This weekend I traveled by van, BC ferry and boat to a wilderness resort camp on the Princess Louisa Inlet, BC. Malibu, owned and run by Young Life, is the camp Isaiah went to for a week this summer, and while I was in the Young Life office signing him up, I saw the Women’s Weekend brochure and was hooked. I invited some Bellingham friends, and found others that were also going. Ten of us went up in a friend’s big van together. The ferry ride and boat trip up the Jervis Inlet was lovely.
I’d heard that there were lots of fun things to do at Malibu (Young Life specializes in fun), but I went for the natural beauty and opportunity to meet other Christian women, hear the speaker, and eat good food without cleaning up afterward for three full days. In those things my hopes were fulfilled, and I did come home refreshed and rested.
Meals were wonderful–set tables with new people to meet, served by men who paid to volunteer for the weekend, healthy and delicious. The dining hall overlooks the Princess Louisa Inlet, which flows into the Jervis Inlet. Tides rushed in and out past the camp each day, churning up nutrients to feed the creatures that come. We saw sea lions bobbing and diving every day, and at night during slack tide they silently slid through their underwater paths, streaming phosphorescence. One night there was an extra loud exhale of mammal breath and steam, and someone said it was not a sea lion, but definitely a whale. My new friends Jane and Bethany and I strained eyes and ears out over the shadowed water, catching glimpses of something white sliding past, now here, now there. Was it sea lions, or an orca whale? Once a sea lion came right into the shallows on the rocks below our balcony–to escape? Then it dove back onto the depths. Minutes later, a loud splash out by the small island. “Holy shit!” said Bethany. Jane had gone to bed, but we stayed and hoped and watched. After that we saw only seas lions, sometimes eyes glowing in the porch lights. It was sweet to share the moment with Bethany, who was as excited as I was, running along the railing to try to catch a better glimpse, and as unwilling to give up and go to bed, tired as we were.
The days were sunny and clear, the nights brilliant with stars. Each day I was able to get out in a kayak on the smooth waters of the inner inlet. The first day I heard a large, mammalian below coming from the rocks on the shore, but I never saw what it was. A sea lion, someone told me. It sounded like a bear. Looking down into the dark water, I could see the boulders softly reflecting light sky below. The depths make me a little giddy and breathless–always have, when I look and the visible edging into the dark unfathomable. I imaging large things down deeper, in proportion to the small swimming things of the shallows. That’s why I studied marine biology and why I love fishing. If it weren’t for my respect for fishing regulations, I’d bring a basic fishing kit everywhere there was wild water, to feel the pull on my line. My dad used to, I hope still does, keep red wool, line and hook in the inner wallet pouch for that purpose.
The main speaker was RoseAnn Coleman, a very funny and candid recovering Southern Baptist. She used lots of humor, some dry, some self-effacing, some body & expression, and I don’t think there was a stretch of a few minutes together when most of us weren’t laughing. Kept our brain cells alert the whole time. She also sang a few songs, country groovin’ in her beautiful clear voice. She taught on the Jehoshaphat & Ahab story in 2 Chronicles and told lots of stories, especially about her spiritual mentor Helen, who taught her how real and trustworthy God is. I bought CDs of her teachings & stories to share with the kids at home.
Although I really enjoyed Roseann, and the quote above is hers, I have to say I’m quoting Betty from the Block, the show host character that appeared each night (played by Shelby Friesen of Bellingham), even more. Wild black curly wig, 80s outfit and sunglasses, cowboy boots, and New York accent, she had us laughing until we were sore. She called us “caps locked, GORGEOUS,” called up and dubbed the sound tech/ropes course trainer “Man-Boy” (baby face and tall, strong build, “I don’t know whether to make you a peanut butter sandwich, or give you a little kiss!”). She told us the story of how she tried to become a member of Canada (“I called the king of Canada, president, whatevah...”), and how she tried to bring peace between the Canadians and Americans at the Bellingham Costco… (Got up on the garment table, called everyone around, “There’s a problem…You’re all too adorable to be acting like this… “) Oh, so many of us really needed to laugh–it was very healing.
I also got to do the high ropes course, run on the trail, take a dip in the pool, join a one hour boot camp, and hike up and down a mountain. There was also a dance party two of the nights, but Lynnette and I sidled off during that one. I do love to dance, but couldn’t appreciate the music–the same they use for the Young Life campers, I think–too loud and too teeny-bopper. Everything else was great. First women’s retreat where I didn’t feel like lazing around–I don’t think I read more than a chapter or two of my book, because there was always something interesting to do, including a personality test workshop with a perky Memphis former police chief and FBI trainer (I’m a Melancholic/beaver, but I knew that), and a session on conflict by three licensed therapists. Also easy access to coffee.
Lynnette and I didn’t fit in the first cabin in which the other Bellinghamsters were placed, so we got to know five other Washington women in our cabin. We ate most of our meals together, talked and prayed together, and there was some real bonding opportunities All that shared laughter was part of it, too. It was neat to share struggles, experiences, encouragement… God brought us together for his purposes, and I’m sure he’s not finished with what he started.