Friday, March 28, 2014

Phineas, Ferb, Koala, and Jump Rope Take on Spring Break at Harlow

Monday morning brought the beginning of "camp" for 200 kiddos at Camp Harlow - the highest enrollment they've ever had for a spring break camp.  Good thing they had some great helpers ready to assist in running the show!

It also brought the warmest temperatures of the year - blue skies and a high of 75 degrees!   We would have all been more enthusiastic if not for the forecast that showed rain as a 100% guarantee for the rest of the week.  Rejoice and play while you can, kids...

Both Mikayla ("Koala") and Nati ("Jump Rope") were old enough and earned positions on the team of middle school students titled "Solid Rock Servants".  Their job during spring break was to assist the counselors in any way they could (and get a taste of what the summer would be like in the next rung of the leadership ladder as "CAPs").  They were so excited (and so organized and meticulously prepared in contrast to their brothers!).

Brayden ("Phineas") and Traig ("Ferb") were both at spring break to stay once we dropped them off on Sunday night.  (Not our problem until nearly 7pm Friday night!).  =)  However, Mikayla and Nati had to be dropped off at 8am every morning and picked up at 4pm each afternoon (along with dear friend, Christina ("Maple")).   We've had scenarios where our boys avoid us like the plague when we enter the camp territory, so I took some distance shots just in case that was the only proof I had to send to Michele that her son was alive and well.    Traig is playing Ultimate Frisbee with one of his campers here.

Brayden is in blue and is helping his campers on the playground.  

But, what do you know, but age and maturity does good things for these boys after all and they were actually eager to see and embrace their mom and aunt.   (And maybe walk away with his favorite treats in the bag).  =)

And then return to the campers impatiently waiting to engage him in more chasing.  Look at that taunting...

This is a fraction of the leadership involved in making this place run so smoothly and encourage not only the campers, but our kids eager to serve them.  Of course, literally and figuratively, Dave is at the center of it all.  (Zach aka "Thor" is next to him - truly a "big brother" to both of our boys).  

As we headed back to the car, we encountered Traig again - still moving through the disk golf course.  (Nice form, Ferb).  

And, then, the hugs began - which is actually even more surprising from Traig - and particularly with all the girls.  But, not only did he accept them, he encouraged them, and that angry look on his face in the next photos, it's actually because he had yet to get a hug from Christina.  =)  So sweet.  (Though, I was tempted to freak Michele out a bit by sending the pics out of context so she'd think he was sporting an attitude...)  Anything but...seriously, Camp Harlow is Traig's euphoria.  It is so awesome. 

As for our girls - they were loving it too.  They are all naturals at it, as we had hoped.  And, as much as they loved the experience as each day progressed, I suspect the memories that will linger in their minds of this long and exhausting week will only be remembered as even sweeter and longed to be repeated that much more.  

As soon as I got out of my car, I ran right into Dave and he was so quick to fill me with encouragement about how my kids were doing and appreciating their gifts being used.  He whipped out his cell phone and showed me pics he'd already taken involving both of them.  

He was especially proud of this one, in which Brayden is now "on the other side of the table" - as a real counselor, taking parent data and checking in the kids to his group. 

It helps to have friends in high places as I also got input from Leah - with a picture like this sent my way showing Mikayla as the "merchant" atop Traig, the "leopard/camel" in a skit.  =)

Nice to also see shout-outs like this on Instagram pop up during the week too.  The girls really want Abby as their counselor when they take their own turn at camp this summer.  

Finally, more input from Dave, via text through John.   That blue comment was mine - and oh, how true it is.  Seriously, this high school parenting thing?  It's not easy.  While I know it could be A LOT HARDER, it's not been particularly enjoyable for me.  So, to get Brayden (and the rest of the kids) back to the place where they are giving of their hearts and time to serve others - among people whose hearts are also seeking the Lord....Well, it's the best thing ever for this mom's heart.  (And Michele's too, we've been doing a happy dance all week when it comes to our kids...and not just because they are giving us free time!). 

You know you have to write sweet things on the "good-bye" sheet they pass around like a yearbook at the end of every camp session, but, hey, the comments can sure make a mommy happy.

And finally, to bring a little levity and reality back to this gushing blog post, I have to put in the text I sent to both Brayden and John (who would be picking up the boys this evening).  I was strategic as I helped to packed for Brayden, that perhaps, if I did enough documenting, I could get him to replicate the process on his own in the upcoming (at least) three sessions of camp he'll be spending weeks at a time at Harlow this summer.   It's a nice thought - and I'm hopeful, but the other advantage will be the accountability of (hopefully) getting all of this stuff returned to me at the end of each camp.  Last year's fall-out of missing items after high school camp was ugly!

Another camp session over.  This one is a little easier to accept though, as it's like a tiny appetizer for the fun to come just 12 weeks away.  I can speak for all of us when I say it couldn't come fast enough!

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