Monday, June 16, 2008


I'm not a big fan of long posts, but I'm about to do one anyway. If nothing else you can just scroll through the pictures.

Lessons and Notes from our Vacation

#1- The Drive: Consider your arrival a victory and call it a day.

We drove straight through to Dallas (12 hours). I over ruled Leatha's wishes by letting the kids get happy meals with pop. Leatha refuses to eat McD's...

The fun started after checking in to the hotel. We decided to scope out some eating possibilities and ended up spotting a Chuck E Cheese. We pull in…


“Overtired, I’d like to introduce you to Overstimulated.”

Have you been in that place? Holy cow… Las Vegas for kids.

It was wild being the only white people in the whole joint (and it was packed). It was awesome for so many of our stereotypes to be broken down as we saw many families together interacting in a positive way with their kids. We loved the diversity of this part of Dallas.

#2- The Camp: If you liked camp as a kid, you’d love this camp

We drive down this beautiful road, to Beck asking, "What are all these sticks doing in the ground." I guess he's not used to seeing all these tall pines in Iowa...

We pull in to find college counselors screaming, jumping, and making a human tunnel over our van. We thought it might be a long week when we saw this suburban (decked out with camp stickers).

They took us around and totally unloaded our van for us. The serving begins. They took care of everything. They wouldn’t let us pour our own water or tea, they got us anything we wanted, whenever we wanted it. They tirelessly played with, amused, prayed over and taught our kids. They often broke out into cheesy chants (“We love Jesus yes we do, we love Jesus how ‘bout you)

I’ll have to tell you about the time one of my youth pastors (no names but his first name begins with e and ends with d and you can find his blog on our favorite links on the upper right) broke up a similar chant in the airport…

#3- Fun things

Zip line, trail rides, boat rides, skiing, endless eating, a whole day without the kids, pool (with high platform, blob, diving board, mushroom, slide), tennis, basketball, Frisbee golf, relaxing chairs in shade, soccer goals, sandbox, entertainment during meals (skits the kids just love- here it was Mariachi night with Mr. Verde)

#4- The Counselors

This camp interviewed about 2,000 college students and accepted just over 900, so these guys only take the best. Over the course of the summer, the counselors learn how to love and serve, along with getting discipled by incredible mentors. Leatha commented at one point, "I'd be such a better mom if I would've worked at this camp." I hope to see more Iowa State students here in the future.

It was somewhat of a challenge spending so much time away from our kids on the vacation. The kids often cried going into their classes. Things were not going well with Beck until his counselor busted out her guitar. Then it was all smiles.

#5- The people

If you care about golf (I don’t- or didn’t until this week), we have been getting to know Bernard Langer’s (sp?) caddy. It’s fascinating talking to him about the golf life and the ins and outs of the golf tour. He talked about praying with Langer (who also brings his family to camp here) that a Christian would win the Masters on Easter Sunday. Zach Johnson, the Iowa boy, won that year. I won’t bore the non-golfers with more stories. I just can’t wait to watch golf now, not for the game, of course, but to see my new friend on TV (I hear the caddies are often seen on TV when they're standing by the golfer).

There are a ton of great people we’ve met here, including a professor who is working to help churches impact their cities by serving in the community. He had just met with Robert Lewis, whose book (The Church of Irresistible Influence) has had a huge impact on our church.

#6- The Facilities

Everything was so nice- the cabins, beds, rec equipment, dining area, lake, proximity of buildings, no bugs, camp setting and ethos.

#7 The inescapable reality: I’m not a vacation monk

I know some people are hard core about their vacations being an escape from technology, civilization (as much as possible), and all synthetic forms of entertainment (tv, movies, internet, etc.)

To me that's fasting.

But usually my goal on a vacation is not to fast. It’s to engage and enjoy all of God’s gifts- including redbox, WiFi, a free agenda to play with my kids, etc.

#8 You can't vacation from love, service, and spiritual leadership

Over the years I've learned that if I go into a vacation thinking, "Great, now I can just think about me" things are not going to go well. At least not as a married man. And especially not with kids. The more kids you have, the more devastating selfishness becomes.

The camp did a good job of forcing me into leading my family into the Scriptures.

It was so funny when they said on the opening morning, "Okay, it's 9:15, we're going to send you to family devotions and you'll be accompanied by one of our counselors. See you back in 30 minutes."

I was thinking, "Great. This counselor is in for the lamest devotions he's ever seen."

Family devos on days 1-3 were pretty typical:
Me, reading Bible verses they don't understand, talking over their heads, then closing in prayer: "Let's go around and pray."
Ava: "I don't want to pray."
Cameron: [Silent]
Beck: [Mumbles something]
Welcome to the Arant family devotions.

Thankfully, Leatha had previously memorized the Shema (from Deut. 6) with the kids, so we were able to save face. We started every day quoting that together.

But the last day was pretty amazing, I must say. Every blind squirrel finds a nut.

We were talking about the Matthew 7 passage, "By their fruit you will recognize them."
Me, going over to the tree next to us: "What kind of tree is this?"
Them: "Pine"
I asked, "What would you say to this tree if it said it was an orange tree?"
Them: "You're not an orange tree."
Me: "Do you see any oranges anywhere on or near the tree?"
Them: "No."
Me: "All we see are these pine cones. The fruit shows what kind of tree it is- no matter what kind of tree it thinks it is, the fruit doesn't lie."

Me: "What does this say about our faith if we claim to know Jesus but don't have any fruit?"
Them: "We probably don't know Jesus."


Steph said...

So cool...and I have a couple of questions for you!
1 - does the camp have a website that we can look at?
2 - what would you suggest for age of kids? Since our oldest is not yet 3, I'm thinking maybe wait a couple of years?? Or do you think they might get something out of it at that early age?

Hope you are enjoying time back at home...
Steph (Loveland)

The Arants said...

1 -

We stayed at the Bluffs.

2 - I definitely think your kids would enjoy it as they get older. It's kind of up to you on the age. Beck was in the 3 year old room with about 4 other 3 year old boys. He usually cried when we dropped him off but was always fine when we returned. I can't say enough good things about the counselors. They did have a schedule even for that age. For example in the morning we'd drop him off after breakfast and they would have songs, dance, play outside, Bible story, craft, and games. Then we picked him up for lunch. We could take him for the afternoon or he could have rest time in his classroom. Two mornings out of the week they went swimming. One morning they went on a pony ride.

If you happen to have a brave 3 year old it's possible for them to do the zip line and jump off the diving board (provided you're there to catch them). There was another family there that had 2 twin boys that were 3 years old. One of them was exceptionally fearless. He did the zipline and the diving board.