Nestled under the shadow of Mt. Timpanogas is the BYU Alumni Aspen Grove Family Camp. Clearly, this is the first vacation experience where a mother must have been in charge of designing the family trip. All meals, entertainment and lodging were perfectly provided and packaged into the most awesome bonding experience for the Hall family clan.
We arrived Saturday afternoon and were thrilled to be together with everyone. Kathryn and Stu flew in from Charlotte, North Carolina and we all gawked at the transformation both he and Kathryn had made physically. If there was a biggest losers contest for pre-reunion get togethers, they would have won. The rest of us would have been booted off the show within the first week…and truthfully….you should have seen us eat! All-you-can-eat meals were provided but that didn’t stop us from eating chocolate covered strawberries, pounds of Harry and David Moose Munch, Nana Rozanne fudge, Hummus, Salsa, Chips, Candy….and how could I forget the 20 boxes of Girls Scout cookies compliments of Bridget’s Girl Scout troop.
The camp events began with an orientation meeting for parents and our first experience with our kids being wisked away by magic happy counselors who made each and every child feel important and loved. What was even better was that every cousin had another cousin in their group, except Seamus, but he IS a teenager and that would have been so uncool. The highlight of the orientation meeting, other than finding out when our where meals were, was the fact that they handed out awards to families who had tenured at Aspen Grove the longest. The winning family was a couple who were attending their 26th camp at Aspen Grove. They won a frisbee. Steven made the best comment of the night when he quipped, “If they have been here 26 times, why are they showing up at the orientation meeting? Must be some frisbee!”
Having experienced Aspen Grove as a child I quickly assumed the duties of Hall Family Event Coordinator. I raced over to the camp board that had all “elective” activities posted and filled the Hall family adult schedule up with random activities that Hall family members would never had signed up for had I not been there. These events included archery, rifle shooting, remote control race cars, ropes/repelling course, paintball, dance dance revolution, and a basketball tournament.
Quite the Maid Marions! (sp?) I think this turned on their Robin Hoods!
Steven took the top prize, I proudly hit the target once!
Brian has always said he was the top dog driver. He then proved it on the mini-race track. For the record, several Hall family members didn’t complete the course and yep, they still have drivers licenses. Nana couldn’t get her car to drive in a straight line, this was no surprise to anyone!
Paintball was probably the highlight elective activity of the week. Picture 8 Hall members/in-laws taking out that loving family aggression on each other in a hard fought game of steal the flag. Initially, no one truly wanted to hit another as to not wanting to hurt their family position (or inheritence), but after the first shots that landed were Stu’s as he pelted Roger repeatedly, he yelled out, “That felt good!” Then all mayhem broke out. The best target practice was Brian’s pelting of Steven repeatedly in the butt as he was retreating in the “free zone.” Brian said he just couldn’t help himself. Taylor was on Brian’s team and was sent out to get the flag while Brian was to give cover. The only problem was the cover given was to Taylors back! Many family members ended up with paint ball hair, paint ball clothing, and most importantly, paint ball welts. And how can we forget our infamous elective sports tour guide, whose background as a marine trainer proved much more superior to our own paintball/archery/rifle skills…oh….and how can I forget Dance Dance Revolution!
Dance Dance became not a show of whose the better dancer (which we all know the Liz, Anne, and Kathryn are), but was a show of who is technically savvy, i.e. Jill and Brianne. Rozanne, for all her attempts, just could not comprehend where to put her feet, even as Matt was on the ground putting his hand out to show her where to step. We love you Rosie!
The ropes proved to be challenging to some, a quick scamper (Brianne & Steven) to others. Grandpa tried, and nearly made it up the pole. The rest made it up the pole, the rock wall, and then across the ropes. Matt, being brave, let go of the ropes and dangled there on the lines-Crazy! The only part of the ropes course I didn’t like was the harness on my thighs accentuating their gigantic status, especially in the Hall clan! We did the ropes course on two separate days. Ethan came to watch one day and wanted to do some climbing of his own.
Our lodge accomadations were cozy to say the least. There was plenty of hot water, plenty of bathrooms, plenty of sleeping quarters but a lack of privacy. There was no hiding your morning hair, breath, or dirty socks! They were on display for everyone. But regardless we all felt well rested-er-maybe not Stu as he frequently ended up out on the sofa with Henry-who is the most adorable little Hall-Brown! We adults would mandate bedtime for all the cousins/kids despite their ear shot distance from us. We then would stay up till midnight chatting as we Hall family members do so well about all sorts of things…babies…tractors….hay…breast feeding…jobs…kids…movies…movie quotes…politics…food…
Speaking of food, the dining hall provided 3 gigantic meals daily complete with your choice of bottomless refills of both food and beverages. The kids experiemented with all of the flavors, then mixed some, then tried some more, at every meal. The food was great…reminiscent for some family members of their days in the dorms. Even if the meal didn’t appeal to our kids, there was always bread/butter, chicken nuggets, or some other baby food that would be an acceptable food substance. And the best part about it, no preparing, delivering, or cleaning up of each meal. We simply walked away, checking our watches for when the next meal bell would ring, like Pavlov’s dogs we would begin salivating. The funniest thing was that the food was relatively healthy and I happened to lose 3 pounds while gorging myself. Who would have thought?
The grandkids had a blast! Each day they would dissappear from 9am-Noon and Mary, Blaine and Ethan were together in their group. Lizzie, Sophie, Jon and Coleman were together as “Kittens” (who by the way could yell a little louder). The trio, Max, Ben and Andrew were together as “Cubs.” Sam & Bridget were “Panthers.” And Seamus was an infamous “Cougar.” The kids had a theme each day which would dictate their activities. They were cowboys, pirates, and detectives. They would play on play structures, climb a rock wall, do arts and crafts and even swim in the pool with the temperature outside hovering around the low 60s.
They even shaked their booty and sowed us how to YMCA!
Despite the endless noise, confusion and clutter, Grandpa found the vacation pleasant. We only found him out on the porch away from everyone once, and that was so he could curl up with a good book!
We even put on a skit at the family talent show. Steven’s authentic “moos,” Grandpa’s version of Pa and his cow, the kid’s great tree swishing, and we will never forget the Tony Award winning performance put on by Rozanne as “Ma.”
We adults also made time to explore our inner artistic groove. Brianne, Anne and myself dazzled everyone with our painting abilities, Liz, Stu, Bridget, Kathryn, and Rozanne made amazing pottery creations…and the key word is creations.
The camp also had an Aspen Follies day where we worked as a team to show our athletic abilities. We were all surprised with Brian’s competitive streak in these family affairs as we were expecting him to mock the activities, not attempt to help us with the giant ball competition!
Aspen grove thought of everything as even Steven, Anne, and Kathryn received birthday cakes for their birthdays they celebrated that week.
Despite all of the activities there was still plenty of time to relax at the lodge. If you weren’t too keen on the noise you would find family members engaged in a mediocre game of tennis! Ethan and Blaine loved running around on the court.
Anne and I attempted to to even do a little hike. Stu, Matt, and Kathryn had taken the Stewart Falls trail on various mornings. We thought we would do the same. This picture was taken 20 minutes to us discovering we were lost! Anne and I phoned for help and our superheros Stu and Matt arrived to rescue us from dissaster. Truly, the only one who felt the pain of our brief dissappearance was sweet little Roger who was quite hungry!
Overall we had a wonderful time together. Thanks Nana and Grandpa for the memories!