Lake Powell just might be Dave and my favorite spot.

I mean, I don’t know that there’s much better than being cradled in those expansive red cliffs, a big sky full of stars in the evenings, surrounded by people you love.

It is so much work to get food and all the supplies there, but every second you are there you marvel at how worth it all the work has been.

And it never hurts to have this kind of backdrop for your day:

We used to go to Lake Powell as a family with family friends for Fall Break, but the last few years those plans have been thwarted (freezing temps one year, there was a landslide on the main road to get there one year, blah blah blah).

Needless to say, Dave and I were pretty excited when his cousin and her husband asked us to help chaperone a group of our kids’ friends in that beauty of a place. (Claire and their son Maxx are good friends, and have the same groups of friends).

The best way to celebrate 24 graduates

Take them, with four adult chaperones, to that very best spot possibly in the whole wide world.

And throw in some wrinkles for some extra added adventure 😉 (There are always some wrinkles at Lake Powell, you just are never sure going in how big they’ll be!)

I’ll get to those, but first, it was so great to get to really know all these kids who have helped shape Claire through the years. This age is pretty awesome: on the brink of so much. In the midst of the years where all your decisions make a pretty huge impact on your life.

We went through the rigamarole of packing everything up and unpacking it, got the boat all organized and spent that night in the marina under the stars.

The next morning we headed out on the houseboat into all that gorgeousness.

Dave proposed an push-up challenge on the houseboat en route to find a spot:

We found the most picturesque spot to anchor the boat:

We got everything all situated there, including an anchor rope getting sucked in and wrapped around one of the motors, (the boys were awesome at diving down with goggles and wrangling that rope from the clutches of the propeller) only to have the generator stop.


But we made the best of the coolers and ice to keep the food from spoiling overnight and luckily could use propane for making dinner.

We went paddle boarding, boating, boys set off a whole slew of fireworks:

The girls gave a devotional around the fire, (the boys were in charge the night before). Loved hearing the comments from all the kids.

Many of those boys already have their mission calls, they were so sweet, filled up with anxious anticipation, trying to balance getting ready for a mission in the midst of graduation hoopla.

Our ice was dwindling fast for coolers and we hadn’t prepared to not have running water, so after exploring every possible scenario of how we could stay put, we decided we had no choice but to head back to the marina and stay parked there so we could have electricity.

We utilized all the morning hours before we left to surf and enjoy that spot before taking off.

Kind of cool to see a plane just hanging out there on the water:

Let’s get a closer look:

You can’t see it, but there are people laying out on their towels sunbathing on top of that thing.

I took a walk by myself and listened to The Miracle of Mindfulness as I became even more mindful of that incredible gorgeous beauty surrounding me.

So crazy how low the lake is.

And that earth I was walking on had been well under water last time I was at Lake Powell.

The best boat driver:

Love these great kids:

…who come up with some pretty funny games:

We had to take a picture before we left our spot:

Then we were off again.

Loved the discussion while driving the houseboat back to the dock Paul started, “will you say ‘I do’” : all kinds of case scenarios asking what the kids would do if their fiancé divulged various info to them the night before they were going to get married.

This meandered into talk about gun laws, abortion, drug and alcohol laws (I’m reading American Kingpin so I had some stats to share about that). So interesting to hear the takes of the kids on all this as they are emerging so freshly into the big wide world after high school. Black and white vs. gray.

Also, more push-up challenges en route.

Celebrated when we made our way back to the marina, excited to plug in for electricity.

But when we pulled up we found that the services to help us were closed early for the evening so we made a makeshift place to park the houseboat and some of the kids worked to try to rig the plug-in for electricity:

…while Kara and I got to work trying to make another meal for everyone by flashlight.

Thank goodness we had propane and the boys were anxious to grill things up for us and we sat and talked about life and five year plans and the next steps where everyone is heading.

The next morning we got parked and got some helpers working on the boat for us, and headed to “sand hill,” this giant hill of pure sand right there in the blazing hot sun.

The lake is so low there was no water anywhere close so it made that hike extra hot…and we were extra proud of ourselves to make it to the sliver of shade at the top: every one of us. (see that tiny little sliver in the picture above?)

I made the kids take a picture looking the other way as well, since last time we were here there was water everywhere below and now it’s a dust-bowl:


Hot sand running down:

Through all this gorgeousness:

So grateful to get back to the houseboat with whirring refrigerator and light restored to make our last dinner.

We had more funny discussions, all those kids gathered around Dave and Paul yelling out answers to funny questions they posed “would you rather…” and what is a deal-breaker when you’re dating (pretty funny stuff those kids came up with) and the houseboat was so filled up with happy and opinionated kids.

Kara & Paul and Dave and I gave a joined devotional that last night on top of the houseboat, (in the glow of those lights that hadn’t worked the other nights), all about the “wind” that will come and how to reach to God and let the troubles that will come make them stronger.

Their bright futures. God is awake.

Not sure if I mentioned how much we adore these two hosts.

Full of such good insight, so brave to take on this adventure and so great with the kids.

So grateful they are family AND friends.

As we packed everything up the next morning I felt such a wash of gratitude for this opportunity, and for these kids, and for the village that has helped us raise our kids.

Paul’s trailer tire shredded on the way home so we had an extra adventure of all these girls who happened to be in our cars learning to change a tire in the sweltering heat…

…a nice policeman along for the ride to help.

And then we were HOME, reunited with my Lucy girl recently returned from FSY (her story back HERE), the biggest hugs all around.

Dave and I lay in bed that night reminiscing how Paul & Kara were the best hosts ever, so calm under pressure, how great the kids were, and how grateful we were for the time to really be with them before they all head their different ways.

So grateful for the wrinkles and glow all mixed right in together for memories we’ll keep forever and ever.

Yep, a pretty good way to celebrate seniors I think they would all agree:)

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    1. Kids couldn’t drive the houseboat and would be tricky to manage a speedboat launching, etc. so much can go wrong at Lake Powell! It was all-hands-on-deck with food and supplies and driving, especially with the added “wrinkles” in the plan. The kids did so much to help though!

  1. Are fireworks legal at Lake Powell? I am surprised you would allow them to do that, but maybe I am wrong about the restrictions.

  2. Do any of these kids have jobs? For a a family so “ boy howdy” on the “ entitlement trap” I’ve never seen such privileged entitlement. No jobs, trips every other week, all drive their own cars, no scrimping college students.

    1. Hi! This is Claire. Actually almost all of my friends have summer jobs to get ready for school and missions. Everyone planned ahead to get work off for the week so we could do our senior trip all together before we split.

      1. What a great trip! Seriously memories for a lifetime.
        I’m sorry some people are a little disgruntled about it, but honestly if I could afford to do this for my kids, I would in a heartbeat. Why not give them every beautiful opportunity to do all the amazing fun things???

        1. I don’t see the point behind some comments over here. I feel some people come here just waiting to do that, forgetting there are actual human beings with feelings behind the construction of this blog. We don’t see them 24 hours a day and this blog is a glimpse of it, y’all. Everybody has their good times and challenges and I’m sure Shawni and her family do, too, just like everyone else. By the way, she shares a lot of hardships here; she’s always been open about the fact that parenting is complex and that we often fail while trying. So what’s wrong with her sharing the nice times, the joyful moments? They deserve to have fun; everybody does! What happened to kindness?

          Shawni, only you and your husband know how hard you work to raise your family, to raise good kids, to be better parents every day. Please, enjoy every little moment of those rewarding fun times you can have after so many years of personal investment into the raising of your children. God bless you all.

    2. You do realize some people are given opportunities like the Pothier kids, right? It doesn’t make them terrible people. They’re lucky and I’m sure they know it! Plus, how could you find a more kind, loving, & thoughtful mother than Shawni? Don’t you think she & Dave have raised her kids to appreciate what they have? Why do you have so much judgement for others?

    3. This is the most likely time the graduates have off without it inconveniencing the schedule. It’s the best part of life. Done with one school and moving onto the next or full time work. Surely they are finishing up working high school jobs or already finished them and moving onto the next step in life, for many out of state. The summer before high school a similar freeing feeling. It’s like finishing one job and then having a week off before the next one starts. That week is bliss. It is a lot of travel. And there will no doubt be the last trip the parents take with her. The last trip as an immediate family to California. An adventure as a family abroad? There was a volleyball trip wasn’t there? But the timing and local location of this trip is the most relatable you will probably see. No plane!

  3. Where did everyone sleep on the boat?
    In response to the comment about the’s a vacation. Jealousy doesn’t look good on anyone. I get SO angry at people who are bullies when all they have to do is move along and not comment. Way to go, Shawni, for raising some great kids. 😍

  4. What an incredibly gorgeous place! The scenery is really breath taking. And what a wonderful time for all these kids (and the chaperones) to have together before heading out in their different directions. And just so heart warming that you all got together for devotionals every evening. It looks like it was a very fun time.

  5. I appreciate you Shawni! Please know that there is an audience who see’s your light and your efforts in your parenting.

  6. Wow, people be kind!
    I do have a question Shawni with regards to having that many young adults all together. I’m presuming there was a lot of crushes, dating , NCMO and hopefully no “ durfing” but how did you supervise that kind of thing with so many of them. I’d love to do a trip like this but it seems scary for that reason!

    1. Why? Why ask that question? If any of that was going on…they are 18 year olds about to embark on a whole life without chaperones. If you have spent any time around teens,
      You would know that if teens want to do something “un chaperoned” even with chaperones around, they will.
      To think that you wouldn’t plan your own trip because you fear crushes and dating is actually really sad. I, myself would love to get away from the world thinking Mormons are “stereotypical”. Your comment just set that hope back about 50 years.

    2. Earlier she gave a good answer when I asked about chaperones. It was to deal with the driving of the equipment back and forth and dealing with that sort of stuff.

    3. In response to Emily, yes, crushes and all that jazz is pretty normal for teenagers, and there are some for sure with this group, but they’re learning and growing and by this time after being friends in high school for so long most of them are like siblings by now. They are respectful and kind, and have for the most part made pretty great decisions.

  7. I don’t often comment but I’m appalled by some of the comments here. People love nothing more than to hide behind computer screens and comment things they would never say in person!

    On a side note: so fun that Claire went to hs with one of her second-cousins! The summer after senior year is so bittersweet.

    1. I know, right? So fun to go to high school with second cousins and so fun they have the same friends.

  8. To echo some other commenters, it is so strange to me to see the snarkiness that comes out sometimes in these comments. We will never see all of Shawni and these kids’ lives to get the full picture and to judge them so harshly when they’re 17/18 yrs old is immature in and of itself.

    Sounds like a great trip with great discussions – happy summer to all!

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. Yes, I find that strange as well, but everyone is coming from such different backgrounds. Sad some can’t see the good parts, but I do wish them well! Happy summer to you as well!

  9. I’m not sure where the vitriol from some of these commenters comes from, because this looks like it was so much fun! Here on the East Coast, we have “Beach Week” for graduates, always the week after school lets out, and always at beach houses along the coast. Yes, always a few parent chaperones, and the kids all chip in to pay for the house rental and food. Summer employers know that those seniors won’t be around that week, so they lean on the other summer workers to fill the gap for those days. So impressed with the fellowship/vespers/games you organized, and what a positive way to send everyone off into their future plans. This looked like a great trip, with great kids and awesome chaperones. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Thank you Rebecca and that Beach Week sounds like another great way to celebrate seniors as they head off into the big wide world. I love the grad card someone sent one of my kids that said “congratulations on completion of the easiest part of your life” Ha! It will be interesting to see all the paths these kids take and we sure wish them well as they move forward!

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