Over a week ago I went on this great mini-vacation to southern Utah, which included a pedicure and kefir smoothies. I got to take my two sons to the Youth for Freedom camp and stay with my darling sister-in-law while they were camping. Here’s how you can take the same vacation:
1. Find out the Monday before the camp starts on Thursday that your two sons are going to a summer youth leadership camp, called Youth for Freedom. You have seen the magic of the camp in your older son’s life and want the same magic for your younger kids. Older son is on a mission or he would be driving the kids to the camp himself. You love taking your kids to the camp because it usually means you can visit your sister-in-law.
2. Call your sister-in-law who lives in southern Utah to see if she can host you while your boys are at the camp. Agree to drive her daughter to the camp after you pick her daughter up close to I-15.
3. Scramble to find 6 more kids to take with you in your 12 seater van, along with your 5 out of your 7 kids, so that you can get people to pay for the gas for the trip. Make lots of phone calls because the original kids you thought you maybe could take are going with someone else.
4. Wonder if your 11 year old, almost 12 year old, is really ready to go to this camp. He is rather adolescent. Find out at the end of camp that he was being obnoxiously loud. One of the counselors told him to “Be quiet, child!” Then he totally changed the subject by asking the counselor if she knew his older brother, who was a counselor last year. That made her forget she was irritated by him and sidle up to him to find out the latest news about the older brother.
5. Get awakened by your little kids at 2:30 AM the morning of departure, when the set time to wake up was 4, because your little kids are so excited to see their cousins in southern Utah while the big kids are at the camp.
6. Tell the kids to be quiet and try to fall back asleep. You never actually fall asleep but lie there with visions of the magic of visiting sister-in-law and YFF land in your head. Get up at the real appointed time of 4 AM and leave at 5:10 to get to the camp around 11:40 AM.
7. Make three stops along the way before you hit the southern end of Utah county to pick up the six kids who are riding with you. five of the six kids are cute girls. Start wondering about if your 15 year old son wants to sit in the middle of all of them. See the large amount of baggage each one has, including ginormous suitcases, huge guitars, and king-sized mattresses (just-kidding!) Seriously wonder if you are going to fit everything in your car without having to call a U-haul rental place at 7 in the morning. Wasn’t this just a three day camp? Remember that some of these people are girls who must want to pack everything from two pillows to curling wands to karaoke machines. Feel sympathy towards the pioneers who left chairs and tables and pianos along the wayside of their trek.
8. Have a ton of fun driving south. Make your 15 year old son blush when you start thinking about the air conditioning reaching the back seat, so you, totally innocently and inadvertently, ask him, because he is in the middle row, to ask the young ladies in the back row if they are hot. Enjoy the charming conversation of the 18 year old young man, telling you about how he loves Star Wars and that he knows if he talks to someone and they don’t know anything about Star Wars the relationship is over. Nearly die laughing as you drive through Zion National Park listening to your 15 year old son recite entire Studio C episodes. You almost laugh so hard you can’t keep your eyes open to drive through the winding canyon.
9. Drop the kids off and get them checked in. Feel the magic and synergy of all the youth up there in the mountains talking about the classics and leadership and freedom. Wish you could stay there with them. Help niece get acclimated and find a friend to run off to lunch with. Find a few people to visit with for a little bit. Then drive back through beautiful Zion National Park to find sister-in-law’s new home in St. George.
10. Enjoy your visit in St. George. Love, love, love your sis-in-law’s new home with all of its built-ins: desk, cabinets, shelves, and even a china hutch!
Your 7 year old daughter refuses her aunt’s sleeping arrangements, which splits her apart from her inseparable brother who is 18 months older. Daughter spends the next hour glowering in a corner, giving the evil eye to her aunt. Feel mortified and humored at the same time when she finally blurts out at her aunt, “I do know how to sleep on the floor you know, next to my brother!” That was her backwards, impolite way of asking if she could sleep in the family room with him on the floor. Remind yourself to spend lots of devotionals at home in the coming year teaching about politely asking for what we want.
11. Feel delighted that sister-in-law suggests you do pedicures Friday morning after you watch the little kids tell flannelboard stories. You haven’t given yourself a pedicure since before you get married over 20 years ago. Feel totally joyous that the exact color you wanted in nail polish is in your niece’s stash of nail polish. You haven’t had a morning where you just sat around watching, listening, and nail polishing, in years.
12. Have fun teaching your Mothers Who Know class on the phone and then have even more fun taking the kids with your sis-in-law and their cousins to the splash pad, “river”, and merry go round in downtown St. George.
11. Totally love the kefir smoothies your sis-in-law fixes for breakfast. Pick her brain about everything from curly girl hair to the GAPS diet to marriage to running LEMI commonwealths. Once again wish you could live in the same town. Remember that your husband actually is supposed to be applying for a position in St. George and call him and remind him about it.
12. Drive back up through Zion National Park to pick up the kids on Saturday. Spend some time keeping your little kids supervised at the camp because it’s not over yet. Wish that you could take them out on the rowboats on the pond but feel outnumbered with three little kids to just one you.
Eventually get them over to where the action is at the pavilion so you can watch the climax of the whole event, the oral exams for the college scholarship. They entertain themselves by finding a sucker in the bushes and sort of share it.
13, Get to watch most of the oral exams for the Andau competition. Reminisce about your son winning the competition two years ago. Feel disappointed that the examination committee does not even ask this year’s competitors tough questions, like they did with your son two years ago, about what each article in the Constitution is about, what the Cuban Missile Crisis was all about, and what the federal government’s role in education is. Instead they ask lame, touchy-feely questions.
13. Leave two hours later than planned because the whole thing ended two hours later. Enjoy driving back home on Highway 89 through Utah’s Color Country. Wish that you could live in such charming small town farming environs. Get home after midnight because of a bazillion potty stops with so many little kids, including two stops on the side of the road amongst the bushes, and a traffic jam when I-15 gets narrowed to two lanes. Fall asleep exhausted with a smile on your face because your son’s vision that was on his Vision Board of going to Youth For Freedom came true!