Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Family Glamp

The Barn - where we stayed

Did I mention we went to Family Camp last weekend?  Oh.  I did?  Well, I think the idea is so novel, until I reach "obnoxious" status and you all tap out and say, "Stop talking about this already" I will keep on posting my favorite pictures (I took a multitude).

We've grown up in church and so camp is not a new concept to us.  Attending weeks worth of summer camps every year when we were younger obviously was not enough, because we kept right on attending summer camps as grown ups.  Aaron has either taken youth groups to camp, led worship at a camp, or taught at a camp for most of our married life.  Moral of this story?  We've been to a lot of camps.  The other moral of this story?  Our threshold for consuming instant mashed potatoes and powdered eggs is, without question, abnormal.

When this new church we joined announced Family Camp was approaching, I instantly knew two things.  1. We were going.  2.  I would have to grin and bear it - because let's face it.  Going to camp is a lot like hanging out in someone's scab for a few days.

We forked over the money and I started packing bags because I knew - the kids would have fun, hanging out with friends is always really great, and hey - camp may be the reason why Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer were invented.

You can imagine how quickly my jaw hit the floor when I opened up the door to our "room" and beheld this glorious site.  Church Glamping.  Oh heavenly day.

Camp Tejas is beautiful.  Most of the buildings not only contain adorable rooms, they also have a common area where families can hang out together while babies are napping or after the kids are down for the night.

Don't you want to live here?

The campground is wooded.  It's quiet.  There are trails for walking and running. 

Someone else cooked all of my children's meals.  They gorged on sugary cereals, unlimited juice, and all the foods I've worked really hard to convince them contain cancer.  "You can't get cancer at camp, sweetie."  When I told him the news, Ashton's face lit up.  He ate until he was about to explode at every meal.  Camp Tejas even accommodated Hudson's gluten-free diet.  They also accommodated my need to drink coffee .03 seconds after opening my eyes in the morning - and then to drink coffee about 10 minutes later - and then an hour later - and then 3 hours later - you get the point.  There seemed to be coffee machines (with espresso option!) around every bend.  I think they may keep coffee machines in the woods.  Just in case.

I had many favorite moments at camp. I loved getting to be with my kids and with other families from our church while our children were experiencing activities they don't encounter every day (or ever).  Watching them work together, navigate friendships, and understand each other better was a gift.

The kids and families played games together.

The men attempted to hospitalize one another.

There was a great deal of swimming.  The swimming pool has a lazy river, diving boards, and a giant water slide.

What stuck out to me the most was what a privilege it was to be present with my kids during moments when they were confronted with fear.  I can't put into words what it feels like to watch your child want to do something and then watching fear cause them to shrink back.  We were given the privilege this weekend to walk with our kids through their uncertainty.  They were given opportunities to trust us as their parents - "I wouldn't allow you to slide down this zip line if I thought you would get hurt.  I really like you, remember?  I want to keep you around. You're going to be so proud of yourself when this is over.  It's only scary for a minute.  Then it's fabulous - something you'll never forget - a moment you'll have with you for the rest of your life.  Fear steals from us.  It causes us to turn our back on what we really want.  Will you trust us?"

We stood with other parents as they spoke the same encouraging words over their own children.  That moment when a child overcomes fear and realizes what a liar it can be - it's beautiful.  Getting to clap and cheer and celebrate with our own kids and kids from church when they lived out that moment?  What an honor.

Every single time they tried something new or stood up to their fear and gave it a confident mooning, I was overcome with gratitude that I was there with them.  It was a pleasure to witness these moments of victory, faith, and reward with our boys.

I forgot to tell you - while we were at camp, Ashton was raptured.  He went straight home to be with Jesus.  Look at all the other children's faces.  So sad.  They wish they could go.  Ashton was the only one that was ready, I guess.  The rest of us immediately got out our Tim Lahay books and began to prepare.  

The campground was posh.  The memories our kids made seem like pure treasure. The opportunity to be present and celebrate with our kids when they took risks and experienced new emotions and activities was really meaningful. Putting kids to bed at night and hanging out with friends until so late I kind of wanted to cry - was worth every second of lost sleep.  I think it's harder in this day and age and this season of life to make and keep friends.  Life is busy.  It's full.  Purposefully slowing down and carving out space to be together as a family and with other families we know seems like a really smart investment of time and money.  Camp Tejas is the perfect location for bringing all of those pieces together. This was our first family camp, but we loved it so much our kids are down-right irked we don't have the date set for next year so they can write FAMILY CAMP in sharpie marker on the calendar.

If you live in Texas, Camp Tejas not only hosts summer camps, they also are available for retreats, or even for families to get away and hang out together.  Camp Tejas is located in Giddings - which is only about an hour's drive from where we live.  

What about you?  Have you ever been to Family Camp?  Does your church do this?  Family Camp is a relatively new concept to me.  Would you go if your church offered this model?  Do you agree it's harder to make and keep friends when you're in the season of life that involves working a lot and raising a houseful of kids?

I loved this article in the New York Times about how difficult it can be to make friends when you're over 30.  The comments are interesting too.

Long live Family Camp.  And the coffee machines.  

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Sarah R. said...

our church started doing a church camp about 4 years ago. a weekend at a camp in the mountains for anyone from church who wants to attend (purposely not called family camp since there are members of the congregation who are single etc.). it is not fancy but we LOVE it! it is the highlight of our year. worship, fun, games, late night conversations, kids running wild. awesome! can't wait for heaven!

Hendrick Family said...

Sarah -

So cool that your church does this too. I bet the mountains are beautiful. Singles came to camp too this weekend. I'm glad they weren't scared away by the name!


Sarah Kuhner said...

I absolutely love family camp. I have been going every year for the last 7. My little girls love the freedom to run and play without mommy holding their hand. I think what I love best is the time we have to just talk to other families and get to know other people in the church. My girls learned to go down little rapids in the river by themselves, play gutter ball and win, swing on super tall rope swings and get really, really dirty. What more do you want in life.

thad said...

Sarah R: Shhh...don't tell Heather, but we purposefully call ours Church Camp and not Family Camp for the same reason.

By the way, that little speech was pretty much the same one I gave myself the first time I had to jump off that tower because one of my kids wanted to go as long as I'd go with them. My version of it was just a bit more colorful.

Hendrick Family said...

Ha! Well - no wonder they aren't scared away by the name!

A+ for listening skills!


Gina said...

"Ashton was raptured." I laughed out loud while on the phone with American Airlines.

Amanda Jones said...

We went to a family camp type of thing at Tejas when I was about 9 with my parents' BFF's and their kids. That experience is one of my favorite childhood memories. We still talk about it today. As soon as I saw a picture of the lake on your last post, I knew where you'd been. We went back to Tejas for a youth camp a few years ago and I loved reliving it and seeing the awesome new facilities. I think it's time to go back now that our kids are older. Anyway, I loved this post!

Amy M. said...

I've been going to Camp Tejas for 3 years on a Church Summer Camp. Every year is even more wonderful than the last. I can understand what it was like to be there. It's wonderful to be there and away from society and school. To just let things go, is a great change that everyone needs every now and then.