I. Love. Camping.

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Written by Kristin Potter

Three little words that might completely alter your perception of me, but, contrary to popular belief, this girly girl loves to camp. Growing up, my family spent our summers camping with four other families, families we still consider our dearest friends to this day.  Sure, my family did the usual "Disneyland" type vacations too, but for my sisters and I, our most cherished childhood memories were spent living out of the old yellow tent my Dad bought at a garage sale for $20 with a patch on the door flap that said "Sorry Grandpa"... True Story.  

Yes, camping was a total blast for us kids... but my parents, however, would probably tell you a different tale. To the Ambrose Girls, camping was a total vacation... to my parents, it meant weeks of planning, days of packing, hours of shopping and much more, I'm sure. I don't remember hearing them complain. I do remember a lot of running around, cramming massive amounts of food into a cooler, frantically searching for the big tub we always washed out dishes in... and maybe even my baby sister. My dad would even take the middle bench seat out of our Plymouth Voyager Van (complete with the classy wood paneling on the side), buckle the three of us into the back seat and, literally, pack around us.  We would already have been sitting in the van for an hour before we actually hit the road. But, hey, a Dad's gotta do what a Dad's gotta do, right? 

And the work didn't stop once we were on the road! Once we arrived at our campsite, us girls would bolt out of the van (once we were freed from the mountains of coolers and rolled up sleeping bags that surrounded us), in search of our friends that had already arrived, leaving dear old Mom and Dad to set up what would be our home for the next week.  Lucky them! 

Yes, my parents put in massive amounts of time, energy and effort to make camping 

 happen for their girls.  But I don't ever remember them complaining or arguing about any of it.  What I DO remember is my Dad and his best friends, John Moore, Dennis Brown and John Bolanos, taking us on hikes around the lake... the same guys that I'd hear laughing and praying together from our kitchen on Tuesday Mornings during their men's bible study.  I remember my Mom's best friend, Jane Bolanos, singing worship songs with her old guitar around the camp fire while my God mother, Janet Moore, played with my hair.  These were their people, their tribe.  The people they not only did "church" with, but the families they did everyday life with.  These families helped to shape who I am today.  

Thinking back to last year's Family Camp,  I can't help but think of my childhood camping  adventures with the Bolanos', The Browns and The Moores while our Central families took over the KOA Campground.  I loved watching families share life together for a weekend,  bonding over the fact that their kids had s'mores from the previous night dried onto their faces. I loved seeing families at various stages of life joining forces for a healthy dose of friendly competition with the "Minute To Win It" Games.  And I loved watching 4 and 5 year old little buddies stand in front of Scott and his guitar and belt out "You love never fails and never gives up, it never runs out on me" for the whole campground to hear.  Ask Luca Ferraro for a replay, I'm sure he'd gladly serenade you.  

This is what Central Christian's Family Camp is all about... building community over campfires and cabins, sparking new friendships that can encourage you and nurturing old ones that can withstand the test of time and busy schedules.  Regardless of what kind of family you come with, kids/no kids, spouse/no spouse, empty-nesters or adventure seekers... Family Camp is for YOU! Why? Because you're family.  WE'RE family! The people you casually say "hi" to when you walk though the door on Sunday morning, the woman who sits alone in "your section" of the worship center, the staff and their families... we are YOUR people, we are YOUR tribe.  God calls us into a relationship with Him and with others... So let's live like it... on the campsite or in our neighborhoods- let's do life together!

Central's Family Camp Registration is OPEN and waiting for YOU to reserve your cabin or camp site! (click HERE to register...get excited). Don't think about all of the work that goes in to getting your family there.  Focus on the community and memories that are made once you've arrived.  That's what I remember the most... and I'm sure your family will too.