each 2 letters to read - one from their parents & one from their ward bishop. It was really neat for them to sit down in a quiet place in nature & read those personal letters from people who loved them. This was my favorite part of camp.
I seriously had a great group of girls. I had 19 girls & 3 adult leaders with me & they really were troopers. Hiking back up that same trail was tough. Especially going up that last .7 miles! It was scary, but we worked HARD & we worked together & we made it without any accidents.
The rest of the day the girls got to shower & we had choice time where we got to go & do whatever sounded fun. I used my choice time every day to go visit Cadence & see how she was doing. She especially loved doing the crafts & archery. I loved being able to spend some time with her.
And of course we had our "duties" to do at camp. . . most of which involved killing spiders in the bathrooms. (Did I mention a spider fell on my face while I was showering the 2nd day? Awesome right?)
My favorite part of camp was the food. The lady that is the head cook for Girls Camp is the most amazing person I've ever met. She's such a sweetheart & let me tell you, I've never eaten so well in my life. Every meal was like a gourmet dinner.
Choice time was most everyone's favorite time of the day. There were 10 different stations the girls could choose from to spend 3 hours & everything was fun from a climbing wall to a swing to mountain biking. My favorite choice time activity was the hammocks. I loved swinging in the trees & taking naps. (Seriously. They were the best naps ever!)
Cadence really like the archery range so I did some archery with her. It was a lot of fun.
Thursday night there was a special dinner put on for the unit leaders & they deserved it. I don't know what I would have done without my 3 wonderful ladies helping with the 1st years.
Each unit leader was in charge of 6 girls. I swear I had the best unit leaders at camp. They were SO fun.
Cadence had some pretty cool people in her unit too. I'm grateful for her fun unit leader.
Another favorite at camp was the campfire & skits each night. Cadence was a stormtrooper in one of the skits. Even though she is painfully shy, she did a great job. I was proud of her.
The last day at camp we had an all camp activity. We hiked about 6 miles that day which was really tough (we were all SO exhausted from everything else we'd be doing), but it was really fun. They set up a neat little
where the girls got to learn some team building exercises to help them to "use the force."
The wall was probably the hardest but most rewarding part of the jedi training. The whole team of girls had to get over the wall. They took turns pulling & pushing each other over the wall. The last person was the hardest & I loved the lesson they learned with it. None of teams were able to get their last girl over the wall on their own, someone had ot step in & help just like when we have struggles in our lives & think we just can't do it anymore, the Savior steps in & lifts us up & helps us over those walls. Such a beautiful lesson.
It was really neat watching Cadence go over that wall. :-)
At the end of jedi training they had a whole obstacle course set up for each of the girls to do. It was HILARIOUS.
There was a Jabba the Hut that we had to toss hoola hoops over (think ring toss)
And there were stormtroopers we had to shoot with bows & arrows!
There was a lazer crawl & a lava pit balance beam,
and a death star that we had to "shoot" lasers (pool noodles) through.
At the end the girls had to dodge tie fighters to the finish line.
I mean seriously, how cute is that? Like I said, they had some pretty creative & amazing women up here at camp.
Camp was wonderful. It was a great experience for Cadence & for all the girls & I must admit, I loved it too. We had a ton of fun, grew spiritually, & felt like we could take on the world afterwards.
On our way home, I took Cadence out for mexican food to celebrate a great week. I'm SO glad I was asked to help this year.