Thursday, July 10, 2008

What Happens at Girls' Camp, Stays at Girls' Camp

So, MrBusDr, along with a few others, wanted to know why i didn't post about Girls' Camp on my Blog. Well, I had to speak in church that Sunday, and give somewhat of a "report" on the things we did up at Camp. I didn't initially write about camp here, because i had already written a talk on it, and didn't want to keep repeating myself. However, I finally came to the realization that i could just post my talk, and then all will be here goes.

Woods Cross 2nd Ward Girls’ Camp
Given by Emma Panti
Sunday, June 29, 2008

I have just spent a week with the young women up at Girl’s Camp. These are amazing young women. I have a special place in my heart for the young women of our ward. It is hard for me to speak about them without getting emotional.

First of all, we had a lot of fun this week. Here are just a few of the top phrases that were overheard:
“She’s just like a bucket, except she can talk.”
“Princesses. Cannibals. Touché.”
“The Gopher is Dead and buried.”

“It’s a double-barreled-slingshot.” And the favorite – courtesy of the Varsity Scouts -
“Punish the Toilet”

We also played a lot of games. We had an Amazing Relay Race, a balloon stomp, Marshmallow Wars – which, by the way, Sister Larson is not a fan of - Gorilla, Phase 10, and made-up games such as Inside-Outside, and Bob.

We went swimming at the reservoir. We had free time and the girls did crafts. We even had some harmless pranks – You’ll have to ask Sister Redd about the fish heads in her sleeping bag. And you’ll have to ask Sister Larson about stealing everybody’s pillows – though she claims she was framed. Some of the girls & I sat around during free time and when we saw Alia Plat coming we decided to speak in a pretend made-up language to throw her off when she came and sat down. However she did a pretty good job of figuring some of the words. I guess we forgot to take into account that her brother Easton writes new languages all the time at home, so she is used to that. Let’s see, we sang songs around the camp fire. We danced. We stayed up late telling funny stories. A few of us enjoyed off-roading with Sister Redd while Sister Cummings screamed like a big baby on a runaway carnival ride.

I was able to teach the girls how to heard cattle up at girls camp (range cows continued to invade). And we watched with anticipation as Brother Hewlett went, unarmed, to chase away shot-gun carrying bandits. He was our Camp Hero.

Some of the girls went snake-hunting (ewww), and eventually adopted Petey, whom they then had a burial service for when he died & fried in the hot sun. (double ewww)

We had great meals, prepared by our own personal chef, Sister Wilson, and her “husband-slave”, Bishop Wilson. (Her words, not mine.) We ate and ate until we could eat no more. We had pudgy pies, s’mores, and excellent cobbler with Logan Creamery Ice Cream before bed at night. And – we didn’t have a bedtime.

We had a friendship circle, in which the girls expressed their love and admiration for each other, and lit candles to complete the circle.

Thanks to Brother Walker, we were able to pull up a decent trailer to haul the girl’s gear in. And Thanks to Brother Hawley we had room for the tents in the back of his truck. Oh and by the way Brother Hawley, sorry about the girls who like totallychicked out” your truck. That must have been embarrassing for you to drive home with “We Heart You Panti written on it. But be grateful…They wanted to write “Single Chicks on Board”.

We had a lot of fun. Those were the good times up at camp. But Girls’ Camp is also about so much more.

The theme for our Girls Camp this year was “Glory Road”. And our camp scripture was taken from, 1Nephi 16:3 “…give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God”. So everything we did, we centered around this thought of journeying down the right path; Making our journey a meaningful one, reaching the ultimate goal on our Road to Glory.

We held workshops with this same goal in mind, to teach the girls concepts and skills to help them on their road to glory. In these workshops we learned that we are an avenue of angels, and that our Heavenly Father has a divine purpose for each of us. We learned that if we are to remain steadfast and true on our journey, we need to make the best of choices, ultimately, choosing the way of the Lord. We learned that we need to make daily pit stops of prayer and scripture study if we are going to increase our faith and withstand the pitfalls of Satan. We learned that in order to have a testimony we need to build a trail of faith, one stone leading to the next. Or simply, that our testimony is built line upon line, precept upon precept, through our tests and our trials. We learned that the ultimate goal is obtaining a temple marriage. We learned that this wholesome and correct principle has three parts: the right time, the right person, and the right place. We learned that on our journey we will be faced with obstacles, or stumbling blocks, but that we can overcome those by taking upon us the attributes of our savior. It is with His help, through His atonement that we will be able to reach our goals.

These workshops were truly inspired and the leaders who taught them were prayerful about them. We could feel the presence of the spirit up at camp.

In addition to the workshops, we visited the Logan Temple. We heard faith-promoting stories of the early pioneers at that temple. We discussed with the girls again this concept of right time, right person, and right place. While we were on temple grounds, we were able to see three brides emerge with their eternal companions, and were witness to the happiness that radiated from them.

We took a “Journey of the Savior”, our faith walk. On this Journey, the girls were introduced to characters from the bible whom had personally known Christ. They heard from Mary, the mother of Christ; Mary, the sister of Martha; John the Baptist; The Woman at the Well’ and Peter, the apostle. These witnesses of Christ testified of him and of his goodness and his mercy. They testified of His truthfulness. Then, just as the sun was setting, their Journey took them to a portrayal of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. They heard the testimony of Elder Holland regarding this miraculous event. They watched the reenactment of Christ as he prayed, and asked Heavenly Father to remove this cup from Him. They watched as he bent over in pain and in suffering as He took upon the sins of the world, and as He took upon himself the anguish, the sadness, the hurt, and loss, and every other emotion that any one of us have ever felt. They came to know the Savior just a little bit better up at camp.

They then had the opportunity to bear witness themselves during our testimony meeting. We heard the wisdom and advice from the older girls and the sweet, yet growing testimonies of the younger girls. We heard our leaders testify of Christ and of His gospel and of their love for our Young Women.

In this month’s ward theme of “Good, Better, and Best”, these were the best times at camp. I am sure that each of the girls remembers these things up at camp. However, I am also sure that each of their experiences at camp were different and unique to them. That is the beauty of it all; we can each take away the parts that were meant for us to learn in that moment, meant for us to hear and for us to apply.

For me, planning girls camp was an awesome experience. I shared a little bit of this with the girls up at camp, but would like to share it with you as well.

I love these young women. I love serving them. When it came time for me to be released as the second counselor in Young Women, I knew that it was right. I knew that because of my situation at home, I needed to be released in order to be at home. But at the same time, I was sad. It was like a piece of my heart was broken. I mourned having to leave Young Women’s. I loved my calling. I prayed to Heavenly Father that He might be able to place me in a calling where I would feel needed and would be able to fill that void. I have a testimony that Heavenly Father not only hears our prayers, but that He truly does understand our needs and our desires. He truly does know each of us. When Brother Christensen extended the calling of the Young Women Camp director, I barely heard the word camp and said, “Yes!” before he could hardly finish the sentence. I was so excited. When I tell people outside the church – or even within the church, that I love this calling – they think I am crazy. Well, that’s beside the point, I suppose. But I love Girls Camp. Hands down – this is one of my favorite callings.

True, there is a lot of work and a lot of beforehand preparation that goes into it. But there is also a lot of prayer and a lot of pondering. I have strived to keep the girls’ needs front and center during the last six months while working on camp. I challenged the girls who weren’t sure about coming to pray and ask Heavenly Father if He didn’t think they should come to camp. One girl even told me she had been earning her money for another purpose, and wasn’t sure if she wanted to put it towards camp. I told her to pray about it, and that God will prepare a way where there is no way. All but 2 of our active young women attended camp.

I am grateful to the young women presidency to trust me and have enough faith in me to let me plan and carry out camp the way I had felt inspired to do so. I realize that my ways are different, and perhaps not in accordance with tradition in this ward. So, I am truly grateful that Sister Swain and her counselors let me run with my plans. I am sure there were times, when they were worried that “running with it” was becoming more like a “runaway train”. But, again I am grateful for their faith and confidence in me.

A few days before camp, I was not feeling very good. I kept thinking that it was just a 24 hour virus, and I would be ok before camp. Sunday, I felt much better, but still not 100%. I was sure that by morning, I would be fully recovered. However, that was not the case. In fact, I felt worse. In fact I was told that others who had this virus had taken almost a whole week to recover. I didn’t want the girls to know. I didn’t want them to worry and I didn’t want to detract from their experience. So, I put on a happy face and carried on throughout the day. But by the evening, I could not hide the fact that I was sick anymore. Everyone was aware. I knew that I could not continue on like this for a week. I had workshops to teach, a hike to lead, and what would girls’ camp be without Sister Panti’s crazy stories and games? I had to get better. I remember thinking, that if after dinner I still didn’t feel better, I would ask our priesthood to give me a blessing. Well, during dinner, it was Brother Hewlett who approached me and asked if I would like a blessing. He and Bishop layed their hands upon my head that night and blessed me that I would be able to perform my calling in the way I desired, and that I would be able to get much needed rest, and that by the morning I would be healed. Well, that night was a long night. I was sick all night long. And yet the hours that I did sleep, I slept sound. I believe I was purged of a week’s worth of virus in that one night. By morning, I felt like a new person. I have a testimony of the power of the priesthood. I know that I would not have had the great week that I had, if it were not for the blessings of the priesthood and the tender mercies of the Lord.

I joke around with the girls that I am a different person at camp, that my alter ego emerges, and that “what happens at girls camp stays at girls camp.” I even place some of them under oath and covenant to never reveal the crazy ramblings and idiosyncratic ways of Sister Panti up at camp. The girls humor me – they throw me a bone and let me think that I am funny and a little crazy. They play along with it. We wouldn’t have been able to have those dynamics if I were sick all week.

Being able to joke around with the girls was great, but so were the one-on-one moments. To hear some of their personal struggles and trials, to be able to have faith-promoting conversations - This is one of the greatest blessings of girls camp. I was talking to one of the girls about this very subject of “Good, Better, Best”. I shared with her a recent conversation I had with a friend of mine.

My friend and I were talking one night and he was telling me that he had made some choices that were not so great by the church’s standards and that he had a past. I told him that we all make some not-so-great choices sometimes, and that a lot of us have a past. He then looked at me and said, “I don’t think so. I don’t think that you have a past.” He said, “You see, I believe the gospel is true. But you—you not only believe it; you live it. And I can tell that you have always lived it.” This was quite a compliment to me. I confirmed to him that I do strive to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. He then said to me, “But I kind of like my life. In fact, I think I have a pretty good life. I know and understand the principles of the gospel and yet I am ok with some of the choices I make.” I in turn told him, “My 4th grade teacher once taught me a mnemonic to remember when to add –er or –est to the ending of words. Good, Better, Best. Never Let it Rest, Until Your Good is Better, and Your Better Best.” I told my friend that I have always remembered that because I think it applies to our lives as well. I said to him, “That is nice that you feel you have a good life. But for me, the reason I choose to live the gospel is because I want the best life. There is a quote on someone’s family room wall I saw that read, Families are Good. Eternal Families are Best. That is what I want and I make no pretenses about it.” Later on in the conversation he was telling me that he felt a little “lost”. I told him, “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that you are happy with wrong choices and you feel good about them one minute, and then in the next minute you feel lost. It doesn’t work like that. The atonement doesn’t work like that.”

I recounted this experience to this young woman because I wanted her to know that First, it is rewarding when we choose to live “Steadfast and Immovable” lives. Second, we should desire to want the Best – because we deserve the best. Heavenly Father wants nothing less for us. Third, we cannot have it both ways. Sitting on the fence only makes us good fence-sitters. And fourth, the Atonement is for everyone. It matters not how big or how small our sins are, for none of us would be anything without the Atoning Sacrifice of our Savior.

Being Steadfast and Immovable, always abounding in good works is the Mutual theme this year for our youth. I shared this story up at Girls Camp, and I would like to share with you as well. It was written by Elder Jeffrey R Holland and is entitled simply, “A Fable”.
Once upon a time there was a little Slobovian boy named Gorb who lived in a little boardinghouse with 10,000 Slobovians. Every morning all 10,001 of them were served the most nutritious breakfast cereal available anywhere—Captain Steadfast’s Forthright Whole Wheat Crunchies. Now federal agencies and senate hearings had proven not only that Captain Steadfast’s was the best breakfast food known to man but also that it was, spoonful for spoonful, the most economical cereal on the market. And it tasted great.
One morning just at breakfast time a stranger walked into the boardinghouse and casually tossed a new cereal onto the table that, he said, was groovy, outasight, and everyone was eating it. It was called Gurgle, Twaddle, and Sop. Some of the guys said they had heard it was pretty bad, but 10,000 hands nevertheless reached for the box and heaped their bowls high because, after all, it obviously was the thing to do. However, when the box came to Gorb he kindly said, “No, thank you,” and he poured himself a bowl of Forthright Whole Wheat Crunchies.
“Comment!”* roared a chorus of 10,000 Slobovian voices. * Comment is an expressive little Slobovian word which, translated roughly, means, “How dare you refuse Gurgle, Twaddle, and Sop when it is groovy, outasight, and everybody is eating it!”
“Well, it isn’t any great mystery,” replied Gorb. “I just read on the box here that Gurgle, Twaddle, and Sop has no vitamins, no proteins, none of the good stuff Captain Steadfast’s has, and it even admits to having some real junk in it. The price looks pretty expensive, and I’ve heard it can really taste gross. Besides—I like these Crunchies.”
At that point 10,000 fists hit Gorb on the jaw. “What gall,” mused Gorb as he shrugged his shoulders and went on eating his Captain Steadfast’s.
But even as Gorb was taking his lonely stand, some strange things began to happen around the table. Many of the 10,000 said they were sick; some said they were seeing strange things; a few said they couldn’t see anything at all. Several fell face first into their Gurgle, Twaddle, and Sop, and at least one just cried and cried. But those who were still able kept forcing down the G, T, & S because, after all, somebody had said it was groovy and outasight and everybody was eating it.
It wasn’t long before just one person remained sitting at the table; 10,000 others were screaming around the room or sobbing at their benches or just retching on the floor. The place was a bad scene that didn’t look either groovy or outasight, but at least everybody was doing it—except Gorb. He just quietly finished his Whole Wheat Crunchies and wondered why new always meant better to so many people.
Moral: 10,000 Slobovians can be wrong.

I have watched these Young Women up at camp this past week; living without the distractions of the outside world. Not worried about how they looked or if they acted a little silly. Not worried about whether or not certain boys were noticing them. Not worried about whether or not they fit into a certain group. They were there and they all fit in, they fit together. They were amazing. They are already “Steadfast and Immovable” in so many ways. They are already striving to live the “Best” life and they already want to have the “Best” type of family one day. They are already walking uprightly before God, on their Road to Glory. These young women are amazing.

I believe that perhaps I have needed them this week as much, if not more than they needed me. We had a great time at camp, and I know that I am a better person for going. I want you to know that I have a testimony of this gospel. I have a testimony that President Monson is a living prophet. I have a testimony that the Young Women’s program is inspired. I have a testimony of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and that He died and suffered for me that I might live again. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


ann said...

Great talk!!!! I can't help but remember back at our girls camp!!! Some things I will never forget!It seems like it has been forever sence I sat around the camp fire listening to camp songs and just being silly! Thanks for taking me back! I love the things that you said and will remember the the great theme "Glory Road" Glad you had a great time!!

Mel and Byde said...

Emma, that talk was amazing! Sounds like camp was just as it was inspired to be. I'm grateful Sydnee got to experience it with you. Thanks for your spirit and all the hard work you did for the girls. You are awesome:)I wish I had heard your talk in person.

hollibilly said...

I loved your talk! Some of my best memories are from girl's camp. I really think my testimony was born there. It is wonderful the girls had such a great leader!

Ruthykins said...

twinkies, twinkies, that's all i want, *clap clap*...

greenolive said...

I wish we could have gone to camp together like the good old days. That would have rocked.

Caren said...

Would you be willing to share the faith walk renactment script with me or was it ad lib? I really want to do that for our girls camp. if you could email me either way it would be great thank you.

Caren said...

Would you be willing to share the faith walk renactment script with me or was it ad lib? I really want to do that for our girls camp. if you could email me either way it would be great thank you.

Alanna said...

Would you be willing to share your faith walk script?
I'd love to use it this year at camp

Alanna said...

Would you be willing to share your faith walk script?
I'd love to use it this year at camp said...

Hi. I love your faith walk, would you be willing to share your script with me? I am Camp Director in our ward and would love to use this is June. Thanks!!