... how's that for an opening title?
But yep, we had our 3rd Merge Camp experience this weekend.
& it was just full of amazing moments.
I hate trying to sum up experiences like this in a cute little story or to condense it to something that it can't possibly be shrunk down too...
So I'll do just some highlights... & I know as soon as I hit 'publish' I'll have another 25 highlights come to mind. It's these kinds of weekend that memories just pop on you all the time reminding you how fun it is to work with these amazing kids.
... WARNING.... be prepared for photo over load... #sorrynotsorry
* Ricky & I got there Saturday morning. A little later then expected. They had detour signs up for a road closure & we missed the last sign that would have taken us right to the camp. Nope. Instead, we got caught up in this horrible, foggy, windy road circle that made us feel like we were knocking on deaths door. Quite the adventure just GETTING to camp.
|WE MADE IT!!!!!
* As soon as we got there & unloaded our stuff, it was time to go hiking & I was up to teach. Talk about no rest for the weary. I got to talk about "Falling in Love with Jesus"... I may give a highlight of my devotion here later this week.
* This was probably one of my favorite moments of the weekend (Wait - I'll say that a few more times as we go)... but the small group time with the girls just made my day. First of all, they conned me to jump out onto this dock & then I was just wondering how I was going to get OFF of it... but I pushed it out of my head to talk girl-talk with these ladies. Talks of love stories & expectations of falling in love & what the person they want to fall in love with, their qualities. & it was so cool how all those expectations could go right back to how we fall in love with Jesus. It was just the best talk...
|Amazing young ladies that love the Lord!!!
* Ricky saved the day & got me off of the dock... whew...
* I love the walks back to our camp grounds... it just always seems that I would end up with a different group of kids & those conversations of just getting to hear about their every day life & talk about anything just made my day. Probably my favorite moment. Yep - you heard right - ANOTHER favorite.
* Time to head to a low rope challenge course. I love this little area because it forces team work... these kids were fantastic at figuring out the challenges too.
|The kids getting Ricky over the wall
* Yep, another favorite moment... one of the girls wanted to do the wall with a running leap up to the top people. She just couldn't get it & it was wearing her out. Finally, Ricky got on his hands & knees & told her that when she runs, step on his back & take off from that. Oh brother. I could just see Ricky getting hurt. One of the young men in the youth group told Ricky that he wanted to be the one to let her jump off of him. ... it worked too ... she SOARED!!!... I thanked him for taking Ricky's place & he said that he was "just a kid, & Ricky has a job & shouldn't get hurt"... I thought that was the sweetest gesture I have ever seen.
|That young man in the red shirt & black shorts... he was Ricky's back's rescuer :)
* Time for canoes & kayaking. I ended up just staying on the beach & helping push & pull boats in & out. I knew before my upper body strength was lacking... this confirmed it...
* My husband is amazing. The plan was for me to go home towards the end of Merge so I could take care of the dogs & I was just going to come back the next morning. But after being there & hanging out with the kids, I didn't want to leave. So he left for a few hours, went home & took care of the dogs, got all my stuff that I needed since I didn't bring anything to spend the night & came back with me a veggie patty sandwich from Subway so I could have a full belly. Is my husband the best or what?!?!?!?
* We had 2 different face plants in the water... oh my gosh. One girl tore that little piece of flesh in the top of your mouth that connects to your teeth on your gum... another one hit the water so hard coming down from a high fall that she had busted BLISTERS on her hands. That's how hard she smacked the water. Reason enough for me to sit in the sand & cheer on all the kiddos.
* Some of the girls are on a cross country team together at school. They had a challenge to do a 'suspicious picture'... yes, it involved aluminum hats so nothing could get in your mind. I got to go a step further & had a aluminum moustache. #LeaderFortheWin
|That kiddo next to me was cracking me up ... "WHEN ARE WE TAKING THE PICTURE?! I CANT BREATH"
* After dinner, it was free time & Ricky was on his way back to camp & I just ended up finding a swing set & sitting with a cup of coffee & watching every one running all around. One of the girls ended up coming & sitting next to me & she was just precious. We talked for at least an hour & I loved hearing her story & struggles & just being a listening ear. This particular young lady never really hung out with me much on church days, so to get to spend this time with her just was one of my FAVORITE moments of the weekend.
* Devotionals around a campfire is just the best quiet time with God when all you hear is cracking of fire & owls hooting right next to you.
* When the kids go to sleep, leaders will play. We laughed so hard playing carpet ball together, singing songs from Karate Kid & just talking nothing but fun stuff. I honestly don't think I've seen Ricky laugh that hard in awhile.
Awesome and fun Merge Leaders!
Posted by Refuge Youth on Saturday, August 8, 2015
* Sleeping in a teepee is not for the old. The young? Yes. They loved it. The 'beds' are just little pieces of foam - my feet hung off of the end - & the room was just so damp from all the humidity. I can hang... but I see that I am not made for camping.
|Our accommodations for the weekend
*Sunday morning had Ricky & I first up... doesn't surprise me. & it was so fun watching all the kids stroll out of their tents in the morning & being able to great them with a big ole "GOOD MORNING"... for those of you that know me in the morning, on retreats, I am VERY loud in greeting the morning with song.
|Always "my buddy" for head count at Merge Camp
* The morning flew by quickly with breakfast & then back for another devotional by our buddy Ryan. His was on 'sustaining love' & it was probably one of the best messages I had heard for a quick 5 minute lesson. That guy is so gifted in his talents of teaching the Bible.
* TIME FOR ZIP LINE!!!!! ... Ricky & I had done it last year so didn't plan on going this year because there weren't enough harnasses - but there was one kiddo who it was his first time. He was so nervous about going & Ricky & I sat & talked with him, not pressuring him, but I told him I am scared too & if he wanted, I'd go with him. He took that deal, & a bribe from Ricky ;) & we all got other's harnesses & up the steps we went. It was so precious seeing his little face standing at the top waiting. He was so scared & nervous... but when he stepped off of the platform & got that wind under him, he was like the bravest little guy ever. Even taking his hands off of the rope. Ricky & I were so honored to be there for him as he took that leap of faith :) ... & honestly, it took the nervousness out of me more because I was just worried for him. Win Win. & TOTALLY a FAVORITE moment :)
* We got back to camp & it was clean up time & then WATER GUN WARS! Ricky is so adorable. He went out & bought water guns just for this. He did it last year too but ended up letting the kids take the water guns home, so back to the store on Friday to buy more. The kids loved it. Took it SERIOUSLY too! Capture the flag was ON - let me tell you. I just stayed at the top & played some carpet ball with some kiddos that didn't want to get soaked. I loved my time with smaller groups where we could laugh together.
& then BAM! It was time to load up & head home.
What a weekend...
Ricky & I did our annual tradition of getting food, going home & chowing down & then SLEEP! Oh my gosh - we napped for a bit...
& now, its just looking back on all the little moments of the weekend.
Having a sweet kiddo always check on me to make sure I'm ok or if I need anything...
Spending time with the other youth leaders...
Hearing everyone's thoughts on quiet time with God ...
Getting to know the new kids that are venturing up into youth ministry....
It was definitely another year of adventure, of friendships being made, of Godly seeds being planted...
another year of blessings!!
Totally a favorite....
How was your weekend?