Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's Staff Training Eve!

Today was all about anticipation and tying up lose ends before the marathon of Summer Camp begins tomorrow. I ran some errands, finished Firefly Lane (which led me to cry for the last 50 pages of the book), packed up most of my life, skyped Annie, started one last pre-camp bracelet and double-checked my packing before I drove up to camp.

Chrissy Crowe and Sarah Mooney came early to stay with me so we could have a slumber party and all be excited together. We visited Quilt Camp and then drove to Delphi to have dinner at the Stone House. Chrissy had french toast, aka a loaf of bread for dinner.

I love being with these girls and love that we don't have to say good-bye tomorrow or at the end of the weekend. It still hasn't sunk in all the way that we're going to be together all summer.

We've hung up staff training tips all over the Lake Village and helped Thais move cabins. Now we're watching Step-Mom and doing campy crafts. We keeping getting excited when we remember that we get to see Kendall and Grace and Kellie tomorrow. I don't know if we'll be able to fall asleep.

p.s. Want to play a really fun game called Send Sarah Wright and/or Other Counselors Mail During Camp? I thought you would...

(Counselor's Name)
12635 W Tecumseh Bend Rd
Brookston, IN 47923

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Caricatures, snow cones, and YL girls

The last project for 8th grade art students is to draw a caricature of a teacher and then they give the drawing to the teacher to hang up in their classroom. This year I had a group of awesome girls choose me in different art periods. In the past couple weeks they've come up to tell me the progress they're making or a new idea they just thought of to have me wear overalls or put me at YL camp. I love these drawings because they're from girls I've gotten to know so well in the past two years through class, Friendship Bracelet Club, and bible study. I'm so sad that I won't see them every single day anymore but so thankful that most of them will become my Young Life girls for the next couple years.

Each girl came to my class to bring me their picture and I was so impressed over and over again. As I've gotten to know them they've really gotten to know me so well too.

*In several pictures I have bunny ears because of the game that you match people up with an animal they look like. A group of girls that come to my SLT decided I'm a baby bunny and they all have their own animal too featured in a few below.

When the final bell rang we flushed the kids out of the school and all the teachers waved good-bye to the buses. It still feels surreal that another school year is finished and I won't be going back to teach tomorrow. I don't know how long that will take to sink in.

Weirder still, I will probably never see room 201 again, at least for a very long time. When I come back we'll be in the new builder and this stack of boxes will hopefully be waiting for safe and sound in my brand-new room 124.

Right after school I changed into summer clothes and rode my bike to meet Alli and her friend Isabella for a celebratory snow cone to start off the summer. I have loved getting to hang out with Alli so often in Indy and growing so much closer this year. She is wonderful. We're thrilled that the next time we see each other will be during week one of camp when she arrives for Day Camp training.

Then I had one last dinner with all the Senior girls. I feel so blessed that I've gotten to hang out with this group all year long over dinners and frozen yogurt, in Campaigners circles, during long road trips, dancing in YL Clubs, and going on adventures. They have taught me so much about being a leader, a friend, and someone continually want to live a more authentic relationship with Christ. I know we'll stay in touch and hopefully see many of them again before they head off to college in the Fall.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"What about the time he left a turkey in his trunk for two months?"

I'm into celebrations. I love any event that brings friends together, that causes us to sit down together while the kids run through the house and around the yard. I'm into Maryellen's Asian salad, Jenna's avocado, blue cheese and tomato salsa, burgers off the grill and a bowl of fresh berries. Yep, parties are good.

I've been part of this community for three years now, as if I'm just finishing my Junior year of "real life." And despite popular opinion that college is the best four years of your life I'm really loving this phase. I love being around people from different careers, ages, families, backgrounds. I'm happy to wear the different hats of teacher, friend, counselor, roommate and Young Life leader during the week.

Tonight's party was special because tonight we got to celebrate Jake, a great friend and one of our Young Life team leaders. He's heading out Texas at the end of the summer and he will be dearly missed. We shared memories of Jake and told stories of why he is incredible. This is a guy that balances the seriousness and fun of Young Life better than anyone else Jon knows. Mary Ellen and I so appreciate the way he has lead the leaders on this time so that we always feel known, valued, appreciated, supported and needed. Ask any kid or watch Jake with his guys and you can easily see that his love for them and their friendships go deep. He has modeled what following Christ looks like and he has walked closely though life with them.

And Jake is fun-- from playing Settler's of Catan to going hard in every dance party, from to convincing kids to rap about turkeys to driving an imaginary safari car through a zoo. People just want to be around him. He will be missed.

Tomorrow is my last day of school which is such a bittersweet ending. Yes, I get to go back to camp but I have to say good-bye to nights like this and friends that have become my family. I'm so blessed here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sarah Briggs came to visit!

I can think of no better way to spend Memorial Day than with Sarah Briggs and friends. She and Ben drove down from Chicago to spend the day with us. Both of us are so busy going all over the place all summer long that we knew we wouldn't get a chance to see each other again until August. So she drove many hours to see some of her favorite people.

We finally choose 3 Wiseman for lunch, waited patiently for a seat, carefully selected our foods to share and then dove in. Mary Ellen was in love with the loaded potato chips and Ben was the biggest fan of the pizza sticks. Michelle, Sarah and I thought they both were pretty great. We all shared two pizza and drank several Ball jars of Diet Pepsi (I know...) and Dr. Pepper.

Because we were so full and because it was so hot outside we couldn't imagine doing anything but coming back into the air conditioning and just sitting together. I love that we don't need a game or activity or series of events to keep us all busy--we really like just being together.

A little later we ventured to the Nickevich's memorial cookout which was a porch party by the time we arrived. We love this porch. You can't tell from this picture, but Sarah and I are sitting on a giant porch swing that can fit five people across. Everyone gathers in chairs here and sets up camp talking and laughing for hours, leaving only for refills of ice water or another bite of Marlin's pie. The boys played bocce ball in the yard and Jack convinced Ben to help him plant a tree.

Before we knew it the day had turned into night and Orange Leaf beckoned us. When you are a frequent visitor of self-serve frozen yogurt you learn to give yourself conservative portions but I admired Ben's go-big-or-go-home mentality as he filled his bowl to the top with yogurt, covered it with strawberries and topped it off with a gummy worm. And you know what? He finished every bite.

Days like today with your best friends are my favorite kind of days. I'm so glad that a year after Sarah moved to Chicago she is still such a huge part of our lives. I don't know what we would all do without her.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"This is my life and I'm happy to be living it."

Here's the thing, I'm just too busy living life to spend a lot of time writing about it on the blog. Sometimes I better about balancing the two, but for now a series of highlights of the last few days will be just perfect.

We met early Friday morning at the Devoe's for the last bible study of the year. They boy group, girl group and all the parents gathered together with a special presentation. Jon Houghton shared the Timberwolf video and a bit about Young Life, and then Hannah and Riley, two Young Life seniors, shared about how much YL has impacted them since they were in middle school. More kids are now excited about going to camp this summer and our list is growing.

On Friday Erin and Julia, two 7th grade girls, surprised me with these shoes. I love the tie-dye shoes they made together so they created a special pair with Taylor Swift lyrics just for me. I can't wait to wear them on Monday.

The rest of the weekend I spent time...

driving to Camp Tecumseh for CILT counselor time with Colleen,

playing Fishbowl with a group of counselors that has arrived for early trainings,

copying hundreds of sheets of papers for the CILTs,

having a sleepover with Jamie Zurawski,

tracking down campers like Sarah in the crowd of Family Camp families,

copying more papers with Jamie and Morph,

changing Coaching Cards and schedules and plans for the CILTs of 2012,

making piles of papers, hole-punching and binder assembling with Colleen, Brad, Morph and Jamie,

having a counselor sing-a-long while we worked,

playing with the Pfanschmidt girls and Gleason children,

consuming a camp day amount of Diet Coke,

brainstorming for RFAJWD,

talking to Katrina about Love Does,

playing with kittens at the Elliott house,

playing 'Horses' and 'Sisters' with Sophia and Sarah,

being a monster that fights little boys,

learning to hold kittens gently,

having heart-to-hearts in the car,

going to see What to Expect with Molls,

sleeping in,

getting a fun surprise and working on finishing a few surprises,

reading Firefly Lane,

starting Friday Night Lights because I know Casey Dawson loves it so much,

and going to Common Ground at night.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Thanks so much for keeping me from eating dirt for breakfast."

In the past few days I have heard so many sad stories of things happening in the lives of people I'm connected too. I so often am at a loss for words of what to say, because there really are no words to make things better. I was watching a great video yesterday and one of the characters said, "The greater the struggle, the more gloriously God can shine through." I love that we are given that promise and that hope in Christ. He redeems the broken things and brings new life that is more beautiful than what we can imagine.

So I'm continually learning to figure out how to be with people in the hard times and to still look for the good in all circumstances.

My students wrote letters to one of their favorite teachers today and I got to deliver them to everyone's mailboxes. It's so cool that by having each student choose one person over thirty different teachers were picked--I work with so many incredible people.

We just finished our chapbooks, the final comp project of the year, and I'm in a grading frenzy to get them all back quickly. But this dedication, from a girl I would have expected to write something serious, made me laugh so hard and I almost spit out my coffee.

I'm reading Firefly Lane, per Maggie's suggestion, and am loving the story of Kate and Tully.

I got to have dinner with Alli, Niki and Molly tonight. It was probably one of the last times we'll get together this year since they're graduating and will move away after the summer. Hanging out with them the past two years has been one of my favorite things.

Tonight my school had an 8th grade end of the year celebration Luau. Oh my goodness, it's events like this that make me love Junior High; the few students brave enough to dance, the frantic signing of yearbooks, and the ever-present awkwardness that is Junior High. I love the kids of this class and have gotten to know many of them well in the past two years. It'll be so strange to not have them in our building next year.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Take care of each other. -Robert Louis Stevenson

After school a crew of girls stayed after to help me pack my room. Our plan of attack? Just take everything down. In just over an hour every poster, picture, sign and decoration was off the wall and packed up. Now I've got to figure out how to stack the ten boxes on my scaffold without them falling over or caving in.

Tonight Emily, Rachel and Sara invited camp friends over for a little dinner party fiesta. I love that Mary, Molly, Coll and Paige are all back home from school. These women have become my best friends and some of my oldest friends and I'm so lucky we're all so close by.

I love that when we're all together we laugh a lot. That bending over, tears in your eyes kind of laugh. Through eating chips and quac and telling stories and playing fishbowl and just being together, they make me want to stay up way later than I should just because I want us to keep hanging out.

We played a special version of the Game of Things. Emily made the first round "Things Sarah Wright Loves" and everyone wrote down their answer. Then we took turns guessing who wrote what. We liked it so much we played a round for everyone.

Things Sarah and Rachel Love

Things Paige and Colleen Love

Things Molly and Mary Love

Things Sara and Emily Love

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Staring triangle-- ready, set, go."

Tonight I got to hang out with Amanda and Sarah and Lizzy. We laughed and ate noodles and talked about camp and how finals are dumb and how we can't wait for staff training.

It felt a little like a summer night with all our friends together on such a beautiful day. We went to get snowcones at the snowzone, my first time ever there, and I felt like Mary Brody who used to make daily trips.

p.s. Colleen Kelley, I'm pretty sure this thx note was written for you.