Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Condition Does Not Define Me

Just a warning, this is going to be a more contemplative and serious post. It is also all about me, which does make me a little uncomfortable, but it needs to be written. You don't have to read it. You don't have to leave comments. Those both would be appreciated. Honestly, this is a way to express some things that are weighing on my mind.

For some reason the following words have been running through my mind all day: "My condition does not define me". That does not mean that it is not a part of me, but it is not who I am. Yes, it has become a daily part of my life, that I struggle with at times, but there is more to me than that.

I'm a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a co-worker and most importantly a child of God. I'm a person who listens, cares and loves. I have dreams and passions. I love having fun and finding joy in the things around me. Seeing me at first glance, I may appear a little shy or I may appear a happy person. Either way, that is all a part of me.

Like everyone else, I have my struggles. It seems rather interesting that people tend to focus on the struggles and set those and defining or deciding factors. Ok. My stomach doesn't work. So what. That doesn't mean I can't cook meals with foods I can't eat or that it hampers my everyday life or that I am depressed and discouraged about it. Honestly, that ship set sail a long time ago. Granted there are some things that it limits but I've learned to adapt.

This has made me a stronger person. It has taught me to take care of myself and still allow others to live their own lives the way they are. I will not condemn someone for living a "normal life" or eating foods around me that I cannot eat. Please do those things. By not doing those things, you make me feel guilty and uncomfortable. I don't want to make people change who they are for me. Yes, some days smells will bother me. Yes, some days I just can't do as much, but please respect that and know that I am not doing it because you have offended me.

Above all, just like everyone else, I need friends and supports. We all struggle. Don't be scared to be my friend because of my condition. Friends make this seem non-existent at times, because it is the last thing on my mind when I am out and having fun. Just because I have this condition does not mean that I'll have it for life but I promise you it will effect the rest of my life, and not necessarily in the way you think.

I will always look for ways to help those who are struggling and try to become a friend and support system to them. I will be more aware of the blessings that I have been given and know that many of those blessings come through trials.It will not necessarily stop me from living a full and fulfilled life and enjoying all the opportunities that are given to me and that most people enjoy.

It may be a part of who I am but, My Condition Does Not Define Me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Girls Camp - Day 4

The Final Day. I woke up in the morning feeling super sad. I knew that by the end of the day it would be back to the real world and leaving the wonderful girls and leaders that I had come to know and love. However, the show must go on.

The  day started with packing up all of our stuff and cleaning up the camp site. The girls did wonderful and we all worked together to get everything done. It was great to see. I even heard girls discussing who got to clean the bathroom floor, because there was more than one girl who wanted to. Ha Ha. So great!

Once we got everything packed up, we had breakfast of muffins and fruit. While eating we talked about memories and some of the great times that we had. Honestly, everyone there had some great times! A

After breakfast, we gathered the girls and leaders for Kangaroo Court. Before going any further, let me explain what this is. Kangaroo Court is where each person is given an award that is somewhat humorous, actually really funny, and they have to stand in front of the judges and receive their awards without smiling. If they smile, they get squirted with a water gun.

I had the opportunity to help make up the awards with one of the other leaders. One of the girls decided she wanted to spy on us to see what we were doing, so we told her it was something for Kangaroo Court. She wasn't sure what it was. After a while, we told her she better go practice her kangaroo jumping because it may involved kangaroo wrestling. Ha Ha Ha. She did it too! In fact, we even got her to kangaroo wrestle with me to help her prepare for court the next day. It was way to funny and I wish we could have got that one video.

Anyways, the awards went over great and almost everyone laughed at theirs, I think all of the girls did. One almost didn't but I saw a smile, and that did her in.

That was followed by pictures and loading up the girls into cars and beginning the trek home. :( My car had fun on the ride home. One of the girls suggested we make up a story where we each share a little part and then pass it on to the next person. Our stories turned out pretty interesting. Ha Ha. We made a stop at Maverick for slushies or a drink or our choice and headed back to the church.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to get to know these amazing people. Each one touched me in one way or another. It was bittersweet because I knew that my time with the girls and leaders was over and that I wouldn't be able to spend much more time with them. However, I was so happy to have many new friends. Girls camp taught me a lot about myself. It was the best experience ever!

Oh, and as a post-note, I found out this morning that my time with the young women is not over. I have been called to serve in the young women program working with personal progress. So stinkin' excited!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Girls Camp - Day 3

This was the day of our hike. I woke up at 6 am to wake up the other leader going on the hike and prep the snacks and drinks for the hike. Upon leaving the tent, the first thing I noticed was that there was frost covering all of the cars and that it was cold. Between 6 and 6:15 (when we were going to wake up the girls going), I realized that my fingers and toes were so cold and they were only getting colder. The other leader, who was still in bed, and I decided to postpone the hike until a little later, when it had warmed up.
They all went back to sleep, but guess who couldn't sleep. I went back to my sleeping bag and warmed up for a while. Finally, I got up when I heard a fire going. Once we got going that morning, we had breakfast burritos (I had cereal and a nutrition drink) and we started prepping for the hike.
Not sure if I mentioned this in a previous post, but we were told there were snakes up there. The first day, the girls found a snake and I wasn't there for it. Ha Ha. The day before, one of the camp hosts had shown us a huge walking stick. He said to bring it with us while we were hiking and to bang it one the ground to scare the snakes away. For some reason, I got that job.
The trail we took was super scenic and it was relaxing for me. We saw one snake zipping into its hole, as to avoid us. I thought the stick was doing it's job so we kept it up. As we continued, there appeared to be a random brown stick in the middle of the trail. I was going to keep walking but I couldn't. Instead I stopped  and started banging the stick quicker. All of the sudden the "stick" took off for the grass and trees on the side of the trail. Oh man! The girls flipped, which looking back now makes me laugh because I just stood there pounding.
Remember how I said it was super pretty there. Here a picture:

This one was on the way back down. I'm guessing they forgot about the snakes because they kept walking way far from the stick. I did remind them once and withing 5 or 10 minutes we found another one. This time it was rustling in the grass by the side of the trail. Our priesthood leader and the other leader looked at it. Turns out, that one was shedding it's skin,
Anyway, enough about the hike, except to say that the girls were champions, did not complain much at all, and the weather turned out great!
After we got back, we had sandwiches for lunch and started doing crafts from finishing lanterns, to making lemon candles, to girls camp magnets (which sadly did not turn out that great). We also had a spa day for the girls. I know what you are thinking. You're camping. It wasn't anything too elaborate. They did oatmeal face masks, with cucumbers on their eyes. One girl wasn't going to do it. I ended up chasing her down with a blob of oatmeal mask on my hand. It ended with her sitting in a fetal position on the ground and me smearing the oatmeal on her knees. Ha Ha. It was great!!!
They also did manicures and soaked their hands and then painted their nails. One of the girls wanted to paint mine and finally convinced me to let her do them. I told her not to make it bright. She ended painting them hot pink. Ha Ha. I made her put some white on them to tone it down, which she added as polka dots. 
Next on the agenda was a nature walk where we took nice pictures of each girl individually and also took a lot of fun ones too! It was pretty fabulous and fun. My fourth year girl who helped plan it did great!
After the nature walk, we began dinner preparations, which would be dutch oven style chicken, potatoes, and cobbler (of course)!
Dinner took place a little later, but it was nice because we were able to decorate the table with the lanterns and candles that they had made. After dinner, we had our testimony meeting, which to this day remains one of my favorite parts of camp. The evening ended with some snipe hunting and the whisking the girls off to bed........ Or so they thought!!!

The leaders had other plans. We went in one time with these little light up toys on our fingers and making noises. That was great. Then we distracted them once again by making them turn out the lights and trying to spark the lifesavers. While they were working on those, we surrounded them and attacked them with glow-in-the-dark silly string. Ha Ha Ha. It was so funny to see the and hear them. Good times!!! 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Girls Camp - Day 2

The second day of camp started out great. How can you go wrong with pancakes for breakfast. Seriously! They have got to be one of my favorite foods. After breakfast and clean up, we had quiet time to read our scriptures and write in our journals. I did my scriptures and study time in the back of a handcart. Where it is a  church-owned camp, we had two of those at our camp site.

After quiet time, we worked on certification for the girls. I had the awesome opportunity to help our Fourth Year girl go through her certification. We went off to a quiet little area to discuss some of the items she needed to do and plan a nature walk. The Youth Camp Leader came with us to help out. We not only accomplished a lot, but found some really pretty places along the trail.

That is when the idea developed to use the nature walk as a unity building activity. We had so much fun, that it probably took us longer than the other girls to work on certification that day, but it was well worth it. When we got back to camp, those two cute girls had me get it the handcart and gave me a ride. It was a blast. 

After getting back, we started doing the traditional girls camp hair and prepping for lunch of taco salads. 

After lunch, we did a craft where we made lanterns out of mason jars. They were able to stick clear butcher paper stars on the jars and then spray it with a frost covering. Once the frost dried, they took off the stars and had a design. We ended up using them later on it the week and they turned out great!

Then, the adventure started. The weather started getting chilly, and then cloudy, and the down-right cold. What started as just a few sprinkles turned into a huge, full-out storm. It thwarted the idea of doing tinfoil dinners that (which ended up being made in dutch oven instead). The girls were miserable. We probably looked pretty pathetic as we sat there wrapped in blankets wearing out jackets, sweatshirts and ponchos. That is about the time our Bishop pulled up. He had gathered coats from many of the girls's homes and brought them up, along with extra coats and blankets. We were so grateful for an inspired Bishop who took time out of his crazy schedule to take care of the young women, even on the night when he is usually doing interviews. 

After he left, a camp host from a different area came to check on us and could tell we were struggling. We asked her if there was any way we could use the kitchen on the other side of the pavilion for our devotional that night. As she was opening it, she showed me the camp host room and said that we could use that room as well. It turned out really great. There was no electricity, so we decorated the room with lanterns and flashlights and made it feel as homey as possible. 

By the time of the devotional the rain (and possibly a little snow) had stopped, but it was still cold. The devotional turned out to be great and we enjoyed the campfire and brownies afterwords, with more smores and hot chocolate. This would be a great way to end the day, but in keeping with the adventure theme of the day, there was more.

As we sent the girls off to bed, they came out of there tents shortly after saying that their stuff was wet. Yup. That's right. The tent that they were sleeping in was leaking and some of their stuff was soaked. Lucky for us, the camp host had told us we could use those rooms so we packed the girls into the kitchen area (one had to sleep on the counter) and two of the leaders slept in the camp host room. The other leaders, myself included, slept in the tent. This happened late in the evening, especially for the girls who would be getting up bright and early the next day for a hike. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Girls Camp - Day 1

A few weeks ago, I was called to serve as the Assistant Camp Director and was blessed with the opportunity to go to camp. I did have to work the morning of the first day but still made it in time. We met at the church and prepped to leave. While waiting to leave, we all put on our shirts with the theme S.H.I.N.E., standing for Seeking Him Impacts Now & Eternity. Our shirts were neon yellow with a star. Upon arrival to camp (Cinnamon Creek), we ate our sack lunches and then set up camp. It was a beautiful day weather wise. There was a sprinkler set up and the girls cooled off playing in that. Some leaders even got involved and it was super fun!!!
One of the first things we did was make our camp banner that went with our theme. Our YCL (Youth Camp Leader) had made it and we all added a star to it about what makes us shine.

After that, we gave out skit bags. Where camp was just for our ward, we divided it up where skits would be done by the girls, leaders and the priesthood. We spent some time prepping and roasted hot dogs with biscuits around them for dinner, which the girls loved.
After dinner, we performed our skits for each other. They turned out really good and the girls ended up making up a song going along with our camp theme.
"S H is for seeking him
 I is for impact
Now and 
Shine is the theme of Girls Camp
Right here at Cinnamon Creek"

Our girls are soooo creative!

The night was finished with smores, singing, and games around the campfire!