Why Forest Home has our heart, and what I love most about family camp as a mama

Last year, when the opportunity to go to "family camp" we didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into. Neither David nor I had ever done any vacations that structured/organized with our families growing up, and I personally had never even been away "to camp" but rather had just heard accounts from my brother and friends of the epic experience it would be.

(Side note: Thankfully-- since I wrote a book about summer camp-- I finally got to have some of my own camp experiences from which I could draw. Those familiar with Forest Home will recognize some little details worked into my story and the camp I made up in my book if it's published one day.)

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You guys, despite all I had heard, I was not prepared for how amazing an experience it would be to go to camp as a family. Last year, we fell in love with Forest Home. This year, as we prepared to go back for year two, anticipation was high, and all five of us were counting down until it was time to go. 

And it did not disappoint. 

Of course, with all of the activities on the docket, the fun-meter at family camp is basically off the chart. The kids could talk your ear off about the Giant Swing, the ropes course, mini-golf, the craft cabin, the pancake breakfast hike, and Lake Day (our family's favorite day of camp). 

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But here on the blog, I thought I'd share the aspects of camp that pull on my mama heartstrings the most, and what makes family camp a true vacation for parents (spoiler: free babysitting. Nope, not a joke).

And, bonus: it's such a short drive off the beaten track (aka Redlands/I-10) which is great because I love the mountains but I don't like scary mountain roads. People come to Forest Home from all over (we met a family from England this year!), but if you live in Southern California it is is especially convenient, while still feeling worlds away.

Family time, friend time, alone time. Fun time and down time. Family camp offers such a good balance. The extroverts get plenty of friend and family time (we spent every evening playing cards in the clubhouse), and the introverts can hide away in the cabin or in nature anytime the schedule feels like too much.

Everyone gets poured into and gospel-refreshed. Our kids get time in their classes that is like a VBS, but even better (I loved the new trail adventures where they studied the word while out adventuring). And the grownups get the word taught twice a day (we were so encouraged!) with lots of time to worship God through music, too. 

Yummy meals and tasty snacks (ie milkshakes!), and coffee to boot. The kitchen staff is amazing and the Clubhouse is known for its delicious shakes and addicting fries. The coffee shop is fun to have as a treat option, although I love that they set up free coffee stations early each morning for the early-risers. 

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Enjoying creation, and getting away from daily life. Plus, fresh-picked blackberries for dayzzz. The mountain setting is so beautiful and rejuvenating to the tired soul. All along the creek are berry bushes, and we were there at just the right time to get to see (and enjoy) the berries at their ripeness, too. This year we also did a little hike at Big Falls down the road from camp which was super fun.

And of course, the CCA program (aka babysitting every night, and I mean that includes not dealing with bedtime). Each family is assigned a CCA (childcare assistant) who loves on the kids each evening during the teaching/worship/free time, and what a blessing it is to have all that time together as a couple! Hands down, this program is one of the best parts of Forest Home family camp, and I look forward to sending my girls up to be CCAs some day, too. 

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Finally, I have to give a shout-out to my handsome husband and our friend who won the Blob contest with an epic, story-telling, creative prop-using Blob stunt. #DaveyPoppinsForEva

If you're curious about Family Camp or have any questions, I'd be happy to answer. We just love it so much!

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Encyclopedia of Me: B is for...

Books

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I've always been an avid reader. One summer, as a child, I checked out about 15 chapter books to read on our 3-week long vacation up to Northern California, and then proceeded to read them all on the 15-hour drive up there. My problem these days is having a hard time choosing-- I'm always reading more than one book, if not about five.

But I not only love reading, I love books. Just ask my husband... we have three bookshelves in our house and many more boxes of books in the garage. I'm not sure I could ever switch to a Kindle, despite its convenience and greenness, because I just love holding a book, turning its pages, underlining when appropriate and even using bookmarks (I know, I'm a little weird). I still try to be somewhat frugal and conscious though... as much as I love to linger at Barnes & Noble, I try to stick to the library, PaperBack Swap, borrowing from friends, or to the books I receive to review from LitFuse to feed my book-needs these days.

Baseball

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I always like to tell people,

"I married into a love for baseball."

My parents and brother give me crap because as a child I was your average luke-warm-fan-of-the-home-team {Padres} but when I married, I married into a love of the game, and a love of the Dodgers.

I always liked baseball. My brother and I even once scored tickets from a family friend to a very exciting playoffs game. But I never really knew or understood the game fully.

When David and I got married we lived on a half-a-shoestring budget. We had no cable but our college town happened to have a station on the Dodgers Radio Network, so we listened to just about ever Dodgers game on the radio (so old-school, huh?).

It was then that I "met" Vin Scully and began to learn all the ins and outs of the game, got to "know" the players and some of the Dodgers lore and history, and basically fell in love with America's pastime.

Here are a few things I love about baseball...

-it's (essentially) a summer sport, so it invokes feelings of long, warm days -it's a mellow, relaxing game, most of the time. -other times it is so exciting that you worry your husband will fall off the top deck at Dodger Stadium because he's jumping and cheering so enthusiastically. -it's a family thing for us (we have quite the extended family of baseball fans). -it has a rich American history. -it's become a global game, especially in countries where they speak my other language. -the culture, players and fans are generally pretty down-to-earth; the vast majority of pros are not known for their extravagant lifestyles (superstars aside) -it spans all ages and generations. -it's a family-friendly sport.

I'd consider myself a pretty sport person, tolerant of almost every sport, but here are a few factoids on why I would definitely categorize myself, 29-year old crafty, stay-at-home mom of a girly, as a bonafide Baseball Fan...

-I've been to 20 out of 30 Major League Baseball parks. -I've been to several Spring Training games, in both FL and AZ. -I've been on a 3-week long road trip to a dozen games across the Midwest and East Coast. -I allow a collection of bobbleheads in my master bedroom. -I attempt to run a baseball blog with my hubby (we're not very consistent with it yet though). -I play fantasy baseball. With my mom. (we totally tanked last year. my father-in-law whipped us all. we vow to pay a little more attention to our team this year). :) -my daughter (who went to her first game at 3 weeks old)'s favorite color is Dodger Blue. And she loves Manny. -I even find myself watching baseball when David's not home!

Any more book lovers or baseball fans out there? Lemme hear you represent your team (or favorite books)!