Thursday, July 19, 2012

time travel back to Girls Camp

one thing you should know about me. is i love girls camp. end of story.
its one thing that pegged summer as 'summer'. it was the highlight of the year without fail. 
and even when i don't get to attend anymore, i still envy to be there. 
i was begging my dad to just put me on the kitchen staff or cleaning out the latrines, but, that wasn't going to fly. 

i attended Girls Camp for 5 years (1 year on the trek in Eastern Washington). they all took place in our like sanctuary, Camp Alpine around Corvallis, Oregon. that place was a haven of celestial fun that could never be recreated, unless at camp. 

for the good portion of my years as a camper, my best friend, Elise Otteson and I would often see how long we could go before people asked us to take showers. for the record, we usually never did shower until we got home, even if people complained. we were simply too busy having fun and eating otter pops and swinging on the rope swing. why would you take a shower. you're just going to get dirty anyways. 

as the years progressed, at my final year of camp, I held a leadership position, that, well frankly kept me not only hygienic, but also very busy all day long. 

Girls Camp was a special experience for me. in 2010, while being President, I saw the Lord work with us with the Spirit to create a week of spiritual growth, personal testimony, and a closer relationship with our Savior. Without even knowing any of the girls I was about to lead, I felt a deep love for them. So many of my meaningful, pivotal life changing moments occurred during the time I was president at camp. I have never prayed that many times in a day, I had never read over as many talks about women, I had never looked at others with a more Christlike view, until that week, and I try to remind myself of that experience more and more to apply to my life now. 

As I was laying in bed last night, I was reflecting on these great experiences that changed me, and also thinking about how lucky these campers are today to have the opportunity to listen to my mother and father speak tonight. how i wish i could be there. 
these are two of the experiences that I wanted to record in my journal that are probably alittle more personal, but for my children's sake. 

1. It was the night before I left for the week of Girls Camp. That day marked the third day I was actually home in the entire summer. I had previously been at Girls State leaving the day after the last day of school, EFY, Lewis Reunion, and helping Seth's family move to Minnesota. Needless to say, it was a busy summer. I was packing up my gear, supplies and clothes. I was having Julia help me roll up my suitcase. I was nervous, worried, and unconfident. I frantically began asking Julia, "What if I do a bad job, what if everyone hates me, what if I don't know what to say for my talk, what if i'm too strict, what if...., what if..." I kept going on frantically losing all sense of self worth and security. I've never been one to be too shy or reserved (obviously). So Julia was quite surprised. She stopped what she was doing, and she gave me the advice much needed at that moment. She looked at me and said, "this isn't the Emily I know. Why are you even thinking those things. You are a very confident person. You know you are capable of doing this. Stop letting Satan make you think otherwise." She was right. It was at a time of weakness for me, and I was letting the adversary take over my thoughts/feelings about myself and what I had been preparing all year for. I hugged her, thanked her, and pressed forward again that it was all going to work out. 

2. I'll always remember though how hard it was for me to be there that week. It was the week that my Grandpa Smith was passing away. because of limited cell service and no internet, I thought and wondered about what my family was doing. I was so glad my parents could be in Utah, but also wished for their presence for my last night at camp. I haven't shared this with anyone...but as for my personal record, I just needed to testify that prayers are answered. It was late late wednesday night. We had just done a devotional for the YCL's and they were all gone to bed. I had just lost something I desperately needed for my Thursday Night Hike Presentation, my grandpa was dying, I was running on few hours of sleep, I was responsible for Skit night the night after that, I had just done a few devos with my girls and the YCL's, and just gave 2 talks, and conducted camp meetings, and I was in a very fragile condition. It sounds funny now, but the only place I found sollace was standing in a latrine. As stood there and wept for a good 15 minutes, not being able to match words with my emotions. I wasn't doing this alone, but sought for more help than I thought I needed. In the midst of my crying, the first counselor in the YW presidency, Anne Andersen opened the latrine door, not knowing i was there. She just looked at me...and doing what any mother figure would do, held open her arms which I just collapsed in. It was hard to realize so many heavy burdnes were on my heart that night, and to send a friend--or an angel--to help me that night. A testimony my prayer was answered. And the next morning I found what i was missing. Another testimony to me, God was listening. 

Frankly, this has probably been more than you wanted to read about my Girls Camp experience, but I laid in bed last night thinking of all the good that has come from this one week experience, that so many leaders, parents, and priesthood help goes into making it so rewarding.

And now for what you all really wanted to see....

Senior YCLs

Please don't use this at my future wedding video. 

Certification! yeah yeah yeah. 

THE FOIL BALL. if i can say i was proud about thing at Girls Camp, it was being given honorary status to help make the foil ball and pass on the tradition. 

This angel, Sister of my heros. 


  1. This really makes me miss Girls Camp. Your second story was really beautiful to read. I had a similar experience at Girls Camp but with some of the other girls instead of another leader. Girls Camp really is amazing. There's something about being up there with your ward in the middle of no where that really strengthens your testimony.

    On a completely unrelated note, why the heck have we not talked in so long??? You're still in Utah and we STILL haven't gotten together even once! That's horrible and just goes to show you how awful I am at making plans. We seriously need to do something sometime though, especially when I think I read that you might be going to Idaho right? I could have sworn I saw that on Facebook a little while ago. Let's do something!

  2. Or maybe it was Oregon.. ahh I can't remember, maybe I'm just losing my mind and you're not going anywhere at all. Regardless let's do something soon.

  3. Seriously, they're still doing the foil ball at camp? That was the weirdest, grossest tradition! I was so sure it would fade out!

  4. Wow, this post got me all teary eyed! I super duper love girls camp. I went 9 years in a row! I haven't been back in more years than that. This makes me super sad because it is the best place ever. The story about you and sister Anderson really touched me!
    Next year when you are begging your dad for an assignment at girls camp can you throw my name in there too? Lily turns 12 and will be going!
    Oh wait! Next year is trek. So the next year, OK?

  5. Loved the post Bubs, so many great lessons learned. You are inspiring my friend!


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Maira Gall