Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Polaroid Week 2011

Real quick-- Will you please take a second to answer the question on the right side of your screen?

So, the week of Trek they were doing 'Roid Week on Flickr, which is where I post most of my photos. Each year they set up a new group for that year's Polaroid entries. It is a celebration of instant analog photography and any kind of Polaroid or Fuji instant camera is welcome. This year, with The Impossible Project's wide variety of new films, their has been a huge jump in the number of photos shared.

The Impossible Project selects some of their favorites each day, and one of mine was picked on Day 4. You can see it HERE on The Impossible Project's Blog, or HERE on my Flickr photo stream. (You can also scroll through their blog to see their other favorites.)

I am just so happy that other people like my photos. And it's crazy that that one was chosen to be shared on the Impossible Project's blog. And sometime soon I'll have one of my other photos up on one of their newsletters. (I'm still waiting to see what they do with it.) It feels so great to be a part of the renewal of instant integral films. I'm so glad that they decided to bring back that magic form of photography.

Our Adventures in Trekking, Part Two

Part One is HERE.

On day two we had much less hiking planned. And boy was that a good thing. After having slept on pine cones and eating a quick breakfast, it was time to head out again. We'd barely made it past our campsite when the men were called away to the Mormon Battalion. Yep, we were really trying to recreate the toughest moments of pioneer trek history. Granted, our Sweetwater crossing was more muddy than freezing cold and it only lasted about twenty yards, and our nights weren't freezing cold, but the trek committee was trying to help us get something out of the whole experience. They wanted us to think of those that went on before us and had to make huge sacrifices so that we can now live in comfort. So in the morning of our second trek day, all of the men were taken away from us. This was symbolic of the men that were lost along the way-- either to the Mormon Battalion, to illness, or to death. There were many handcart families that had only women as leaders. These mothers, sisters, and aunts had to band together to keep going over the 1300 miles to get to Zion.

We had a small devotional where we talked about the pioneer women who went before us. So many women went as the head of their family, many came as single women, and many more lost husbands along the way. They then, had to do all of the physical pulling of the handcarts as well as the cooking that went with trekking. We got to hear the story of Emily Hill who crossed the plains with her sister Julia. They had joined the Church in England and were disowned by their family. Before leaving on a ship for America, Emily was given a blessing where she was told that, "she should write in prose and in verse and thereby comfort the hearts of thousands." Well, she and her sister helped one another get through their trek and sometime later, Emily married and wrote a poem that would eventually be known by virtually every LDS woman in song version-- As Sisters in Zion. When she first wrote it, however, instead of the first line reading, "As sisters in Zion, we'll all work together. . ." the original version read, "As sisters in Zion, we'll all pull together. . . " That song has always been one of my favorites, a celebration of women's strength and this united sisterhood, but after hearing about its origins, it has made it that much more of a meaningful song for me.

That was the end of the easy part of our morning, however. After that, we had to get back together with what was left of our families, and pull our handcarts up a steep hill for half a mile. Since I only had two daughters, we had two women volunteers jump on to help with our cart. And I am not kidding you when I say that hill was steep. The first couple of handcarts had the right idea and they just jaunted up the hill as quickly as they could. Unfortunately, our handcart was stuck behind a company that stopped a few times along the way. Let me tell you, it is not easy to get a packed handcart moving from a stationary position on a hill.

And where were the men in all of this? They also had a devotional where they talked about women, our importance, and how we are to be treated as princesses, because that's how our Father in Heaven sees us. And yet, at this juncture, they were not allowed to help us physically. They had to stand by on the sides of the road. They were allowed to whisper encouragement, that was all. They also hummed. They hummed the tune to "Come, Come, Ye Saints" (Make sure to select "words with music" before hitting play or listen to it here).

That is another song that has been a favorite of mine for years. I first grew to love it when I took classes at BYU that taught about the early history of the Church. It represented the hopes and dreams and realities that the early pioneer saints had to face when crossing the plains. One verse reads:
And should we die before our journey’s through, Happy day! All is well! We then are free from toil and sorrow, too; With the just we shall dwell! But if our lives are spared again To see the saints their rest obtain, O how we’ll make this chorus swell, All is well! All is well!
These early pioneers realized that not all that left on their journey would make it to their destination. Many would fall along the way, and yet they each made the choice to stick with their faith and make their best efforts to make it westward, no matter what they had to sacrifice. (That's dedication. If you want to learn more about the history of that hymn and hear modern renditions of it, there is a podcast HERE.)

So, as if I wasn't feeling emotional enough thinking about all of those early women who didn't have the extra help of a man with their handcart, I nearly lost it passing these men and boys humming and whispering to us, "You can do it", "You're doing great."or, "It's just a little further." Each of the young men and leaders that were standing there looking on had pained looks on their faces. Some boys apparently tried jumping in to help out, only to get pulled away. Our group of five got nearly to the top when one of the girls from my ward, Emily, came running down the hill, worn out from getting her cart up the hill. She could hardly speak, she was still so winded, but she went ahead and started pushing our handcart as well.

The women's pull was hard work. But it was also one of the most spiritual aspects of the trek. We women learned about our pioneer heritage, and we got to see that we could do hard things. The men, in turn, not only learned how strong we are, but many of them realized just how much they wanted to help us and how they respected us for doing what we did without complaint and without crying.

Huffing and puffing, but making it.
If you'll notice in the picture above-- I had to tuck my skirt and apron into the top of my skirt. The hill was so steep that I kept stepping on my skirts. And, don't we look awesome? :)

We got a break after that for about thirty minutes. That's when some of the girl's broke down and cried. Not my girls. We were tired, but thrilled that we did it, that that monumental hurdle was now behind us. We just tried to relax as much as we could before moving on. The boys all jumped up to help when we had to push off again, but we still helped later in the day. (Even after a lot of joking the day before about how after the women's pull, us girls were done.) It just felt like the right thing, to keep pulling, to keep helping, to work together as a trek family.

As an aside, Jon claims that our small band seemed to have the least trouble getting up the hill. He says that there were some groups of girls and women who had 9-12 people on their carts, and they really looked like they were struggling. To that I told him, "Maybe we should have made it look like harder work so that we would have had more help." But it does somehow feel like more of an accomplishment to have done it with so few.

That whole day seemed to be much more toned down after that. It was still over five miles of pulling that handcart over a few more hills, and down a long steep one, but we had a couple of breaks along the way. On one break, we were told a couple of stories of those that didn't make it to the end of the trek. Since we were each walking for a pioneer, they then handed out red hearts with the pioneers' names that didn't make it. Our jokester Tristen was one of the ones that died on the trek. He was trekking for George Padley, who was the sweetheart of Sarah Franks. Their story was one of the ones featured in 17 Miracles. (PS, if you want to cry, go see that movie.) So until we stopped for lunch, all of those that had "died" were not allowed to interact with the rest of their trek family. They couldn't push or pull the handcarts, and they couldn't talk to us. They had to just walk silently behind our cart. We weren't sure how well Tristen would do at this at first, but he was actually a great dead person. If he needed to communicate something with us, he was very adept at doing so with hand gestures and faces.

On our next break were greeted with freshly cut watermelons and the Pony Express.

Every child on the trek was given a surprise letter written from home. Well, one of our sons knew it was coming, but almost no one else did. It was interesting to see everyone's reactions. Our Sam took his letter from home and sat a little ways off from the group where he could quietly read what his parents had to say. Tristen got all excited, I think it was the biggest surprise of all for him to get a letter from home. And from what we could see, his folks went all out formatting it and adding a few small photos.

After everyone read their letters, they were then asked to write one home. Tristen, who shared on a few occasions how he hates writing, was the first to ask for a pen and sat down and started scribbling away. Two of our boys struggled with what to write, but Sam, Tristen, Kournee, and Mackenzie all took their papers and wrote real letters home. What a great surprise that will be for those moms and dads to receive a written response from their children.

We still had a little time after that, so I passed around small notebooks to our group and instructed them to write a few of their thoughts from trek down. I reminded them that it is because of the journals of the pioneer saints that we have a record of what transpired on the plains. I think it was a good practice for many of them.

We hit the road again after that and a couple of hours later, we arrived at our last camp. We had symbolically made it to the Salt Lake Valley. It was such a relief to know that most of our trekking was done with and that we'd have an evening to relax, to socialize, to play, and to eat well.

**I thought I'd get done writing about trek by now, but this post is already crazy long, so I'll save part three for later.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our Adventures in Trekking

The first hard hard thing about Trek was having to put together pioneer clothing for Jon and I to wear. We managed a good balance of bought and sewn items, I think. I made Jon's vest, altered a couple of thrifted shirts, and sewed myself a bonnet and apron. We purchased a pair of linen pants for Jon, got him a clearance hat, and bought my skirt and one of my shirts. While in a lot of ways they really wanted our pioneer experience to be as close to authentic as possible, they also asked that we wear good hiking shoes and apply plenty of sunscreen. And sunglasses. That kind of thing.

The next hard part of trek was meeting up with everyone at 5:30AM. We then proceeded to wait until everyone showed up, then we got together with our wards, and we had a big devotional. We didn't actually leave for our trek site until just after 7AM. Oh the time I could have spent sleeping! Ah well. . .

Here we are ready to ship off.
The boys all fit in one car, and Sandy took half of our girls while Jon and I got the rest. We then left "Liverpool, London" for our "ship voyage" to the east, where we'd get our handcarts. In all actuality, we got in our cars and drove a couple of hours to the Kaibab Plateau.

Sandy couldn't get over us in our pioneer garb and the following was her idea: 

Jon was the lone man in this photo.
When our bishop saw this photo, he asked if we were all getting ready to head out to Wal-mart. (My local friends will appreciate that.)

When we got there, we had to get one shot of all of our ward's youth before we all got split up into families for the next two and a  half days. 

We've arrived!

And then each of us ma and pa couples were given the children that would be our family for the trek. We ended up with six kids, while everyone else had eight or nine. We had two that didn't make it last second that were on our list. Apparently our family assignments were something that the people in charge had prayed over extensively. The family we had was the one we were meant to have, so they left our number smaller than everyone else's.

Check out the handcarts all lined up. These things carried all of our possessions for the length of our trek.

Here we are lined up and waiting to take off. Well, you can only see me clearly, because Jon cut out most people's faces in this shot, but you get the idea.

Kourtnee and Mackenzie are in the top right of the frame.

Jon and I went from being newly weds to being the parents of two girls and four boys that day. It was quite the ride, and more than we planned on in a lot of ways, but it was a good experience. Our kids were: Parker, Sam, Zak, Tristen, Mackenzie, and Kourtnee. Besides having our six children we were also given a baby. Well, a baby doll-- symbolic of the babies born on or carried across the plains. We had to watch over the physical welfare of the baby, and not allow her to ride on or touch the cart.

This was Tristen's way of following those rules--
Baby Phoebe wrapped onto his arm.

Something else about Trek was that we all got to walk for another person. We were each given a pioneer name to walk in memory of-- and if we had a personal name, we could add that to the list. So I walked for Mary Haydock as well as my grandma Janina Miecznikowska Rospierska. She was a pioneer in a lot of ways-- she left behind her family and the life she knew in the country to start a new life for herself in the city, where she met and married my grandpa and eventually had a daughter who would grow up and move to America (my mom!). It was neat to walk for an actual pioneer and to have their story given to us, but it still felt more real for me thinking of my grandma as I trekked.

Me wearing my name tag. Mackenzie is in the purple.
The first day was the longest length and time wise. We got up so very early and then had to wait first to get to our trek site, then to get our families, then to get our handcarts and our gear. . . and then we had to pull our handcart eight miles. We started off on a dirt road but eventually we had to take a detour down a steep hill on account of Indians or something. We got each of the handcarts down one by one, each family helping another until all of the handcarts and families were accounted for.

See Jon helping, and me trying to while hitching up my skirts?
At the bottom of that hill we had to pull our carts through thick trees and tall grass. It was my favorite part because it seemed the most authentic to me. Those poor pioneers didn't have roads cut for them. The other reason I loved that section was because the grass dampened the sound of the handcart wheels. When traveling on the dirt roads across rocks and gravel those handcarts got loud. Which meant I had to talk loud, and I'm not a loud-talker, so that was hard for me.

A little while after the hill we came across a small "settlement" where we were given a loaf of bread, some peanut butter and honey to make sandwiches, and apples for everyone in our family. I'd just sat down and started working on making lunch when all of a sudden a mob appeared. Like the Mormon pioneers, we were run out of town. Tristen had just finished putting together his honey sandwich and was putting it to his lips when a mobster snatched it right out of his hands. It was funny only because we still had enough bread to make more sandwiches. We were tired and so very hungry by then. Besides the food we'd brought to snack on in the car, we hadn't eaten since 5:30AM and it was after 2PM by then. And sandwiches and apples were all we were given. Oh, that and a quart of cream in a mason jar that we had to shake for the next few hours so that we'd have butter for dinner.

Post-mob quick break/babysitting.
About a mile from where we were supposed to camp the first night, we had a couple of leaders say that they found a short cut and they decided we should take it. So we walked half a mile only to discover that the supposed short cut didn't actually lead to camp. They had made a mistake. Only it was on purpose, because they had a lesson prepared to share with us about Levi Savage and how he had wanted to winter in one place, but his leaders wanted to continue to journey across the plains, so he made the decision to go with his group, no matter the consequences. The lesson was something about how sometimes men can lead us astray, even when they have the best of intentions, but if we follow Heavenly Father we'll never be lead down a wrong path. And so from there we had to go back the half mile that we'd traveled incorrectly to then walk another mile to our camp.

Brother Traveller was the guy who had been in charge of organizing the Ma's and Pa's for months before trek and he said that he'd tried to talk them out of actually taking us down the wrong rode. He thought that just hearing the story would have been enough. I have to say that at the end of a day of hiking, I have to agree with Brother Traveller's assessment. A few girls had breakdowns when they heard that they'd have further to go than they were expecting. Not any of the girls in our family, though.

Brother Traveller felt so bad for us that he helped us pull our cart for a while near the end of the day:
He was super excited to pull the cart.
That night we pulled into camp and had to quickly set up our camping area and then grab dinner, family by family. We were given beef stew in sourdough bread bowls. I usually love bread bowls, but this was really sour sourdough and the beef in the stew was super chewy. I ate it all anyway. I just pretended to be a pioneer and was grateful to get more than gruel. What's more, we had pound cake smothered in strawberries for dessert. It made up for a chewy sour dinner. Mostly. 

We had another devotional and then we got to go to bed. We had a small tent we put up for the sole purpose of changing in, and we all quickly got into our jammies and brushed our teeth. My face wipes were really popular with all of our kids. Then we said a family prayer and all snuggled down into our sleeping bags under the stars. I put in my earplugs and was drifting off to sleep when I could feel Jon giggling next to me. I took an ear plug out and asked him what was going on. 

Jon: You didn't hear that?
Me: No, what?
Jon: That bugling? 
Me: What?
Jon: Someone was playing a bugle, you didn't hear that?
Me: No. Was it funny?
Jon: Well, no, but then someone yelled out, "That's not a very pioneer thing to do!" 

But finally everyone had their sillies work out of their systems and we got to sleep. I woke up a few times in the middle of the night, once with my head freezing, and once when I was sure someone was standing over me with a flashlight. Even when I was totally awake and I turned my head to better see, I could have sworn that's what it was. Turns out the moon was just really bright. And in the morning? We all woke up dew-covered and cold. It was hard to motivate ourselves to leave the relative comfort of our sleeping bags, but managed to get back into pioneer garb and then it was time to face another pioneer day. 

Part two of Trek  2011 to come next. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Trek and stuff

After all the craziness of sewing and planning and packing and attending meetings, it is finally here. We leave our house at 5:15 in the MORNING to meet up with everyone at the Stake Center and we leave from there no later than 7AM to head out to the trail head. There, Jon and I will be assigned a family. We'll go from not having any children to have eight teenagers. I'll let you know how that goes after the fact.

While we're a little nervous, we're also really excited. We'll be dressed up as pioneers, we'll be pulling a handcart, we'll be sleeping under the stars, and we'll be playing games and participating in reenactments. Jon's favorite part of it so far is knowing that we don't have to pack our own food-- every meal will be provided for us. He says that alone will make it the easiest camping trip he'll be a part of planning.

It should be good. Wish us luck!

Also, a happy bit of news that I don't feel like I can share on my photography blog yet-- I have been asked to share a photo of mine in one of the next newsletters that will go out by The Impossible Project. I've been photographing all kinds of subjects with film by the Impossible Project for over a year now, and it has been exciting to see how far they've come. I'm so excited to be a part of their history.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Girl's Camp 2011, part 3

 Something that surprised me about camp was how well we ate. Shauna was our camp director and she made sure that we were really well fed. We always had three square meals every day, which isn't something that I'm used to, but up on the mountain I really wanted to eat at every meal. 

Sandy, Heidi, Taylor

Brianna and Sarah
Everyone had food assignments and clean-up assignments. Some of the girls were great at volunteering and chipping in, and the others learned a little about helping out, but every meal went smoothly. My favorite breakfast out there was a breakfast burrito and a few slices of orange. Lunch was always a sandwich, and that was fine by me, and dinner was usually something great. The last night, when the bishopric came up, we had steak and cobbler. 

Every day, we got a little more dingy and gross. The ash and smoke and dirt all clung to us, and we all got various degrees of sunburn, so every morning we woke up feeling a little more disgusting. Enter Emilee. She kept us in line in the looks department. Well, at least our hair. Emilee does hair and was called upon to do hair every morning. When she volunteered to do something with my bedhead, I happily accepted and this is what she came up with: 

Cute, right?
This was the day that we got to perform our skit. We sang a revised version of the song from Tangled titled, "When Will My Life Begin?" We changed a lot of the words around to reflect the types of activities and hobbies of our girls, though. The thought behind singing this song was to share that everyone has a lot to do, so we need to be careful to not allow the business of everyday life to interfere with our spirituality. We mentioned visiting family, reading scriptures, preparing for Trek, and of course, we had to throw in a few funny things too. So we mentioned writing to a "cute elder serving the Lord somewhere" and had one of the camp nurses (who is from our ward) to help out in the skit where we mentioned visiting the sick...

writing an Elder and reading scriptures. . . 

taking care of the sick


Amid all of the fun, shenanigans, and pranks, there were also plenty of spiritual moments at Girl's camp, and I'll remember those just as much if not more than the fun times. As I mentioned in a previous post, there was the day where all of the girls had their own sacred grove experience and wrote out their testimonies amid the aspens. In contrast, there was also an experience with singing trees. This was where each ward huddled around a tree during an evening meeting. We all walked in silently and after being told what order we would go in, we'd light up a tree with our flashlights and sing a devotional song. That whole area was dark except for the one tree that was glowing, and each song was in some way related to faith in Christ. . . It was really neat, even if the words that I'm typing can't do it justice. 

On our last night, before dinner and just before our bishopric showed up, Sandy told us of one of her plans for the girls. She set it all up so that the leaders would soak and massage the girls' feet, and this was finished off with brand new socks. Now, you might be thinking that this should have gone in with the silliness and girly-girl stuff that we did, but here's why it doesn't fit there: We read the scripture in Matthew about how the Savior washed the feet of his disciples, and we talked about how that was a huge deal. Not only was Christ their leader and their Savior and choosing to serve them, but He was doing so in the most humble of ways. It was a tender exchange to have to show the Savior their dirty calloused feet, but once the disciples understood why it was so important for the Savior to serve them in such a way, they allowed him to wash their feet and literally do a dirty work. Sandy had me read the scripture to the girls and then she did a great job of explaining how in this act she wanted the girls to not think of her, but of their Savior and how he would be there washing their feet if he could. . . of how as a Son of God, He is their salvation, their leader, and also their servant. 

And then, of course, there was our testimony meeting. Initially it was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand I was looking forward to it, but on the other, I was pretty drugged and out of it for the beginning of it. I was given a percocet because I was experiencing a pretty harsh headache. The percocet did not help. I only took half of a tablet after having eaten dinner, and I still felt woozy and a bit crazy. Emilee told me later that she kept looking over at me expecting to see me pass out. She said all the color drained from my face. I didn't know how I was going to get through that meeting and actually be truly present. 

As everyone quieted and started settling down for our testimony meeting, I started praying to feel better, to be able to share what I felt, and to be able to take in what others were saying. And you know what? I got my concentration back, and as long as I didn't move, I didn't feel like I was going to throw up. And I got a lot out of the evening. The other amazing thing was that I wasn't nervous at all when it came time for me to share my testimony. 

Nearly every girl shared her testimony, and each of the leaders did. I think all of the girls felt much more comfortable talking in front of everyone after nearly a week of togetherness. What I took out of it was how blessed we all are. These are all normal girls in so many ways. They struggle with self-esteem, with their schedules, with understanding boys, and with fitting in. But these are also girls that are unlike so many girls in the world right now. They all know the Savior lives and are all working on improving themselves and are staying away from bad situations. What an amazing thing it is, to know so many young women who truly understand that they are daughters of a Father in heaven, to know that they are each striving to do what is right when the world teaches moral relativity.

Through my experience at Girl's Camp I gained a greater appreciation of what it means to be a part of the Young Women's organization, to be a small part of what strengthens these young women and helps them out. It is truly an amazing work, to help a young woman, because either way, teenage girls grow into women and what they are exposed to as girls will shape them into the women they become. There are more than enough negative influences and messages out in the world, which makes me that much more grateful for the positive things that Young Women's can do. If nothing else, if Young Women's is at the very least fun and entertaining, then we will keep the girls around good leaders and other girls who are trying to do their best instead of hanging out aimlessly or getting into trouble. At its best, Young Women's offers girls options, strength, friends, growth, opportunities for service, and a safe haven from the barrage of junk that the world throws at them. I'm glad to be a part of something so positive. 

Our last morning, we all scurried around packing things up and taking down camp. It was all quick and furious  and then the next thing we knew, it was time to head back home. We scarfed down breakfast and took snack food with us and divided up again into cars, and then it was time to face the real world all over again. 

Not as cute the last day, but my hair-do stayed in place while I slept!

View from the mountain
And then we were all home, and we all showered, and some of us got to nap. It felt great to be able to clean up and to sleep on an actual bed where I didn't have to worry about falling down and hurting myself.

*To anyone who read each of my Girl's camp accounts, congrats to you! Sometimes my blog can be my journal and as such it gets really wordy. If you have made it through all of that, you deserve a prize. Thanks!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Girl's Camp 2011, part 2

Continuing from my last post, there were a lot of fun activities besides embarrassing the newbies. On our first full day there, I got to run around with some of the girls as they went from station to station. They painted prayer rocks, we all got to learn how to properly tie a full Windsor and a single Windsor tie (now all the girls have a preference and can tell the young men in their lives which tie to tie for church), and the girls also did a fun service project of tying quilts.

Some girls got it right away.

Some people struggled before attaining victory. 
We also set aside some time for spiritual activities. One of my favorites was when small groups were led to a hillside and told to find a peaceful place to stop and write their testimonies. Everyone was given a piece of paper and a pen and got to listen to quiet music if they chose to stay close or if they wandered a little ways off, they could just take in the sound of the breeze through the trees as they wrote. There were no rules as to what you could write, you just wrote whatever you were inspired to record--your testimony as it stood right then. It was a really cool experience watching the Young Women considering what to write.

One of the adventures that lasted the whole time of Girl's Camp was trying to find our Stake's rock. Every year someone hides a special rock that has been decorated ("bling-a-fied" according to the Stake leaders) somewhere within the camp boundaries, and this year it was the Priesthood that hid it. The Girl's Camp stake leaders were the ones that decorated it, and every day we'd get new clues as to where it was hidden. The girls looked everywhere. Every day you'd see tons of girls scouring the hillsides, looking under logs, peaking into crevices. One day Emilee, Shauna, and I all went trekking through the woods and up some hills. I got halfway up a really steep embankment (in my galoshes!) and realized that I'd rather keep going up than try to get down. This won me the honor of being called a mountain goat by Shauna then and again a week later when she shared that story with our ward over the stand. But alas, we didn't find the rock that day, or any of our days there. One of our YW Micah got really bugged when she thought she saw the rock (it was shiny and looked to be silver) and she half ran, half fell down a hill to get to it before anyone else did, only to find that it was a mylar balloon. Sad day. The search for the rock also led to camp pranks. Our dear YW decided to paint a fake rock, and hid it near one of the other camp sites. Their thinking was that if another ward found that rock that they would keep it to themselves, thinking they'd found the true rock, and they would quit looking. And once one rock was made up and set out, why not eight more, to hopefully keep all of the competition back at their camps and not looking? Well, it kind of worked. We watched as one ward found one of the fake rocks and started dancing around, then stop, scooped it up, and ran off with it hidden in someone's jacket. That evening when we were getting ready to hear our devotional, that ward was called up to show what they had found. They excitedly carried it down to center stage where the Stake Leaders said, "You have found a rock! But it is not THE rock. Keep looking." And they were given a consolation prize of a box of cookies.

More silliness:

Please click on this to get a good look at the faces these girls are pulling.
What is most amazing about this photo is that the girl at the top of the pyramid (Andi) had climbed up there on a broken arm. Did I mention that we slept in pods? In bunkhouses that were glorified rail-car containers?
Well, this is what the girls' side looked like:

If you'll notice-- the roof was smashed in from the snowfall that winter and there were roll bars only on the top bunks, not the second level. Apparently our bunks were the only ones that bad off. And little Andi went rolling off her bed in her sleep, all bundled up in her sleeping bag. She fell down right on her arm. It was a good thing her mom was our camp director. She was able to be with her and hold her and help console her. Only we didn't find out for sure that her arm was broken until three days after camp. Yep. She was such a trooper that her mom thought it was just a sprain, but she was wrong. Andi wasn't our only nurse's station visitor, though-- another girl went home with a stomach virus. And another girl had to go lay down because of altitude sickness, and a few others had to get stuff for their sunburns. Never a dull moment at camp.

Last, but not least of the silliness-- a spinner game of jellybeans. You could land on white and get coconut or baby wipes. Or you could land on green and get pear or boogers. There were also options of getting marshmallow or rotten egg, etc, etc. A bunch of the girls were playing it and wanted me to try a few beans, so I did, but they were all the tasty ones. The rule was, however, that you had to eat whatever kind you got.

I wasn't interested in partaking of toothpaste or moldy cheese flavored jellybeans because I could guess at what those would be like, but I told the girls that I might be persuaded to try the centipede flavored one. I mean, who knows what a centipede tastes like, right? The other option for that was strawberry jam. I ate five strawberry jam flavored jellybeans in a row, so then Emily grabbed one, and as you might have guessed, on her first try she got a centipede flavored jellybean. Oh, the faces she made as she tried to choke it down.

Emily then decided that it was to be my fate to have to go through what she did. So she handed me red speckled jellybean after red speckled jellybean, picking out only the ones that could have been centipede. I ate sixteen delicious strawberry jam jellybeans. And it looked like there were no more red speckled jellybeans. Emily was ticked. But she found two more. The first, strawberry jam. But I finally got my taste of centipede and man alive was it disgusting. It tasted like the smell of fungus, dirt, dampness, and rotting leaves. It was horrendous. And I hear that there are pictures of me eating it.

But since I can't get my hands on those photos, I'll share a photo of Paige eating some other disgusting flavor:

Later, we just started snacking on the jellybeans when hanging out in a group as a sort of jellybean Russian roulette. Yep, we're weird like that.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Girl's Camp 2011, part 1

As promised, good and happy things. Namely, my adventures at Girl's Camp. Most of you know this already, but this was my very first ever experience at Girl's Camp. I joined the LDS faith at seventeen and missed going as a last year Laurel. (Laurel meaning a young woman who is seventeen or eighteen.) Having been called as a Young Women adviser and now the First Counselor in our ward's YW presidency, I had the responsibility and opportunity of attending Girl's Camp this year. Being totally honest, I was a little nervous about it. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or what to expect. I was worried that it was going to be like some of my early experiences with the YW organization, namely that there would be cattiness, gossiping, and cliques. However, our ward is not like that. Our Young Women all care for one another and they do their best to include everyone. I should have known better, but I was surprised by how amazing our Young Women really are-- they are an example to me.

Because people want to see pictures more than read a bunch about how all of us were touched and how every one of the leaders cried at one point or another (in a good way), I'll include a lot of fun photos.

I got together at the Vanderheyden home at 6:30AM. We had all the girls together and organized into cars and were on the road by about 7:30AM. We were at camp and unloading things by 8:30AM. After a night of not sleeping all that well, that was a really early start for me. The Stake's theme was about seeking after Eternal Treasures, so each ward got to represent certain traits and qualities through a gemstone. We were the Sunstones/Hot rocks. And Sandy (the YW president) had the sneaky idea of incorporating an underlying theme that all of the girls could get behind: The movie Tangled. And you know (if you've seen the movie) that it is a cute story, and they have this thing with purple banners with a huge yellow sun. . . so yea, we took that up as our symbol and used the movie in other ways, too.

Decorating banners.

Emilee placed a lot of yellow vinyl hearts on the purple bunting.

First day, so we haven't gotten a chance to get grimy or too sweaty yet. 
Our treats that we handed out to all the other wards.
Notice the banners in the background....
We also came prepared with rain boots and boy were we ever grateful to have them. Six weeks before we got there, the mountain was covered in over ten feet of snow. Feet, people. Even a couple of weeks before we were to arrive, there was at least a foot of snow everywhere. But our camp director had prayed and prayed and felt strongly that some people needed the experience on the mountain. Last year weather forced them to have move Girl's Camp to Pinto, UT. If you don't know where that is, I don't blame you. It is outside of Enterprise, if that helps. Anyway-- it is flat there and windy and apparently that is not what we needed this year. So after many prayers, it was decided that we would go up to the mountain, and after many more prayers, the snow melted in time. And with all that snow melt came the mud. But like I said, we were ready for it. While others had to delicately choose where to put their feet down, we could easily tromp down the trails without a care.

And, just because it was Girl's Camp, we also got to coordinate in other ways, like wearing matching purple hoodies with giant yellow suns on the back, putting sunflower clips in our hair, necklaces with suns as our name plates, yellow bandannas, and cute yellow and purple nails: 

By the end of our first day, all of the first years had their chance to get embarrassed in front of a crowd. This included the first year leaders. It is that song where you make more and more silly gestures while singing "eh too ti tah" over and over again and at the end you are flapping your arms like a chicken with your knees bent in and your tongue sticking out. It is really attractive, let me tell you. And of course, I have a picture. 

Silly goofy ridiculous fun. 
More to come soon. Like maybe tomorrow.