By Camille Kerr and Amy Buongiovanni
“Explore and Endure” is exactly what the Woodbridge Stake Young Women did at a new location for Girls Camp 2016: Verdun Adventure Bound in Rixeyville, VA. From June 27th to July 1st the girls participated in many new and exciting adventures, physically and spiritually.
Some of their first explorations were in setting up their own tents and cooking all their meals outdoors, which were new challenges for most of the girls and many leaders. They also befriended the horses at the camp, learned to ride, and learned to fish. Verdun offered other fun activities to the girls such as kayaking and swimming in the lake, volleyball, craft activities, and swimming in the pool.
The young women tested their endurance in the challenge course, where they played team building games and helped each other with the zip line and bungee swing. Tiana Kelley from the Quantico Ward said, ““Girls camp is awesome because all of the girls in the stake come together to help each other and encourage each other no matter who you are.” And this is exactly what they did in the team building games and the challenge courses. One of the favorite team building games involved working as a team to get every member across the pretend acid river, by only stepping on the three safe spots.
For part of the challenge course they climbed a very tall pole. The reward of their endurance and strength at the top of the pole was the thrill of riding the longest zip line in VA! Another thrilling adventure was the bungee swing where team members pulled together to raise the swinger high in the air. The swinger then released themselves and soared through the air. Aleen Gonzalez of the Quantico Ward said, “Girls camp was very fun and was a great opportunity to conquer the challenge course.”
Each specific camp level had time with their leaders, passing off the camp requirements such as cooking, first aid, knots, and fire building. They also participated in service projects with their levels and each ward also received the opportunity to entertain by performing skits with their wards.
Kim Blair from the Lake Ridge 1st Ward, arranged a special Stake night. Each ward received a special box in the morning with a beautifully painted Liahona and a scroll. The girls opened the scroll at 7:00 pm that evening and then were directed to three different stations with their wards. At each station a speaker shared a spiritual message. At one station they learned about enduring in personal situations and how little achievements are important in our lives. Another station taught them to explore, specifically how exploring spiritually will strengthen their testimonies. The last station taught them how Patriarchal blessings can be a personal Liahona.
The final scroll instructed them to meet at the amphitheater. As the girls arrived there it began pouring rain, which miraculously and thankfully stopped after a ten minute wait. The young women were then treated to inspiring music from a group of young women who stepped right out of the audience and sang a lovely arrangement of “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” while a slide show with pictures of the Savior was presented.
Debbie Roderick, the Woodbridge Stake Young Women’s President, shared some concluding remarks focusing on the spiritual symbolism of the journey they had just taken. The girls had collected special rocks from each station, which Sister Roderick used to teach them how the Savior can be their rock and foundation.
The spirit of the evening was then enhanced by a traditional Girls Camp nighttime activity called Singing Trees. Each ward chose a tree to stand around, and when it was that ward’s turn to sing, all of the girls and leaders turned their flashlights up towards the tree. When they finished singing, they turned the flashlights off and the next tree lit up as the next ward sang. Of the many spiritual experiences at camp, one young woman said, “It was so lit…Because of the spirit.”
Of course Bishop’s Night and testimony meeting contained evidence of how the young women endured and explored throughout the week of camp. So many girls shared their testimonies about how much they had felt the spirit at camp, and about how the challenge course had really helped them grow and accomplish new things. For example, Faith Oryang from the Quantico ward said, “This year was my favorite year because I got to experience a new camp site, new adventures, and conquer my fears while putting my trust in the Lord, although I was terrified.” Quite a few girls who were not members of the church stood and shared their feelings as well. The evening was a spiritual highlight of the week of exploring and enduring.