We stumbled upon our discovery last summer (2013) because we knew we needed to get away and find refreshment somewhere. I signed up willingly... because who wouldn't want a week without cooking and doing the dishes??? The website of the conference center where family camp is held posted a little paragraph description, but we had no idea what we were in for. We weren't sure what to expect, but we were knew we needed it.
There were a few differences between last summer's family camp and this past week, but it was mostly the same. Lots of people have asked what it is, so I will do my best to describe it (and hope that I can tempt more families to join us next year!).
So, just to clarify, family CAMP is my kind of camping- it's not camping at all! The kind where I get a bed, my own bathroom and shower, get SERVED wonderful food all week, spend time with my favorite people and some freshly made friends and dig into some great Bible study time in the air conditioning. The intensity of the outdoor activities is left up to the families, for the most part. (The conference center is located a beautiful part of New Hampshire, so being outside is a beautiful, non-sweaty thing.)
The days started with breakfast- usually the families with young babies are up first and can be found in the dining room popping tiny pieces of buttery toast in their little one's mouth. The rest of the families come eat and we all gather upstairs for a few songs and a short lesson for the kids- this year's theme was the Armor of God. Each morning the kids learned about a new part of the armor and someone was chosen to get dressed up in a pretend Armor of God as we all read the passage from Ephesians.
The kids were all dropped off in their respective program locations, with the young babies just upstairs so we could quickly and easily tend to them while we had our own study and discussion time.
Lunch came with another fabulous meal. Then, rest and free time. Some families spent free time off getting ice cream at Kimball's, hiking a very steep mountain, biking or (the all-time-favorite) swimming in the lake.
Next was dinner. One evening, the concept of practicing a Sabbath meal within each family was taught- including how to speak blessings over each family member- honoring them just for being them, not for something they did. (An entire blog post ((or book, for that matter)) could be written about just this practice. Someone remind me about that, ok?) We learned about this last summer and began implementing it more intentionally with our own family. A few birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated with cakes, cupcakes, more ice cream. Before we knew it, our week at family camp was over.
I keep re-writing the sentence that begins with "the best part is...." because I can't pick out the best part of family camp. I love that the days are scheduled with young kids in mind, that couples have time to talk together, that adults can have an in-depth Bible study with other adults, that the kids are loved on by a trustworthy and happy staff, that they have a bedtime routine, daily/weekly/yearly family rhythms are modeled and that spiritual disciplines are taught to families. I love that we get to hang out with 24 other families that we feel we fit with, that we are similar to for a variety of ways, that are fighting the same struggles we are wrestling.
But I think my favorite part of family camp is that I am reminded, as a wife and mom, that certain parts of life are so much more important than others. Our hectic schedules are paused for a few days, my mind and heart are realigned so I can focus on the most important tasks. Because before I know it, the long days have turned into weeks and the fleeting weeks have turned into years and then my kids will be (hopefully) taking their own kids to family camp. I want these family routines and spiritual disciplines to be woven into the mesh of our days and years, and to be normal and expected by our whole family.
Wanna go with us next year?