Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Girls Camp 2012: The Hundred Dresses Program

Can I just tell you how much I loved this program? I got the basic idea from Jennifer Hawkins (another Florida girl) over at Beehive Messages here, and then turned into our own to meet our girls' needs.

We began by keeping all the girls out of the Grand Hall and at their campsites before the program began. We had the stage decorated with the three white dresses, lights dim, and reverent music playing when they came in. We never do Wish Fairy, etc on Friday evening as it wouldn't be appropriate. We save our last fun stuff for Saturday morning before departure.

We asked certain leaders to please bring one or two dresses from any time in their life that had a special meaning for them. They held these dresses one at a time and gave the story behind them. I have to tell you, there were some really tender moments. Stories often contained hardships overcome, joys and sorrows. One young leader worked her way through college and showed us the dress she wore to graduation. One waited and waited until she had permission from her parents to be baptized and showed us the dress she wore to her baptism. Some were their children's or grandmother's dresses along with those stories. The Spirit was really strong, and I loved what each person added. I have to say that I do preside over and guide the program on the last night, but I do my best to make sure I am not the only one talking. I try to really pray and feel the inspiration for what Heavenly Father wants to happen.

We had the girls broken into four groups and read "My Wedding Day." I wisely did not choose myself as one of the readers as it was hard to get through without losing control. The girls really loved the stories. We had chosen three girls to sing the song, "What Heaven Sees in You," which follows the theme of the three white dresses. We tied this all into our overall theme, Happily Ever After.  After this, we directed the girls to quietly (have ward leaders help with this) move straight out the double door outside. I had asked one of the priesthood leaders to start and maintain a fire and set up the sound system. We went into testimony meeting. I always give the intro, with a brief set of instructions on what a testimony is and to keep it within a certain time frame. The girls all had their lanterns with the little fake candles inside lit. It was a lovely, lovely evening. When we finished testimony meeting we all held hands and sang "Walk Tall" and had our closing prayer.

At this point the YCLs quietly go back to the ward areas and give their final devotional. This is always a special devotional as these YCLs have bonded with their girls and the girls trust them. They also feel the spirit and are more willing to share and discuss on Friday night than Tuesday night.

I always feel pretty exhausted at this point. With the exception of Saturday morning, camp is over. On this night there wasn't much sleep though. We had a serious bear problem...more serious than the girls were ever aware of. We had to do a lot of patrolling with rangers and take precautions. Glad that part is over.

I always have leadership meetings with the ward leaders each night. Friday we pass out cleaning assignments and checklists. They cannot leave until they are inspected and signed off. The goal is to clean up, break down, and get the heck out of there as soon as possible.

Girls are gone -- time for some fun before the clean-up. We took bets on if Downey could still fit in her wedding dress.

Now we know why Downey's husband grabbed up this hot thing!

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