I was a chaperone for the young women going on a three day camping trip to Sol Duc hot springs last weekend. The older boys climbed mount Adams and the younger boys hiked a 10.3 Mile loop on the beach and Lake Ozette. While the girls spent hours at a time sitting in hot spring pools…I so chose the right activity. The really cool thing about this particular activity is that my wife and daughter were both on the event. The even better part of this trip is that Rhonda and I were extra leaders we had no real assignments so we could come and go more than normal. We were able to spend some one on one time in the woods and in a setting without distraction talk about our kids, family life and where we are, where want to be and where we should be. Seeing friends, family and coworkers struggle in marriage I am truly blessed to have someone I am equally yoked with.
The girls tieing ropes for their tarp covers.
Our ward runs a year round girls camp program. That means the girls go camping every month just like the boys. They have high adventure trips (usually involving nail polish and being entertained in some way) but always a good time. We started this program about 4 years ago and it is great to see the girls really grow. On this trip the older girls where teaching the younger ones. They were problem solving. They were following leadership principles and patterns that have been taught for years.
Manicures and Pedicures in the woods.
The really important part of this is the spiritual side. Getting these daughters of God away from the world and out into nature where they are able to be taught by the spirit and feel the love of the other girls is critical. The ward camp leaders executed probably the best activity they have done in the last few years on this trip. It was well planned and thought out taking into account the specific needs of each girl. It was really impressive. It is also impressive how the spirit works. The leaders asked for the parents to write a letter for each of the girls that they would open and read and write their feelings in a journal. The devotional was going well until it came time to pass out letters. They had every letter except for my daughter’s. My wife had written the letter and it was beautiful and expressed our feeling wonderfully. However it was nowhere to be found. After a few minutes of panic on the leader’s part it still was not located. The girls all went different directions and the ward camp director took Regann and was going to talk to her. That is not what was hoped for, however Regann had both of her parents there so I took a few minutes and wrote another letter for her. This one was not nearly as flowery or eloquent as my wife’s. It was however what I felt and we were able to give it to Regann in time.
The girls and the camp leaders hugging after the testimony meeting. They stood there and cried for a really long time. I was in my comfort zone taking pictures a safe distance away.
It is no secret I am not an emotional person. Touchy feely stuff, expressing feelings and outwardly showing charity and empathy are things I really struggle with. There is a reason when my kids fall and get hurt they will walk right past me bleeding and look for their mother. I tend to focus on this physical injury and ignore the emotional distress. One perk of being a “Robot” as my wife, friends and coworkers have called me is that I don’t ever get offended or embarrassed. But in this moment and circumstance emotional and heartfelt is what my daughter needed and a situation was created that she was able to get that and we both grew.
I have found it easier in life to not think or worry about the emotional outcome of things. I like clear cut black and white lines and really struggle with shades of grey. Whenever emotions enter into any equation it does nothing but blur the lines. Seeing how my daughter reacted to that letter and with the other young women this weekend it is clear I have missed the boat in some way. I am not saying I am going to start watching Jane Austin with my wife, or let the kids have a cat or dog but I do think that I need to start paying closer attention to feelings…mine and those of others.
Who knew I would ever say that. I sure didn’t.