We just spent a blissful week at Family Camp in Glorieta, NM. This was our second year to go, and it was just wonderful. I have to admit, when we first heard about family camp I thought it sounded like more trouble than it was worth. Traveling with kids (especially ones in diapers) can be a pain- and often we end up more exhausted on our way home than we were before we left. Thankfully, that is the complete opposite of what we've experienced!
Now that we've proven that our first visit was not just a lucky fluke, I think we can say that we are absolutely sold on family camp. It has been the easiest, most fun dip-your-toe-in-the-water of family vacations we've ever done- and we'll be hoping to go back as much as we can as kids grow.
Glorieta’s family camps are designed so well, you guys. My default mindset for vacation is that we need to do it ALL- make sure were pack in every little thing- so that we really get the most bang for our buck. As you can imagine with littles, this often leads to tantrums, over-tiredness and frustration. I hate having to “miss out” on things because someone needs a nap. But family camp is a total departure from that mindset, and that is one reason I love it.
So, in true Lissa fashion, here's my list of all the reasons we LOVE family camp:
1. The schedule is entirely flexible.
Each day, they have 3 scheduled activity times where you can sign up for what you’d like to do. All of the activities are at varying levels- but most all can be attended by younger (elementary age) kids and up. Some of our favorites were archery tag, drift trikes, mountain biking, and zip lines- but there are also plenty of low key activities like putt putt, R.C. cars, slingshots, as well as a huge game room that is open for play which includes a foam pit (Knox’s fave), board games, air hockey and a snack bar with ice cream and candy. At the beginning of the week you sign up for activities, and here is the beauty of the whole thing- you can sign up for every activity, and then decide last minute to not do any of it, and it is ok! I took at least 3 naps (yes, I TOOK NAPS!) during activity times when my kids were happily having adventures of their own.
Our first time at family camp was last year, when we had a 5 year old and a 1.5 year old. That is quite a gap in ability as far as activities are concerned- and it was never a problem! During the activities in which we wanted to take just Knox, we could take Liv to childcare and know she was being well taken care of. The childcare area is large and always well-staffed with counselors who know your kids’ names and are excited to play with them. They were also successful in getting Liv to nap which meant we weren’t dealing with a cranky toddler the rest of the day. They also have BOB strollers and hiking backpacks you can take and use for the week when you do want to take your little with you. Liv LOVED being in the hiking backpack and the stroller was handy at times when we were tired of carrying her and also had stuff to haul.
3. Your own personal counselor.
At camp, every family gets their own counselor who is there to check in on you, take kids to the bathroom, help with plates at mealtime, carry things and just generally love on you. This one thing is so incredible- and it makes the whole week such a relief! I cannot say enough about how amazing the staff at family camp is. They work their tails off and play every role throughout the day- and it’s all because they love Jesus and want to serve well. I am so glad my kids have the privilege of watching these college students model this type of service.
4. Food and lots of coffee.
We are fed WELL at family camp. In the morning, there is a made-to-order omelette bar on top of great cold and hot breakfast options. There is coffee pretty much all day in some form or fashion, and I think we spent most of our dollars on the delicious lattes from the coffee bar. There was not one meal that we didn’t like! Because the food is good and we had help from our counselor each meal it made mealtime so nice. They had also scheduled several dinners where the kids and adults ate separately so that we got to have some adult conversation.
5. Date Night!
Did I mention date night? It was so wonderful! There is plenty of family time to be spent all throughout the week, so it is extra special to have this scheduled in. We had 2 full hours of "prep time" before dinner during which we had time to shower/nap/get ready before dinner at 6:00. At 6:00, we got to have a delicious steak dinner in the prayer garden, which is lined with aspen trees. We all sat at 2 top tables and one of the counselors played the violin. All the while, our kiddos were being entertained and fed by the staff. It was wonderful!
6. Hotels and hall monitors.
The family camp at Glorieta gets to stay in the Hall of States, which is the hotel-style dorm. It is just like a hotel room- towels and linens are provided, everything is nice and clean- so there is really not “roughing it” as far as lodging goes. Another huge perk- from 8:00-11:00 pm. there are hall monitors (a.k.a. counselors) in the lobby who are monitoring the halls- which means once we got the kids to bed, we could go out and have a coffee, play games with friends or sit on the rocking chairs and have a mini-date. The hall monitors knew our room numbers, our kids, and our phone numbers should they wake up (which they never did).
7. small size = containment of wandering littles
Family camp exists in a fairly small space within the whole campus of Glorieta. Because most of the main activity happens around 1 main building, it creates a very safe space for kids to run around. By the end of the week, we trusted Knox to get where he wanted to go. There was no hovering. Pretty much everyone is a parent and so there is a lot of looking out for each other.
8. Time to parent with intention
Every morning, we got to worship with our kids. It was such a sweet time. I loved hearing my kids sing those same songs on the way home, and I love that those songs are teaching them about God! We also got to have Bible Study every morning- the littlest kids were taken to childcare and school-age kids were split into age groups where they had their own Bible Study time. Our speaker and did an incredible job not only casting the vision for what godly parenting should look like, but equipping us with some real-life "do-ables" that we could start immediately. It is also a huge blessing that both the worship leader and speaker this year were friends we know well and highly respect- so wonderful!
I don't know that we would have ever thought that intentionally about our family and how we parent had we not gone to family camp. Because of this week, we have a solid vision for what our family is about and how we can make sure that other people can see that as well. So thankful for that!
We had several families from our church go the same week we did, and that aspect is definitely one of the biggest long-term perks to this vacation for us. We were able to see our kids bond in ways they would have not been able to. Being able to share experiences (outside the church building) with these families is just invaluable. At family camp, we don't have any pressing appointments, no stresses of the day and so much time to sit and talk! I was so encouraged and blessed by the women who went this year (and last). I know that we would have still enjoyed Family Camp without the friends, but they definitely add to the sweetness.
10. It’s not too expensive!
There are not many vacations that compare in price. Family Camp currently has a program cap of $2860, which we could easily spend on a vacation as a family of four. If you sign up early, they also offer a discount as well, which helps!
Click here to check out more info on Family Camp:
All of the opinions in this article are my own and NOT sponsored by Glorieta or Camp Eagle. We just had so much fun I wanted to share!