Okay, it has been a few weeks since I’ve had some breathing room to talk about something that I really wanted to share with you. It is an experience that I had at Laity Lodge Family Camp. I don’t typically endorse organizations but this time, I just can’t help myself. This was one of the best experiences that my family has had in quite a while. Let me explain to you why.
This Fall has been one of the busiest falls in my family’s history. I’ll be honest with you…that’s saying a lot! We are typically on the go. During the week either Jenn is working or I am. In the midst of that chaos is homework, extra curricular activities or, because of my job, an emergency might pop up. This year in addition to all of that, were some extra obligations that I had agreed to, that I thoroughly enjoyed doing, that added to the mayhem. Because I love my job and my vocation, it is sometimes difficult to say no, which I am working on. Now that October is over, I have a little bit of breathing room.
Amidst the busy fall, I was asked to speak at a Laity Lodge, or HEB Family Camp as some of you might be familiar with. The camp was kind enough to ask my family to accompany me, which is sort of what they do. They are a family camp after all. When you are a speaker at a camp or retreat, there is always a little bit of tension in inviting your family to be a part of the camp. When I mentioned the opportunity to my wife, she was all in. Especially when she heard there was air conditioning and a room that did not include the kids. This was a huge selling point!
This ended up being a great decision. There are three reasons why family camp was one of the best things I’ve done with my family in a few years.
- It gave me room to just hang out with my family. During a busy week, we are either working, doing homework, running off to some activity or doing chores around the house. If we are not engaged in those activities, we are simply recovering from them which includes sleeping, watching a movie or sitting catatonic on the couch staring at a wall. Laity Lodge provided me with an opportunity to hang out with my family and actually engage them in a meaningful conversation. It is amazing what space will do for a conversation. I’m not talking about the final frontier space, I’m talking about time that is free from the pressure of doing something. I really believe that one of the reasons we don’t engage our kids in meaningful conversations is that we feel guilty for it. We feel like we need to be carting them off somewhere, checking their homework or getting them to sleep on time so that they have enough rest. Family Camp gave me permission to engage my kids in a conversation. I realize I don’t need permission but sometimes we don’t stop to think about the lack of dialogue and that’s what this retreat gave me. Perspective.
2. It provided a few experiences that my kids typically don’t have. Because of schedule and the hectic pace of our lives, we usually feel obligated to keep up, there are some pretty basic experiences that I never considered my kids having. Kaiden and I picked archery as an activity on Saturday. As a kid, I had a bow and arrow and shot it in our backyard. Who knows if that was safe for me or my neighbors? I’ll go on record as saying, no one was ever shot with one of those arrows even though a stray arrow or two may have flown over the fence. When Kaiden and I were shooting at targets, I casually asked him “You ever shot a bow before Bubba?” and he answered “Nope.” I never stopped to consider whether or not he had experienced that activity before but he hadn’t. Sure, I don’t think he would be on a couch years later talking to a therapist about how he never shot an arrow and because of that his dad probably doesn’t love him, but it is still pretty cool to experience that with your son.
3. We unplugged for the weekend. I think we all feel guilty for the amount of screen time that our kids experience on a day to day basis, so I will spare you my ramblings about how much regret I have over that. We all know that our natural default, especially with a busy schedule, is either to sit our kids in front of a screen or hand them a miniature version of that while we are in survival mode. Enough said. This weekend provided us with activities, that we didn’t have to plan, that were amazing. I’ve already mentioned archery but we also went on a hike, carved a pumpkin together, experienced a talent show that our kids were amazing in, and the girls went to an art class. We spent time sitting and looking at God’s creation, walking across a rope bridge, looking at a tree house in the woods, dancing at a dance party, considering God’s will for our family and having every meal together with friends. Those things don’t happen every week, at least not all at the same time and it all happened without a screen in front of us.
Every person in our family agreed unanimously, this camp was a blast and was well worth our time. It helped our family connect and it gave us the space that we so desperately needed. So I wanted to give a shout out to a few people. Thanks Cary Hendricks for the great job you did of directing camp staff and making this a phenomenal experience! Thanks to Will Stripling for inviting me to speak and for riding herd over the whole camp! Our family enjoyed the weekend tremendously and we are better for it.
“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17