We left camp 5 years ago and have felt like we’ve been floundering ever since we left. We’ve never felt “at home.”
We know now that we were supposed to be away for the time that we were. We had a lot to learn. But now that we’ve learned those things, it was time to get back (well, we’ll always have a lot to learn, but there were specific things that we had to learn before we could get back into camp ministry).
Now that we’re back in camp ministry, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. We feel like we’ve been here for a long time. We feel at home. This is right where we’re supposed to be.
The good stuff:
Our new camp family is absolutely amazing. So far, I have only noticed positive interactions with everyone. Everyone loves each other and wants the best for each other. There’s a group on FB for the ladies, and everyone is so amazing on there. There are constant parties for each other, loving on each other when someone is sick, and just true community. I’m so happy to be part of this new family.
The kids have great new friends! Where we used to live, our neighborhood was mostly older, retired people or young, single people. There weren’t any kids around us. Here, the kids can just walk out the door and walk down to their friends’ houses. It’s such a blessing for our family!
There’s so many fun things for the kids to do! They can’t really ever get bored. They spend almost every day outside (unless they’re sick, which we’ve been dealing with somewhat). Most of that time is away from the house, and away from me. It’s been hard to learn to let go, but they are safe here. It’s been such a great thing for all of us. They are able to do so much more here than we were ever able to do in the city. There’s a place called the Mine which has an underground maze, a “bounce house” type thing with ropes to get across, a huge slide that you have to use a “sled” to go down, etc. There’s a barn that has a climbing wall, catwalk that leads to a huge slide, and a basketball goal. There are sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, and gaga ball pits. There is a fort type thing that is built into a tree with slides, etc. There is a water front (in the beautiful river) with huge slides, a zip line, swings, a blob, kayaks, etc. There are 3 zip lines plus the one in the water. A lot of these things can’t be used during the summer because there are so many groups, but the rest of the year, they are pretty much free to use.
I take the kids on hikes/walks all the time. The other day, we walked far to see some ponies and we walked through a few low water crossings. The LOVED that I LET them walk through water with their shoes and clothes on. We’ve actually done this a few times and will continue. Soon, I’ll start taking them on the hiking trails. The trails are beautiful. We LOVE hiking! About every other day, I have 12,000-16,000 steps on my Fitbit :-).
We love our house. It’s very new, so everything is in great shape. It’s a little bigger than our old house and has 4 bedrooms (not a huge house, but a little bigger is helpful). We’ve made the fourth (smallest) bedroom into an office/school room. There are no desks or anything, but we have a calendar, 100’s chart, and white board set up. There’s a fun world map rug on the floor to teach on. I can do most of the teaching in there, then the kids can do the independent work at the dining room table. The kids’ bedrooms are a great fit for them, and they’re bigger than what they’re used to. I love that all of the closets and the pantry have built in shelving so everything is easily organized. The living room is big enough to fit both of our couches so that we have enough seating to have people over. Our living room wall has a tree painted on it with frames on the branches (the frames are still empty!). Our living room/dining area/kitchen is all one open room. The cabinets are beautiful and we have tons of space for all of our kitchen stuff (unlike at our old house). We have two covered porches, and we sit on the back porch all the time. We also have a rock fire pit in our backyard that we’ve enjoyed and will continue to enjoy.
Robert’s schedule is so different than when we were at camp before! He works 8-5, 5 days a week (on call one day a week). At the camp before, he worked 6 days a week during the summer and 12-16 hour days (plus he was always on call). This camp is so family friendly!
Homeschooling! I’m so happy to have pulled my kids away from the pressure of public school. Now, I get to teach the kids how I want. I’ll be using mostly the classical method of education with a little Charlotte Mason method thrown in (they are similar in many ways). These methods line up with my philosophy of education and just raising kids! I’m so thankful to have learned about them! We are probably going to begin school very soon for many reasons. 1) the kids are excited and ready to start (it’s new!), 2) with summer being the busy time at camp, the kids can’t roam as much, so we’ll be stuck inside a little bit more, 3) it allows for more flexibility the whole year, 4) it just works better with Robert’s camp schedule. I’m just waiting for a few more things, then we’ll get started. Probably in a few weeks!
Free food! Especially during the summer, we can eat a lot in the dining hall. It’s a great way to not have to cook (or clean up), plus it allows us the opportunity to build our community more. This is a great perk of living at camp (which we had at camp before, too!). We do make some meals at home because camp food can get old, but it’s great that we have the option!
My parents are so much closer! Less than 2 1/2 hours. Before they were 5 hours away. The kids and I will be spending a lot of time there. My parents are so excited about this! And for me, going to my parents’ is like vacation :-). (although, living at camp feels like vacation for me, too)
Some hard things (that we’ll get used to):
Living so far from town (over an hour). Our goal for going to town was just once or twice a week. That has NOT happened so far. The other week, we went to town like 3 or 4 times. We just need to get used to it. We’re used to having a store less than 5 minutes away, so buying enough for a week and not running to the store is something that we’ll have to learn. We did it before (when we lived at the previous camp), so I know we’ll get there. It’ll just take time. We also end up spending more than we would like when we’re in town because we almost always eat out, we buy more than we need (often), and, well, “we’re in town!” “Freedom!” We’ll get better over time (especially since we’re starting Dave Ramsey again). Once we’re not in town as often, I like that we won’t be able to spend as often, so I think we’ll actually end up saving quite a bit. Plus, we’ll be using cash again. So when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Not having cell service can be really hard. If I’m expecting a phone call, I have to stay home. We can’t just take a call anywhere. Luckily, we have wifi so we can use our phones for texting (everyone who has iMessage on their phones), and we can do anything online. I’m getting used to it, it’s just very different.
Church. Currently, Robert’s schedule has him off on Fridays and Saturdays, so we can’t even go to church as a family. Hopefully, once summer is over, this will be a possibility. Also, with church being so far away from camp, being super involved isn’t going to be reality for us. LUCKILY, being at a Christian camp, we are constantly fellowshipping with other believers and there are opportunities for worship. Plus, our family reads our Bible and listens to worship music constantly. So, we’ll be okay. Like I said, we should at least be able to go on Sundays as a family starting in the fall.
As you can see, the great things definitely outweigh the hard things. Nothing is perfect; it’ll just take time to get used to how different it is to live out in the middle of nowhere versus living right by everything.
Here are some pics of our recent adventures!