Ever since we were asked to host Camp Harlow's Impact Team Awards/Celebration Dinner last year, I've been hoping we'd be asked again. I even plotted it out on my calendar as to what day I thought it would be again and considered new menu options. However, when Kimmie did indeed ask us to host again, she requested the same meal as last year. Okey dokey, Chicken Enchiladas it is. There were also four attendees that are "gluten intolerant" so that added to the mix in trying to provide them with equal options. Fortunately, the enchiladas are corn tortilla based so that qualified them.
We also repeated the "Fruit Salsa" recipe we offered last year. Terrible picture (they surprised us and showed up a little early, so the pics were gathered mid-visit in a hurry). 11 nectarines, 9 kiwis, 6 cups of strawberries and a pint of blackberries combined with some cinnamon sugar made for the best fruit dip. Yumm! I actually peeled and diced all the fruit and put it in separate containers until party time. Then, I found it worked a lot better to mix in the fruit and sugar sans the blackberries. The blackberry juice tends to make the mixture kind of dark if you mix it in earlier. Served with 8 cookie trays of cinnamon-sugar tortilla chips - it was a hit. (The gluten-free corn tortilla chips....not so yummy....)
Chicken enchiladas - one of four pans served.
Thanks to Pinterest, we realized we could serve corn on the cob to a crowd. So we set up a corn on the cob station. What you don't see is the cooler containing 25 ears of corn. Strip them of their husks and silks, put them in a cooler, add boiling water to cover, close the cooler - and 30 minutes later you've got perfect corn on the cob that can be served for a couple of hours. Folks who hadn't heard of this before (like me, before this summer), were quite impressed. It turned out to be the best corn on the cob I've had this summer.
The cornbread station. Mikayla and I picked blackberries this week and turned it into some amazing jam, along with raspberry jam, blueberry spice jam, and honey butter. (Since I've started making my own jam, our family can't go back to store-bought....)
Appreciating our side patio space (and the extra fold up chairs we got for this summer). Where I thought last year's group was special - this group raised the bar way higher. They were so unified, happy, and encouraged by one another.
While we had dinner, we asked for the crew to introduce themselves. They were supposed to say their name, roll at Harlow, and a "fun fact". The fun facts were indeed random, but there was one theme that was repeated three times. It became the "relationship reveal" night, where three couples made their "courtship" public - to the surprise and delight of everyone. Very cool - and we're excited the unveiling happened at our house. After that, it was time to pass out the "Silly Awards" based on inside jokes throughout the summer. Owl figurines, "One Direction" poster, a bag of plastic dinosaur toys were among the awards.
Even though it's August, it got chilly in a hurry once the sun went down. Starting to feel a bit like autumn as we drug out all of our blankets to share with them. (Afterall, we are all about COZY!)
Kimmie got the universal "Womens' Dean" tool, complete with bug killer, flashlight, water bottle holder, and scripture taped all over the broom stick.
Autographs requested from the Impact Team guys to supplement the "One Direction" poster.
One of the three couples announced (Misha and Daniel)...
The crew was given some time to just chill and relax. Something they didn't get a whole lot of time to do without massive amounts or responsibility while at Harlow.
The "Couples" picture - that Bronson and Derrick (the guys on the right) felt the need to spoil.
Zach (Thor) and Alyssa (Popcorn), Matt (Kahuna) and Tiffany (Flamingo), and Daniel (Jellyman) and Misha (Noogle).
Some group photos...
Had to get Dave and Carrie Mertz in there...
This gal is Ashley (Watermelon) - one of Mikayla's favorites from her stay at Harlow.
After the pictures, the group headed off to our Ben and Mary Cross' (pastor) house for the second half of their awards evening. There, they'd be having dessert, watching a video recap of their summer, and giving out the more serious set of awards. That was definitely something we missed being a part of, but knowing it was going to go late, they felt like it would be a good idea to move it out of our family-schedule house into a place they could go on and on as needed.
I felt like it was definitely a success in terms of offering them a "non-camp-food" meal and welcoming home to relax at. It was a little bit of a hurry-up scenario for me in terms of having to run off to pick up Brayden from football practice, make sure the food was out and ready, etc. - so I didn't really get in any quality conversations. But, actually, I'm okay with that - as it wasn't about me - it was about them. Giving them the night off to be themselves and relax - and enjoy. Given all the smiles and laughter, I think it was accomplished.