We’ve been coming up here to Bear Lake for the summers for as long as I can remember.

The number of people in our family who stick it out for the whole month has waxed and waned through the years. When we were young, it was mandatory we stay all three months. I loved it…until I started dating and having a social life in high school.

But even through those years, the beauty of the lake still took my breath away each time I came.

Now that most of us are married, each year is a little different. Some years siblings are on missions, traveling in different countries, dealing with work deadlines, etc. So that sometimes puts a hanger in the amount of time people stay. But my sisters and I have generally stayed for at least a few weeks with our kids for as long as I can remember.

This year, as I looked around at church two weeks after our big reunion I realized all but one sibling was still here. I am amazed that we all love this place so much that we have been able to figure out ways to make it work, even with work and kids and all that jazz.

Each year I get worried that this can’t last much longer. Before I know it my kids will be at the stage I was when I wanted to be home for my social life. And they’ll need to have summer jobs. And they’ll need to be much harder workers (although we do work a lot up here, and we work on goals all summer, etc., but still…)

But each year I just cherish the time a little more because I’m not sure how long it will last.

And I’ll miss all that we do up here like the dickens.

All the cousin bonding:
The “school” we do with the kids:…(and that now the older grand kids have taken control of and started teaching their younger cousins new stuff themselves).

The dinner discussions over the good food we eat:
…(my family has a bunch of great cooks).

Movie nights as rewards for good helping:

Sibling bonding:

Serious tube time:

The practical jokes (this year we tried labeling a bunch of stuff when it came to food and supplies with this many people…lots of jokes came from that):

All the crafts the kids come up with when they have so much unstructured time on their hands:

Visits from friends on the other side of the lake (we love the Z’s!):

Endless beach time and continual sand-castle making:

Our traditional sand mermaid:
Celebrating birthdays together:

Driving lessons in the old, junky monteros we drive around here.
(My kids think they have died and gone to Heaven…this was Elle’s first driving year, and Max’s first with a stick shift.)

…and all the kids hanging on the back to get to and from where they want to go:I love how we get to work hard on our goals (our own as well as our kids), our traditional speed Scrabble and Boggle games, sailing with my dad, horseback riding, etc.

Even the tough stuff like cleaning up after tons of little kids over and over and over again, the mundane task of rubbing suntan lotion on every small body we can find, itching mosquito bites, and surviving on little sleep weaves into the golden things and makes a beautiful tapestry of memories we’ll never forget.

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  1. I love the picture of the kids on the back of the Montero. That is a perfect cousin memory that they will share through the rest of their lives.

    Great pictures!

  2. Shawni, I love reading your blog. You always remind me of what's important in life. We are on our way to a family reunion in Bear Lake in a couple of weeks. How does your family do meals? We have large numbers, too, and are at a loss as to how to attempt to feed everyone. Any suggestions you could give would be greatly appreciated! Amy

  3. I think even if this reunion turned out to be a total bummer (which…..there's no way it could have been) the kids that got to drive would have thought it was the best one ever. I let me kids drive in the church parking lot. One is old enough and the other is only 14, but he needs to learn.

  4. What great memories! Growing up I spent every summer in GNP, Montana….sometimes for a month, but at least 3 weeks. We loved it & did a lot of bonding with all our cousins too! My husband & I travel out by van with our girls…1800 miles one way, but it's so worth it! You guys are so blessed to have a place for everyone to stay at–makes things a lot easier! The pictures are wonderful!

  5. What an absolute dreamy place to enjoy the summer. What a great legacy and amazing memories for your kids. And like always perfect pictures

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