Summer tis the season for all kinds of fun things....one of them is church camp. All four of our kiddos jumped on the bus each year for the annual summer week of camp. The morning that they left was always a bit mysterious to me for one main reason. It was the fact that none of my kids were acting like the majority of the other rug rats in the parking lot. Let me explain ....

Just about every other kid was hugging their mom very tightly, whispering sweet things like how homesick they were going to be and how they hoped that they would make it through the week.

My kids were doing the teaberry shuffle, merrily skipping to the bus with expressions of pure joy on their faces. Sometimes they were on the bus before I knew it...no hug, no long face, no whimpers or tears.....just gone. I would have to walk up and down either side of the bus hoping to catch a glimpse of a Hastings kid somewhere near a window. Once I found that face, I would hope that they would look out and down at me so I could wave goodbye. Usually they would look outside, catch sight of me, smile and give me a thumbs up. To put it bluntly, they were ecstatic. So was I !

As the bus would pull away, I would look out of the corner of my eye and see other moms dabbing at their eyes, sniffling a bit, and mumbling about what a long week it was going to be. I was baffled. I mean...I loved my kids, but I loved them being at church camp maybe just a bit more...ha ha. Seriously, I knew that this break that they would enjoy away from home and the regular routine would be good for them. For me, it would be more than just "good", it would be my ticket to sanity to make it though the summer. :)

One of the MAIN reasons that the Hastings kids LOVED church camp was the food. Yes, the food. When other kids were mumbling to mom how much they would miss their mom's cooking, my kiddos were licking their lips that whole bus ride. Instead of bowls of cereal and milk, they were going to be feasting on pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, and all those other scrumptious foods that I just don't relish cooking in the summer time. They could not WAIT to eat "Mrs. Walker's food". Needless to say, my friend Patti Walker who was just one of the many great cooks at camp each summer was an off the charts cook in their minds.

What is the lesson here ? If you want your kids to not whine and drag their feet when it comes to going to camp each summer, simply make certain that the food at camp is a whole lot better than the food at home. It's not complicated. You won't be sorry.

Our kids are all adults and all grown now but if they were honest, they would all tell you what a great and wonderful memory that week of camp was for them. They couldn't sleep the night before and the day that they returned was like the day after Christmas.....just sort of a general let down. Did I take that personally ? Of course not. No way could I match the fun that they had there. They were with all of their friends, swimming, having campfires, playing games, and eating delicious food. How could I ever match that ?  ha ha

The hands down BEST part of church camp however is that they got away from the noisy routine of every day life and had the opportunity to learn more about our Savior. They would hear messages about how to honor God more in their lives and how to love Him better. They were challenged to be honest, to work hard, to obey their parents, and to glorify God in their lives. Did they listen and follow every single word that they heard? Of course they didn't, because they were normal kids. Just like we are normal adults. They didn't get it all right but they did get a goal to strive for. They did have a more quiet setting in which to read their Bibles, to think about their lives and what they could improve on to become a better person for their Lord. Isn't that what it is all about ?

My purpose in writing this is two fold. First, I  hopefully want to encourage any parents out there who may find themselves reluctant in sending their kids to Church camp. Don't hesitate. It is a stretching time for all yet a great one. Even if your kids find themselves missing home, so what? That is a good thing. They will only appreciate you more when they return and it is a building experience for your children to feel a bit sad and uncomfortable now and then, just a bit out of their "comfort zone."

Unless you are a Hastings kid....then you are licking your chops and singing " Happy Days are Here Again" once you jump off that bus at the camp grounds.

My kids just LOVED church camp ! And after all, isn't that what good parenting is all about ???