The first night we sat down and mixed in with the bigger family of Beyond Staff, I knew right away that my children were going to be challenged to use their table manners. I giggled, knowing they were going to see it wasn’t just me that valued things like: no double dips, keeping your licks to your own spoon and not the serving spoon, watching portions, keeping in your own relative space, and asking to pass things instead of reaching over peoples plates. All these things and more were valued and practiced each meal time. It was so nice to have our kids sit next to whom they wished and be surrounded by such wonderfully kind people who taught them how to enjoy a good time and have good manners.
I start with the table memories because Beyond was a place of challenge, stretching, great joy and rewards for our family, much like the meal time was for us during the month in the community that lives in the mountains. Whether our tummies were stretched and hungry from work projects or the ever present invitations for conversation which shook those of us who consider ourselves as introverts, the table ended up being a place of nourishment and connection. There were endless opportunities to show patience, kindness and self-control. Now, some of our favorite memories was eating around that long table.
(Hanging at the table with good new friends)
It is difficult to describe the beauty we saw and took part in. Understanding Shalom, complete wholeness and prosperity that existed in the beginning of time, is a little easier to imagine when you stand at the end of the dock and jump into a pure inlet of water with mountains towering all around you. All that while knowing there are seals peaceably and curiously swimming up to 20 ft away from you and also sensing the wonder of what swims underneath you in the depths below, or standing in the strong wind of a waterfall, the power of the water blowing wetness all over you as you hear the sounds of water meeting water. I can’t explain the joy I felt at different times of being a small part of such beauty.
The property is quaint and enormous all at the same time. Here is the “Barn”, the main building where most the action occurs. It is the one place that has electricity, which is water powered from the melting glacier above.
(Above: “The Barn”)
(Above left: This is the BIFF, or “Bathroom In Forest Floor.” These are sprinkled throughout the property and you get to know them well:) Middle: The “white house’, where are family stayed. Thankfully, not one mouse visited us since we made sure all eating happened outside. Above right: The one outdoor shower. It has a wood burning stove and with some prep time you can enjoy a nice warm shower.
(Jeff working on the dock, and one of Noah’s “older brothers” for the summer, Ethan, who showed great patience and love for our 12 year old.)
Everyone is expected to work hard and everyone does their part. It is just the way the camp works. It is an agreement. There is time for rest and play, but not during work projects hours. You work until you hear the bell ring. There is much to do and you do much of it as a team. Noah really worked his butt off. He enjoyed his freedom and found some identity away from us as parents during work hours. He was included and used. It was fun to watch his work ethic and social skills come alive.
(The Laundry Girls cleaning our clothes and base camp cleaning all the gear for trips)
Young Life people know how to have fun. The ministry attracts fun people… relational people. I love having our kids be around people who genuinely love others and are interested in how you were made. My heart lept many times at the conversations and the time Beyond people took to make my children feel like real people. They were just one of us.
Games were played… Games were made up…
We kayaked almost every day…
We found and played with starfish…
We swam to the island… We bathed in the inlet…
We hung out is “Hammock City”…
We had movie nights… We made popcorn… We did yoga on the dock… We did Tim Tam slams. So much fun!
I took the kids into the little white house, where we stayed usually once a day in the afternoon to read and sleep. All the fresh air, walking, hiking and hard work made us sleepy.
We also had “quiet time” each day. For us this meant we went back to the white house, circled up around the markers, pastels, and water colors to do our quiet time together in discussion form. We worked through our packet we brought up with us — “His Story, Your Story” — which walked us through the biblical story of God and allowed us connect our own personal stories with God’s grand narrative. It was really precious as a family to hear from each other, amidst the childish drama of remaining quiet and considerate of others and waiting our turns. Sometimes this meant pulling out the precious Starbursts that were sent to us and using these as bribes… I mean incentive:)
We definitely learned about each other and ourselves as we drew pictures, journaled, and listened to each other’s hearts and thoughts about the big story we are in, as well as our own stories and experiences.
As Jeff and I led devotions and met with staff/guides that wanted to hang out, we saw once again how different our giftings are, yet how they can be meshed and used together. It was weird to be using the same packet of lessons and have our delivery of the information be so different. For me to be so artsy and him so brainy. I had the creativity to offer and he had academia. Bottom line, we all need both. We settled on the fact that we will continue to uphold both styles and seek to not wish to be different than how we have been molded, while keeping it simple, relatable, and connected to the heart…
It was amazing to work with, eat with, live with, worship with, play with, hang out with, share with, cry with, laugh with, those that shared the same goal. The goal: to get the camp ready for campers… campers who would come into Beyond territory, which is totally different than your normal reality, and through the wilderness get to encounter Jesus.
It was treacherous some hours as a parent. There were moments we lost sight of why? Why are we here pooping in a BIFF, with all the flies & mosquitoes? Why are we putting ourselves through this, living within a 1/2 mile radius- with the same people week after week?…and pushing our family to its limits at times? But then the campers would come. You would see them leave up the trail or on the boat to their destination, all packed up for the week in the mountains. It was very easy to look to the right of you, and to the left, and be so proud of the people you just worked with.
It was like we would say to each other each time:
“We did it!”
“We did it together!”
It’s a wonderful feeling to work as a team. What a great way to mature, lean about yourself, others and grow in friendships.
Beyond, Malibu. A fine oiled and smoothly running machine of a ministry. A machine that gives people opportunities to experience the wilderness and grow in their understanding of living together, needing each other, and knowing what you have to offer really does matter. To be in the midst of rare creation and have countless opportunities and a burning desire to dialogue with the Creator. I am so glad we went this summer and now have the experiences and memories to last a lifetime.