Wanna ride horses, shoot guns, bow and arrows, do crafts like pottery, welding, leatherworks, painting, etc.? Learn how to lasso, or line dance? Watch native american dancing? Hike and play games, learn, sing and laugh a lot?
Would you like a place where you can camp, but also have clean working restrooms and laundry facilities?
Do you want to feed your family healthy, delicious food without having to prepare it?
How about time alone, as a family, and in groups of friends?
Would you like to be in a campground full of people and their families who have devoted their lives to strengthening youth, to building communities, to blessing others? Where the main theme is, "The only things you keep are those you give away."
Where there are 7 different full-time pastors/church leaders available to visit and counsel. Devotionals each morning and evening. Prayer together. Uplifting conversation ALWAYS.
You can learn to cook with dutch ovens, participate in the book club, tour museum after museum, or just sit quietly and watch a mother deer with her twins.
Each day, each member of your family spending about 6 hours of quality, fun time with the cream of the crop youth of our country.
Do you get the idea?
That was our family vacation this year. I was honored and blessed to be there. It cost a lot less than a trip to Disneyland would have, and though I still would like to vacation at Disneyland some day, I have to admit that this made lifetime memories, and strengthened our family more than any other vacation to this point.
It was so organized, so safe, so fun, so uplifting--am I raving?
Not a Happy Camper
I went into this vacation kicking and screaming. I hate camping, and family vacation means hard work for me.
I believe that family vacations are a great too for strengthening our families, and for having fun together and building relationships with each other. This is the ideal. But packing up, preparing to go, keeping everyone alive in the car for hours and hours, and the laundry, oh, the laundry! Whining, heat, bugs, body fluids.
I was a little snarky about the idea. I teased Handsome Prince about how excited he was about our "All Inclusive--like a cruise!" vacation that he'd planned. I was frankly a bit of a jerk.
When I came to grips with the idea that a family vacation is not a vacation for me, but kind of like an extra job with overtime, and that I could put on my big girl panties and make it a great time for everyone and make it fun in little ways for myself, and to take care myself afterward, things were better. I guess I needed to be a little less selfish and bratty. I needed to remember the most important things.
Anyway, once I adjusted my attitude, and invested my heart into the endeavor, I was surprised to find how much the vacation blessed me, too!
As I prayed for ways to make the trip meaningful, I was blessed with the idea of having the grandparents and two older siblings not attending write a note for each child. This way, they had a letter to open each day, along with a little treat or prize. These letters are priceless, and I'll put them in each child's baby book to save forever. They shared their love with each child, talked about their desires for them. They bore testimony of the Savior and of families.
I was touched by the words of wisdom shared by my college student about what she has learned, and about how she prays. She encouraged each child and shared her love.
Our missionary talked of his desire to share the good news of the gospel, and told each child specifically what he loved about them.
We had a series of miracles on our trip. The first came as we were running through town, trying to finish all of our errands so that we could leave for the vacation. Little K threw up.
There was, of course, that moment of suspended disbelief, and then denial, and then despair. What now? We've played the "Family Plague on a Trip" game enough to know that it's not as fun as it sounds.
The car was packed. The fees were paid...
Luckily we discovered that it was a combination of heat, carsick, and no breakfast. We were able to leave a couple of hours later, and she was fine.
The next miracle was a personal one for me. As we pulled out of the driveway, my migraine started. It got more and more severe as we drove, and I had a hard time getting on top of the pain. It lasted for two days. We stopped the first night at Paul's brothers's house to stay the night, and though it would be less severe for a while, it never quite went away. I was concerned that I would be in agony the entire trip, and I was TRYING SO HARD to make it pleasant and be a good sport.
I finally asked Paul and his brother Kevin if they would administer a priesthood blessing for me. It's a "Laying on of Hands" type prayer, where they use the power and authority of God to bless and heal.
The migraine subsided mostly, but I awoke the next morning to a splitting, screaming head. As I knelt to pray, I desperately plead with my Heavenly Father for help. The thought came that I needed to #1 Avoid sugar as much as possible, and #2 Not take any more Excedrin Migraine or drink Dr. Pepper--no more caffeine. I pondered that for a moment, as the caffeine is sometimes more effective than even Demerol in stopping a migraine, and the sugar thing is just plain delicious.
I decided to trust.
I agreed to do what the Lord asked, and IMMEDIATELY the terrible migraine was gone. That moment, on my knees, it went away and didn't come back. I felt good, like really, really good. Not just better, but really amazing. I can't even describe the great relief and gratitude I felt. It was totally merciful, and unearned, and such a blessing!
Our final miracles were on the way home. Our alert light came on in our van one hour away from Philmont. We'd left early in the morning, hoping to make the 12 hour trip home that day. Luckily, we were out of the canyons, and in a real town. Not only were we in a real town, but we found someone who could replace the alternator, and do it on a Saturday! (They were sketchy like cash-only sketchy, but they did it and it worked.) We were also blessed to be able to travel the 3 hours to Kevin's and stay the night again with him on short notice. He fed us, and we felt so welcome in his ward at church the next day.
|Not our van. Stolen as is everything else from Google Images.|
Paul calmly instructed Mr. L to carefully pull over onto the shoulder. Mr. L didn't panic, over-correct and roll the van, or freak out and hit it. He just coolly moved over and slowed down as the vehicle shot past us. We were alive.
It was so good to be home.
Highlights for Me
I knew that it was gonna be Sweet P's week when we stepped out of the van, and walked onto one of the playgrounds in our tent city. The first thing I saw was a bunch of boy scouts watching her climb the climbing wall like a monkey, and she thought it was fun when they were saying things like, "Did you see that girl? Hey, how did you do that so fast?" This camp was made for her.
As we checked into Philmont, Paul was more excited than I think I've ever seen him. I felt so thankful that he was able to pull off this vacation.
On of my favorite parts of the trip was Tuesday morning. I had dropped everyone off with their amazingly fun leaders, and Paul was in training, learning how to Make Programs that Rock!
I took a long, cool shower, shaved my legs, plucked my eyebrows, and then set up the laptop on a picnic bench in the shade, and just started writing my brains out. It was relaxing, luxurious, and I felt more calm and rejuvenated than I had for a really long time. I was able to write about the journey I've been on with Princess lately, and it was very cathartic.
There were a couple of Scout leaders sitting and chatting nearby, and when one of them got up to take a phone call, I started chatting with the other one.
He turned out to be Father Ray, the Catholic Chaplin for Philmont. We had such a pleasant conversation, and I was so honored to be speaking to him!
|This is really him. Thanks to Google Images again. Used without permission. Sorry.|
Father Ray served for seven years as the Boy Scout Chaplain of his Archdiocese. He has been a member of the Executive Board of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting since 1983. He has received the St. George and the Silver St. George Emblems. He presently serves as the Associate National Chaplain for NCCS. In April of 2006, Father Ray will become the National Chaplain. A priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, Father Ray is the pastor of Our Lady of the Visitation Parish in Darnestown, Maryland. He has earned his doctorate from the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. He also serves as a volunteer chaplain to city, county and state police in Montgomery County, Maryland.
I also met a lot of "Silverados" the group I was in. They were spouses of the people attending the training that week, and though we were from many different places, and many different lifestyles and religions, we had a lot in common, and it was such a great group! I made friends that I will love forever. They were good solid women, who sacrificed and nobly worked to build the youth. They were patriotic, and each in her own way was making the world a better place. Some of them had overcome a lot of hard situations in their lives, and I was in awe of their resiliency and goodness.
Another highlight was the last night, when the groups did skits. Little K's leaders (Sweet P was in her group, too.) were so dynamic and funny, and the skit they came up with that night was hysterical. They pretty much harnessed the talents of the kids, and used a bunch of inside jokes that had developed throughout the week.
Little K was absolutely hysterical! We were laughing to wet our pants. There are no words to describe the improv abilities that girl has, and though she is a little too silly sometimes, that night she rocked it! You kinda had to be there, but the general theme was "My mustache is better than yours!" She also harnessed some inside family jokes that went over everyone else's head, but killed us!
The next morning just before we left, in the dining hall, a leader sat at our table. he had one of the biggest handlebar mustaches that I'd ever seen, and soon Little A and Little K were giggling together. Finally, K couldn't take it anymore, and she announced, "My mustache is better than yours!" to the total stranger sitting near us. He had been at the show the night before, and knew the reference, and was totally tickled.
Finally, there was a mansion in the middle of Philmont, that had been the Waite Phillips home. As we toured it, we were privileged to meet a friend of the family who had restored some vintage cars, and because he was there, they were open for display. (Phillips as in Phillips 66) Waite and his family were the ones who donated the land and money for a scout camp. Phil-Phillips Mont- Mountains. Waite Phillips is the one who said, "The only things you keep are those you give away."
It was so cool to hear some of his stories, and to see the cars. Little A made him so excited when she noticed that one of the models only had one door. He explained why, and then told her that she was the first one he'd met that had ever noticed that. They had three different early vintage Ford models. Hopefully, I'll come back and add some pictures.
For now, I'll just state that I would go back again in a heartbeat! If you or your spouse is involved in scouting at all, this is the best vacation EVER, and I'd highly recommend it. It truly was God's Country, and such a great week. It was just about everything good rolled into one.