Oh Canada

Ok, I don’t know what is wrong with me! I literally have two–count them, two!–draft posts sitting in my dashboard and I can’t seem to find the inspiration to publish them. They just don’t excite me, ya know? And I mean, there’s nothing worse than posting something that doesn’t positively inspire you, at least at that very moment!

So, I’ve decided to post about my trip to Canada this summer! Every time I think about my time spent up in Malibu, I’m reinvigorated. Not only was the setting probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, but going up there to serve as a high school leader was amazing–challenging, hard, stretching, & uncomfortable–but amazing none the less.

If you’re not familiar with Malibu (and I’d be surprised if you were), it is a Young Life camp most of the year. However, for two weeks a summer, the camp transforms into a family camp for active service military and their families. All of the campers are based out of Ft. Lewis just outside of Seattle. They have to apply to come to camp, and for the few lucky families who are chosen, they get an all expenses paid trip up to the Canadian wilderness to hang out with their family, uninterrupted, for an entire week.

It is an incredible thing to watch the transformation that happens in these families in such a short time. When they first get to Malibu landing, they’ve been on a bus for 12 hours driving straight through the night. All of us volunteers do what they call a Tunnel of Love–which is basically lining up and waving spirit fingers in their faces and cheering at the top of our lungs as they exit the bus–you know.. being all around obnoxious. I’ll admit, If I’d been packed on a bus for the entire night with screaming children and hardly any sleep, I probably wouldn’t be thrilled to be welcomed by the Tunnel of Love either. BUT you could just see a hardness in some of their faces that was a little unexpected. I mean, these men and women have all been deployed at least one time, many of them several times. That takes its toll on a person. Also the dynamic of a family that goes through something like that isn’t like most traditional families (if there is such a thing anymore). One of the girls in my small group said that her dad had been deployed 9 out of the 17 years she’d been alive. That’s so hard to relate to as someone who’s dad was home for dinner every single night of the week!

Like I was saying though, these families were transformed almost immediately. By the second day, these tough, military dads were dancing like fools with their children and not even worried that everyone at camp was watching them. There were mothers who, on the first day were verbally berating their children in front of everyone, became nurturing and encouraging right before my eyes. There were couples on the verge of divorce, who over the course of the week reconnected and decided to renew their vows in front of all their new-found friends. Seriously, guys.. when I was talking about writing an inspiring post, I guess this is the one I had been waiting for!

I could literally write pages and pages about my experience, but I don’t think it would do the whole thing justice. If you ever have the opportunity to go somewhere and serve like this, I encourage you to do it. It was such a growing experience for me in a thousand different ways, but I will never forget my week up North nor will I forget the great friends I made or the families who have forever touched my heart.

Maybe I’ll do a follow up post on Malibu later and get a little more into depth about what went on during the week, but I think for now, just reliving it even just a little bit has made me a pretty happy girl.

And now, for some pretty pictures!

The pool. No big deal.

I got to work on this dock for the entire week. Rough life.

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