Sunday, June 30, 2013

Family Camp highlights!!!

Thank you for your prayers, our week at Family Camp was full of God's blessings big and small!  I just knew that we would be under attack leading up to Family Camp (4 out of 5 of us falling victim to the stomach bug just before leaving) because I had already had so many fears as to how it was going to work out with Grace there, etc.  It's no wonder that the enemy (the author of fear) wanted to distract us and possibly prevent us from making it to Family Camp because it is truly a place were God is glorified by the uniting and strengthening of families!  At Family Camp, we were reunited with so many families and counselors (staff) that are near and dear to our hearts, as they prayed us through one of the most difficult years of our lives with unwavering faith.  Grace was certainly a celebrity at Family Camp, since she is living proof of answered prayers (even if the answer we received from God was "no" :-).  Remember, God said "no" I won't heal her from her serious heart defects without requiring surgery and "no" she needs to have Up's in order for y'all to become who I created you to be.  God's "no" was hard to hear a year ago, but we celebrate His "no" today; it is good because HE is good!  What an honor to celebrate with the families and staff at Pine Cove!  For those of you who don't know what Family Camp is exactly....  it's impossible to explain because it's one of those things that you have to experience for yourself to understand just how AMAZING it is, but I'll do my best to give you a glimpse of a vacation full of pure sweetness (and craziness :-)!

For starters, the counselors are in large part what makes Family Camp so special!  These counselors are college age men and women, who know and love the Lord deeply, so deeply that they choose to spend their summers serving families every single minute that they are awake.  They do everything possible to prevent you from having to lift a finger (they serve you each meal, cut your kids food for them, beg to hold your baby so that you can eat or just relax, etc).  They have a way of pouring into your kids in a way that causes your kids to want to spend every second possible with them.  Our kids faces seriously light up when they see these counselors and to be honest my face lights up too because I'm so grateful that my kids have the opportunity to look up to such God honoring men and women and they are so encouraging and affirming to David and I as parents :-).
Here are two of many very special counselors to us...  The kids fell in love with "Hunka" last year, so it was such a treat to get to see him again this year...

We met "Manly Stanley" for the first time this year and he was extra special to us for many reasons, with one of them being that he found us on the first day to tell us that he has a 14 year old sister with Up's.  The way he spoke about her and how much he loves her was just precious!  We were actually blessed with the opportunity to meet his family (including his sweet sister with Up's) one night, since they had come into town (all the way from Georgia) to visit him for the 24 hours that they get off between camps.  In the short time I was able to talk with his mother, she shared with me some insights and encouraging words that I will carry with me forever!  Praising God to have met this sweet family!  On a side note...  they have something called "camper call," where some of the counselors come early in the morning to get your kids up and take them to breakfast so that you can have some alone time with your spouse (we did the breakfast trail ride, where you ride a horse on a trail until you get to a place were you have a cowboy breakfast and then ride back- it's super cool!) and while at breakfast that morning, apparently everyone marveled at how "Manly Stanely" got Grace to sleep on his shoulder despite all the noise/chaos and her Mommy and Daddy not being there.  He must have some serious skills, that's all I can say...


Here is a typical day at Family camp...  Each morning after breakfast, we have family worship time outside...

 and then family devotionals where our assigned counselor for the week joins us....

Next the kids go with their counselors (where they have all kinds of fun!)...
This was during a glow stick dance party, that's where all the crazy colors come from...

 while the kids are with their counselors, the adults go to speaker sessions, where we have the opportunity to learn valuable truths about God's word and how to apply them in our daily lives.  Then, we eat lunch as a family (at each meal the counselors do fun skits, etc) and after lunch the kids go back with their counselors while the adults get to have some free time.  Adult free time is a chance when many people go in the pool or rest, but not if your married to David the energizer bunny who never likes to sit down :-).  We had a great time playing pickle ball (it's a cross between tennis and ping pong) most days in one million degree weather.  It was actually a lot of fun since we can get competitive (in a fun way),  the proof of that was what we looked like after playing for just 30ish minutes... we looked like we had just gone swimming (sorry, no pictures of that pretty sight :-).  Next, you have family free time where you can go horse back riding, zip lining, wake boarding, swimming, go in the lagoon on the giant slide, blob, battle bridge, etc).


Lastly, you have theme night dinners or date night, followed by "club" where we worship as a family with lots of energy and motions!  So, that's a general overview of what a week at Family Camp looks like, but you have to take what ever you are picturing now and multiple it by a thousand and then you will be a little closer to getting a feel for it :-).

MUSICAL THEATRE theme night...
 Grace was obsessed with doing zurberts all night, so most of our pictures are of her doing this face :-)
 Grace had so much fun that she knocked out sitting up during dinner with all kinds of excitement going on around her...

SPACE COWBOY theme night...

 They had a rodeo after dinner and the kids got to chase counselors dressed up as cows to try to get a flag off of them..
 And the grown ups got to chase real calves to try to get a ribbon off of their tail.  David was the first one to catch a calf...

We also had a date night and a PIRATE theme night...


Here are some more specific highlights from our week...  Our first day was rough for Grace and I because when she was awake in her class she was not happy (remember she isn't suppose to cry for more than 15ish minutes), so I was ready to call my Mother in Love to come get her and keep her for the rest of the week because I was afraid that Grace was going to be miserable there.  Not to mention that Grace has never even been in our church's nursery, so the thought of her spending a good bit of the day in her class was a lot for my brain (and heart) to take in.  Also, there were so many sweet, ready, and willing arms that wanted to hold her (during meals, etc); however, I had a lot of anxiety about it because of my fear of germs (remember my love of hand gel and lysol?).  The first day we sang "How great is our God" during one of our worship sessions and through my tears (that were flowing from the anxiety and uncertainty I was feeling about how to mange the week with Grace), I begged God for His peace and the ability to trust in His provision for the week.  That song reminded me at that moment of just how big and great God is and it was at that point that I felt my anxiety begin to subside.  I have to admit it didn't go away completely that instant, but by day two of camp, Grace and I experienced God's peace in the most tangible way...  Grace grew to love her class/teachers, she even ate full bottles for them (you know feeding has never been easy for Grace, so this really felt like a miracle for me)!  More people held and loved on Grace this week than in the past 10 months of her life combined and I loved every minute of it!  Once again, I was reminded that when I open my hands (stop holding onto to my will and my fears), exercising my faith, it unleashes God's power and the end result is His perfect peace and joy!

Grace with her teachers, "Trips" and "Pie Fly"...  Grace and "Trips" were a match made in heaven because Grace loves when you sing to her and "Trips" is an amazing singer!
 I promise Grace loved "Pie Fly" she was just super tired on the last day and started getting fussy right before we took this picture :-).  These girls worked hard to win Grace over and they were certainly successful!
Grace thought that all of the counselors singing, dancing, jumping around, and chanting were super entertaining...  I must have too, check out how hard I'm laughing :-)

At the end of camp each child gets a "character quality award" which is when their teachers recognize them for a character quality that they observed in them throughout the week.  Abigail got "thoughtful" and Andrew got "considerate". Their teachers pointed out how they were compassionate and thoughtful to their classmates and teachers, but especially to their very special friend Julia!  Julia is such a special girl to our family, she's 15 years old and is confined to a wheel chair (or while at Family Camp, a jogging stroller :-) and while she can't talk, Abigail and Andrew love to communicate with her in their own way.  It would melt my heart to see their genuine love for Julia.  If they saw her at a distance they would beg us to run and go say hi to her, they would argue about who got to sit next to her and hold her hand, Abby loved reading her books, Andrew would wipe her mouth with her blanket or cover her legs in case she was cold.  I told the kids that they could each make one craft at the camp craft store (only because it cost money, otherwise I would have let them craft away :-) and Abigail had her heart set on making Julia a shirt.  Here is a picture of Abigail, Andrew, and Julia (she's wearing the shirt that Abigail made for her).
 Abigail and Andrew with their teachers "TiBi" and "Thunder" after receiving their character awards!

Abigail also got the "Best Around Award" which was one of about five awards they gave out the last day to random people for random things...  When they were giving out the award they said, "this person looks super sweet, but when she gets on the battle bridge (where you get on a little plastic island in the lagoon with a helmet on and try to throw the other person off into the water) she beats everyone that challenges her, even bigger/older boys."  She may be small, but she's mighty!

We are all missing Family Camp in a big way, but our future camp counselor (Abigail) continues to do the counselors chants and cheers over and over and over and over and over and over.... so, I guess we will have to do camp at home until next year (Lord willing of course).  If you are looking for a great family vacation, I would love to tell you more about Family Camp or you can check out their website at
http://www.pinecove.com/family-camps/.  Don't think that you have to live in Texas to go to Family Camp because plenty of people come from all over :-).

 ***an added bonus to Family Camp is that they take pictures and video all throughout the week, so you don't have to (you get the pictures and video at no additional cost)!

Thank you village for praying us through Family Camp!!!  Your prayers were answered and felt!!!
























































2 comments:

Julie Wigle said...

Gosh, Family Camp sounds like it would be perfect for our family!!!! Thanks for sharing! Glad it was wonderful, and I LOVE your hair Kristi!

Caryn said...

Wow! Looks like you all had a blast making sweet family memories! What a blessing!