If you ask young people what is the best time of year, I bet a large sum would say Summer. As a child, there is nothing better than having two months off from school. Two months to do whatever you wanted without any stress! Growing up, the memories that have stuck in my head come from fun times during the summer.
Here is my top 5 list of my favorite summer time memories:
#5 Making Snow Cones-
I think I even had a Snoppy Snow Cone machine! I loved crushing up ice and putting a gallon of colored flavored syrup of my choice on top the neatly crushed ice! :) I would make everyone in my family one free of charge. Nothing says summer better than a home made snow cone.
I absolutely love water (even though I can not swim at all)! When I was younger, I had one of the famous blow up pools. I would spend hours outside in the pool. My hands and fingers would look like I had aged 70 years by the time I was done swimming for the day, but I didn't care! Then, as a teenager, I loved going to my best friend, Shayne's neighborhood pool. At that age, staying in the water wasn't as much fun as laying out in the hot sun and getting the famous yearly tan or more commonly known as a sunburn (because I was too cool to put on sun screen). Three hours at the pool would lead to a week of burning and sticking to sheets because of too much aloe! But, it was engraved in my mind as some of the best times of my life! It might have been the company of my best friend that made it worth remembering!! :)
#3 Fourth of July-
The Forth of July has always been a family event. The famous cook-out followed by fireworks on the river. My grandparents almost always came to visit! We would leave four hours before the fireworks because we wanted to find the best spot. Then, we would talk and play games while we waited for the 15 minutes of the fabulous display of beautiful fireworks in the sky. Then, when I got older, I decided to hang out with my friends because it wasn't cool to hang out with my parents. Well, that only lasted a year or two because, to me, there was nothing better than spending time with the family. We still get together and cook out! I think this year, I may even take my grandmother to watch fireworks and reminisce about the good ole days.
#2 Family Vacations -
Yet again, my grandparents would hook up with us and we would travel to various places over the years. We went to Branson, MO, San Diego, CA, New Orleans, LA, Orlando, FL, Port Huron, MI, and even Canada. We would always take the long scenic car rides. I have to say my brother and I always got along in the car. He would play games with me and always gave me the bigger half of the back seat. ;) We got to see so many different things together as a family. Yes, by the end of the week we would be tired and a little cranky, but I so wish we still had our family vacations. About three years ago, several family members went on a cruise to Hawaii. My grandfather was ill and we knew that he would not be with us long, so we planned one big family vacation. We spent a week in CA (with my dad's parents), then a week on the cruise. I have a picture of me with all four grandparents. It is a summer memory that is very precious. The best part of the many vacations was not the places we went (although they were all fun), but the time we spent as a family.
#1 Summer Camp-
I believe I started my many camp experiences when I was 8 years old. The best part of summer camp is that I met my very best friends at camp. The first camp I went to by myself was Camp Aldersgate. It was a camp for kids with disabilities. My second year there, I met my best friend Shayne. We met over cabbage patch dolls. We learned that we also had mutual best friend - Kristen. From then on, we all went for years together and always ended up in the same cabin! The camp was fun, but the best part for me was that I got to have a week long slumber party with amazing friends (with no parents around)! The whole week would be preparation for the famous Thursday night dances. We would scope out all the guys to see who we would ask to the dance. We would spend hours primping for an hour of dancing. My other favorite memory from camp was the canoeing and the famous camp out night where we got eaten up by so many bugs. I think the best part of camp was being accepted for who I was as a person. The counselors loved us because we were the "most awesome" campers! We were known as the "three amigos" who loved to laugh and have the best time together.....and that we did!
I also went to Camp Mitchell. It was my annual church camp. I started going to camp because (imagine this) my family worked camp. My mother and grandmother ran a camp for adults with special needs. Camp Aldersgate served kids until they were 16. There are families that took care of special needs children year round and need a week break. Each week had a special theme and it was a joy to watch campers enjoy their camp experience. When I was older, I began to attend the regular church camp for my age group. It was scary, but my big brother was a counselor and looked after me. He helped other campers get to know me. Camp Mitchell was such a part of my life that when I was in college, and was old enough, I spent two whole summers there as a camp counselor mentoring youth ages 8-18. It was during this time that I met my life-time friend David. He has always been a great example of God's unconditional love and favor. David was always there to make me laugh. He had a great way to calm primary campers in a storm. If you ever meet him, you should ask him of his great idea. :) He was probably the biggest blessing that came out of those years. I have grown and become who I am today because of what I have learned from his friendship. He was there to serve others. We would teach campers to swim chigger field, play capture the flag, make thousands of God's Eyes and Friendship bracelets, tie dye, dance, and best of all love unconditionally. The last few years, things changed, but my friend David didn't. For that reason, Camp Mitchell will always be a special place in my heart!
The last camp I remember attending was a camp in Texas. My best friend Shayne found out about it. It was also a camp for youth with disabilities, but it was special. The activities provided were "normal" activities. We went horseback riding, completed a ropes course, went on a zip-line, played basketball, and Shayne even "climbed" a tree house. It was an amazing week! Again, the memories are better because I experienced them with my best friend! Oh yeah, I almost forgot, this was the summer I experienced my first plane ride. I was really scared, but thank God for Shayne who made me forget the fear and laugh. Laughing is what I think Shayne and I did best at camp. No one else would be laughing, but we sure had a great time! The staff was amazing and truly had a gift of serving others and providing a life-time of memories. In fact, Shayne and I still have contact with the head Ranger who let us ride horses for a longer time because we loved it so much!
The best part of all my summer time fun was that I experienced things with family and friends! May the Summer of 2011 be a time full of memories with your family and friends!