“It’s a labor of love,” Amelia Schmidt, director of the Modesto North Stake Girls Camp, put it simply.
Like most summer activities for 2020, the girls camp that Schmidt and others from her church had been organizing since October was at risk for cancellation. When Schmidt heard that the campground they had traditionally hosted it at was not accepting any reservations, she brainstormed for next steps.
“I truthfully didn’t want just one more thing to be taken from these kids,” Schmidt shared. “I wasn’t willing to say ‘it’s over, were not doing it.’” She continued on to explain that so many girls loved returning and though the camp is meant for young women in the Modesto, Oakdale, and Riverbank areas, they had had friends join from out of state as far as Wyoming, Idaho, and Pennsylvania.
In fact, one year Schmidt’s niece flew out from Louisiana to join camp. The next year, when she realized her niece would not be able to join again, Schmidt decided to keep the spirit alive by sending her niece “camp in a box.”
“I just did everything we did at camp and sent it to her in a box,” Schmidt relayed. “So she had a Monday folder and a Tuesday folder with all the things we were doing at camp. The idea was that she could just take that camp-in-a-box and do it with a friend where she was.”
Thus, when March hit and events had to start cancelling and postponing, Schmidt realized she was more prepared than she thought. The solution to a cancelled physical camp was to move all the resources online and send out boxes to those already signed up with all of their camp gear. Moreover, any girl is welcome to join this camp, now that everything has been transferred to online format, and there is no cost to join in on the fun.
“It’s a totally new format, we’ve never done this before,” Schmidt explained, “they’re supposed to go to the camp website each day, see videos, see what happened yesterday ... I have activities for each day so every day is something new and a surprise.”
The girls camp, which has been part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since 1912, aims to invigorate and empower those who join. Schmidt explained that it’s often a time where girls “can completely unplug from this chaos and first learn who they are themselves.” Though it won’t take place in a campground in the mountains this year, but rather in each of their own homes, it does offer more freedom and flexibility with its activities, and Schmidt is working hard to still make sure that there is a community aspect, despite not physically being together.
In fact, one activity that the team has created is that the girls will be asked to reach out to three people in their lives to minister to. “Just say ‘Hi, I’m here. How are you? What’s happening?’” Schmidt shared. Girls are also encouraged to do activities and send in photos and videos that will then be shared with other virtual campers so they can all see what their friends have been up to.
The theme for this year’s camp is “Ministering University,” inspired by Monsters University. During the camp session, girls will have the change to engage in activities set up by Schmidt and her team, watch videos from student leaders and fellow church members, try out creative projects, and, most importantly, learn how to set and achieve goals relating to their spiritual, social, intellectual, and physical lives.
The goal of the camp is to encourage young women ages 12 to 18 and show them, as Schmidt said, that “they have the capacity to do and be a lot of amazing things ... it’s hopefully giving them tools that they’ll be able to look back on when they’re faced with things that are scary or challenging.”
This girls camp runs through June 20 – you can join anytime online – and consists of girls going into seventh through twelfth grade. All resources are online at modestonorthstakeywgirlscamp.weebly.com. Further questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.