Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Church Camp ~ A Near Death Experience

Going to church camp was one of my all time favorite things growing up, so when my girl became old enough this year to go I was so excited for her.  She wanted me to go along with her, so I signed up to be a counselor.  I was a counselor a couple of times after I was too old to be a camper, but that was way back before I was married, so it had been a while.  It's pretty much the same though!  It's a different camp than the one I went to, but it's still run by our church and a lot of things are exactly the same which makes my sentimental heart happy.  Every counselor is assigned a duty while at camp and I got assigned to be the camp photographer.  Shocking, right?!  It was fun since I got to go around and take photos of all the kids and all the different ages rather than stay with one group.  I still kinda stuck with my group though which consisted of 8 little girls from about 8 to 10 years old.  I forgot how hard it can be to have that many kids of the same age!  Makes me really glad I don't have twins or triplets, or anything like that.  They were great, but they needed a lot of reminders, which luckily as a mom I'm pretty good at.  I was afraid they were going to think I was a nag with all my constant, "Did you brush your hair?", "Brush your teeth, change your underwear and get dressed!" and "Have you washed your hair? With shampoo?" and "Do you know where you are supposed to be right now?".  I could name countless more, but seriously, it was exhausting!  I don't remember being that scatterbrained when I was a camper.  I'm sure some of my counselors would beg to differ though!

So, there was one major event that made camp more memorable this year.  There was a storm.  Oh, and I almost died.  Seriously.  I am not kidding.  It was pretty intense.  I'll just give you the brief version...

Some of the women counselors had gotten together at the craft tent to tie dye some t-shirts.  The kids had done it earlier in the day and so we were going to do our own.  The craft tent looks exactly like a huge red and white striped circus tent.  It's really large and very sturdy.  It has electric lights strung throughout it and it has picnic tables under it and it has sides you can let down.  Get the idea?  So, it had been raining and storming all throughout the week (miserable, by the way) and so it started to rain again and some of the ladies had seen on their phones that there was a tornado warning for the area of the state we were in.  We had made some comments about making sure one of my girls wasn't alone (she had a major fear of storms) so my co-counselor for my group went back to check on them and the rest of us were going to pack up the craft supplies and head up to the main building.  Oh, and we were going to finish tie-dying too (dumbest moment of my life).  Anyway, so the wind starts to really pick up and we start trying to grab the craft boxes to put in the minivan.  Only it's locked, so the lady who owns the van is looking for her keys and all of a sudden the wind is violent and it rips the tent in two!  I am standing over on the far end of the tent near the van holding a box waiting for the van to be unlocked when I see half of the tent go flying into the air and the other half come down right onto me.  It seriously happened in slow motion.  I have no idea what I did with the box, I just remember crouching down and covering my head and all of a sudden the tent is on top of me. There was a large industrial type fan that cushioned it's fall as well as the picnic table nearest me, so I didn't even feel the weight of it on me.  I just remember thinking, "Wow, I'm okay, so now how am I going to get out of here?"  And then I hear all the other ladies screaming my name and asking if I'm okay.  I yelled back that I was and then in a split second a gust of wind picked the tent off me and I was out.  I am totally convinced it was angels protecting me.  Totally.  As soon as I was out I went running for shelter and completely stepped out of my flip flops and was running around barefoot on the gravel.  The only shelter nearby was a wooden shed and a metal shed.  I ran for the wooden shed and it was locked.  We were all panicking and one of us had hurt her leg running, so we all crouched down next to the shed and myself and the owner of the van searched her bag for the van keys.  I said a prayer, "God, help us find the keys." and I immediately found them.  I ran to the van with them holding out the key fob and pressing the unlock button only it wasn't working!  I later found out that was the fob for her husband's truck!  Anyway, I got the door unlocked with the key, and we all piled in.  My friend sat in the driver's seat and said, "I can't find the turn signal" to which we all screamed, "Who cares??!", only she actually meant to say that she couldn't find the windshield wipers.  : )  We drove up to the main camp building and then the most terrifying part happened...I didn't know where my girl was...  It was free time for the campers while this was all happening, so I just was imagining the worst.  My friend didn't know where her girls were either.  I was a mess.  I was shaking from the whole ordeal and bawling like a baby.  It was so terrifying!  Long story short...all the campers were safe.  Other counselors had taken charge and were getting them all to safety.  I saw my girl running from a minivan where she had been picked up from another building and it was such a huge relief to hug her!  She didn't even realize how scary the whole thing had been. She had been playing with friends in a common area of the girls' cabins and didn't even understand why they had to move or what the big deal was.  Of course, no one dared utter the word 'tornado' to a group of children for fear of mass hysteria. : )  Not one of us was hurt, all the kids were fine other than being afraid and a camper even decided to become a Christian and became saved during the storm.

Okay, so that was probably more like the long version.   Oops.  Oh, and another thing...later that day we noticed a huge dent in the back of the van.  I can't help but think that maybe all that running around and not finding the van keys maybe had something to do with God protecting us from some flying object.  Seems kinda crazy, but then who am I to question God?  His ways are perfect.  I've been trying to figure out what I'm supposed to have learned from this experience and really there are a lot of things...but the thing that sticks out for me is this...if He can protect me in a storm, then why should I ever doubt that He isn't there in every situation?  If He cares enough to have a tent lifted off of me and keep me completely unharmed when I for all other purposes could have died, then He cares for me always...not just in a storm.  So why do I worry?  Why do I doubt His timing?  His plans for me?  I shouldn't.  And I'm stopping.  I'm giving my life to Him completely, not just my physical life, but my whole life.  And I already had, but when you experience what I did your vision becomes sharp, time slows down, and what's really important is right before you.  I didn't fear death then in that moment and I don't now.  Because I know where I will be when I die...do you?  Don't be like me and run around trying to cram things into your life (like tie-dying t-shirts when there's a tornado warning? Hello?).  Be still for a moment and think about the big picture.  Ask the hard questions and if you don't know the answers then get off your butt and find them.  Or better yet, get on your knees.

Okay, I'm done with my preaching.  I've got loads of photos to share.  : )

Some of the girls in front of the camp entrance sign.  That building on the right is the girl's 'cabins'. 

The bottom left shows one of the boys cabins.  They are way more rustic.  The camp really is beautiful.

My cabin of girls.  I loved this group so much!  They all got along so well and there was no girl drama. :)

I took photos of all the kids, but I decided to just share ones of my girl for this blog.  There are more over at www.bpcamp.org.  Here is my girl ready to climb the wall.


After they climb the wall they have to do this tightrope thing on the left to get over to the platform where you can zip line from.  It's SO high!  I can't believe my girl did it!  I wish I had a better pic of her on the zip line, but her face was blocked in all of them and it happened in like a split second.

 My crafty girl.

How can you spot a photographer's child?  She's the one who immediately smiles when she notices the camera.  Isn't her shirt appropriate?!

It rained A LOT.  So they had to improvise a lot and come up with some fun (time-wasting) games for the kids.  This was crab soccer.

I love games that make kids walk like zombies and sometimes bump into each other.  Fun times...

They still spent plenty of time outdoors getting dirty and muddy though.  Here's my girl playing GaGa Ball.  I didn't get a good picture of the whole thing, but it's like an enclosed pen and you hit the ball with your hands and you have to try to hit other people below the knees with it until there is only one person left.  It looked pretty fun.  

My girl loved the lake and the paddle boards.  I'm going to see if we can do it in Florida.

Cutie in a canoe.

Oh my, this is so them...

Love this pic of one of my best friend's daughters.  And she's one of my daughter's best friends.  I love that so much and it's one of the saddest parts of moving!

Some of my favorite photos are of this wild child. :)  I think her shirt just makes this photo even better.

Oh, the giant pants.  They gave this out as a reward each day for the junior girls cabin for the cabin clean up award.  We won once and tied once.  That on the left is 5 girls in the pants at once.  They were giant!

The girls stuffed the pants with their pillows for the next day's cabin clean up but they couldn't get them to stand up.  They came back from lunch to find this from the cabin clean up inspector!  My girl was so happy because that's her dog that was the head.  That's her bunk on the top too.

 New and old friends.

Just had to share this because it cracks me up every time I look at it.  I need to photoshop a tornado into the background.  They all look terrified, but they were supposed to be smiling!

The only photo with me in it from the entire week.  Guess that's because I was taking all the pictures.  I need to scrounge up a photo of us from camp when we were our daughter's ages!  Oh, and this sweet friend was traumatized because she was there when the tent fell on me and she thought she watched me die.

There was a giant slip and slide.  I love this photo.  That's joy right there.

Being crafty again.  I love shots of her when she isn't looking.

They do a carnival one night and pair up the older campers with the younger ones. Here is my girl with her "buddies".  She loved them.  She had me do her hair like how she had seen the one girl wear hers.

I did a lot of braiding that week...for lots of different girls.  It was fun.

When it wasn't raining the sky there was beautiful.  All blue with giant puffy clouds.  This doesn't even do it justice.

This is the tent after it was demolished.  We came back to find giant spikes lying around.  It is seriously amazing that none of us got hurt.

The dent in the van.  Yikes!  So glad that I wasn't standing there!

I'm ending with my favorite photo.  I have no idea why this is my favorite, but it is.  I just love that these two are friends and I love that they aren't looking at me yet it's so clear who they are.  

Camp was an adventure.  I hope the next time is a little less adventurous...at least for me. :)

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