One of our favorite summer traditions is “Cousin Camp”. We love getting together with all of our Dalton Cousins (age 5 and over) for an action pack weekend of fun and learning. This year our camp theme was “A League of Our Own” and everything centered around Baseball. Here is a brief layout of what we did:
Friday night we set up camp on top of Grandma’s hill and introduced the theme through some fun Mormon-ads that talked about cooperation, teamwork and kindness. I got the kids from 5p-11p and we had a blast. After we introduced the “rookies” (the new campers) and talked about why we were glad everyone was a part of “TEAM DALTON” we assigned out cousin buddies to help the younger campers learn the ropes (and to make sure I didn’t lose anyone later on at the baseball game). After our dinner of “Dodger dogs” and watermelon we herded all the kids into the cars (luckily my husband and brother-in law joined me) and headed off to Angels Stadium. It was hilarious to watch my cute five year old nephew and niece dance and yell and sing to entertain themselves during the game juxtaposed to my 10 year old baseball enthusiast nephew who was intensely sharing every stat and play with my husband and I. Loved it. It was questionable whether the fans around us thought it was as funny as I did. 🙂
From what I understand some sleeping actually did occur.
Saturday morning found the kids roasting their sausages on skewers over a campfire, making fruit trays in the form of CC for cousin camp, discussing being a peacemaker and not arguing with the ump, participating in activities on being a team player, a few games of “pickle”, relay races, and making Baseball shirts (the kids loved that!).
Before lunch they had “Spring Training” (physical and spiritual exercises that build strength and endurance) which involved everything from scripture study to water balloon “Hey batter batter”. Lunch was gourmet pizzas on the Barbecue (yum!) followed up by a testimony meeting on “Making it Home in the Big Game of Life” (Alma 40:11-12). The kids made their own baseball cards with help from my sister in law (darling) with their own stat’s on them and then went swimming (“Dunk Tank”). This was followed up by cousin camp awards based on their own names (like the Cy Young Award- great idea Mandy!) and then all the moms with some help from grandma got all the kids cleaned up and dressed in their Sunday best to attend Samantha’s baptism in Fountain Valley. I think we did quite well. Sammy gave me the opportunity to give the Holy Ghost talk at her baptism which was a great privilege.
Their were two of Sam’s friends from her ward getting baptized with her so I put three things in a white gift bag that represented some of the functions of the Holy Ghost. I talked about how much my kids liked to receive gifts and some of the favorite gifts they had received. One of my kids favorite gifts was a pocketknife which I brought and showed. We talked about how fun all those gifts were and how the gift they were receiving that day of the Holy Ghost was more precious than any of these gifts, but like the pocketknife they needed to understand some of its functions to appreciate it. Then I had each of the three kids come up to the stand and pull out one of the items in my gift bag that represented a function of the Holy Ghost. I put Daisie’s favorite blanket in the bag, a picture of a stoplight and a book of Mormon with Moroni 10:4-5 marked which I made the cute little boy that picked that one out read. With each of the items I tried to share a personal story of how the Holy Ghost “comforts” (blanket), warns/ approves/ cautions us (“stoplight”) and testifies of truth (The Book of Mormon). I think the stories helped to keep their attention and bring it to their level. I ended by sharing with them a story about me when I got home to California after my first year of college. There was a bike ride that my dad and I liked to take from our home down to the beach. It was a fairly challenging ride, but beautiful and rewarding at the end. I was excited to take this familiar ride when I returned home from college as I thought that I was in good shape and was prepared for the ride. However, I found the ride to be grueling. I even wanted to turn back on the first hill. It was SO HARD!! I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I thought I was in good shape. Why was the ride so difficult? Not wanting to seem wimpy I carried on, but was dripping with sweat and my legs were burning. Finally as we headed up the last hill back to home, I gave up and dismounted my bike to walk up the hill. My dad rode by and took a look at my bike. “Brynne, do you know that you are riding with a flat tire?” What?? Now I understood why the ride had been so difficult. You CAN ride with a flat tire and you CAN live your life without the Holy Ghost, but it is SO much more difficult.
We followed up the baptism with dinner at Mike’s sister Melissa’s house. The kids couldn’t bear to leave each other, but we finally had to say goodbye with promises that cousin camp would make a repeat occurrence next summer.