As that time of year approaches again, (or, because it may have happened already, depending on your stake/location) I fondly recall my first Girls Camp as a green YW counselor…
I thought there might be body odor and ticks, greasy hair and flatulence, and unflattering color-coordinating t-shirts designating our ranks and unit numbers. There might be circles around the campfire with lilting choruses of “Sinner Man,” “A Woonie Koonie,” “Cannibal King,” and “Mormon Boy,” (someone told me these were real songs). For four days Twilight Woods eau de toilette would be traded for bug spray, and iPhones turned off, the better to compose with pen and paper the warm fuzzy love notes to friends. This is what I expected from my very first Girls Camp. And I was not disappointed!
We set up camp in Tabiona, UT; a.k.a, somewhere on a mountain in the middle of nowhere. Except for the pavilion covering the picnic tables with their red and white checked table cloths, the kitchen from which steaming Dutch oven delicacies were served, the flushing toilets with cupboards neatly stocked with a year’s supply of toilet paper, and YW leaders who brought their spray on tans and a different pair of ginormous dangly earrings to wear every day, the camping might have been authentic. I obviously missed the “Look-Cute-at-Camp” memo, so I just wore the same shirt every day.
I was amazed at what our 16 girls could do while being deprived of Facebook and text messaging. They wielded glue guns and pieces of scrap fabric to make cute headbands and necklaces and hairpins worthy of being showcased on Pinterest and Etsy. They wrote camp-themed skits and designed and constructed their own props. One group wrote a “musical” with a medley of parodies of popular songs rewritten to suit the theme—one of their songs was a new and improved version of Rebecca Black’s Friday song: “Sunday, Sunday, wanna go to church on Sunday…Laurels in the front seat, Mia Maids in the back seat, Beehives in the trunk…”
Everyone was united in the spirit of dispensing warm fuzzies. One of the girls made me a boondoggle during craft time.
There’s something about leaving mascara and deodorant at home and going for days without showering that draws the girls closer to each other. That, and the testimony meeting held just before sunset that lasts into the late hours of the night while the campfire burns down and the stars slowly blink into focus. During testimony meeting, I was the keeper of the Kleenex box, charged with the duty of passing tissue to those (including myself) whose tear ducts are directly connected to the Spirit that moves people to stand up and explain how they’ve come to know the truth of the gospel and Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation.
During testimony meeting I shared my deeply private anxiety that I’d had since coming to YW without having ever been exposed to Girls Camp before. I was anxious about feeling like I didn’t fit in with the “cool” leaders for several reasons: a) I hardly watched TV; b) I didn’t have a baby the girls could clamor over to coddle during the YW lessons on Sundays; c) I didn’t tell embarrassing stories about my husband that made everyone laugh; d) I wasn’t a masseuse like the most recent addition to the YW leader group, who saw, nay, spoke to Ryan Reynolds at her Park City gym/spa one day when he walked by the front desk to ask her where the nearest exit was…the list went on and on.
The gist of my testimony was that I still hadn’t figured out why I was called to YW. What those three days of camp reminded me of though, was that I’d been placed in a circle of exceptional girls. One of the miracles of camp was that we witnessed no petty girl drama whatsoever. I’ve never seen girls braver and kinder, and more considerate of their fellow human beings (given that they’re teenagers). I know that if I’d had friends like them growing up, my life would have been so different. Which led to my other point: while I didn’t really know why I’d been called to YW, I knew what I’d experienced was a result of our Savior’s love. Calling me to YW was one way to show me how much I’d missed, and how I could be part of something so vitally important as helping to strengthen the testimonies of his choice daughters. Plus, my YW calling was an excuse to find out who the Hemsworth brothers are.
What was your first/last Girls Camp experience like? How has Girls Camp changed over the years? Are you a fan of Girls Camp?