Saturday I talked with Marianne on the phone. She'd been gone all week with youth from her ward. They reenacted a trek like the pioneers that crossed the plains to Utah. Even more significantly, they did their trek in Wyoming, where so many struggled and many died and heroic efforts saved others.
They pushed handcarts and camped and heard inspiring stories of courage and faith. As she told me about some of her tender experiences, we both cried.
She told me how hard it had been, but how worth the effort.
We also talked about the phenomena that happens ever summer. Mothers and fathers leave their families and work and responsibilities. They undertake physical challenges and miserable sleeping conditions and so-so food. They spend time with teenagers. They bond with them and teach them and learn from them. (They may sometimes argue with them, they are teenagers after all.) They have spectacular experiences that become the stuff of legends.
Having sent my children off into their care, I am grateful.
Emma returned from Girls' Camp on a happy cloud. She chattered on and on about how wonderful it was. She loved the leaders. She loved the silly songs, the crafts, the water fight, the ropes course, the swimming. She loved the Youth Camp Leaders (the oldest girls). She felt stirrings in her soul. She said, "You know how I'm not a crier, Mom? Well, in the testimony meeting, I cried."
Braeden is a veteran of going away for a week of camping. I expend little effort in getting him ready or getting him unpacked. He's got it down to a science. (I do however notice the dramatic drop in milk consumption while he's gone and the dramatic jump in dirty laundry when he returns.) He is building a stockpile of adventures that has enriched his life. He's hiked hard mountains and slept in adverse conditions. He's become stronger with every week spent away from his soft bed in a climate controlled room.
And I am indebted to others for these experiences my children have had. If their leaders didn't use vacation time from work and favors from friends to watch their children, they wouldn't have happened.
Then I think about the ones left behind at home. I'm grateful to them too. I'm grateful to little ones who miss their parents for a week. I'm grateful for spouses and grandparents and friends who pick up the slack in the absence.
It's one big united effort but when these kids come home, tired and dirty from a week that has taught them and stretched them and strengthened their knowledge in a Heavenly Father that loves them, I wonder if there's any greater cause we could unite for.
Here are some pictures from the past week Adam spent with Braeden. I have decided to ignore the heights they jumped from and the bikini clad girl that makes a cameo appearance in one of the videos (there was a pack of girls that followed the boys around...grrrr).