Okay, not really the end, but I'm not sure what to write about our adventure (we were there August 17-23). There was so much going on and so much happened, but really, it all boils down to the fact that we had an incredible family vacation in the mountains. My two favorite things: family and mountains.
You already know, dear reader, how important Aspen Grove is to us, so it won't surprise you that being there as a guest was truly a delight. It was fun to see the workers and to know --at least a little bit --about what was going on in the background and behind the scenes.
[Once again, to newcomers: Brandon went to AG a couple times growing up with his family. The summer before his mission (1995), he worked there in the dining hall. After we were married, we worked there for two years. The first summer (1999), Brandon did the ropes course and I was a Cub leader (7-8 year olds). On campus during fall and winter semesters (1999-2000), I was an office manager for AG. Then we went back for the summer (2000) and I was a Cub leader again while Brandon was a rover (maintenance, on-call, etc.). But before we were married, AG was special to us. Brandon kissed me for the first time while on the trail to First Falls. He proposed marriage at a secluded campsite overlooking AG and Sundance. I know this is TMI, but #1 was conceived there (2000)! We've been back for marriage retreats, cross-country skiing, hiking, staff reunions, and to see friends. But this was the first time we were able to go back for a full-week of Family Camp --something we have been talking about for 13 years. Just FYI. In case you cared. ;) ]
We stayed in one of the rustic cabins (so fun!) and the kids spent each day with their counselors having a great time. Brandon had to work a lot (unfortunately), but we managed to squeeze in a hike, archery, air-rifle shooting, reading, swimming, and the guest lectures. We did a skit for the Family talent night (we did our own choreography to this), participated in the staff reunion, reconnect with past co-workers, make new friends, play in the Minute to Win it night, did arts and crafts, watched #1 do the ropes course, took the kids fishing, checked out many board games to play, saw a moose, danced like maniacs at the family dance, played miniature golf, ran around Cowboy village, and lost #5 for about 30 minutes (that was scary. He was found sleeping on the porch of our cabin!). #4 got stitches (he face-planted on a rock), but he was a champ about it.
The best part of this vacation is that it's so family focused. The kids get a vacation, meet new friends, go on adventures with cool counselors (even performing a closing show at the end of the week!), yes, but so do the parents! They get time to themselves and with each other to do fun things as well. Everything is accommodating to families. From the set up in the cabins (bunk beds and cribs and loft beds) to the meals (buffet style, along with a "baby bar" with more kid friendly foods) to the activities (stroller friendly, staff taking younger babies so parents can participate in the more involved activities like swimming and all the games on the field, never ignoring the children or the fact that they are there).
They also have church! Full three hours, completely run by the staff. The standards were Church quality the whole week, so you knew you would have modesty, clean language, and kindness abounding. And we did! We had all of that. It was fantastic.
When we were packing up on our last night, I asked the kids, "Okay, so if you had to pick between going to Disneyland for a few days or coming back to Aspen Grove, which would you choose?" Yes, I know that it's kind of obvious that they were "high" off of Aspen Grove at that point, but only one person said, "both," one said, "Disneyland," and three said, "Aspen Grove." So, there you go!
Great family vacation. Worth every penny. Highly recommend it to everyone!
And now the pictures I promised (dozens and dozens!):
The last photo says it all. All tuckered out at the Family Dance at after a week of awesome fun at Aspen Grove Family Camp!