Once in a while the stars align in just the right way to make something magical.
Something that you look back on and say “that just happened” in awe because it was so awesome.
That’s what happened a few weeks ago.
And I don’t want to be cheesy or overboard about stuff here on this blog, but I do want to say that Elle and I are lucky.
Or whatever you want to call it.
Because we have great friends. Friends with visions to see the big picture of what could happen, and then make it come to pass.
We live in an area jam-packed full of great kids Elle’s age. My friend Ashley had the idea to create a “retreat” for these kids. An adventure up in the mountains that would be both spiritual and adventurous and that would bring all those kids even closer together and help them grow in their love for their Heavenly Father.
Her family has a place up in the beauty where we could make it happen.
I told her I was in to help with whatever she needed.
So we got together with some other friends and planned that thing out. A few meetings (and a lot of work and planning on Ashley and her husband’s parts) and we were ready. She figured a lot of kids would be out of town for various summer things so she went ahead and invited 45 kids.
It was a party.
The kids:(You will note that there are significantly more girls than boys. It just happened that way and they rolled with it.)
The original plan:
It was tweaked a little bit from there. We did most of those things, just in a little different order.
Where we stayed:
They have this main cabin and then some other outlying cabins where all the girls stayed.
The boys slept in a huge tent.
The moms slept on couches and some in the cabins with the girls, and the dads slept on one of the porches to keep an eye out for everyone.
I wish I had a picture of my friend and I loading up our stuff at Costco or of this car before we unloaded half of it. …and that was just our portion.
Boy howdy we brought a lot of food up there!
We were each in charge of certain meals which we kept pretty simple and easy.
The kids loved them.
Especially the home-made cinnamon rolls for breakfast one morning that Katy brought up. Mmmmmmmm.
We had the kids pack their own lunches when we went to the mud caves.
I thought this was brilliant way to keep track of drink cups…
We borrowed this giant grill which was sure helpful to fill all those hungry teenager mouths.
The mud caves:
I think this was most of those kids’ favorite part. There’s this little hole in the ground that leads into these awesome caves filled with…you guessed it…mud.
Here it is from the inside where you go in and out:
It was pitch dark in there and went on and on.
…and pretty darn muddy.
My friend Tiffany was mostly in charge of the games.She did an awesome job.
One of the favorites was “Baby, I love you but I just can’t smile.” (or whatever it’s really called)
It was especially funny to watch these kids try to make each other laugh because the mud they were covered with alone was enough for a good laugh.
“The Stick Game:”
I’m sure it has a better name than that, but it was pretty fun too. You have to follow directions to grab the stick to your right or your left (someone in the middle calls it out) and if the stick drops that you are supposed to grab, you are out. The circle keeps getting smaller and smaller until the winner is the last one standing.
This will illustrate a little better:
This one is called “Annie I over” (although I’m not sure I got that name right either)
They throw balls over a house and if the other team catches them they get to go tag the other team.
I loved the dances. I think it’s pretty safe to say the kids did too.
The kids went crazy during the crazy songs:
…and the slow dancing cracked me up. Check out these feet:
The talent show:
These kids sure put some heart into their performances.
Elle made a video with some of their great performances that I can’t find right now. I’ll link it in a post soon.
I love any time kids can get spiritually fed. And I love when I can get that uplift as well. So I was a big fan of the devotionals.
I loved all of them except the one I had to give. But I sure learned a lot from that too.
After Ashley’s devotional we had a great testimony meeting where the kids got to talk if they wanted to.The air was thick.
Ok there was really only one prank, but it was pretty funny (at least to us).
We stayed up ‘til 2:30 putting mustaches on sleeping kids.
Boy oh boy were they trying to get back at us in the morning. I guess they thought coolers in front of the door would do the trick.
I don’t think I have laughed as hard as I did that morning for a long time.I’m not sure if it was because we were so darn funny or because of serious lack of sleep creating loopiness.
I’m pretty sure it was pretty darn funny though. Only half a mustache left below…
See why Ashley is so fun?
…and these other ladies too?
Yeah, did I mention we laughed a lot?I was so filled with love for these women and so in awe of how great they all are with kids.
I felt so honored to get to ride on their coat-tails for a few days.
On the last day we went to the highest point of the mountains…
…and up a big watch tower there where they watch for forest fires.
And then hiked down into a beautiful valley.
On the drive home the sky was so gorgeous I could hardly stand it.
I think I about drove my co-captain Elle nuts telling her what to take pictures of as we drove amidst our conversations with the other six cute girls packed in that car.
We talked about everything from music to high school and which boys are cute and whether or not it’s ok to kiss them :).
All while that sky blinked and winked it’s grand colors and beautiful light to us.
My personal feeling was that that sky was a sign from Heaven that all is right in the world.
Those teenagers will never forget that experience of bonding and beauty and love up there in those beautiful mountains.
And neither will us parents who got to be there to witness it all.
Did I mention we are lucky?
Thanks Chad and Ashley! You guys are the best!