20 girls. 7 female leaders. 2 male leaders. 1 houseboat. Many lessons learned.

I get to work with the young women in my church congregation. This entails a midweek activity that literally involves everything under the sun and a Sunday school lesson with them a few times each month. Each time I interact with these incredible girls I learn something. I have learned all about Dungeons & Dragons, promposals, mountain biking, snap chat stories, and lots of other “trendy” things. At the beginning of August, we went on a week-long trip to Lake Powell and I somehow learned even more, and this time it wasn’t just pop culture I learned.


A Few Lessons Learned

1. Cheer your sisters on

It can be extremely hard being a teenage girl in this day and age and I think that leads to lots of comparing and jealous feelings. When there is jealousy, talking bad about others becomes so common that it even starts to feel normal. I didn’t see any of that on the ski boat.

I had the amazing privilege of sitting back on the swimmers deck with each girl all week long. Helping her into the bindings of wakeboard and water skis and teaching her the fundamentals of how to get up behind the boat. Very few of the girls had ever done anything behind a boat so this was a fish out of water experience for them, so to speak. 😉

Some got up the very first try. Some needed to take a few turns to get the hang of it. And some took the entire week before they could stand up on their feet. The cool part is, that with every single turn that every girl took, they had a whole “boat-full” of their sisters cheering and encouraging them on. Trust me, it is a whole lot easier to get up when you have a fan club.

There was no “yeah, she got up, but did you see what swim suit she’s wearing?” nor was there any “well, it’s not like it’s very hard to wakeboard/ski.” They were all genuinely excited for the girl in the water. I think sometimes, especially as women, it is hard for us to cheer on our “fellow sisters”, our colleagues, our peers, or even our friends sometimes. I don’t know if we believe that another’s success takes ours away or what, but life is so much better when we cheer one another on.

Linda wants to get her PhD – you got it, Linda! Lucy wants to be a stay-at-home mom – gooo Lucy! Samantha wants to be a CEO – work it, Samantha! Supporting one another is the way to go.

2. Our bodies are more tools than ornaments

We spent a week on the water so everyone was in their swimsuit all day every day. I heard much more critiques about their bodies from the adult leaders than I heard from the girls, including myself! In fact, I don’t think I heard even one negative comment from a single young woman about their body. Isn’t that interesting?

This is what I heard from the girls:

“Check out my flip!”

“Did you see her jump on the wakeboard?”

“Look what I can do!”

They were much more interested in what their bodies could do than they were with what they looked like. I think as we get older, we start to pay more attention to sizes and less attention to abilities. We search for faults rather than finding talents. We should focus on more than what we can do rather than how we look.

Instead of looking at the pounds on the scale, maybe check out the pounds you can lift at the gym. Instead of obsessing about the number of eyelashes you have, maybe count the number of things you can accomplish. Imagine the brain space that can be freed up if all the thoughts on what we look like are dropped. What could you do?

3. You must take care of yourself

The last day of our Lake Powell trip was consumed with about a million trips from the marina to the parking lot and the parking lot to the marina (which was at least half a mile each way). We had to get everything off the houseboat and ski boats packed into the trailer before we could head out. I had made quite a few trips without taking one minute to drink some water. Bad idea.

We finally get everything all packed up and began the 5.5 hour drive back to Provo. I was tired, did not feel super well, and had to drive a couple hundred miles home. We stopped at a gas station about 2 hours in to fill up with gas and grab some drinks. I chugged several water bottles as I drove. My back was pretty achey but I figured it was just because I had been sleeping on a couch all week. The ache did not go away. Actually, it got much, MUCH worse. So much worse that I pulled over just in time to throw up because I was in so much pain.

Long story short, I had a kidney stone on the drive home with three girls in my car. I was unable to continue driving. There had to be major car shuffling and a leader’s sweet husband to drive out to be able to get all the girls home. I was not able to drive these girls home because I was so dehydrated that a kidney stone decided to make its move.

I am not going to add “drink water” on a self care list, but when I was in the hospital all I could think of was how self care not only helps us, but helps us help those we love. Sometimes it is hard for us to take some time for ourselves but it is a NECESSITY!

Let me give you some ideas to get started – take a walk in nature, draw yourself a warm bath with a yummy candle in the room, journal, move your body, take a nap, phone a friend, meditate, say NO, get a massage, and the list goes on and on! Take some time to care for yourself and you will be better off in all areas of your life.

Wrap it up!

Support one another. Another’s success does not diminish your own. I have to say sharing positive things is so much easier than having to watch who and where you are sharing the negative ones. Let’s focus on what we can do, rather than what we look like while we are doing it. Try and do one thing each day for yourself. It does not have to be all grand and expensive, it could be a five-minute walk around the neighborhood before the rest of the house wakes up, or take a few minutes before you head to bed to write a few things down that you are grateful for, just do something.

Who knew you could learn so much with a bunch of teenage girls, a few boards, and a lot of sun?