Saturday, June 25, 2011

Church Camp

I know, I know, its a lot of pictures. But we had an absolutely amazing opportunity on Thursday to go up and visit our friends the Pfanschmidt Meyaards, and I took a boatload of pictures. I know all three of you, my faithful blog readers, know Amy so I figure what the hey, I'll post the pics.

Confession: I never went to a Church Camp. My sister got to go when she was in high school, but I was a mess in high school, and rarely did anything or associated with anybody. And didn't seriously develop my relationship with God until after I got married. But Eric went to church camp a few summers, and I have countless friends who tell tales of the awesomeness of the church camps of their youth. Topping that list was always Amy. It was actually a dream come true to finally visit this camp of hers. And what a dream.
We were about an hour from lunchtime by the time we arrived, so we went straight to the camp instead of hunting down her place first. It was easy to get find, lots of signs. And beautiful? Oh, slightly hilly, wooded, enclosed, we drove by a lake, over a river. For a city girl like me, getting out into the woods, but still having the benefits of civilization, like hot food, and bathroom plumbing is sheer heaven.

Chris ran out of the car over to Amy and the girls, and they hit the field. There are these little corrals, a couple of them, and the game is called Gaga. Our kids didn't play by the official rules, which blessedly were written on the side, and later I saw a game played by the big kids. But the object is the throw the small ball and bean other kids (like dodgeball) from the knees down. Our kids preferred kicking, although Chris really wanted to just take the ball and run.

And run he did. Being at this camp was so freeing for us. He just Ran. Ran off to find a playground. Ran off to just run with his friends. Seeing his pure joy brought tears to my eyes, and Praises to my heart.

It had probably been months since I was in a place where I could just let Chris go run. He has not been out of my sight or the sight of other capable adults, in ages. Same with Sam, I have to be close, but at this playground, they were safe, there wasn't a pond for them to fall into, or strangers to snatch them. We were safe and sound, and in a wide open space, I could see all around us, and there were big kids doing their own thing. And Chris was having a great time, playing Pirate and Cowboy, and Pirate Cowboy. They had these great log horses. They even had names engraved on them. Chris's was Pokey.

The girls' horse was Bucky, and Bucky always seemed to lead in every race. Chris and even Sam were trying so hard to get Bucky to catch up. He never did though. ;)

Ah yes, the Battle of the Pirates, where all the children had sticks. And the pirates chased the girls up/off the plank. There was a lot of stick sword fighting, but blessedly only one instance of child being hit by stick. Chris got Shay, not even hard enough to make her cry, but I saw it, and he did his time out, and went back in swinging...swinging Nicely. Oddly enough, Chris seemed really well behaved. I had to get strict, but neither of us lost control entirely.

John 17:21 "I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me." New Living Translation

A Beautiful stained glass window in the lodge, just above the entry into the cafeteria.

As if I wasn't already amazed by all the beauty that surrounded me, I get even more surprised by the dose that suprised me with changes in Chris too. They take Personal Responsibility very seriously here. You set the table, you bring food to the table, share, and you only take as much as you can eat, if you leave too much, it goes to the pigs, into a bucket for the pigs that kids have to take turns taking down the hill to the pigs. If there's no leftovers, no one has to take the bucket. Chris leapt right into the role of helpful child. He started off by grabbing cups and joining his friends in Setting the Table. "This never happens at home."

During lunch (not breakfast or dinner) there's a lot of cheers by the kids, lots of yelling. And during Cheers the kids are allowed to Stand on their chairs. Here's another amazing Chris moment: when he saw some kids get up on their chairs, he said we don't stand on our chairs. Such a good boy! I told him, it was ok if he held Mommy's hand while he was standing to be safe. Which he did. Once it was clear, he was actually fine standing up there, I let go. But he grabbed on to Shay and they sang some little cheer about Not being no stinky critter or something like that. It was so adorable.

And my kid ate! Grilled cheese. (He never eats grilled cheese at home.) Both kids ate. And as a superbly awesome added bonus, when they brought dessert around, it was Push Pops. I think it had probably been a good decade since I had a push pop. Pretty sure the boys had never had one. So they each got one. I tried to share, but they'd have none of it. They got coated in blissful orange goo, and it was great.

Even Sam. Baby's first Push Pop. His lap was a gooey mess, and he was getting so mad at me for trying to clean him up. But it was Good.

The moral of the story here is: if you give a bunch of kids a lot of sugar, say in the form of orange push pops, then you have let them Run.

From the Lodge, we headed out over to Amy's house. It's beautiful out there. I think Chris was there all of 2 seconds before he found the girls' room (which Amy had told me was over the top pink, but I actually love it!) and he hopped up to the top of the bunkbeds. Oh he's going to love living on the top bunk in our new house too.
But Baby Liam needed a nap, so we took the yahoos outside.

This is the view as the boys play on their front porch. How Peaceful is this?! Cornfields as far as the eye can see. The state road is about 1/2 mile up by the trees, if you look closely you can see a truck. But she's got rocking chairs on the porch for everyone, I could've sat and rocked, watching the boys play All Day. No lake to worry about them falling into or street to worry about them getting hit by cars. The kids don't have the stamina to walk all the way up to the highway. Gorgeous, and Relaxing, and Quiet. Yeah, I could live there too.

I'm not the only one that enjoys the rocking chairs. Bryn was showing Chris how it was done.

Next thing I know Shay and Chris are parked on the couch watching the original Care Bears movie. "Nicolas....." and Amy and I were consulting on all things Glee. She really is a fount of information and a great giver of CDs. She made me a soundtrack from the concert we went to, I listened to it all the way home.

When Liam woke up, he and Sam played sweetly for about 10 minutes before it was clear Sam needed a nap. SuperSam made it 4 p.m. with no nap, he was out cold 5 minutes down the road.

But what a great visit. And what a beautiful place. I totally could see why God called them to be there. Ben had a peace about him, as he had lunch with us (I know right, In the middle of the day!) and was smiling, and I hadn't them all that happy in a very very long time. I miss them terribly, but I am so comforted to see for myself how wonderful their new life at the camp is, and I am comforted that God laid the path, and provided for them, and though it was a hard decision for them to make to move their, it was definitely the Right one.

And hey, now we get to go visit any time we want. And I know where I can crash when my boys are old enough to go to camp. And I can't wait until they are old enough to go to Camp too!


Elizabeth said...

Thanks for the great story and pictures! Looks amazing!