Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wedding Camp

Tom and I went to Wedding Camp over Labor Day weekend.  I asked several people if they'd ever heard of Wedding Camp. One woman said she'd camped overnight in the bride's yard before a wedding; another asked if it was where several couples get married in the same ceremony.  Mostly people shook their heads and, with blank looks on their faces, said they'd never heard of Wedding Camp.

When our friends Dave and Addie told us that their daughter Tara was going to get married, they said that the wedding would be held at the camp where Nathanael's parents are the managers.  Community is important to Tara and Nathanael, so much so that they have each spent some time living in an intentional community through the church they attend.  They've seen how frustrating it can be for the bride and groom to shake the hands of the wedding guests and have no opportunity to interact with them, and they didn't want to do that.  So they designated Labor Day weekend for their wedding and invited their family and friends to join them for the Wedding Camp!

The wedding was held at Ghormley Meadow Christian Camp  in Central Washington, 20 miles east of White Pass.  Driving from Enumclaw over Chinook Pass to the camp took our breath away as it changed from familiar Western Washington terrain to alpine forests and meadows to spectacular rock formations and pine trees.  Our return trip, which took us through more of the dry desolate Central Washington and along the Columbia River into Portland.  (Look for future posts on the sites and side trips along the way.)

Each person was assigned lodging -- some families stayed in cabins; others tented. Tom and I were split up and stayed in dorm rooms with bunks for ten, with the bathroom down the hall.   S'mores and music around the campfire was the Friday night kickoff.  Activities -- swimming, archery, zip line, bocci, exploring -- were all options for Saturday, and each person was asked to volunteer for wedding set-up, kitchen duties or clean-up.

Tommy's sock elephant Gramma made him long ago.  It had been
hiding for years in the bottom of my sleeping bag!
At 5:30 Saturday afternoon we gathered in the Amphitheater for the wedding, which included communion for the entire group as well as an Irish hand fasting ceremony, where a scarf was tied around the joined left hands of the bride and groom, symbolizing their union.

When the ceremony was over, we carried our chairs to the reception.  Dinner and dancing completed the evening.  After brunch and clean-up on Sunday morning, we were on our way.

I loved seeing the parents dancing with their children.
But this description does not do the weekend justice.  When we arrived, we knew very few people, just the bride's family, and they were all out for dinner.  But by the time we left on Sunday we had had some wonderful conversations with new friends, we had rolled up our sleeves to prepare breakfast with warm hearted, hard working folks, we'd laughed and played with people we'd never seen before.  Kaye and her husband Ken greeted us early on and it was Kaye who cajoled us into going to the zip line!  Her enthusiasm for zipping helped us climb right up the stairs to the platform.  I must say I can't post a photo of me zipping along as I never left the platform, but at least I now know how the equipment feels!  But Tom did great.

Kaye, Ken, and daughter Kirsten
I made waffles while Tom set up the dining room.
(Chef Brett is in the black shirt on the left.)

Hanging lanterns for the reception
Table decorations were made from these flowers
Waiting for the zip line
Addie, mother of the bride, enjoying the ride
Kawabunga, Kaye!
Tom zipping along
The food was terrific.  We helped Chef Brett unload his van when he arrived and had to find his way around a new kitchen.  Load after load, we carried in supplies to serve nearly 1000 meals over the weekend.  What an amazing job he did, and the way people pitched in to help was remarkable.

Dinner preparations for the reception

The children were beautiful, but what would you expect?  They are, after all, children.

We connected with old friends, tried a few new activities, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Wedding Camp -- I highly recommend it!

Tom, Dave (father of the bride) and Pat, friends since grade school days
Get down!


Addie Ward said...

Ginger,Thank you so much for beautifully capturing the essence of wedding camp. You are a talented writer and photographer. We are so glad you enjoyed your time at Camp and the people who attended.Thank you also for helping with food prep. We didn't realize how much effort you put into helping make it all happen. We are so blessed to have friend like you and Tom. Thanks again, Addie and Dave.PS - may we have copies of pictures, please?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. Tara Ward has been one of my closest friends for many years, and I was beyond sad not to share this day with her. My husband is navy and we are stationed in Japan. Due to some work issues and four small children I was unable to come even on my own. Thanks for helping me live it. God Bless. Tanya Stone

Ginger Kauffman said...

So glad you enjoyed the article. We've got the photos ready to send to you on Monday. Once you've downloaded them, why not send them on to Tanya?

The kokeshi dolls with the scroll were lovely. What a nice way for you to be part of Tara's wedding. I'm glad someone directed you to the blog so you could get a peek into the event.