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Jackson was rocking back and forth in his chair at the amount of stimulation in the room. 50 families worth in one cafeteria and slowly the seats at our table were filling. I could tell what was going on in his mind, “are they going to take my daddy’s seat?” As each person sat down at our table, his rocking got more exaggerated and whatever noises he was making got louder and louder. There was so much going on around him, but that was nothing to the amount of emotions that were swirling around inside of him. As his mom, I could see he was anxious. I was anxious too.

We were at family camp. Something we had never done and only recently heard of. We thought we would try it out. I was craving green and trees and lakes and all the things you crave when you grew up in Wisconsin and you are at home by water. Mostly I was craving quiet and slow. We signed up just a week earlier after seeing all the beautiful pictures of the lake and the trails online. We even decided the 5 hour drive would be fun and we could make it part of the “adventure” of it all. All of it NEW for all of us. 

We saw the green as we drove in on “rustic road 1.” A mile stretch of gravel twisting and turning around beautiful tall trees and lakes and ponds. We opened the windows and breathed it all in, anticipating the peace that was sure to follow when we pulled into camp.

When we got to camp it was not the same as the peaceful pictures we had seen online. It was still the same green and it was still the same trees and lake and the people were all smiling and enjoying themselves. What was different is the pace at which it was all moving and the noise level that was being emitted by all of the families converging on the camp. Scott and I recognized quickly in our spirit that it was not going to go as planned this weekend. The pictures of camp, not surprisingly, did not have sound with them.

At one point on day 2 we wanted to run away. Scott and I both looked at each other and came to the conclusion that maybe family camp just wasn’t for us. We started finding fault with all the things that the staff could have done better for new families. As we focused on blame and recounting ways it was not what we expected, the only conclusion we seemed to come to was that we should just leave.

As my son was rocking from all the movement and noise on day 2, I knew we needed to get away. But what if it didn’t have to be all or nothing? What if we just needed a getaway from our getaway? And that simple idea saved our weekend. We took a tractor ride out into the forest where the kids could run free. Where theirs were the only voices we could hear, along with the voices of nature chirping and scurrying about. We had to create what it was we were in need of, our own version of family camp.

As we started to refocus on what our family needed, things started to settle, and so did our kiddos. We found places to be at camp, but away from camp at the same time. We let go of the schedules; both our schedule and the one the camp had us on and just did what we needed to do.

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It is no surprise that when we did that we met another family and connected with them as they were attempting to do the same thing.

We are still processing all the things we learned this past weekend, but one thing is for sure, we as moms know what our family needs. If at first you are not able to find it, do something new and try again. We did something new and and realized it was not what we needed. Knowing it was not right for us lead us to finding what was. I can see this so much in our life, but sometimes I fail to make the minor adjustment and salvage the trip, or the class, or the friend, or whatever it is that is not exactly a fit. Leaving room for growth and flexibility to lead us to what we need.

If I ask Jackson if he liked family camp he will say yes and he will list off all of the things he enjoyed, not surprisingly they are all things that happened when we were on our “getaways.”

Where in your life or with your family could you make an adjustment to try a different way instead of abandoning ship all together?

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