Every year our family has a family camp here at the Guire Shire. My kids, grandkids and some friends join us for four days of swimming, eating, trampolining, crafts, camp fires, hammocking and berry picking.
Life likes to show us things. They may not be new things, but how many times do we need to learn a lesson before we get it?
Here’s some observations from the family:
1. Have a plan. If the plan doesn’t work for the moment, pitch it.
I made up cute index cards with chores for everyone. They got handed out to the first family who arrived. I picked them up several times and thought about handing them all out. I didn’t. I pitched them. It was a great idea, but my family seems to work like a well oiled machine and they just do the stuff. The cards suited my planner-type personality, but they were just paper reminders that we didn’t need.
2. You are going to be uncomfortable. It’s okay.
Being comfortable has become a goal in our culture. We want the temperature perfect, food just the way we like it and all of our circumstances to be favorable (count me in for all of the above). It’s just not reality when you are building relationships with family or anyone for that matter. There is a lot of denying oneself for the greater good of family. It means not always saying what you want to say. It means not getting your turn first or the fourth S’more.
“When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy – if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this easily managed.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
3. There are going to be meltdowns.
When people are out of there comfort zone, especially kids with capital letter syndromes, there are going to be meltdowns. Sometimes, it’s the adults melting down. Sometimes it is a kids. Often the fix is as simple as a snack, water or a nap for both of the above.
4. Don’t wait until you are too tired to make a pot of coffee.
One afternoon, one of the adults promised to make a pot of coffee. An hour later, there was still no coffee made. Isn’t that human nature? We wait until we are at the end of our rope before we ask for help. Coffee is help in this house, incase you are wondering. When adults can’t regulate because we are too tired, neither can the kiddos.
5. Don’t let five little girls vote on a movie.
Yep. That’s it for that one. Just pick the movie.
6. Keep the rules simple and short.
Our camp rules this year:
1. Be kind
2. Clean up after yourself
3. Have fun
*The rules are a modified ‘yes’ sandwich.
7. Have fun applies to the adults too.
This family has this lesson down pat. See the pictures above. No couch potato parents here which makes me proud. Swim with the kids. Play on the trampoline. Read stories. Have a tea party. Do the crafts. Enjoy the moment.
8. By the end of camp you drink from anyone’s water bottle.
We had a great system. We did. It involved a sharpie to put a name on water bottles or Gatorades. It worked well until the last day. I brought Moira up on the deck after swimming and she grabbed a Gatorade that was on the coffee table. No name on it. She took a big swig and so did I. Hunter was drinking it too. He admitted he had no idea who it belonged to. We share things, guys!
9. Kid mirror whomever they are around.
Six month old Merrick watched his baby cousins escape the blanket and the family room by crawling. Soon, he followed suit. He is now crawling. Another child was afraid in the pool. Another child followed. It’s a chain reaction. Watch what you say. What what you do, because it will come back to you through a child. This is also a great thing. When we have great actions and reactions, the kids eventually follow suit.
10. Be thankful and say so.
There are so many things to be thankful for. We often forget these when everyone is cranky (I’m speaking of the adults here). When the whole family is together, we must remember what a blessing that is. It’s not something to be taken for granted. It’s a gift. My kids are a gift. They are amazing parents (the ones who have kids). All of them work together for a common goal such as getting kids changed for the pool, from the pool or making dinner. They get along. I know that is rare. It is a blessing.
We had a great family camp this year! It’s well worth the effort. If you missed the podcast about it, you can listen below or find us on iTunes!