Forest Home: Lessons I Learned About My Sons Over Zip Lines, Hikes, & Campfires!

Thank you to Forest Home for hosting me and my boys for this amazing weekend in the mountains of Southern California! All the opinions are my own!

Last year, I was researching Christian camps that my family would enjoy and I schemed about heading somewhere mountainous and beautiful here in 2016. This past weekend, all of that came to happy fruition with a trip to Forest Falls, CA—just a couple hours away from Los Angeles—to spend the weekend at Forest Home Christian Camps!

On Friday through Sunday, Forest Home hosted a Mother & Son Retreat and my two oldest boys, Oliver and Quinn, joined me for a truly spectacular weekend away to enjoy one another, breathe mountain air, and grow spiritually.

Honestly, I needed refreshment! After a busy start to 2016 launching my book Triggers, moving from hotel to hotel to rental home as a result of a natural disaster that caused us to evacuate our home, and a sickly first trimester of pregnancy, I was in dire need of some R&R! My co-author, and dear friend, Wendy Speake, and her three sons came along too—icing on the cake! We even got to share separate sides to a cozy cabin!

Enjoying Morning Coffee With Wendy Speake!

Enjoying Morning Coffee With Wendy Speake!

Each day we took meals together as a group—and our sons learned to scrape and sort and stack all the plates at the table! Then we spent time in sessions where the kids headed off with wildly fun and vivacious camp counselors and the moms enjoyed worship and powerful messages from our speaker, Beth Guckenberger. Meanwhile, the kids had their own time as a group to learn from the Bible.

Beth Guckenberger from back2Back Ministries: Global Orphan Care

Beth Guckenberger from back2Back Ministries: Global Orphan Care

I could write several more blog posts about the spiritual encouragement I received from Beth, but suffice it to say that I’m carrying some newfound hope in the power of prayer and I’m much more in tune with the voice of my Shepherd! She captivated us with her passion and love for God—totally infectious! Just the refreshment I was hoping for!

The afternoons and evenings involved plenty of free time to enjoy all the outdoor and indoor activities the camp has to offer—ropes course, zip lines, giant swings, mini-golf, craft rooms, and more!

Yes, it was a truly fun and meaningful experience. One I hope to repeat again soon. But the best part for me was learning more about my boys and getting a glimpse into the window of their souls.

Here’s what I learned about my sons this weekend:

  • When I asked them the best part of the weekend, they said, “spending time with you, Mom.” Even with all the daring and fun “stuff” they did, I’m reminded that the thing they value most is me. Tears. They don't need "more" of the things we think we want to give them. They just want our hearts to be knitted to theirs. Can I get an amen?!
  • My sons performed a comedy routine in a variety show—I saw a new side to them and enjoyed the confident boys that stood happily in front of a large crowd! No fear! Makes me even more excited to see what God has in store for their lives!
  • Each of them revealed a weakness that I realized I needed to be praying through on their behalf via intercession. I had seen glimpses of these areas in their lives at home, but at the retreat, it became glaringly obvious to me that we had some spiritual battles to fight back on the home front. That goes for me too.
  • I guess I knew this one already, but it remains true. If there is a creek to get drenched in, a muddy pit to get doused in, a bug to catch, a boulder to climb, a fire to poke, or a cliff to jump from, rest assured, my “all-boy” boys will make the most of it!

My only regret is that I didn’t do something like this sooner with my boys. (Some of the moms there this weekend have been attending this Mother & Son Retreat at Forest Home for 17 years!) I’m checking out their family camp and if you happen to have a daughter, the Father & Daughter retreat is at the end of this month! Click here for more information about the many different kinds of retreats they have to offer!

Retreats are special and wonderful, but let's face it. We don't have to clear our schedules to be a bit more aware of the unique personalities and strengths of our kids. And we certainly can take the time to pray for discernment to see areas where they need to grow spiritually no matter if we are on a mountain top or hanging out in the backyard. All we really need are eyes to see and a desire to connect in new and meaningful ways with our children.

Before you go, watch this video of Oliver and Quinn on the GIANT SWING! The audience reaction is hysterical!!! 

YOUR TURN! What things have you recently been learning about your sons or daughters? Even if you don’t attend a retreat, what do you do to be intentional to make some time to truly bond and connect with them on a smaller scale—I’d love to hear your ideas or traditions!

This Is Going To Be Awesome! My Upcoming Mother--Son Trip To Forest Home!

Thank you, in advance, to Forest Home for hosting me and my boys for Mother--Son Weekend of camp! All opinions and text are my own.

The other day I took my son, Quinn, on a special “Mommy Date” to the location of his choice. Subway sandwiches, of course.  There we sat, just he and I, enjoying ham and cheese and unhurried quality time. He was in a state of bliss! Never stopped smiling, seriously. So of course, neither did I!

As the middle child, he often gets sidestepped for this or that—and he will always be the one wearing the most hand-me-downs or called on to be flexible. So when Forest Home asked if I would like to attend a Mommy-Son Weekend at their Christian campgrounds here in Southern California, I knew that Quinn was going to be especially delighted! He is my most outdoorsy kid! 

I asked Quinn if he would mind if his big brother Oliver came too—I really wanted Quinn to have some alone time with me if he really wanted to—but Quinn has a big heart and figured, the more the merrier! 

So, the three of us are heading to Forest Home Christian Camps the weekend of April 1-3rd!

But here’s the best part—there are still spots open for moms and their sons on this trip and we would LOVE to see YOU there too!

Want to join us?! Forest Home is all-inclusive!  

For an affordable rate, the cost includes accommodations (cozy cabins-yay), meals, camp activities (pool, lake, hiking, mini golf, Canyon Park’s zip line, giant swing, ropes course, etc.), and all kinds of fabulous Jesus-focused kids’ programs led by fun-loving counselors!

Please say you’ll come with us! You can register by clicking HERE and the link will take you to the page for more info!

Growing up, I spent every summer going to camp and those days are honestly some of the best memories of my life. I drew closer to the Lord there, made life-long friendships, and had all kids of good-natured F.U.N! I’m truly thrilled to give my boys the same experiences! I’m not so sure about fitting in a one-piece bathing suit at this stage of pregnancy, and I’ll probably watch from the ground while they do the ropes course, but you can bet that I’ll be engaging in plenty of nature hikes and adventures while we are there! Can’t wait!!

Honestly, I’m praying for the times where our hearts will be filled up by the messages from wonderful Christian speakers and worship music and this time in “God’s Country” will also be a very meaningful time spiritually for my sons. I want them to encounter Jesus and I’m praying that this will be a time to transform their hearts even more toward Christ-likeness.

The trip is still a little ways out, but I’m ready to go now!

Here’s the registration link one more time if you are interested in being as spontaneous as we are and heading to the beautiful mountains and grounds of Forest Home! And check out all their other amazing weekends and family camps too!

SHARE: Did you go to camp growing up? Does your family or your child attend camp for any of your vacations? What do you LOVE about this outdoor experience?