"It's the most wonderful time of the year," was the name of this year's December Quilt Camp and a pretty accurate description of the weekend. Every Christmas since I can remember, the holiday season really began with a group of mother-daughter-aunt-grandma-cousin-friend quilters at Tecumseh. My mom runs Quilt Camp seven times of the year but this one is extra special.
This year I brought Alli Sams and Julia Dewolf, two freshmen Young Life girls. I was so excited to have the opportunity to share all of this with them and knew that they would love it. Friday night we started by picking out all of the batik fabrics that were our favorites. Then we started cutting them and sewing the blocks together.
This December Quilt Camp is the only one where all the "little" girls come. Ranging from six-years-old to Juniors in High School, this group of 22 girls makes up The Hot Chocolate Club.
We met Friday night for the first time to learn names, play the amazingly-awkward spoon game, make snowflake ornaments and design Christmas button cards.
This year we had so many really little girls-- Sophie, Heather, Bunny, Milly, Ashlan, Shay, Bryn, Katie and Mia are all just tiny things and full of so much energy.
Because quilters come back year after year, I've known many of these girls for a very long time. They feel like my Christmas family that gets together once a year to play here at Quilt Camp. We watch each other grow up, laugh together and share so many memories. Each year we add new friends to the group who fit in automatically. Allison, Julia and I all fell in love with Milly right away. Maybe it's because she, "loves to hang out with teenagers," or maybe it's because she is just down right hilarious.
We team-quilted the last few hours of the night. Julia ironed, Alli Sams cut, Bethie sewed and I put the pieces together to make the blocks. When you quilt as a team it's a much faster process. By the end of the night we had made 21 blocks of the needed 63.
Saturday was SO fun not only because I was at Quilt Camp but because friends were stopping in to visit all day long. Both Day Camp and Resident counselors have to come to camp to interview during the year and it just so happened that a ton of my friends were interviewing today. First Taylor Fischl popped in after her interview. She was nervous and relieved at the same time to be done with her interview. She is one of the craftiest and most creative people I know and I knew she would think Quilt Camp was so cool.
Next Mags and Moll arrived for their interviews. Molly came to this Quilt Camp with me a few years ago so she was back in familiar territory and recognized many of the Hot Chocolate Club girls.
Mags and Molls hung out with us while we quilted and I was so happy to get to spend time with them. I hate that we're usually all so far away from each other. Today we got to just laugh and be silly in person for awhile.
The Hot Chocolate Club went on our annual adventure over to Lake Village to find our pizza picnic. Lucky for the girls, they had Julia and Allison, Mags and Molls and Grace and I to play with. We held hands and gave piggy back rides and chased one another around. Molls set up a perfect photo op outside and we all had leaves stuck in our hair for a little while.
The girls filled their plates up with pizza and Christmas cookies. Get a whole room of little girls together with no adults around and you can bet it's going to get loud. Heather acted like a cat, Milly neighed, Bunny made Bunny noises, Mia burped and some of the girls just screamed.
I shrieked and ran outside when Grace and Chachi, two CILTs from last summer, arrived from Chicago. I talk to both of these girls a lot and we've missed being real life friends. We couldn't believe it when we discovered we'd all be at camp today. Then our girl Emma Flynn, a 2012 CILT, walked in the door too. SO MUCH LOVE. Milly wanted to sneak into our pic and get some of that love too.
I love being friends with Allison and Julia for so many different reasons. They jumped right in this weekend and got to know the girls. It was fun for them to get to be out of Fishers for a couple days and to get to see me with my camp friends that they hear stories about all the time. I loved playing with little Katie and Sophie again, two girls who have parents that were counselors themselves, and who are growing up into awesome people.
Grace and Chachi were both so nervous for their interview that they could hardly stand it, but relieved to be back at camp again. Coming to Tecumseh feels like coming home for so many people. It really is our favorite place in the world. We've got memories everywhere and even feel nostalgic for stars at night or the picnic tables on back porches and the whitetail meeting room where I've been for every CILT reunion.
And if camp is our home, then these people are our family. We've got this culture where you're immediately accepted if you're a camp person. It's just a given that you're bound to become friends.
This Hot Chocolate Club is a family too. Girls that are related, friends that come together, and new ones that we're just getting to know. In Quilt Camp and in summer camp, everyone is included.
Back at the TLC we had a little bit of time to keep quilting before the Amazing Race. Katie was so excited to proudly show the quilt she finished. It looks awesome! Grace came back up after her interview to play with us while Chachi finished.
The Hot Chocolate Club split up into two teams for the Amazing Race, our most anticipated event. We had the Sewing Machines...
and the Polka-Dot Ninja Bows.
Both teams raced around the building to find clues, complete challenges and work together. It's so fun to see everyone working together.
The teams finished back upstairs in the dining room and everyone had a great time. It was back to sewing and working on projects for the rest of the afternoon.
There are three different sessions of CILTs during the summer and they don't all meet one another until the Winter reunion. Some of them still know of one another and form friends crushes (where you really want to be friends with someone) because of Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter and pictures from camp. Grace and Sophie have had this mutual feeling that the other person is awesome for months and they squealed when they saw each other today. The girls actually ran to hug one another. It was precious.
Sophie lives nearby and works weekends at camp. She stopped by to visit after finishing her riflery training this afternoon and was so pumped to find Grace here too.
Sophie was also with her friend Andrea who will be a CILT this coming summer. I was glad we got to meet this afternoon. So thankful for all of these girls and their hearts.
Then the quilting team was back in action downstairs, cranking out the blocks and coming up with dynamite color combinations. Before we knew it we had all of the blocks complete and we laid out the whole thing upstairs to get just the perfect arrangement.
Meanwhile, Shay and some of the girls turned their headbands into Super Hero masks and Bryn finished her quilt! Bethie and I worked together to sew all of our rows together and then finished piecing the whole top.
Once the top of the quilt was finished we got to pick out fabric for the backing from Nancy J's store upstairs. Julia and Allison have been thrown into the quilting world and were so amazed by all the different fabrics and quilt patterns. I think they might be hooked. I would love to see both of them come back next year with their moms and sisters.
After dinner my friends Mel and Jamie Z showed up to visit. Mel lives here at camp with her husband and Mike and we were counselors together in 2011. Jamie lives in West Lafayette and we were CILT counselors together for the past two summers.
Jamie and I worked on planning a couple different things for the upcoming reunion. It's a lot easier to brainstorm in person than it is over email. Being together and reminiscing over the summer made me even more excited to see everyone.
Sunday morning I took our quilt to Marilyn, our quilter. She puts together the "sandwich" of the quilt. The top is the part that we made this weekend, batting (a huge sheet of cotton) goes in the middle, and one piece of fabric goes on the back. Marilyn quilts it all together using her special machine.
I'll pick it back up from her in a couple weeks and then Bethie and I will sew the binding on the edge. I love my mom and love getting to spend this weekend with her. It's cool to watch her interact with all of these women and she how she really cares for them and builds friendships here.
Because we had finished our big project, Allison, Julia and I got to work on friendship bracelets today. They're both learning new patterns and making bracelets for each other. They're going to be FBC Queens too.
The Hot Chocolate Club met one last time and Allison and Julia taught them how to play Scattegories and Black Magic. They're both so good at working with all of these kids.
After lunch we packed up all of our stuff and helped mom to clean up all of the decorations. Sophie came back to camp with Kathryn and I was so excited to see them both. They're two of my favorite people. They're rock stars and helped us to pack and carry all of the stuff. I'm thankful that I've been able to see this pair so many different times this semester. They've become such good friends of mine and we're crossing our fingers that we'll be back at camp together this summer.
Julia, Alli Sams and I road-tripped it back to Indy with a quick stop at Starbucks and a lot of homework getting finished in the back seat. I'm such a huge fan of these girls and thankful that we got to spend the weekend together. I think all of us would be happy to go back to camp in a second.
**Honorable mention blog titles go to
"My mom says I'm not allowed to put things down my pants," and "I like having a friend that can drive."