Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Camp Week - Sky Ranch Launch Camp

Last week was "camp week" at our house and it was so much fun!

Griffin attended a preschool music camp at a local church and while she was nervous the first day at drop-off...

... when I picked her up she had art and a team shirt and couldn't stop talking about all the fun she had!

The boys were PUMPED about their first day at Sky Ranch Launch Camp and could hardly wait to get inside.  

From the moment they got in the van they were talking non-stop!  Gaga ball, cabin names, cheers, bounce houses, devotion time, snacks and on and on and on.  I loved every second of it!  They break the kids into cabins and Mason was part of Captain Lew and Mason was in the Dub Bros.

After dinner that night they opened up their Launch Packs and discovered a TON of fun stuff for the rest of the week...

Sunglasses, a water bottle, buff, hat, watch and frisbee.  Mason wanted to wear it all at the same time RIGHT THEN!

Ready for their week!!!


Apparently the stuff was so cool it deserved a dab.  Duh :)

Every day had a theme and the boys wore/brought something from their pack that fit the theme.  They had two water days throughout the week as well.  Here are a few of our pictures from the mornings before we headed out!  We were all out on the back patio because I was spraying everyone with sunscreen for the day.

Wednesday was Pirate-themed and so they wore their buffs...


... and Friday!

On Thursday night I said something to the boys about the next day being their last day at camp and Mason looked at me totally confused/stunned.  When I explained that camp was only one week and not all summer he burst into tears!  SWEET BOY!!!  He absolutely adored his counselors and was having so much fun he was heartbroken!

Every evening Sky Ranch posted pictures from the day on their website and we were able to log in and flip through them together.  There were some great ones of the boys but it was also a great way for them to tell us all about their days. 

I mean... I can see why they were upset the week was coming to a close!

Friday morning we headed to Griffin's final performance.  She sang and knew all the motions and was so proud afterward!

She tends to be a little bit more "attached" than the boys and I was so proud of how well she did all week!  She loved the arts and crafts, the singing and came home talking about her new friends every day.  So sweet!

Later in the afternoon we went to the boys closing ceremony.

We got to watch them do their cabin cheers...

... talk about what they had learned during their Bible study time and SING!  They busted out some of my own personal favorites from church camp growing up and it was awesome to see how much fun they were having in worship. 

I took a few videos during the ceremony and put them together for my boys to look back on.  If you're a Christian camp alumni I think you'll get a kick out of the songs :)

My boys ADORED their counselors and I love that they spent the week with fun, patient and caring Christian role models.  After the closing ceremony the kids went back to their cabins and the counselors gave each kid an award - and not something generic - they were thoughtful and personal and they spoke to the kids and their parents about why they chose that award for them.  It was so special and I totally teared up for both boys!

Mason received the "Passion" award and none of what his counselor said surprised us :)  Mason LOVES big and wants everyone else to as well and it was so sweet for that to be acknowledged.

Luke received the "friendly" award which put a big smile on our faces.  Luke has always been an encourager and I was so happy to see that carry over to his cabin at camp.

As much fun as the boys had my favorite part of the week was getting to flip through their devotional journal Friday evening and see the pictures they drew and read their sweet little notes.  I can't even begin to explain how awesome it is for them to be mentored and ministered to by college kids (most of who went through the Sky Ranch program themselves).  Hearing the gospel presented by guys who they think are "sooooooo cool!!!" is invaluable and something that leaves a lasting impact.  Luke still talks about his counselors from last year and when they sent him birthday postcards back in April he was over the moon!!!

We're hoping to send our boys to Sky Ranch overnight camp in coming years and Launch Camp is going to be the perfect transition.  It's the camp experience without the overnight part... great for them and for us!  A few other things about launch camp that impressed me were...

- My kids being greeted by name at drop off in the mornings starting on the second day!

- The variety and quality of activities that they came home talking about

- How organized it was!  Y'all... the communication was fantastic and I always knew exactly what they learned that day and what they needed for the next day when I picked them up in the afternoons. 

- How connected my kids felt to their counselors.  It was obvious that their cabin leaders were attentive and involved with the kids all day long.

If you're local (Dallas/FW area) and have a student entering Kinder through Fifth Grades you can click HERE to get more info, see the dates and locations of upcoming camps and register! There are dates all the way through early August and convenient locations all over the metroplex.

Camp Week was an absolute BLAST for our family and I'm so excited that Griffin will get to go to launch camp next summer.  I'd love to hear about camps that you went to as kid or what ages your own kids started going to overnight camp... let me know in the comments!

PS - Thank you so much to Sky Ranch for providing my boys with camp tuition and allowing me the opportunity to write and share about our experiences with the program.  Our family fell in love with Sky Ranch after Luke's launch camp experience last year and we were 100% on board with sharing the boy's experiences this year because we feel so strongly about the quality of the program and the impact it has on students.  


  1. That sounds like so much fun and such a great experience!! I started going to overnight camp the summer before 5th grade (for two weeks) and continued through early high school. I went to a YMCA camp called Nellie Huckins - some of my best memories!!

  2. Looks like those McAnally boys had a great week!

  3. What a fun week! I am going to plan on this for next summer! :)

  4. Carter hasn't been totally on board with the idea of attending Launch Camp (he prefers a half day camp), but I will be using your post to convince him he will love it!

  5. Can 37 year olds go to camp??? Ha! It looks like a blast. Church camp is definitely one of my favorite memories from my childhood!

  6. My kids attend a Lutheran overnight camp here in Western New York (Lake Chautaqua Lutheran Center). They started with overnights in 2nd grade. My oldest (who is now 17) is the one who has consistently attended and loves it the most. She will go for three week leadership program this summer, in preparation for (hopefully) working there after high school. We love the camp so much!

  7. I'm 66 -- do you think I'm too old for camp? Your kids will remember these experiences the rest of their lives! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Looks like such a fun week! I love having such quality options for kids during the Summer... more than just keeping them busy but creating memories for them!

  9. It looks like they had the best time!! Happy Wednesday, friend!

  10. Oh my my! Those songs took me right back to camp as a kid. So glad my patents sent me every year to bible summer camp.

  11. I started going to summer day camps when I was in Kindergarten, and by the time I was 7, I went to overnight camps. I LOVE LOVE LOVED summer camps as a kid. I did church camp, Girl Scout Camp, and all kinds of programs. I think the most important aspect (whether its church-based or not) is that interaction with kids you dont already know and counselors you can look up to. Elle hasnt started going to camps yet, but when she does, her dance studio does one that we will definitely be doing. They pair all the kids with high school aged girls who have been dancing for years. Elle loves the big girls at dance and wants nothing more than to be exactly like them. It's such good role modeling!

  12. My kids both started going to overnight camps at 9. I never got the opportunity to go as a kid even though I always wanted to... so when I became a parent, I knew that was something I wanted for my kids. I've heard so many parents say "I could never do that, I'm not ready to leave them overnight" or some variation of that... but in my eyes, it's not about me, it's about them! And I can say with 10000% certainty, summer camps have been some of the very greatest things I've ever done for my kids. My daughter had just turned 9 the first time she went away to camp... she was excited, but also very nervous because she didn't know anyone else going, and because she'd be gone for 2 weeks with no contact with home except snail mail. Well, she was nervous for about 5 minutes when we got there and has never looked back since. She's getting ready to leave for her 5th year at that same summer camp and even though it's only two weeks out of the year, camp is very much "home" to her. It's such a special part of her life and I know she's making memories that will stay with her throughout the rest of her life. My son also started at 9... his was more targeted, he's always done week long baseball camps instead of a general summer camp. He's loved his time at those camps though and wouldn't trade it for anything!

    When it's the middle of winter and your kid suddenly starts laughing recalling a camp memory that happened 6 months ago, that's when you realize 'yep, 1000% worth it!'.

    Sorry for the novel... clearly I'm very passionate about the benefits of summer camp :)

  13. Ah, camp! A subject I am quite familiar with. I attended the same camp in PA (Camp Calvary) from 3rd grade through my senior year of high school. I also worked on staff there for 3 summers (one my senior year, 2 after graduation) as a counselor some weeks and operational staff/lifeguard other weeks. Camp means so much to me. Its where I reconnected with the guy I married, met some lifelong friends, and made some of the most important decisions of my life. From all that camp experience, I can tell you that for jr. age campers (3rd-6th grade), it is waaayyyyyyy harder on the parents than it is the kids. I understand parents are worried about their young kids being away for a week, but trust me-camp is designed to wear. your. children. out. We ran those kids so dang hard-swimming, boating, tubing, competitions, cabin activities, ziplining, high ropes course, giant swing, more swimming, games, paintball, hiking, free time, snack shop, coffee shop, craft shop, did I mention swimming? By the time lights out rolls around, those kiddos are way too tired to even think about being homesick. 9 times out of 10, if a kid did get homesick, it was because the parent repeatedly called them and gave him/her a reason to feel stressed/homesick. Don't call your kid and tell them "Nana misses you so much. The dog misses you so much. Your little sister/brother misses you so much. Daddy and I miss you so much, etc." Like I said, I understand its gotta be difficult letting them go for that long so young, but those kinds of calls just work the kids up and make them feel bad/sad. If you do wanna call, spend the call asking the kid how much fun he's having, what kind of activities are happening, what are the kids in the cabin like, etc. That'll reinforce all the fun he/she is having and let them know that you are on board with them being gone, causing them to stress even less about it. In a week of 250 3rd-6th graders, maybe 1-3 would get homesick, and in an entire summer, we might have 1 or 2 go home before the end of the week. Similarly, we got dozens of calls every day from parents, but probably 0-1 cases of homesickness in the kids. I promise, they are having an absolute blast! Sorry for the mini thesis on camp haha! Hope the information from a staff perspective might be helpful:) Camp is an amazing tool, a place where friendships are made, lives are impacted, and so much fun is had! Hope your kids grow to love camp as much as I did!

  14. Andrea,

    Have you heard of Kanakuk Kamps? I went every summer growing up and then worked there during college. It sounds similar to Sky Ranch.. but it is overnight. It totally formed my faith and standards and gave me the sweetest mentors and friendships. The whole place is just filled with Jesus. It's amazing! Your kids would love it!

  15. Hi Andrea!

    I was a counselor for Sky Ranch's overnight camp in Van and in Colorado for three years during college. I love that your boys had such a wonderful time, and that you as a parent also felt cared for. It's so nice to see that the mission and love of Sky hasn't changed in the years since I've worked for them. I don't have kids yet, but I can't wait to participate in the programs they offer once I do. Sky's mission is all about creating a safe, fun environment that then allows the gospel to be taught. I very much think they do it right.

    Anyways, sorry for the ramble, but I love everything Sky Ranch does, and it brings me a lot of joy that your kids had such a wonderful time. They will love overnight camp. Van is a magical place. :)

  16. My son (who is a Luke as well!), turned 9 in April and is going to overnight camp in just a few weeks! He is so excited but I know I will be a mess. he is going into 4th grade. -Natalie

  17. Oh my goodness, I want to go to that camp. It looks like SO much fun. How sweet that he cried, you know it was a good week when they don't want it to end! xoxo ERIN

  18. I wish we had this in our town! My son would love it!

  19. I'm behind on reading blogs and trying to catch up but the commraderie and songs brought back all the memories! I went to a camp called Camp Ozark for many years and it's the best of the best. It's two weeks and in Arkansas. I'd say the majority of kids take a bus together from Houston and Dallas but many parents drive their kids as well. Majority are from Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. It's 7-17 so your kids can all go together and for many years!!! Something to look into as you get ready to send them overnight whenever that may be!!!


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