Talking with couple friends the other day, their worries about impending empty nest parenting came up. I know that stage of life opens up so many feelings. Excitement and wonder mixed with worry. As mothers we pour our hearts into our children, and letting them go can be not only painful, but such a rearrangement of priorities.

But all that talk reminded me once again that rather than dreading the empty nest stage, I am praying with all my might for it to find us. For Lucy’s sake and for ours too. Oh she wants so much to be independent, and oh I love that so much about her! But this summer I realized, with a giant pit in my stomach, that we have a lot to do this next year for her to be ready.

You see, our Young Women leader invited me to accompany them to girls camp the first week of summer. Oh I’ve been to Girls Camp so many times in various capacities over the years. Not only have I gone as a leader, but they have asked me to come along just to be Lucy’s helper before too. Her needs can be tricky. I’m so glad I got to go when they did the Moab river rafting.

But then last year was so incredible for Lucy’s independence without her mother around. It made me think maybe we were in the clear. She was on a good trajectory.

So when I was asked to come along again this year (in a way I really couldn’t decline), I dragged my feet a little. I knew Lucy would be frustrated. She’s trying so hard to let that “tether” we have together gain a little more leeway. But again, it was on no uncertain terms that they really needed me (and really, once I got there, I realized they were so right). So I went. Much to Lucy’s chagrin.

There’s Nothing Like Girls Camp

Oh it was pretty glorious to be encircled by women, girls, and towering trees away from the hubbub of life at girls camp. The forced slower pace, the opportunity to connect. To sit and study things like the beauty of this unique brand of sunshine and even the beauty of a curled up brown leaf at my feet during a devotional. The girls and the women! Oh Girls Camp is quite incredible I must say.

I love the YW program. How I miss serving in it! The leaders took me right under their wings. So many good topics of conversation, so much to learn from them and how they are such good mother hens to these girls.

I loved the chance to get to know the girls too. Girls who have welcomed a random lady into their fold with no questions asked.

These girls are quite amazing. They are each struggling with their own mountains to climb. And I got teary quite a few times watching them love and support each other. Watching them lead. And learn together.

Some Things We Did

We paddle-boarded at a lake:

Basked in the quiet beauty of nature.

The girls did a fun jeopardy game to get to know the leaders better.

There were beautiful devotionals.

And late-night talking through the world with these (and more) amazing women.

Ate delicious food.

Tonto Natural Bridge

We hiked, which was one of the things I knew Lucy would need more help on.

It was a relatively easy hike, but not when you can’t see. And there were lots of emotional worries with Lucy along the way. She had some pretty incredible leaders to help her through though.

She was NOT about to let her mother help her, I’ll tell you that!

Tonto Natural Bridge is pretty incredible.

Lucy couldn’t make it into the last part, but one of the leaders was willing to take a “polar plunge” with her, which made her whole day.

Jesus Devotional

I’m not sure what to even call this part, but it was my favorite. The leaders had the girls sit blindfolded in a circle with beautiful music playing.

We passed out things for them to hold during each song.

For example, during “Away in a Manger” we passed out straw. Then gathered it and passed out a small bread loaf during the “God of Miracles” song. We passed out a thorny branch for a song about the atonement, and left them with a hand warmer for the last song all about Jesus.

I’m not explaining it perfectly, but there is something about music that can bring the spirit in like nothing else.

When the song selections were over, and each girl was sitting with their hand warmer, they took off their blindfolds and there was a picture of Jesus on the screen. Followed by a slideshow about “disciples of Christ” showing all the girls.

Oh it was so beautiful.

But the most beautiful thing was when I looked over at the YW president while we were passing out the items for the girls. She had tears streaming down her cheeks. Oh I could feel her love for these girls so powerfully, and through her, the love of God for these girls.

I hope they felt it as powerfully as I did.

Oooga Booga

Funny that we ended that last night, after all that spiritual power, with “ooga booga.” Ha!

Ooga Booga is a girls camp tradition in the desert. Kind of an initiation of the newest girls, and everyone sure loves it. These girls took it up a notch this year with the scary factor, and everyone loved it.

Including my girl who, after a little apprehension at the beginning (I was so grateful I could be there to help), got into full character yelling out Ooga Booga with everyone else.

What I Learned about My Girl In the Mountains

I was able to observe some valuable things about my girl up there in the mountains. And ponder deeper things in my heart. A heart that sometimes feels as if it can’t break any more for this girl who is lonely so much, but has such a tricky time figuring out social situations.

Some things are more clear and others are more muddy. We have a lot of work to do this coming year.

But what was more clear was that this girl is a fighter.

She is going to do great things in life.

We just need to help her figure out how.

And watch her fly.

Thank you, Girls Camp, for filling us both up with so much goodness. I’m sorry I doubted you. I had forgotten the miracles that happen at girls camp. They are in full force when groups of women and girls gather and slow down life enough to strengthen their relationship with Jesus. These women and these girls? Incredible in every way.

And going forward, rather than wringing my hands with worry for this next year (although I’m sure there’ll be plenty of that), we are going to utilize it to the fullest. Good things are on the horizon!

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  1. Oh Shawni, I’m so glad you went! It’s going to be a challenging year as she stretches out to see the amazing things she can do, as well as some that she can’t. We continue to pray for her daily. Love these great pictures. Those girls are so lucky to have those incredibly dedicated and creative leaders!

  2. I am getting ready to do a fireside very similar to yours with the blindfolds. It’s called Sensing Christ, using all the senses other than sight to experience the life of Christ. Just curious, is there any way to get a list of the songs you guys used? I would love to come up with a hybrid of the two! Camp sounds like it was incredible:)

    1. I reached out to the friend who put the songs together, I’ll let you know when she gets back to me.

    2. Here’s the list I got back from the friend who put together for the music:

      1. Away in a Manger (Carrie Underwood) entire song – 2:41

      2. The Miracle
      Start at beginning and go into 2:59. (This is verse 1&2 with chorus after each)

      3. Gethsamane (Reese Oliviera). Entire song – 2:56

      4. Risen (Shawna Edwards) start at beginning and go until 1:28

      5. I Stand All Amazed (entire song) 4:56

      6. Come Unto Christ. Entire Song 4:38

      Hope that helps!

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