Monday, July 9, 2018

Colorado 2018 - Part 2

Wednesday was our "off camp adventure day" and so we ate breakfast at camp, grabbed our sack lunches from the dining hall and headed about an hour away to check out the Royal Gorge.  We opted out of actually walking across the bridge and then riding the gondola across the gorge because a couple of the kids weren't super excited about the heights aspect and we checked out the view from a lookout point...







... and then headed to the Royal Gorge train station!





The train was air conditioned (YES!), served great food and was a whole lot comfier than the train we did in Leadville last summer.  ;)




The ride was two hours through the gorge and the views were AMAZING!








The kids favorite parts were spotting bighorn sheep on the rocks and waving at the rafters going past us on the Arkansas River.




There was quite a bit of history offered as well which made for some interesting discussion topics along the way.





So waaaaaay up there is the bridge (and gondola) that we were initially going to go see.  Dave and I have been up there before and I can tell you that I wasn't SUPER bummed when the kids were nervous about it and we opted out.  IT'S SO HIGH!


Can you spot the sheep in the picture below?  Mason's favorite part was trying to spot them and it was so neat to see just how camouflaged they actually were!



We got back to camp in time for dinner and the kids favorite part of the day... this dessert!


I mean - it was ridiculous and amazing and delicious and something that I think they'll be talking about for a while.


After dinner we had worship and then a camp talent show.  Kids had been able to sign up to perform an act and it was the CUTEST thing ever!  There were games in between the acts and Dave ended up smashing eggs on his head trying to find a hard boiled one :)  Kids told jokes, lip synched and danced and it was so much fun.


Thursday morning went as normal (breakfast, family devotion, connection time...) but after connection time they had a Counselor Panel which was probably my favorite hour of the whole week.  Four of the counselors sat down with the parents and opened themselves up for questions about anything and everything.  Technology, faith, family, etc.... it was so informative, enlightening and ENCOURAGING to hear college kids talk about their experiences and faith. 

We spent our day doing #alltheactivities and pretty much all Griffin wanted to do was rock climb.  We're going to have to find a place close to home to take her because she LOVED IT!


The boys liked rock climbing as well - but not as much as their sister.  They both went a couple of times and were done - while Griffin just kept getting back in line over and over and over.




We also did the zipline which was super tall but such a great time!


Thursday night was "Parent's Night Out" and Dave and I headed into Westcliffe for pizza (seriously - some of the best pizza I've ever had!  Tony's in Silvercliffe was awesome!)...



... and then back to camp for some reading time on the balcony.  It was PERFECTION!




While the parents were in town (or having a picnic on site) the kids ate dinner, watched movies and then went to the rec center with their counselors for games.  The rec center had rock climbing, bowling, a snack bar, racquet ball court and this awesome gym area with indoor track above.


We joined in the fun for a while after pickup time and then bribed the kids into leaving the rec with promises of a trip to the jumping pillow on the way back to The Lodge.




Friday was our last full day at camp and while we started off sad that it was almost over we made the most of the time we had and crammed in as much as we could.




The boys request for Friday afternoon was time at the target range so that's just what we did!


This was their favorite and we were there for a couple of hours throwing hatchets, shooting and doing archery. 


This made me ridiculously nervous - but the activity counselors were SO GREAT and competent and completely put my mind at ease.


Dave stuck a hatchet!





Mason ROCKED at archery and spent at least an hour at this station.  He LOVED IT!  Luke has a bow at home, but this bow "fit" him so much better and he hit several in the yellow.  He's asked about 17 times since we've been home about getting a bow JUST LIKE THE ONE AT CAMP for him to use.








The kids even got to shoot dog food with slingshots and then watch the chipmunks come and get it.





After the range we headed down to the alpine swing.  I was hopeful that the boys would try it, but after being up on the windy zipline platform the day before they both backed out at the last minute.


G got strapped in, climbed up a ladder and then a whole group pulled the rope taking her up as high as she wanted to go before the cord was released and she got to swing!











LOVED IT!!!


Friday night was banquet night followed by "family blessing" which was a time for us to sit down with our kids and verbally tell them what we loved about them, what we'd seen in them at camp that week and what we were looking forward to heading home from camp.  

Then, our counselor (Ross) got to speak to each of the kids about character qualities and fruits of the spirit that he'd witnessed in our kids and it was SUCH a special time.



Something that I wasn't expecting from camp was for us to have such a great experience with the counselor.  I mean, I knew that they'd be wonderful - but I didn't know that they would sit down and play Ticket to Ride with Luke, take Mason off to go swing when the rest of us were rock climbing, bowl with my kids so Dave and I could go grab a snack, and be SUCH a positive example and role model throughout the entire week.  We were so blessed by this amazing group of college kids and honestly, our kids getting to witness authentic, cool, great young adults who passionately love and talk about Jesus was the best part of our camp experience.


And they didn't just connect with our family counselor - but with all of them.  All the counselors knew the kids by name and went out of their way to love on them.  It's about to make me cry just thinking about it!


After "family blessing" we had one last campfire with the entire camp and it was such a sweet time.   Afterward we spent the rest of the night enjoying activities and making the most of our last little bit of time at camp.



We were up bright and early Saturday morning for one last breakfast and goodbyes.



A couple of notes about family camp....

- The food was AMAZING!!! I was not necessarily looking forward to "camp food" but it was anything but that.  It was delicious, served to us at our tables and there was great variety.  They had a wonderful salad bar option at lunch and dinner and oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruit, etc. at breakfast.  They worked with dietary needs/restrictions and we really didn't have a single complaint all week.  

- The lodge housed the meeting room in the middle on the lower level, dining hall above that and then had two wings of rooms (upper and lower levels) off of that middle area.  There were also individual cabins around the main Lodge.  We had adjoining rooms... Dave and my room had a queen size bed and then twin "murphy" bunk beds (which we didn't use) as well as a sink/vanity area and then shower/toilet area that attached to the kids room which had two twin beds and then "murphy" twin bunk beds as well as a sink/vanity in the room and then a second shower/toilet area. 

I didn't take any pictures of the room when we got there but here's the kids room in action...


(the door on the left is the bathroom that connects to our room, the door next to the sink led to the potty/shower and then there's a closet door and the door to the hallway).


This was the other room..

... and the bunk beds we didn't use.


- All of the activities were optional and you were free to leave any time.  There was never any pressure to stay "on-campus"... several families left to go do other sight-seeing and there were people who opted out of connection times on occasion in favor of doing on a hike or doing something else.

- There were kids there of all ages!  Families with babies, families with toddlers and families with college-aged kids. 

- We had wristbands that we loaded with money for the kids to use in the gift shop and snack bar which was SUPER convenient.  If they were down in the rec center bowling with the counselors and we weren't with them they could grab a smoothie and not have to carry around cash (yes... we set limits. hahaha)

- It was SAFE!  I tend to be a bit of a "hover mother" in social settings... I don't love taking my kids to the country club pool, am not one to just let them "run off and play" and I like knowing where my kids are at all times.  It took about half a day for us to get comfortable with the people/surroundings but after that I was able to trust that the counselors and camp personnel were looking out for my kids and I had no qualms about letting Luke or Mason stay in the room and nap (since they were feeling kind of yuck for the first part of the trip) while we were all in the rec center or letting the kids walk down to the jumping pillow while Dave and I played a game in the lodge.  It was such a unique experience and one that you don't get too often.  Such a blessing.


- I'm going to be honest - while I was excited about going to camp, I was a little bit hesitant about the "social" part of it.  I love the autonomy of vacation and was nervous about the amount of small talk I was going to have to do :)  BUT once we were there I never felt like that ONCE! The families we met were so fun to get to know and nothing ever felt "forced".  We had time together JUST as a family and time getting to know the other families and the amounts of both were set out by us.  It was fantastic.

- I really felt like we were either going to need a vacation after so much "family time" or need more "family time" after vacation and y'all... it was the perfect balance.  We came home rested, with lots of great memories and experiences but also with a renewed enthusiasm and plan for engaging our kids in their relationships with Christ.  

I tried to answer everything that I've been asked - but if you have any other questions about our experience I'd love to answer!  Shoot me an email or leave me a comment and let me know!

Family camp was such a blessing for us this year and I'd so encourage you to look into it for your family.


8 comments :

  1. Okay, everything looked like so much fun, but that train ride, Andrea! That was spectacular!! What a fun, fun, fun family trip!!

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  2. I loved your Camp posts and am sad to see them end! So glad you guys had so much fun!

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  3. Family Camp really does sound wonderful! I actually did cry when you talked about how awesome the counselors were with your family, especially the kiddos. Just sounds like a beautiful experience all the way around. :)

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  4. The train ride looks absolutely gorgeous! I had to zoom in on the picture to find the sheep! So glad you got to see the sights and enjoy the camp too. 😊

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  5. So many great pictures... it really does seem like a vacation that will leave you all with so many wonderful memories. Love that so much. Was at the story yesterday and saw Ticket to Ride and bought it. The directions seem a little overwhelming...I guess I'm gonna have to google for a video tutorial lol.

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  6. What an amazing trip! It looks like you had so much fun and made a lot of wonderful memories together!

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  7. so... I went to Horn Creek every year in high school but with a PYA youth camp (which is now called something else) - MEMORIES!

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  8. I totally see how you could be sad for camp to end! This sounded like such a fun experience, especially for your kids. And now that you've gone as a family, I could see this being a good way for older kids to feel confident about attending camp for the first time alone, because after going to family camp, they know what a camp environment is like and kinda know what to expect.

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