Saturday, October 13, 2012

LDS Girls Camp, Kapoho Style

 I wouldn't exactly call it a camping, it was more of a retreat, although the girls did sleep in tents! Our base camp was at a beach house in Kapoho, donated to our group by ward members. The beach house was located right in the heart of beautiful Puna, down by the lava fields, and warm ponds of Kapoho. Many of the girls had never been to Kapoho before, even after living on the Big island their whole lives. It was the perfect location for a Girls Camp getaway, and the perfect place to connect with God and nature, (beach house and all).

As this years Girls Camp Director I had the privilege of planning out all the details of our 4 day, 3 night week! I was lucky to be able to work with  4 other dedicated and hard-working Young Women Leaders, in facilitating an awesome experience for our group of girls. I couldn't have done this myself. No way! My co-Leaders each brought unique ideas and plans, valuable  to the whole camp experience. I am so thankful to have had these women by my side. Our main focus was to provide an enriching, inspiring, and spiritual environment for our girls, where they could feel the love of our Heavenly Father, while connecting with nature, and having fun. Girls Camp is an inspired, yearly event designed by the LDS church to uplift the lives of young, teenage  girls. I feel blessed to be a part of it, and feel that it has enriched my life in so many ways, too.

Every Young Women's camp needs a theme to plan camp around! After prayerfully searching for one, I was inspired to turn to this scripture in Ether 12:4, in the Book of Mormon:

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
Ether 12:4

We needed a theme that would not only spiritually influence the girls in a positive way, but also something that would inspire us to move forward with planning Girls Camp. So, our theme became "Hope for a Better World."  In so many ways this scripture inspired me to plan girls camp around our physical and spiritual hope in nature and God. When we hope for better world, we act differently, do differently, and realize the profound effect of our actions. When we hope for a better world, we treat ourselves with respect, treat our world with love, and look to God for guidance in our lives. With this theme intact, we were able to move forward with planning an awesome Girls Camp!

I was pleasantly surprised at the end of the week, that everything we planned, worked out. I was so nervous at the beginning, imagining all the terrible  things that could possibly go wrong! But, it was all good! Everything from the hike, to the crafts, to the down-time activities, all worked out wonderfully. 
We made sure that each day the girls had an opportunity to 1. Get out in nature and exercise. 2. Learn a new skill or craft, and 3. Have down time time to journal, read scriptures, ponder and reflect.

The first day we hiked 3 miles up to the summit of Green Lake Crater, 
or Ka Wai a Pele. This was a beautiful hike, filled with edible fruits and large canopies of trees. 

We hiked one mile to the top of the crater, and one mile back down to the lake. It was a half mile from the Kapoho beach community to the front gates of Green Lake, so that's how we made our 3 miles. We stopped at the top to eat lunch and admire the stunning views of Kapoho.

Lava fields in the distance. 
Farming and agriculture, growing in abundance, in Kapoho.

Hiking down the road from the beach house.

The second day we spent hours swimming in the warm ponds at the beach house. The warm ponds are filled  from underground springs, heated by lava, far beneath the earth's surface. But not so far that they can't heat up your front yard swimming hole! Also, because the ponds are so close to the beach, they  rise and fall with the ocean tide, making the water brackish.

There's controversy over weather or not people should swim in these ponds. They are pristine and beautiful, but  the warm temperatures make perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. We told the girls to swim at their own risk.  (We all jumped in!)

 Our son stayed in for hours and jumped off the same rock wall over, and over, and over again.
The last day at camp we took the girls swimming at the  Pohoikis Harbor, which is  4 miles from our beach house. Since this is the East side of Big Island and sandy beaches are very limited, it was actually a boat harbor we swam at. But,  it is a popular place to swim and hang out, and the girls had a blast. 

Pohoiki Harbor 
Of course, we came back afterwards for another swim at the pond.
An evening swim with all the Girls, the Leaders, and the Leader's kids and families.


We had the girls cover their composition journals with scrap-booking paper and decorations. They all turned out so unique! They had time to write in them each day.

Instead of ordering pre-made Camp Shirts,  I taught the girls how to tie-dye plain white shirts. I used iron-on transfer paper to put our theme, scripture, name of our ward, and year, on the shirt. Then I came prepared with blue dye, rubber-bands, and bucket. I think they each turned out awesome and the girls loved doing it.

We talked about how "hoping for a better world" can also mean making things better for ourselves right now, here on earth. We hope to live with our Heavenly Father someday in pure heaven and paradise, but right here, right now we can make our world beautiful by recycling, creating less waste, using less of the Earth's  resources, and creating things out of old things, rather than buying new things all the time. The girls kind of stared at me blankly during this discussion. Someday it will stick, someday.....

My co-Leader facilitated the making of these lanterns, for the girls to use at testimony meeting on the last night at camp. Originally I had found this idea for frosted lanterns, but after I made one at home, I decided they weren't that cool to make. Instead, the girls enjoyed painting their own, using colorful paints and glitter. Each one turned out so beautiful! They burned candles in them on the last night, letting their lights glow bright, just like their glowing testimonies!

Another one of my co-Leaders taught the girls how to tie knots. Tying different types of knots is one of the requirements in the Girls Camp handbook. 

Lastly, I taught the girls how to macramae hemp bracelets, using funky-colored beads, representing the Young  Women Value colors.
Faith- White
Divine Nature- Blue
Individual Worth- Red
Knowledge- Green
Choice and Accountability- Orange
Good Works- Yellow
Integrity- Purple
Virtue- Gold
I hope they will always wear them and remember to live up to their values...and/or become hippies.

Each day the girls had down-time while they took turns showering (12 girls, 5 leaders, 2 showers) to write in their journals and read scriptures. There was also a lot of time to sit peacefully, and meditate, or ponder deep thoughts, down by one of the ponds. 

There was also a lot of fun, silly time, hanging around the house! This was one of my favorite parts about girls camp--just being there with everyone, talking story and laughing at stuff.

Our Young Women's President was in charge of planning the menu for the week, and cooking most of the food. She is a lovely, local lady that cooks large amounts of delicious food for everyone in her family and the whole neighborhood. Everything she made was  onolicious and satisfying! We ate really good at Girls Camp!

I especially loved that I could bring my children with me to Girls Camp. Afterall, first and foremost I am a mother, and a breastfeeding mother at that! My family is my first calling. If I couldn't involve them, I couldn't be there. 

 Micah helped out in so many ways, too. I couldn't have done much without him there to support me.

Even Jonah helped out! Here he is holding string tight,  while someone weaves a bracelet.

And Odin, well, he found some dirt to play in and ran around like crazy picking fruit and flowers the whole time.

 I truly enjoy serving the next generation of Young Women, helping to be an example, and guiding them towards making good choices in their lives. I want them to be happy, and to love God, and to embrace their individuality. I see them struggling  and I want to shout, "Hang in there! These are the hardest, most awkward  years of your life, but it will all get better! Stay close to God, follow Him, keep His commandments, embrace the gospel, and it will all turn out beautifully!  Hope for a better world, and you will find it!" Easier said than done, I know for a fact, but coming to Girls Camp is a step in the right direction!

Overall, I LOVED girls camp! I learned a lot about organizing, being prepared, being flexible, and learning from my mistakes. It was a humbling calling, and one that I enjoyed
If I have this Girls Camp calling next year, it's going to be planned even better, with all this experience under my belt.
Maybe next year we'll even camp!

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