The Young Women in the Woodbridge Virginia Stake attended their annual week long Girls Camp at the same place as last year, Verdun Adventure Bound in Rixeyville, Virginia.
Amy Buongiovanni, Woodbridge Stake Camp Director, shared the following about Girls Camp.
“Our theme this year (chosen by our YCL’s) was “Army of the Lord,” and it was so fun to decorate and make everything fit the theme. We had “supply boxes” and camouflage netting all over camp, along with wooden signs with military stencil print stating the new names for each location. Our kitchen was the “Galley,” the flag pole area was the “Parade Ground,” and the ward campsites were all “Barracks,” for example. Each level even had a new name this year. Our first years were “Cadets,” second year girls were “Privates,” third year girls were “Sergeants,” and fourth year girls were “Corporals.” Each young woman received dog tags at the beginning of camp with the theme and year printed on them, and our t-shirts had a camouflage design. Many thanks need to go to Sister Fox, Assistant Stake Camp Director, and Sister Smith, YCL Leader, for coming up with so many clever decorations. Sister Smith also spent countless hours before camp training our YCL’s, which really were the best-prepared group of Youth Camp Leaders we have ever had.
“Our young women were given many exciting opportunities this year at Verdun Adventure Bound. They were able to ride horses, swim and boat in the lake, swim in the pool, hone their archery and fishing skills, and express their creativity during craft time. The Challenge Course was new and fresh this year, because the staff at Verdun gave girls who had previously been to camp the chance to try new elements. This year they climbed a huge rock wall for one activity, and leaped from a tiny platform at the top of a very tall pole to try and touch a ball hanging in the air above them for another (called the Leap of Faith). Of course they all also got the chance to clamber to the top of the even taller pole where the launch platform stands for the zip line. It was a thrill to see so many girls overcome their fears and reach the top. Some girls had to try several times before they could make it to the top, but almost every girl did it! The young women in the Woodbridge Stake can do hard things, and they know it.
“We had Level Game Night on Monday night and lots of level time with our beloved Level Leaders throughout the week. Sisters Melinda Bastian, Carisa Protacio, Cat Morris, May Tross and Shara Rust spent many hours before camp preparing to help the girls in their levels pass off their requirements for camp, and it showed. The girls learned first aid skills, how to cook outside, how to put out and start fires, how to create shelters, etc. The young women also worked on service projects during level time at camp, painting wooden bridges, mulching, and clearing out fire pits. The staff at Verdun were very grateful for their help.
“Cooking at camp this year was once again a big adventure. Many of our young women never cook at all, much less outside! But each girl was placed in “cooking group” of 8 or so people, and they were each required to pull their own weight. They prepared the food, cooked it, cleaned up, and enjoyed plenty of delicious meals. We were very grateful to our camp cooks, Sisters Pam Dixon, Jennifer Banks, and Annette Rivera for preparing the boxes of food for each cooking group, providing clear cooking instructions, and doing so much work to make sure we all ate well at camp.
“Stake YW Camp really is a group effort. We had so many fabulous helpers, from our nurses, Sisters Sharon Craddock and Ashley Boatright, to our craft leaders, Sisters Karina Dominguez and Carissa Allred. And what would we have done without Brother Banks and Brother Craddock, who made sure we had water to drink, offered Priesthood blessings, helped us set up camp, made fires for us, taught us awesome military techniques for flag ceremony and generally kept us safe and happy? It was also great to have Sisters Tonja Hafley and Kayla Hafley back to help with fishing (so many young women love to fish!) and Sister Jeri Meredith to help with archery.
“One of the most special times at camp was Tuesday night. We all met at the amphitheater for a discussion about how we can fortify ourselves against Satan’s attacks. We talked about building walls of testimony by developing faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel. Each young women was given a “brick” (a block of wood painted red) and a sharpie. On the front of the bricks, they wrote one thing they knew or hoped was true about the gospel. On the back, they wrote a question they needed Heavenly Father to answer. We talked about how Heavenly Father answers prayers in His own time, and how our testimonies are built one brick at a time. After the girls wrote on their bricks, we took a silent walk back to the Parade Ground (by the flag pole), where Sister Fox helped the girls build an actual wall with their bricks. After the Wall of Testimony was built, our YCL’s stood and sang a beautiful song about being in the Army of the Lord. We could all feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. Heavenly Father loves the young women in our stake very much. At our final flag ceremony, we gave the bricks to the young women to take home, where we hope they will remember fondly the experiences they had at this year’s Woodbridge Stake YW Camp.”