It has become a yearly event around here. Each year our kids count down the months, days and hours until the next Family Conference in Big Sandy, TX. We all adore relaxing at the campground, reuniting with old friends, making new friends, participating in the fun activities for the kids and the learning from the awesome speakers during the conference. We cannot say enough good things about it, our kids love it, we love it and we plan on going back every year, Lord willing! Click here for Family Conference website
Since I got SO many emails and FB messages this year asking me a ton of questions about the specifics of camping at this conference I will try to post more details on what to expect and some practical advice and tips.
1. If at any way possible you can camp then do so!
The campground is so enjoyable and it is how you will meet the most people! Everyone we meet says that Big Sandy is SO much better than Nashville or Sacramento's conferences because of the campsite surrounding the conference center. Buy, rent or borrow a camper if you can or just tent camp. We know several families that tent camp every year and they are just plain awesome! There are also small (shed sized) cabins available or dorm rooms (hotel sized) available too. For more info on pricing or housing info click here.
There is not a strict dress-code and you will not be judged if you are a female wearing pants. You are camping so dress comfy but bring some nicer outfits for the 3 conference days. With that said, most women wear modest, dress-casual skirts and dresses, yet some wear floral print lace-necked dresses and some wear pants and t-shirts. Men wear pants or shorts to the knee and polos or t-shirts, some men main be in a dress shirt and slacks for conference days. There is a dress-code for some of the children's programs but those are clearly stated in the conference guide.
3. Pre-cooking and freezing is the way to go!
Although, daily meals are available for purchase at the conference center via their meal plan options. I always prepare and pre-cook all food so that while camping I am truly on vacation. I try to make crockpot meals for every dinner so that I am not inside the camper tied up with cooking but can be free to relax, play and fellowship with our kiddos and others on the campground. Just combine your ingredients in a bag, freeze it, then put it either defrosted or frozen in the crockpot the morning you need it.
Tip 1: Put smaller mason jars of condiments you need, like mayo so you aren't taking up fridge space with that wholesale gallon jug of mayo from Costco. Also, freeze your crockpot ingredients flat so you can stack them.
Tip 2: Write instructions on freezer bags and have a meal plan list to follow day to day.
Tip 3: Pre-make sandwiches, like a thousand PB&Js, and put them back in bread sleeve and freeze them. Let them defrost in fridge the night before that way they will be ready for lunch time. Also, we made carrot coconut flour muffins ahead of time and froze them so we had healthy muffins for a quick breakfast item on the go!
Tip 4: Bring LOTS of Smores ingredients as there will be a lot of campfire fun!
4. Prepare to have a TON of fun!!!
The conference itself is typically three very full days (Wed-Fri from 7am-10pm) with registration starting at 11am the Tuesday before and the first two speakers on Tuesday night from 6-9pm. The past three years we arrived at the campsite on Saturday morning after a 12-14 hour all-nighter drive. We can then relax, fish, canoe, bike, play, and fellowship all day Sat, Sun and Mon before the conference craze starts, then we usually leave anytime on Satuday following the conference. Next year we may arrive even earlier because the campground itself is just so much fun.
Tip 1: If at all possible bring the kid's bikes. The kids typically spend the entire week on their bike! The campground is huge with many exciting adventures and bikes (or golf carts) help get where you wanna go faster. Walkie-Talkies to stay in touch with kiddos are a good idea too...as most days we only see our big kids at meal time ;)
Tip 2: Don't try to see all the speakers, pick your favorites or ask someone who the speakers that are worth not missing are. All the speakers are great and you can go see them all but you will wear yourself out (we know, we did the first year!). We usually skip the 2pm-4pm sessions somedays just to catch a nap!
Tip 3: Prepare to make lots of friends! Print out business card sized family pictures to hand out to new friends. We also printed our email and phone number on ours this year and the kids handed out all 60 to their friends. They write their address on the back so their friend can write them as penpals the entire year until the next family conference!
Our Family Testimony Video
Once our week of fun had come to a close we left earliy on Saturday so we could make it back to our church by Sunday morning. Our church had asked us to give our family testimony as well as sharing more about our new daughter, Brittany. Here is the video of Brian sharing at our church on Sunday, April 26th, 2015:
Also, after three years of prayer we finally took the plunge and applied as members so we can begin Wisdom Books as our homeschool curriculum. We received our box of member goodies at the conference and have already begun this week with Wisdom Book 1. We LOVE it so far! It truly is a curriculum with a firm biblical foundation and yet such a deep and rich study of God's creation and order, through language arts, math, history, geography, science, law and medicine! We are excited to see what each new Wisdom Book will bring!