This year I tried a new experience – volunteering to be one of the two required Priesthood holders for a day and night at Girls Camp. For those who don’t know, Girls Camp is a week-long retreat for the Young Women of the Ward/Stake, ages 12-18, with their adult leaders and other women asked to help. Church policy is that each Ward needs 2 Priesthood holders on site at all times during the camp, in case there arises a need for Priesthood blessings for any reason. I was glad for a chance to help, even in a small way, the women of our ward, so I went ahead and volunteered for a day and a night there at camp.
The planning meeting I was asked to attend went very well. It was interesting to have the meeting conducted by one of the Laurel Presidents from the Stake – a 17-year-old young woman rather than one of her adult advisors. They seemed to have everything well planned, though I really had no idea what I was to be doing there. The camp itself surprised me, as somehow there was a large refuge of beech trees amongst all the scrubland that makes up most of Utah. I’d wondered idly on my way there if I should have packed sunblock, but it wasn’t really needed.
The problem really came with me. I’d not been camping in at least 20 years, had never been to a Girls Camp, and though I knew what I should pack. Aside from a sleeping bag (a canvas tent with cots was provided for the Priesthood at the camp), I’d decided to pack only a spare change of clothes and some pyjamas. Didn’t even occur to me to ask anyone what I would need. I think part of the assumption was that the men who had volunteered already knew something about camping. Unfortunately, I’m one of those who is just glad to help, hopeful someone knows what they are doing, and really had no idea what I was doing.
It started out fairly well. I helped with odd jobs and mostly stayed out-of-the-way. I probably should have brought a book for the few times I’d have nothing to do, but it was nice just to be in the outdoors in those times. The girls even invited me to join in with their tie-dying activity they had between dinner and Family Home Evening (since it was a Monday night). The talks and songs of the FHE were really cool, as I always enjoy hearing the experiences and learning of the women and get it less often than I’d like. No, the trouble started when the sun went down.
For those who don’t already know – in the mountains, when its dark, it starts to get cold, even in the Summer. In my confident planning, I didn’t even bring a jacket. I spent some time shivering and wondering if I’d freeze to death before being offered a share of a blanket some of the adult sisters were using and the use of a spare jacket the Bishop had left earlier.
Between my arthritic body always acting very adversely to cold, settling in of panic attacks because of my lack of planning, and the added concern over my 2-year-old son who had been taken to the hospital the previous week (they think it was from the fever he had), I couldn’t make it. I worked out making sure Priesthood would be covered with a member of our Stake Presidency who was there, let the women in charge know that I needed to go and they were still covered, and headed home in tears, feeling a massive amount of personal failure on the mountain roads home.
No one has said anything about it since. The Young Women still gave me a “thank you” card for coming to help, and it seems to have passed on without any real comment. I was glad to help with the next youth temple trip, in any way they needed me, and will continue to try to help where I feel I can.
We’ll see how next year goes. I hope that either my wife will get her dream of being able to go to Girls Camp herself, or I’ll at least be a little more prepared for a night in the mountains than I was this time.
I’m glad they have Girls Camp. I do wish they had more opportunities for Scout like things for the Young Women for those who would enjoy more time and learning outdoors, but I am glad they at least have Girls Camp. I think if my Scout Camp experiences would have been as well-organized and directed, I would have enjoyed spending time in the outdoors so much more.