When you hear the words, "happy place," what do you picture?
A special childhood memory?
Being surrounded by the people you love?Toes in the sand and the sound of waves lapping at the shore?A quiet trail in the woods?An amazing view of the mountains?Perhaps a cozy place to sit and read a book?
My happy place has all of the above and more, and I just got back from a glorious week soaking it all in.
You may have noticed that last week was a little different than normal. There was no Menu Plan Monday, and instead I ran a three-part series. I’m sure some of you might have guessed that I was on vacation, and you would be right. We spent the last week in one of my favorite places on the planet.
Camp-of-the-Woods is a Christian family camp/resort in Adirondacks of New York. It may not be for everyone, but we LOVE it! It’s pretty much an all-inclusive experience – food, beach, teaching, child care, excursions, competitions, mini-golf, arts and crafts, entertainment, and music. There are so many opportunities for fun!
Camp has a special history for my family. My mom and uncle started coming for vacation when they were eight and five – 49 years ago! A yearly trip with their small family of four has grown to a bi-yearly trip with roughly 20 people. It’s a cross between a family reunion and the best of vacations.
When I first started writing this post, I wanted to tell you everything about Camp, but I realized that would make a verrry long post. So instead, I'm going to share some of my favorite happenings from this week.
Camp-of-the-Woods is located on Lake Pleasant in Speculator, NY. Surrounded by mountains, it has a gorgeous view!
The weather was excellent for the Adirondacks. The days were sunny or overcast with highs in the mid-to high 70’s, though the nights were definitely cold. With only two brief rain showers, we were able to enjoy the beach as much as possible. Kiddo spent most of his beach time playing in the sand, and I enjoyed relaxing on the beach.
A combination of music students and professional musicians, the music staff at Camp-of-the-Woods is fantastic! The full orchestra and eight vocalists performed two concerts a week, Friday and Saturday nights.
When I was growing up, the concerts at Camp-of-the-Woods were always a highlight of my week, so I knew I wanted to take Kiddo. We sat near the aisle just in case our almost-3-year-old couldn't handle it, but I didn't need to worry. With selections from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Les Miserables, as well as classical and jazz selections (even the Veggie Tales theme song!), it had a variety of music types to engage even little ears. Kiddo LOVED both concerts – he watched intently, bobbed his head, clapped, and even danced a little. As a musical person myself, it was exciting to see him experience and thoroughly enjoy quality music like that.
Each week there is a great speaker who preaches in chapel each morning. The speaker for our week was Dr. Charles Zimmerman. His series was called “Who Do You Follow?” and focused on how to follow Jesus in several practical areas, including stepping out in faith, marriage, and showing love to others. We’ve had the opportunity to hear Dr. Zimmerman a few other times and I appreciate his no-nonsense approach to scripture and Christian living. I always leave challenged.
The message that stood out the most to me was called, “Mind Your A’s, C’s and P’s.” He emphasized the differences between Absolutes, Convictions, and Preferences. Principles are absolutely clear in scripture – Christ was crucified for our sins and He is the only way to heaven. Convictions are areas that are less clear in scripture, and often where you see differences between denominations – such as when to be baptized and with how much water. Preferences are the areas that really have very little to do with scripture – like what to wear or the type of music sung in church. His main point in the message was that we should not look down on others as less spiritual if they do not follow our convictions or preferences. It was a really challenging message and made me really think about what my convictions and preferences are.
|The flag presentation in Sunday morning chapel. Each flag represents a |
country with missionaries sponsored by Camp's ministry, Gospel Volunteers.
While we were in chapel, Kiddo was in his own “Sunday School” in the 2-year-old Room. He loved his teachers, Miss Kristen and Miss Liz. He wasn’t always happy about drop-off, but they were absolutely amazing with him. He was able to tell me about the lessons they taught each day.
The Costume Parade:
On Monday night was the Costume Parade and Carnival. Each year we pick a group theme costume and I think this was the best yet. My aunt's parents were Noah and his wife, and the rest of us were animals. Oh, and a rainbow.
My favorite was the lion. Isn't he the cutest? He's roaring. :-)
After the parade was the carnival, where we won a prize for one of the best costumes. There were lots of games, bounce houses, and CHOPS (the carnival band). It was a lot of fun.
One of our favorite things about Camp-of-the-Woods is the variety of excursions. Camp’s location in the Adirondack Mountains provides opportunities for canoeing, hiking, rappelling, spelunking, and white-water rafting. Most are free, and we have gone on of many of them. This year Hubby and I took advantage of my parents’ free babysitting and went on the Indian Lake trip, my favorite. We drove to 20-30 minutes to Indian Lake, canoed across for a picnic lunch, and then split into two groups. We hiked up the mountain to a gorgeous view of the lake and mountains beyond while others in our party went cliff-jumping. Last time we went, we finished the hike in time to do some cliff-jumping, but this year we had a larger hiking party so we weren’t able to finish as quickly. Regardless, it’s a fun excursion where you get a variety of activities in one.
|We didn't bring our cameras or phones in the canoe for Indian Lake, so this is |
actually a picture I took on the Panther Mountain hike 2 years ago. Beautiful!
Every night after the evening's activities, and Kiddo went to bed, our group gathered together for a campfire with s'mores and snacks (as if we hadn't eaten enough at Hill Dining Hall!). It was always a great time to sit and enjoy each other's company, especially since we don't see everyone frequently. We always stayed up past 10:30, which is late for us, especially with an early-rising toddler. But it was totally worth it for some family time.
On our last night, we let Kiddo stay up for the campfire and his first s'more. He loved it!
|He also wore some of it. :)|
Seeing Camp through Kiddo's Eyes
This was the most special thing for me. I've literally been coming to Camp-of-the-Woods since I was in-utero. Two years ago, I dropped Kiddo off at the same nursery that I went to as a baby, and this year he was in the same toddler building.
I have so many happy memories from my growing-up years, and I hope Kiddo will look back with the same fondness. He soaked everything up - the beach, arts & crafts, the concerts, the carnival, the campfire...
But I'm pretty sure his favorite thing was to play Mini-Golf. He went pretty much every day, and sometimes twice a day. The first thing he wanted to do every morning (after breakfast, of course) was to play. Kiddo didn't really get the rules, but with patient parents and grandparents, he got a hang of putting the ball. He had seen golf on TV once or twice so we had to keep him from swinging the putter like a golf club!
The other special thing that happened was that Kiddo got to go to the Tee-Pee (snack shack) for a special ice cream treat with his Uncle Andrew and Ah-Pichelle (Aunt Michelle). The night before we left for Camp-of-the-Woods, he finally figured out the whole potty training thing. He stayed accident-free all week (including the 5.5-hour car trip!), so their ice cream date was an extra-special reward. We joked that it's a Camp-of-the-Woods miracle!
A Perfect WeekOur week at Camp was pretty much perfect. The weather was beautiful. The water was warm (for the Adirondacks, anyway). And I got to do things I love with the people I love. I couldn't have asked for anything better!
Do you have a happy place? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.