Destination: Aspen Grove Family Camp, Sundance Canyon Utah
Date: July 2013
Recently Trent’s family set aside one week of “togetherness” for a family reunion at Aspen Grove Family Camp. This camp was opened in 1963 and has been serving families needs to get together for 50 years.
Initially we were excited to do something that was out of the norm for our family reunions. In the past we have enjoyed the beaches from Southern California to the Gulf Shores of Texas and Alabama. This year however, we decided a reunion among the beautiful Utah mountains would be a nice change of pace.
There is something unique about Aspen Grove that is hard to describe to someone who has not been there before. The fun begins the first night of camp with skits and counselor led songs to get everyone in the “camp” mindset. The rules are read, the itinerary explained, and every question answered for those of us who had never experienced a family camp before. We were surprised to meet many families that have been going to Aspen Grove for years. Some don’t even come with extended families and just as a immediate family groups. This was a little surprising to me because the uniqueness of Aspen Grove is how it accommodates large groups.
The cabins are large and we were set in a dorm style accommodation with almost a whole floor to ourselves to enjoy . The lodge doesn’t just have the rooms, but a large family gathering area, and a kitchen for drinks and snacks. The kids are assigned groups based on their ages and specific times are set throughout the day when they meet as groups to do crafts, learn songs, take hikes, swim, play games, or do the ropes course that is on property. This was the adults favorite time of the day because we could send our kids off to have fun while we actually had a chance to visit with one another without disruption.
However, adult time wasn’t for taking naps or lounging around. Every day there was a different series of lectures by family therapists we could attend, pottery classes, paint ball, rifle shooting, softball games, water aerobics, or our own turn at the ropes course available to us. It made me wish there were more hours in the day so I could enjoy the adult time fun but also have time for a nap before picking the kids up from their groups.
My six kids were in five different age groups on site. From Bella to Colton each one enjoyed their groups and had fun with kids their own age. This was also a great cousin time too, since all but one of my kids had a cousin in their age group to buddy up with, and bond during our week long stay.
The cafeteria is one of two complaints I have about the entire experience. The food was not my favorite, though the kids enjoyed it all. I usually ended up just having a salad every day since food that is usually cooked for the masses is either over cooked, or under flavored. My only other complaint would be the sketchy internet service available at camp. In the main lodge it wasn’t bad, but the rest of the camp it was sporadic at best. At night it was the very worst since most people were trying to get online for one reason or another once the kids were put to bed. This was harder for people who needed to get some work done while on vacation.
As with any camp the fun comes from within. If you want to be a joiner and participate it can be a very fun experience. If you don’t have a good attitude then camp can be a boring or miserable experience. Since I’m a camper at heart I had a great time. It reminded me a little of the family camp experience at the Kellerman’s Camp in the movie Dirty Dancing minus the Dirty Dancing. Bonding as a family at camp is something everyone has to work on, and find the fun. At one point during a family softball game I couldn’t help but look around at all my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law and think when had we ever enjoyed a softball game as a family? Never! It was a blast. We even beat our opponents and made a few good plays that will be rehashed over the years becoming even greater plays and bigger win.
The camp hosts a talent show (which many of my nieces and nephews preformed in including Lexi and Leahs rendition of the “Cup Song”), a family fun game night, minute to win it games, water games, pool games, fishing, badminton, tennis tournaments (which my brother-in-law “T” won), archery, basketball tournaments (again five of our guys took home that colored paper award!), hiking activities, and many other things I know I am forgetting to mention. At the end of the week the camp is closed with performances from each age group, a slide show of the week long fun, awards, and finally a large family dance with every line dance imaginable. At the end of the family dance the campers are dismissed and the teens stay for a teen dance that lasts for another two hours. Of course what teen doesn’t love to end a week at camp with a dance?!?!
During the week at Aspen Grove most of our family chose to be joiners and have fun. We showed up for the activities, and participated to win as many firsts place awards as we could. Not so easy for a group with over twenty-five children! We wore our matching t-shirts, we made friends with campers from other states, we climbed Mount Timpanogos in twelve hours, and took home many awards as a group and individually. We stayed up way too late playing cards, and talking, and got up way too early to get started on the days activities. We made memories that will definitely last a lifetime. Because of these experiences I know that Aspen Grove Family Camp will stay in my kids hearts forever as one of their very favorite reunions. For us adults I think I could have used a little more down time, but still enjoyed every minute with my kiddos!
Safe and Happy Travels!