Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ch 20

A camp story

"We need to get all of the canoes off the racks before we set out the paddles and life-jackets," Beef explained, "so everyone needs to help. Let's go team!" He claps his hands together and all of the CILTs swarm the truck to unhook the bungee cords and then lift the giant silver canoes in the air. It takes at least three campers to carry each one from the top of the hill down to the bank of the Tippecanoe River. There are forty-six of us which equals out to fifteen canoes. I'm impressed by the girls that jump right in to carry another canoe and don't insist that they need a boy to help. I'm equally impressed by the boys that work with the girls and compliment them on their effort. We're breaking down gender stereotypes.

Once all of the canoes are unloaded Shelby and Kaitlin pass out the bright red life-jackets and plastic paddles to all of the kids. "Three people to canoe, no two from the same cabin, and the counselors each need to be in a boat too," we explain and then the kids scramble to figure out who they'll be with. I spot Molly and Mark, two campers I don't know very well yet, looking for a third. "Hey Molly," I yell to her, "I'll be with you guys. We can be the lead canoe." She gives me a thumbs up and says, "Yay! I'll get a canoe."

Mark gives us a big push away from the shore before jumping into the front of the boat. Molly sits in the middle, the sit-back-and-relax-without-paddling-spot. I've got the back seat since I prefer steering through the rapids and close to other groups for prime splash positioning.

The sun is shining bright and we can see moss covered rocks and shells at the bottom of the river. There is something about float trips that just makes you want to sing. Molly suggests we sing songs from musicals, she's in show choir at home. Luckily all three of us are musical experts and have no problem finding songs we all know. We glide across the water belting out "Defying Gravity" from Wicked, "Seasons of Love" from Rent, and "Doe, A Deer" from The Sound of Music. Molly is loud and confident. With no paddling to take care of she makes dramatic hand motions for each song. I'm impressed with Mark's commitment to singing along with us. When other people come close they jump in to sing along if they know the words.

About half-way through our trip we veer to the right and pull up to CILT island. Everyone else follows our lead and soon we're all docked. Together all of Team CILT wades back up the river a little bit to a bolder that sticks up out of the water. A few sessions ago we figured out that if we all splash up an enormous amount of water at the same time we can create the illusion of a rainbow. "1, 2, 3, GO!" I yell and everyone starts slapping the water. You have to squint your eyes to see because there is water spraying everywhere. After a few seconds the sun filters through the wall of water we're creating and a rainbow prism appears. "Whoah!" the people who can see it yell and we keep splashing. Then everyone rotates spots and we make the rainbow again so more people can see it.

When it's time to leave we all float in the river's current. A rainbow of bright rubber Crocs sit on top of the water and we lay back, our life-jackets easily keeping us afloat. Before we pile back into our canoe I scavenge CILT island for a handful of the perfectly smooth rocks. I put them on the bottom of our canoe by Molly and then take my seat in the back again.

This is one of my favorite CILT mornings. I love that we have three hours to just go on an adventure with Team CILT. The extended float trip is something these campers have never done before at Tecumseh, making it all the more exciting. We're only a few days from the end of session so everyone is comfortable with each other and trying to enjoy every last bit of this experience.

As we paddle we're on the lookout for the "attractions" of the bend. Molly points out the "River Rats" door with the giant painted rat. Mark sees "Osama's playground" first, a little wooden frame with a noose. An old man out fishing gives us a wave as we paddle past. After we go under the power lines we're on the look out for the porch of the Main Lodge that juts out of the trees ahead. We're close. I steer us close to the shore and then we come up onto the sand by the Black Hole.

Everyone works together to carry up all of the canoes, paddles, and life-jackets as we come back. We smell like the River, a few people are a little bit sun-burned and everyone is ready for lunch. Finally all the canoes are back on the racks and everything is put away in the giant tubs in the back of the truck. We release the kids to go change before lunch.

All of the girls practically run back to the Longhouse. Once inside I realize their priority is not changing out of their smelly clothes but eating any and all of the snacks they can find. Everyone pulls out bags of gummy bears, chips, pretzels, tins of cookies, and boxes of cereal. We turn on the iPod and everyone sits together on the floor eating and talking before lunch.

I set out all of the rocks from CILT island. This weird tradition has become one of my favorite parts of the float trip. With a supply of Sharpies, I write a message on each of rocks for other counselors. Anything at camp can be a treasure. The plastic ring from the top of a gallon of milk? Yep, we call it a minglet and fold it into a heart. A mess of knotted string? It's a precious gift from an eight-year-old. A purple plastic bead? It represents joy from the Sagamore Creed. A rock from CILT island? It's a friendship rock.

When the bell rings to signal the end of the morning clinics all of the the CILTs hurry outside to find kids from their adopt-a-cabin to play with. It's time to rejoin the rest of camp. I carry out all of the rocks and find Kiersten and Ryan, two Blazer girls I've gotten to know well. One by one I give the girls a rock to deliver and point out the recipient counselor. They run across the field and deliver the friendship rock. Usually the counselor looks at them strangely, confused about where these girls came from and why they just got handed a rock. Then they notice the words on the rock and smile.

We hear the "Ding! Ding! Ding!" of the lunch bell and everyone runs inside leaving behind their games of tether ball, ga-ga, and four-square until later. Friends walk in together, talking about their morning and how they hope we're having grilled cheese for lunch.

Friday, April 29, 2011

"This isn't a bible study playground, ok?"

"Wow, that's a lot of ice-cream," five people told us between the check-out and the car. Yep. 20 cartons of ice-cream.

Wyld Life always end the year with a giant ice-cream war. The sun was shining bright tonight and these kids were bursting with energy. All of the packages of ice-cream were put out in the center of the mob and then everyone just went crazy. The ice-cream was still frozen and would make your fingers burn with coldness after just a few seconds. People were throwing around blocks of ice-cream because they wouldn't melt.

I survived the ice-cream war but then these girls were very persistent about trying to get me with buckets of water. They followed me around, attempted to be tricky, and swarmed my car but were never successful. I've got to applaud their perseverance though.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ch 19

A camp story

Alyssa and Lindsey jumped from their top bunks, screaming at the top of their lungs because a bee was flying over their heads. They landed on the floor and sprung up to run around the cabin and continue screaming. Kadi was sprawled across her blankets, towels, and pile of clothes that had exploded from her suitcase. All of it was a heap on the floor and Kadi used it like a bed as she dramatically replayed the story of talking with a cute Warrior boy that day during bead clinic. She had already told the story three times and it became more involved with each telling. Libby and Annie sat squeezed together on a top bunk devouring a can of Cheez-um Pringles as they watched the madness unfold during tonight's cabin time. All of the girls were supposed to be taking showers but because everyone was so hyper it was taking longer than normal. I sat on the floor beside Erika, the counselor, as we filled out my coaching card, aka CILT evaluation, for today. I was fifteen-years-old and the crazy girls of Osage were my adopt-a-cabin for the week.

A camper since the age of five, I had been waiting to be a CILT for what seemed like forever. The CILTs, Campers In Leadership Training, were the oldest kids in camp. They got to live in the Longhouse for two whole weeks. It was something that everyone looked forward to and counselors promised that it was the best year of being a camper.

It has been years since I was a CILT but I still remember some of those moments like they happened yesterday.

I remember sitting in a circle in Main Field with all of the CILTs on check-in day. I looked around the group and wondered who I would become close friends with.
I remember teaching a country line dancing mini-clinic with Katie Quille.
I remember all of the CILTs jumping into the baby pool that our counselors surprised us with and singing "Baby Pool" instead of "Baby Shark" the rest of the session.
I remember when they let the CILTs lead "The Silly Moose" at closing campfire and we messed up the words.
I remember how sad we all were when they told us we had to move out of the Longhouse and in with our adopt-a-cabins for the second week.
I remember watching Toy Story and everyone deciding to call Krafty Mrs. Nesbit from then on.
I remember when the counselors let me lead the trust hike on the secret trails all the way from Main Field to the Giant Stump in the Oak Forest.
I remember leading a devotion with my little Brave girls and knowing that they totally didn't get it.
I remember pretending I was cousins with Meg Wright and climbing the wall tied together.
I remember telling my counselor Kyla that I wanted my CILT session to be great because I wanted to have a group of friends just like my sister had. But we just kept getting in trouble for being disrespectful and I was so frustrated.
I remember writing our CILT song in the Leadership Center on the last day.
I remember throwing coins into the baby pool like it was a wishing well with Krafty and Katie Quille on the last day and hoping we would one day be CILT counselors together.

All of those moments were pieces of my last year. It was one of my favorite times as a camper and some of those people are still great friends today. But it was one moment with a girl from my adopted cabin that made the biggest impact of all.

The CAC, Creative Arts Center, was packed with all of the Warrior campers, counselors, and CILTs. Just coming from trading post time, everyone was hyped up on sugar and thankful for the bit of relief that the air-conditioned room brought from the June heat. Thursday night now, I knew the girls in my cabin well and had developed friendships with them.

A counselor on stage spoke into the microphone, "Welcome to Warrior Workshop everybody! For our first game we need all of you to make a giant circle around the room. Go ahead and scoot back." As we started to move into formation I noticed that Hannah, one of my girls, had her arms crossed, her head down and was standing far away from the rest of our cabin. She had been fine just a few minutes ago but now something was wrong. I quickly told Erika, the Osage counselor, what I was going to do and then went over to Hannah. "Do you want to go outside and talk instead of playing this game?" I asked. She nodded her head vigorously, thankful for an escape, and followed me out of the chaos of all the campers.

Back outside everything was still. We could see a few cabins having a pillow fight far across the field. There were a few birds chirping but mostly all was quiet as the sun hung low in the sky. Hannah and I sat down Indian style on the dusty wooden porch. "Ok, what's going on Hannah?"

I wasn't sure how she would answer since I was just a CILT, not her counselor. I didn't know how to do this whole counseling thing. But then she just told me. All of it. She talked about a Warrior boy she liked and how he was flirting with her friend now instead of her. She told me about her friends at home and why she was frustrated with them before she came and that she didn't want to go back. Hannah told me that she was realizing that she wasn't proud of who she was becoming but didn't know how to change. I asked questions and listened and shared my own experiences. We just talked. It was simple.

"Can I pray for you?" I asked her. I had never asked anyone that before but I could feel that it was the right thing to do. She said yes and we prayed together on the porch. A prayer for the rest of Hannah's week and for when she would head back home. We said "Amen" together. We walked back through the double doors to rejoin Warrior Workshop.

I loved all twelve summers that I was a camper. I had always looked forward to finding out who my counselors would be and meeting the other girls in my cabin. I loved getting to be in clinics, competing in Gold Rush, and sharing during devotions. I loved being a camper. As a CILT, I didn't want my time as a camper to come to an end. Being a counselor was so unfamiliar. That's what grown up, mature people did.

But this one conversation with Hannah showed me that there was so much more to look forward to. Even if my CILT session wasn't perfect, even if I wasn't perfect, I could still join in this tradition of sharing hope, vulnerability, peace, and connection with kids. I believe that those relationships and conversations are one of the keys to what makes camp so special.

My story is not unique. That night I joined into a conversation that has been going on for decades. Summer after summer dozens of counselors are sitting down and talking with kids like Hannah. These men and women are choosing to get to know these kids and take the time to listen to their stories. I remember counselors like Spaz, Jill, Megan, and Susan that took the time to get to know me when I was a kid. They knew my name, invited me to be their friend, and listened to my own stories. They had a permanent impact on my life.

When I walked back into the CAC with Hannah from the porch that night, I knew that I was hooked. I couldn't wait to spend my summers as an official camp counselor. June, July, and August were going to be about more than just acting silly and hanging out with my friends. I didn't have to be perfect to wear that blue staff shirt someday, I just had to be willing to let God work through me as I shared my love for camp and life with kids.

Author Shauna Niequist writes, "Friendship is acting out God's love in tangible ways."  Over the course of the summer, counselors interact with hundreds of kids. They go out of their way to make kids feel loved, included, and special. As counselors we sign-up for the opportunity to make showing God's love our full-time job.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It is finished.

After weekly drives downtown to IUPUI's campus, writing two sets of weekly responses, a critical inquiry project, a 25 page portfolio, and spending soooo many hours in class I AM DONE! 

Tonight was my last class of Comp and yesterday I finished Critical Literacy. We had to do a visual representation of what we learned this semester and I got to work with my friends April and Brian. They nominated me to be the artist and we created this masterpiece. I was finishing up the details and they said, "What are all those pink lines supposed to be?" Surely you know...

ENTHUSIASM! duh. Brian and April both made our composition art their phone backgrounds.

I will miss people watching in class and an ongoing commentary with April. Other than that, I'm thankful to have my Tuesdays and Wednesdays back.

Ch 18

A camp story

I climb up onto the big limestone rock that sits under the giant Oak tree by the tennis courts. Like an umbrella, it shields Eric, Sarah DeLong, and I from the early afternoon sun. All of the CILTs are with their adopt-a-cabins which leaves us here to help judge the 4th of July parade.

Every cabin in camp, from eight-year-old Braves to fifteen-year-old Pathfinders has come up with a theme for the procession. Everyone gets to walk the route to show off their creative idea. Everyone's idea stems from American Pride but with over 40 years and years of this tradition you have to be original and creative to stand out.

There are always a few cabins of fireworks--campers dressed in red, white, and blue who are taught to jump and scream in rehearsed choreography with streamers waving from their hands. One year all fifty of the boys that live in Buffalo Lodge went on a mud hike right before the parade. Slathered in mud and smelling like buffalo they stampeded through the route.

Once Lakota cabin brought their giant Lakota flag and made still frames of three iconic scenes in US history: Washington crossing the Delaware, the Battle of Iwo Jima, and the landing on the moon. My cabin pretended we were a 4th of July yard sale two years ago. We held signs advertising the sale and carried bikes, scooters, hula hoops, weird hats, coolers, pool noodles, beach chairs, and a red wagon filled with more stuff. Everyone had giant price tags on it.

Today the CILT counselors enjoy being able to be spectators this year as the cabin groups start to arrive. I don't think there is a strong connection to the theme of the day, but Comanche's is one of my favorites. When they pause in front of the judges the boys act out what happened in their cabin last night. Jacob, their counselor, narrates, "While we were fast asleep in our bunks, a vicious raccoon ripped off our window screen." One of the campers is crawling around like a raccoon at this point, "I was roused from my sleep as the creature began to claw through our box of snacks. I rushed to awake Thomas," one of the campers pretended to wake up," and I said to him, 'Aris my son, we must protect the homeland,' The raccoon heard us and quickly scurried out of the cabin before we could catch him." The boys move on allowing the next group to come up.

We watch Seminole cabin's America's Next Best Dance Crew. Illinois girls come dressed as the first group of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. There is a political rally for Barack Obama. Two counselors hold up a sign that reads "A regular day in Miami cabin" and their eight-year-old Brave boys run around like mad swinging jellyfish yo-yos and jumping on their counselors. Ojibwa girls painted gray portray Mt. Rushmore.

A horse painted like the American flag trots up when we take down the flag before dinner. Everyone hums the Star Spangled Banner in unison and chants, "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!" together at the end. One cabin tries to get everyone to belt out "Fifty, Nifty United States," that we learned in elementary school. Then we sing "Going to Kentucky" three times in a row because it's so American. We're going to Kentucky, we're going to the fair, to see a senorita with flowers in her hair, shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it all you can, and if you can not shake it then do the best you can, round and round and round we go until the bell rings releasing us to run in to eat.

We play "Proud to be an American", "Party in the U.S.A" and "Sweet Home Alabama" over the speakers during dinner. Everyone stands on their chairs to sing and uses their spoon or chicken leg as a microphone so they can keep eating during the song. There are mashed potatoes and corn on the cob but we're having so much fun we barely eat.

An unusually large number of people buy bomb pops during Trading Post time because the red, white, and blue popsicle fits with the theme of the day.


The sun begins to drop behind the trees at the lake as everyone approaches. Normally the youngest kids are asleep by now but tonight they come here in pajamas with their hair still wet from showers. The benches at the Lake Village chapel are filled with all of the Pathfinders and Warriors--the oldest kids in camp. They've just finished Songfest, singing chapel songs for the last hour, and are now still shouting the familiar words of "Pharaoh, Pharaoh."

Everyone else finds a seat with their cabin on the grassy hill that faces the lake. We bring beach towels to sit on, the grass already slippery from dew. We're packed together, a scrambled mob of all the Blazers and Braves plus the Day Campers that are old enough to spend the night on this special sleepover. These tiny campers hold hands with their counselors caught in limbo between nervousness about being away from home and excitement over doing something brand new.

Counselors that have the night off returned early for the fireworks show. They gravitate to the suspension bridge and the bench behind the Lookout tower, the best spots to watch. Families of camp staff are here to see the fireworks and all the camp kids are running around the huddle of parents talking. No one wants to miss this.

Speakers set up on our side of the lake blare patriotic music and red digital numbers count down to the start of the show. It's almost dark now and you can just barely see the firetrucks and dozens of men on the beach across the lake from us. They have been setting up the fireworks since this afternoon and are ready to begin.

Everyone counts down together. 10... 9... 8...

The music has paused for dramatic effect. 7... 6... 5... 4...

Hundreds of us yell at once. 3... 2... 1...

On top of the Lookout climbing tower we see a sparkler. Someone jumps from the platform and rides the zip line over the water to the far side leaving a trail of sparks that fall down to the lake. "Whoa, look at that," the little kids say as they point toward the light. Then we hear the first boom and watch the colors explode in the sky.

I sit next to my friend Emily with campers on every side of us and even on our laps. Devon, a red-haired little fireball of a girl, looks up at me, "These are the best fireworks I've ever seen in my whole life." Watching the reactions on all of these kids faces is just as entertaining as watching the kaleidoscope of colors above us.

The show doesn't stop after "The Star Spangled Banner," "This Land Is Your Land," and "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue." We see each flare get lit on the beach before it rockets into the sky. The light explodes in sprays of electric color that we watch in the air and their reflection in the lake. The hill is filled with collective "oohs" and "aahs" and random shrieks or fits of laughter.

We know it is the finale when the fireworks start shooting off like popcorn. We plug our ears because the Pop! Pop! Pop!  is deafening. The sky is electrified and each new burst adds smoke to the cloud from the dozens preceding it. After the final explosion everyone joins in the chant we've been echoing all day long, "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Team CILT Celebration

Molly and I came up with a plan of what we were going to do today before we hung out. She brought her jumbo pack of markers, I brought two packs of mini-poster boards and we met at Huddles. When we walked through the door we were happily surprised to see Erin, a sophomore at North Central, that is going to be a CILT this summer. 

Molls and I both think that she's a rock star and we all share a love for Camp T. But when Erin asked us what we were about to do we were suddenly overcome by giggles because this craft probs seems weird to most people, even really wonderful, funny, creative people like Erin. 

But we told her and she thought it sounded fun and I even roped her into being involved a little bit. 

But now I'm thinking about why we do all of these strange things that other people find odd and I'm drawn back to Cold Tangerines- celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life.

"The discipline of celebration is changing my life, and it is because of the profound discoveries that this way of living affords to me that I invite you into the same practice."

"What God does in the tiny corners of our day-to-day lives is stunning and gorgeous and headline-making, but we have a bad habit of saving the headlines for the grotesque and scary."

"To choose to celebrate in the world we live in right now might seem irresponsible. It might seem frivolous, like cotton candy and charm bracelets." 

"But I believe it is a serious undertaking, and one that has the potential to return us to our best selves, to deliver us back to the men and women God created us to be, people who choose to see the best, believe the best, yearn for the best."

"Through that longing to be our best selves, we are changed and inspired and ennobled, able to see the handwriting of a holy God where another person just sees the same old tired streets and sidewalks."

"The world is alive, blinking and clicking, winking at us slyly, inviting us to get up and dance to the music that's been playing since the beginning of time, if you bend all the way down and put your ear to the ground to listen for it."

Today Molls and I celebrated.  We celebrated life on this normal Tuesday. We celebrated being able to share life together. We celebrated friends that we really love but rarely get to see.

With more time and more pieces of paper we could have just kept writing and coloring because so many of you have made a significant impact in our lives and celebrated right along with us.

This is an invitation. Make time to celebrate. Even if other people think you're kind of weird, even if it takes awhile to think of something to celebrate, even if you're tired and busy- because really we're all tired and busy. But I promise that celebration is always worth it. Wake yourself up and join in the ongoing celebration of life that will continually transform your life.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Oh my gosh, when you see this you're going to throw up."

A student told me that and I expected her to pull a bloody fingernail or moldy piece of food out of her pencil pouch. By throw up, she meant that I would think it was really cute... I'm not sure how that translates. Mikaela was right that these are so precious. She is also the girl that made me miniature cupcakes once.

Abby was so proud to show us this owl iPod holder creature. She got an American Girl kit yesterday in her Easter basket and quilted him all by herself. Mad skills.

Bridget made me my very own ribbon bracelet- I was jealous of the one she sports every week. She moved last Friday, we miss her already.

Tonight at Campaigners Ellyn delivered my newly renovated name tag. The is friendship epicness. In textile design at Carmel all the kids make lanyards for their final and I convinced Ellyn to make me one for my camp name tag. Is it too early to start wearing it all the time?

I love the beginning of Campaigners when all the kids are just arriving. Kids go to sit by their leaders and friends and catch up about whatever has been going on since they last talked.

In leadership tonight we talked about vulnerability, connection, and worthiness after watching this video of Brene Brown speaking. She is a researcher of vulnerability and has gathered information through people's stories. She says, "stories are just data with a soul." I love that. But we heard some really great things and I couldn't take notes fast enough as she spoke.

When we started talking together about it after the video it was helpful to work through a lot of these ideas together and learn from each other. These are some of my favorite lines I want to remember:

Connection is why we're here. It gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

The one thing that separates people into two groups is whether or not they believe they are worthy of love and belonging. 

Courage is about telling your story with your whole heart.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belong, and love. Vulnerability makes you beautiful. The way to live is to stop controlling and trying to predict.

You cannot selectively numb emotion.

You are imperfect and wired for hardship but you are worthy of love and belonging.

And here are four things Brene says we must focus on:

Let yourself be seen. Love with your whole heart even though there is no guarantee. Practice Gratitude and joy. Know 'I am enough.'

If we do those things then we will be gentler and kinder to ourselves and others.

We were about to start our girls' Campaigner small group when we had a stroke of inspiration. Jenna had to leave to go to the Westfield Young Life club where her fiancee Kyle is a leader. Their theme tonight was "Kyle's Wedding" and Jenna was a key participant in a couple of the skits. We decided that our whole group should crash club. Once we got the go ahead we snuck out of the house and shot across town. Ellyn had a clutch playlist for lots of singing en route.

We cheered Jenna on in her skit with Kyle about receiving wedding presents...

... and sang as they had their first dance as Mr. and Mrs. Perkins.

The trip home called for more singing... Closing Time, Slide, All-American Girl are classics.

p.s. I talked to Colleen Drasga tonight and was thrilled to hear about the success of her easter egg decorating party and excitement to run the mini.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Identity crisis...

I haven't taken any pictures for three days. Gosh- who am I? Sorry.

I was home with my whole family (yes, even Katie and Nick) Friday and Saturday playing games, eating good food, going on walks, eating java chip ice-cream, talking, and watching movies.

Then I went to church with Sar and spent the entire day at the Nikcevich's house with friends making donuts, eating food, playing games, chopping vegetables, eating jumbalya, talking, holding baby Raelyn, and dancing in the living room.

That's what I've got for you today. It's short. I think that's ok.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ch 17

A camp story

We pulled the plastic picnic table to the side of the room to make room for the devotion circle. Smelling like Herbal Essences shampoo, the girls came to the floor in their pajamas and sat Indian style before we turned off the overhead lights.

After we shared our highs and lows I told the girls the story of the ten lepers from Luke chapter 17:11-19. These ten men had come to Jesus for healing. He told them to go show themselves to the priests and as they went they were healed. Only one came back to give thanks and praise to Christ for cleansing him. Jesus told him that it was his faith that had healed him.

It's easy to take things for granted. Being healed from leprosy might be an extreme but it's normal to not always think about being thankful. We want to be thankful for all of the good things in our life--blessings and gifts that go unnoticed if we're not looking for them.

I put out a pile of paper and spilled a box of markers in the center of the circle. Everyone crawls forward to grab one of each. "Write 100 Things I Love at the top of your paper," I tell them, "It's ok if you go over or under 100- just keep writing." I play Jake Ousley, David Crowder, and JJ Heller quietly as we write and the candles flicker yellow light on our tan faces. We bend over our list scrawling down things we are thankful for. You keep your paper tilted to the center of the room so you can see what you're writing and make sure the wet friendship bracelets on your wrists don't soak the paper. I write...
  1. the sound of twelve fans in a cabin at once
  2. making vanilla lattes in the red dining hall cups
  3. yellow apples in the fruit bowl
  4. the love tank wall
  5. reading from Cold Tangerines at night
  6. hip-hop clinic performances
  7. talking with a kid during Trading Post
  8. when the whole cabin gets really into four-square
  9. summer nights just cold enough for a sweatshirt
  10. when everyone in the shallow end does handstands
  11. HOHing (Hanging Out Horizontal)
  12. wacky Wednesday themes
  13. passing friends on the Lake Road
  14. all camp chapel on Wednesday morning
  15. waking up to "This Side" every morning
  16. the Prunie song
  17. dancing on chairs at theme night dinners
  18. talking in accents all day long
  19. the Day Camp tunnel before chapel
  20. blue staff shirts and skirts on check-in day
  21. mutual recognition with campers from last year
  22. show choir clinic
  23. listening to kids' funny stories
  24. watching my old campers be great Day Camp counselors
  25. late night talks on the porch
  26. tennis court sleep-outs
  27. side ponytail Saturday and sassy classy braids on Thursdays
  28. wooden nametags
  29. knotted friendship bracelets from Brave girls
  30. when the milk carton has a minglet
  31. singing Disney songs in the CAC during clinic time
  32. quarter-zip staff sweatshirts
  33. winning Empire in the Lake Village
  34. hugs and high-fives
  35. highs and lows of the day
  36. getting mail from campers that were campers earlier in the summer
When I reached 100 I said, "Ok you can stop." Around the circle we shared favorite items from our lists. If you loved something another girl said you added it to the bottom of your list. "Girls what if you just kept writing this list? What if you got to 1,000 things you loved?" I challenged, "That would be so cool." We prayed a prayer for thanksgiving. Thanks for the things we had just written. Thanks for the great things we'd already experienced that week. Thanks for all that was yet to come. "Goodnight girls," I said after blowing out the candle. I walked around the cabin stopping at each bunk to give a hug or high-five. We fell asleep to the sound of twelve fans spinning in the dark.


Mary Claire and I were at the front of the pack, expert speed-walkers on the way to the lake for the Roger Murphy swim. We walked carefully in our flip-flops to avoid flipping the gray, muddy gravel up onto the back of our legs. We had watched Jessica's Daily Affirmations on YouTube at the beginning of devotions the night before. Jessica, a blonde curly haired little girl, stands in her pajamas on her bathroom counter and talks to herself in the mirror. She shouts, "I like my school. I like anything. I like my dad. I like my cousins. I like my aunts. I like my Allisons. I like my moms. I like my sisters. ... I like my hair. I like my haircuts. I like my pajamas. I like my stuff. I like my room. I like my whole house. My whole house is great." 

Jessica's voice is now stuck in our heads and we want to be just as positive and life-affirming as her. Mary Claire and I go back and forth giving our own Jessica-isms as we walk. We emphasize each addition to our list with moves just like Jessica.

I like my side pony-tail.
I like wearing my backpack.
I like sleeping by Maggie. 
I like living with Shannon.
I like the Roger Murphy.
I like Fridays at camp.
I like tie-dye v-neck t-shirts.
I like Maisy and Imogene the stick.
I like the girls in my adopt-a-cabin.
I like the party room at lunch.
I like our CILT cheer.
I like wearing overalls on country hoe down night.
I like talking in devotions.
I like this walk between villages.
I like bug  juice.
I like Mary-Claire.

Mary Claire and I keep doing "I like" all the way to the Lake. We are so thankful for so many things. The sun is shining bright, we are about to get purple Roger Murphy swim bands, our best friends are all around us, and we still have more than a week left in this session of camp.


I grab our cabin's mail after 3rd clinic and throw it in my backpack on the way into the Lodge. I sort it all out at the end of lunch, passing it across the table to girls expecting e-mails from friends and letters from their parents. At the bottom of the stack there is a manila envelope addressed to me, Sarah DeLong, and Carolyn Kata, decorated with a rainbow of markers.  

I rip open the flap and pull out a thick stack of notebook paper. "Oh. My. Gosh." I say in awe as I stare at the top page. Flipping through the sheets I realize the significance of all of these words, crammed into every corner and margin of these papers. She's done it. Ellie has completed a list of 1,000 things she loves in just the two short weeks since she left camp. All of the girls at the table want to hear from her list. We start the tradition of reading a page from Ellie's list at the end of every meal for the rest of the week...
  1. underwater tea parties
  2. modern plumbing
  3. confidence
  4. making a spectacle
  5. camp friends
  6. counselors
  8. taking opportunities
  9. the London Eye
  10. xc in middle school
  11. being a role model
  12. 11 minutes- beasting the pole climb
  13. funnel cakes
  14. Blessed Be Your Name
  15. vanilla candles
  16. idea of soul mates
  17. breaking stereotypes
  18. Sarah Wright's smile
  19. Andrew Scale's Ivy League voice
  20. looking like a madwoman
  21. Matt Fregeau's floral skills
  22. upside down braids
  23. Livvie's monkey call
  24. my "explosive" personality
  25. smell of rain on asphalt
  26. not caring what people think
  27. good books you can't stop reading
and after lots of reading and page turning...

   999. being so close to finishing a goal
   1000. SARAH WRIGHT, SARAH DELONG, AND CAROLYN KATA! Because they convinced me to write 1,000! I love you guys!


I want to create a habit of being appreciative. I want to make finding joy in the small things a pattern. I want to be on the lookout for tiny blessings.

Let's be like the one leper that came back to give thanks after he was healed. Let's follow Jessica in starting each day off with a positive attitude. It's not normal to be this optimistic I think because it's hard work. Life isn't always easy, it doesn't always work out the way we want but maybe that's when it's most important to be thankful.

I want to be thankful for this gift of life- for the hundreds, no thousands, of small things that make our days so great.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ch 16

A camp story

"Here, pass this," someone handed me a clipboard with a white piece of paper on it. The Lake Village girl counselors were planning a theme for opening campfire that night. While all the counselors were gathered at the staff meeting it was the perfect opportunity to spread the word before everyone dispersed to their cabins for check-in.  Every girl counselor would dress up like a Barbie. Surfer Barbie, Cowgirl Barbie, Fashion Barbie, Teacher Barbie, Miss America Barbie, Cheerleader Barbie, and Mom Barbie were all on this sheet. I glanced at the list before passing it on. I was a River Village counselor. I would not be dressing up like a Barbie tonight.

For decades all of camp happened in what we now refer to as River Village. But because of the need to accommodate more campers as our waiting lists grew out of control camp expanded. Plans were laid and new cabins were built. In 2004 Lake Village opened for the summer and became the home for the oldest kids in camp. Named for their proximity to specific bodies of water, River and Lake Village can both function individually--they have their own dining halls, cabins, chapel, climbing wall, multi-purpose building, equestrian barn, storm shelter, trading post, swimming area and flagpole--but are still just part of Camp Tecumseh. The Villages come together for campfires at the beginning and end of the week and share in chapel several mornings. Most interaction happens in passing, shouting "Hi" to other cabins as you pass through main field on the way to the pool or clinics. Since 2004 their has been a friendly competition between the two villages.

At dinner a few hours later, Lily stopped by my cabin's table on the way back from the salad bar. "You know how Lake Village girls are being Barbies tonight?" she asked. "Well we're going to go as Women of the River," she looked around the table making eye contact with all of the brand-new campers. "Counselors and campers are going to look like we just came out of the River. It'll be awesome. Look as opposite of Barbies as you can."

Lake Village cabins are newer and the older kids are stereotyped as being super cool and mature River Village cabins are more rugged and our younger kids are noticeably more crazy and hyper. Tonight's campfire of Barbies v. Women of the River would be a perfect illustration of the differences between the Villages.

Back at the cabin we got dressed in black, brown, and green clothes. As soon as our girls were outfitted we went outside to find sticks i.e. hair accessories. While the girls found twigs to stick in their messy ponytails I turned on the hose to make a mud puddle. We all scooped up the mud and smeared it on our cheeks, arms, and legs. Some girls were tentative and just put war stripes on their cheeks. One camper was so excited she dunked her face in the mud. We were ready.

The parade of River Women marched to opening campfire, a swarm of dirt and earth tones. We repeated the Women of the River cheer over and over and over until all of the new campers learned the words and joined in. The cheer had been created a few weeks earlier by Lily and McSoley to be as loud, deep, and ungirly as possible with lots of grunting, stomping, and a double chin at the end. When you do this cheer you have to scream from your gut and make your voice as deep as possible.

The Lake Village counselors didn't know what was coming. The Barbies were milling around the center of the campfire ring talking about Barbie things and acting like Barbies. Then River Women invaded. We led our muddy campers to the benches and told them to keep cheering as the counselors circled around the campfire, a cyclone of River epicness.

The Barbies attempted to overpower us by doing the Lake Lady cheer in reply but their high-pitched enthusiastic cheer could not drown out our rumbling sound. We stomped and jumped and screamed and grunted and cheered and clapped until campfire began. I think the trees continued to echo back our guttural cry for the next three songs. Our voices were raspy from screaming and our skin itchy from dry mud but we could not have been prouder to be from River Village.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I like

I like when kids write really good stories.
I like having fun kids in SLT.
I like cupcakes in FBC.
I like the ladder game.
I like friend pictures.
I like running long distances with Sar.
I like not passing out.
I like getting to see Taylor Porter in real life.
I like doing cross fit for five minutes and seeing David be Jillian Michaels.
I like watching Rugby from afar.
I like giant burritos at Chipotle.
I like dogs with weird haircuts.
I like going to bed early.
I like watching Glee and laughing out loud.

Ch 15

A camp story

When kids come to camp for a week they experience life away from their parents.

For some campers this idea is terrifying. My friend Sara had a ten-year-old camper that literally could not stop crying her first two days away from home. The girls face was red, her eyes puffy, and she couldn't control her crying long enough to speak or eat. We tried everything to distract her, get her involved, and convince her it was going to be a great week but she kept insisting she needed her mom and would walk home if necessary.

For some campers being away from home is exhilarating. There is a tiny eight-year-old girl named Abby that was in Catawba with my friend Rachel. At opening campfire Abby's week I walked around with a giant poster board that read, "I LOVE Camp T because..." and everyone signed their answer. People wrote, "my best friends are here...Southern Accent week... corndogs... I feel closer to God... I can be myself... I'm so happy here." Little Abby's answer? I handed her a red marker and she carefully wrote, "I get away from my parents." She put the cap back on the marker and looked at me with wide eyes and a giant smile to see how I would react. I knew Abby before this week and she has awesome parents. They take care of her, love her well, and the whole family gets along well. But even though home is great there is something liberating about being away from home for Abby.

Some campers never articulate how they feel about being away from their parents but we get a glimpse of how camp is different than home while they're at Tecumseh. Riley was in my cabin her very first year at camp. She drove down from Chicago with her three best friends and all their mothers. When they got to Choctaw the moms got busy making their daughter's beds, adjusting clip-on fans by their pillows, and organizing the girls' clean towels, snack boxes and drawers of clothes. They hugged their daughters good-bye before climbing back into their black SUVs and heading home.

Riley and her friends were too busy coloring bunk signs to even notice their mothers driving away. They were now on their own, independent ten-year-olds ready for their camp adventure. This group of girls was one of my favorite cabins ever- they loved camp, included everyone, rarely complained, and were always up for anything. We went on an adventure hike into the wild, jump-roped to Taylor Swift, played tennis baseball in jerseys. I remember sitting in a circle in the grass with all of them during pop stop one day and thinking, "This is exactly what summer should always be like." For a week kids get to live inside this Camp Tecumseh bubble of trying new things, making friends, growing in faith and confidence, and having fun. As counselors we do everything we can to make every week the best week ever for our campers.

I got up from the circle to go check our mail crate in the trading post. It was filled with the normal things- a care package covered in sticks, a pile of e-mails, a postcard from the Tecumseh Trippers, and a handful of letters. The e-mail on the top of the pile caught my eye because it was so short.

A Message From Home

I've been looking at the pictures of your cabin online. Take your hair out of that ponytail. It's gross.

Riley had short blonde hair and arrived at camp with her bangs pulled back in a little half-ponytail. She was swimming and showering everyday so she was clean, but had left her hair up in the clear rubberband so it would stay out of her face.

I showed the e-mail to Mindy. There's no "I miss you" or "I hope you're having so much fun!" or "I'll see you Saturday" or "I saw a picture of you dressed at campfire and you looked great" like most parent e-mails. There was no "Love, Mom" or "We can't wait to see you, Mom." This e-mail was not going to make Riley's week at camp any better but only make her worry about something that doesn't really matter all that much.

We looked out at Riley sitting with the rest of the cabin. The red Gatorade was turning her mouth red. She was a ten-year-old girl and her biggest worry in life right now was whether to get in line for the blog or rope swing first at lake time, not what her hair looked like or if her lip was stained red.

I left the e-mail from Riley's mom in the bottom of the trading post crate and went to pass out the rest of the mail. For one week these kids get to live in a place where there are no teachers telling them to be quiet, coaches telling them they need to practice harder, friends leaving them out, or moms telling them to fix their hair. As a counselor I can't make this place perfect but I'll do my part to make it pretty close.

"Choctaw- let's go to the lake," I called. The girls hopped up and wrapped their beach towels around their shoulders. We started the trip to swim time with the other Blazer girls. We all sang Taylor Swift's "Love Story" together as we hiked up the giant hill to the Lake.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"But you didn't take a picture of me yet."

Pivotal Moments of the Day:

1. Eating pancakes before school with Sar, Hannah, and Mac.
2. Getting the FBC song lyrics from Rachel.
3. Finding out about pygmy marmoset monkeys from Mikaela. Go google image them. So precious.
4. Talking to Michelle about camp coming up and figuring out what that means for right now.
5. Eating dinner with Molls and my mom and Aunt Meg.
6. Realizing I didn't even know an assignment was due two weeks ago. It'll be ok though.
7. Giving a friendship bracelet to the woman that calls me "Friendship Bracelet Girl."
8. Talking with Annie about best friends, writing books and blogs, summer, hard days, Young Life, books, boys, and life.

Ch 14

A camp story

"Girls, you've got to pack up your stuff now before devotions," I said as I selected the devotions playlist on my iPod. "You won't want to worry about cleaning up in the morning when it's time to go."

Their bunks were a mess; piles of damp towels, dirty socks, inside-out clothes from disco night and crumpled emails from home. Our nine-year-olds were exhausted not only from the campfire we had just finished but from the past six day of constant activity and fun. Tomorrow we all had to go home. Even the counselors. It was week 9 and no one wanted to leave.

I was in the midst of unpinning cabin pictures, postcards, bucket drop notes, and colored drawings from the wall around my bed when I realized I was crying. I felt like one of the Pathfinder girls standing in the Torchbearer line that can't imagine life after camp. "I don't want to leave yet," I said out loud to myself.

Maddie heard me. She stopped stuffing things into her duffle bag and came over to wrap her arms around my waist. "I don't want to leave either Sarah," she looked up at me, "and I'm really hungry."

Laughing, I hugged her back. "Me too. Forget packing. Let's all go get an apple." I turned off my iPod and ushered the girls out of the cabin back into the night. Mindy, Gwyn, and I each held the hands of our little girls and led them down the gravel road--a short walk from the Longhouse to the Main Lodge. Our flip-flops crunched the gravel in the silence. Everyone else in all of camp was already sitting in their final devotion but we crept into the dark dining hall.

I flipped on the overhead lights and we all attacked the fruit bowl. We took our pick from the leftover apples and oranges. The girls giggled, feeling silly about getting fruit in the middle of the night. We swarmed the cabinet of cereal boxes. Counselors can bring their favorite types for the summer instead of eating camp's kid-friendly cereals. Now there was only a layer of crumbs in the bottom of each box. A feast for the hungry girls, they tucked the boxes under their arms as they figured out how to keep holding their fruit and latch on to their counselor's hand again.

Packing was too sad so we sat on the floor with the snacks we had scavenged and had a picnic devotion. Mindy lit the candles we'd been using all summer. Now they were just a layer of wax on the bottom of the jar with a short wick and dead mosquitoes that flew too close to the flame caught in the wax. Gwyn brought over the box of devotion beads- red, yellow, purple, green, blue and cream all organized in their own box.

Our eight little girls sat on the floor in a circle like we'd been doing all week- Jarmaine, Dominique, D'Mya, Angel, Laneisha, Kara, Maddie, and Carly. First we each told our high of the entire week. Maddie's was singing Alligator at closing campfire and replacing the word Alligator with Patricia. Dominique loved dressing up with my boxes of theme night clothes and asked me again if she could keep the dresses. D'Mya said playing in the shallow end of the pool and making a whirlpool was the best part.

We told the girls the Sagamore Creed again, "I will be worthy of trust... All this because God is most important to me, the other person is second only to him, and I am third." These ideals are what we want to be about. Our hope is that we will all grow in friendship, joy, faith, responsibility, trust and initiative. One at a time we picked one of the pieces of the creed that we want to work on next year. "I think I want to pick faith," said Carly. "I really like chapel and I want to pray when I go home and go to church more." Gwyn passed her one of the yellow beads from the box that she could tie on a shoelace or necklace as a reminder of her goal until she came back to camp next summer.

I love all parts of devotions but the last piece is one of my favorites. We started with Laneisha and everyone else in the circle said why they love her and things they've noticed are special about her during the week. "You're funny," the girls told her, "You always like to try new things. You were really nice to me right away on the first day. You're good at helping me clean up my stuff in the morning when I'm really slow." These girls are only nine-years-old but are capable of being incredibly kind and supportive to one another. I've been hearing groups of girls speak kind words like this all summer long but it never grows old. I take a deep breath to soak in this last night of devotions. I don't want to forget it.

We pray holding hands boyfriend-girlfriend style. Mindy starts and we squeeze our neighbor's hand to pass on the prayer. The girls each pray out loud and I'm thankful for the simplicity and sincerity of their prayers. They don't worry about being "good prayers" yet.

Maddie speaks last, "Dear God, please bless everyone holding hands in this circle."

To: Miss Wright. "It's a rap to a beat boxer."

Two of my students just brought me this. They said I can "totally" publish it. They made it up over the phone last week.

FBC Don't Leave Me!

There's this place called FBC
It's the only place that I want to be

We make the coolest things
They're called bracelets, not rings!

Friendship Bracelet is the coolest club
You'll want to make bracelets in your tub

So many different colors to choose from
From blue, to orange, to pink, to plum

The ladder, the rag-rug, the cheveron, the three braid
There are so many bracelets that can be made

They aren't hard to do
It's easy for a cow to say moo

Miss Wright is an amazing person
There is no reason to be cursin

Everyone there is fun to be around
Don't worry, you'll be safe and sound

At the beginning we play a game
Don't worry, they're not lame

FBC is the club I love
It's as amazing as seeing two doves

It is in Room 201
Look forward to having fun

When I see the clock strike four
I'm sad because I want more

I hope you had fun
But our rap here is done
FBC don't leave me

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ch 13

A camp story

Session 1

We spread out around the Lake Village dining room. All 42 CILTs plus 4 counselors dispersed between Cheyenne and the salad bar, Seminole and the in-door. Our corndog lunch had been punctuated with bouts of flies, Did You Know? and the Lake Ladies cheer but now it was our turn to unveil the first CILT cheer of the summer. A hush of expectation fell over the room and all eyes were on us.

The counselors motioned for all of our kids to crouch down and they disappeared from sight. "TOTES," I yelled, the cue to begin. "MAGOTES," echoed back, in a ground-level thunder across the room.

Wake up in the morning feeling like a CILT.

Each CILT rose to their feet as they sang their re-vamped version of the well-known Kesha song.

Grab my backpack I'm out the door check out that Yurt they built.
42 leaders strong invading River and Lake
Playing games with our kids, it's time to shake and bake.

All of our spectators were reeled in to our every word and motion as the song got faster.

I'm talking ga-ga in the pit, pit.
Try not to get hit, hit.
We're tired but won't quit, quit.
Don't stop, CILTs rock, Beefster turn those speakers up.
Today, I'ma pray, we'll become a familay.
Camp T, number 3, what an epic group we'll be.
Ooooo, Oooooooooo

We built up to the climax and transitioned into the second half of the cheer-- the ever-popular original rap section.

We're CILTs. We rock, we roll, we're CILTs.
We're outta control, we're CILTs.
We're hip, we hop, we never stop. We wear brown shirts. We have a Yurt. We're CILTs.
We're leaders. Not cheaters. You love us more than Justin Bieber. CILTs.

Our repetitions of practice turned us into a well-oiled machine and we flew through the articulated words faster than ever before. There was no time to take a breath.

We wear backpacks, we hacky-sack, we can cup stack, this CILT wolf pack.
We don't lack, we never slack, so don't talk smack. We're CILTs.

We bellowed the final words, our arms raised to the sky as if to say, "We dare you to challenge our ability to make anything and everything feasible."

The crowds clapping carried us to our seats in the back of the room with smiles on our faces and our breathing labored from cheering.

Session 2

The mid-day sun beat down on us. The heat and humidity were unrelenting. Our shoulders slumped and our eyes squinted to shut out some of the bright light. Beef, our conductor, stood in the center of the Longhouse porch. He whistled to get our attention, "Team. Last practice all the way through." We all stood up a little straighter.  "Last time. Best time." He pointed to Keegan to start us off. Standing on the bench, Keegan blew out the long, low note on the green vuvuzela.

In unison the members of the rhythm section raised their arms to form each letter as they repeated in bold monotone, "C-I-L-T-S, C-I-L-T-S, C-I-L-T-S," for the first four measures. Shelby and the campers following her concentrated to stay together and tried to ignore the aching in their arms. They were laying the musical foundation for the rest of us.

Beef signaled for the ostinato to join in. Our staccato voices added the next layer of music to the cheer as our arms made robot motions for visual effect.

We are the CILTs and we are cool, when we go swimming in the pool.
You cannot stop our reign of rock, after you shower change your socks.
We will advice you on your life, we can relieve your pain and strife.
Please do not ask about our age, you will incur our wrath and rage
The vuvuzela is the sound that you will hear when we come round.
Do not be startled, do not be scared. If you have candy we can share.

The ostinato and rhythm repeated their parts anticipating the crescendo. Growing in volume we added the melody as the umbrella to our symphony. Arms flying, Beef cued the rest of the CILTs to join in.

CILTs we rule.
We live in the Longhouse and the

Everyone broke from their individual sections and joined in the resounding,

Yurt yurt yurt yurt, yurt, yurt yurt yurt
Yurt yurt yurt yurt, yurt, yurt yurt yurt
Yurt yurt yurt yurt, yurt, yurt yurt yurt

with hands pumping the Star-Trek-Vulcan-Hand-Sign-turned-Yurt-5.

We decrescendoed into a rest concluding the "Mars the Bringer of War" section. Meg, show choir singer extraordinaire, stepped forward to singing the transition line. Her voice rose like the sun breaking the silence of the night,


Everyone took a deep breath and joined in with the Beatles song,

All 40 kids
Take a great camp, and add your swagger.
Remember, it never is about you.
Then you can be, the best CILT group ever.

As we crescendoed into the next section we all pointed at the children walking by in main field, becoming more animated and alive with every word.

Children, Children, Children, Children, AHHHHHH

It was as if something erupted inside each of us and everyone on the porch was caught up in a wave of energy as we danced and belted out the chorus with every fiber of our beings as if our life depended on it.

Na, na na, na na na, na na na, Hey CILTs
Na, na na, na na na, na na na, Hey CILTs
Na, na na, na na na, na na na, Hey CILTs

We broke from Lennon and McCartney's contagious refrain to our definitive conclusion.

Hey What?
Ok cool. See you tomorrow.

Everyone collapsed onto the benches, out of breath from the five minute cheer, to soak in the moment before heading to pop-stop.

Session 3

The Pathfinder counselors left the closing campfire stage in a blur of pink t-shirts while Scott stepped back up the microphone. "Next up is the CILTs," he announced. The counselors in the brown CILT t-shirts walked single file onto the stage. Our campers stayed still on the benches with their adopt-a-cabins out in the audience.

From the back of campfire we heard, "Aaaahh!  Sah-vein-yah! A-mah-knee-sim-ah-koh!"

Everyone's heads turned to see where the sound had come from. Their eyes landed on Beef who was holding up little Braden i.e. Tecumseh's own Simba. All of the CILTs in the audience and counselors on stage called back, "Oooo, wane-yah-oh"

"Aaaahh! Sah-vein-yah! A-mah-nah-YAY-sim-ah-koh!" Beef started his way down the long brick aisle.
"Oooo, wane-yah-oh, wane-yah-eh," we sang. Everyone began the motions and chanting the rhythm together,

Yurt and Longhouse, CILTs are wearing hat-sleeves
Yurt and Longhouse, CILTs are wearing hat-sleeves

The boys continued in their bass voice as girls broke off into the first verse,

From the day we arrived at Tecumseh
The CILTs were many, and now we are one.
There are more kids to meet, then can ever be met.
We really want, our grilled cheese for lunch.

The 30 girls took over the rhythm and the boys had to sing loudly in order to be heard,

There are way too many CILT girls here.
That is why, we live in the Yurt.
With the sun rolling high, in the Tecumseh sky,
To show our guns, we take off our shirts.

Beef lifted Braden high into the sky above Pride Rock the campfire stage and all of Team CILT sang with gusto,

It's the CILT way of life, so get off our swag.
42 leaders strong, we don't mean to brag.
Till we find our place, on Tecumseh staff.
It's the CILT way, the CILT way of life.

Everyone punctuated the ending with a simultaneous pound on the ground. Beef thumped the ground with his staff five times and everyone jumped up and fist-pumped,

We came to camp, camp, camp, camp.
I hit the lake with all my friends, friends, friends, friends.
I'm wearing all my friendship bands, bands, bands, bands.
The Yurt is hot without its fans, fans, fans, fans.
Yeah, yeah.
And CILTs goes on, and on, and on.
And we'll rock on, and on, and on.

All of the campers and counselors that had memorized our cheer during the week sang along with us from their bench Dynamite has just been released on the radio and everyone couldn't help but to dance in their seats.

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, saying C-I, baby L-T.
I wanna celebrate and live the dream, saying C-I, baby L-T.
'Cause we're gonna rock this cabin, we go 14 nights.
We're gonna light camp up like it's dynamite.
'Cause I told you once, yeah I told you twice,
We're gonna turn this water into a block of ice.

We froze in a dramatic silence across the campfire, a block of ice if you will. Beef yelled, "Boom," to release us from our frozen trance. In an imitation of Jessica's Daily Affirmations we finished the longest cheer ever.

I like my baby.
I like my backpack.
I like my broken Annies.
I like Joe Pop.
I like Germ-X. Huh.

The counselors jumped off the stage, the CILTs took their seats again, and Beef returned Braden to his mom.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"If that was a fire Miss Wright we would have all died."

We got an e-mail last week about an upcoming earthquake drill. When the alarm went off this morning I yelled over the clanging, "IT'S AN EARTHQUAKE DRILL. YOU HAVE TO GET UNDER YOUR DESKS." Then I realized it was actually a firedrill so I yelled over the clanging again, "JUST KIDDING. GET OUT." They were all crammed under their desks. "WE HAVE TO GO OUTSIDE." Double pratice. They'll be ready tomorrow.

You know the game where you say what animal people look like? I always tell Mikaela she looks like a sloth. Today she told me I would be a baby bunny. I took that as a compliment. Mikaela told Abby she looked like a potato but I kind of think she looks like an eel- we're still working on a final decision.

I got out of school and had voicemail from Allison Stamer telling me she was on her way home for Passover dinner and did I want to see her tonight? Ohmagosh of course I wanted to see her tonight. We met at the Monon and went on a walk.

I really miss seeing Allison all the time but love when I get to see her now. Some things stay the same like the way she talks with more energy and excitement and aliveness than anyone else. But I love that in the gaps between the times we see each other she is growing and learning and figuring life out. Today I was inspired hearing her talk about how she is looking for where she comes alive, where God has called her, and how she is going to live that out.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


One year ago today I started Overlap. Sarah had just begun a photo blog and convinced me to blog along with her. My goal was to write everyday for a month. Sar and I held each other accountable and would text each other, "remember to post tonight!"

After a few weeks I started to tell other people about the project.

This idea of overlapping with other people's lives became a theme for my daily life. I had to blog about something each night those first few months so I became intentional about showing up, calling people up and getting more involved than I had been. I'd forgotten how important it is to overlap. I'd forgotten how much joy comes from sharing life with other people.

My camera has become an extra limb. I document things now even more than I did before the blog. People who are around me all the time have gotten used to me taking pictures in the midst of conversation and activity, pausing to text a memorable quote to myself to use later on, and saying, "I've got to blog about this." When I'm around new people I have to put out a disclaimer before I begin taking pictures and explain why I want to capture this seemingly ordinary moment. Sometimes it's awkward. I'm okay with that.


I remember sitting in Heather Seller's office once in college. She was trying to make me write about camp and I thought no one would understand the story. "It doesn't matter if they've been there," she told me. "If you as the writer are excited about the story then they will care about reading it." She taught me to write about what I know. She taught me that the everyday interactions and events of my life actually are interesting. She taught me that if I write about camp people will actually care to read it. So for the past year I have continued to write even when I thought no one would care. 

I have been incredibly blessed to find that people are reading and people do care.

In this one year I have become not just a blog writer but an avid blog reader. I'm obsessed with Libby's Don't Waster Your Cancer and read her story from the beginning when Sarah found it. I love that so many of my friends from school and camp have started blogs and now I can read As Life Unfolds, Life In Color, Book Love, Defining Life, Finding Joy, Flip the Tape Deck, Little Things- Big Joy, Live Today Well, My Life (In Lists), Living Today Well, and Young Adventure.
I still prefer face-to-face conversations but have realized that people write about things in greater detail than they explain in conversation. I write about things in far greater detail than I explain them.

In this one year I've discovered it is kind of strange and fun to have people know all sorts of things about my life I've never actually told them. Oh, you knew I mulched all day Saturday? You knew I skyped with all three of the Evoy sisters awhile ago? You already heard about what I did in FBC this week?
I don't find it strange if people read my blog and no I'm not offended if you don't read it very often.

Thank you for reading whether you've read one time, you've made it your homepage, you follow the Facebook links, or you sat down and read through the posts for hours.
Thank you for commenting.
Thank you for texting me when you loved something I wrote.
Thank you for telling me that you've been reading and that I should keep writing.
Thank you for letting me document you when our lives overlapped.

Thank you for getting excited about being on the blog and letting me take your picture.
Thank you for following me.
Thank you for telling me when I spelled something wrong so I can go and fix it.
Thank you for caring about what I write.
Thank you for saying you want to buy the camp book someday.
Thank you for telling your roommate, your friend, your sister to read too.
Thank you for being so interesting, funny, wise, creative, inspiring, kind, generous, helpful, faithful, dependable and giving me so much to write about.