Thursday morning was spent planning CILTy things and then in the afternoon we helped out at the lake with Touchstone Energy and 4-H camp. I got the privilege of being the beach watcher--so basically I hung out in the shallow end collecting clay from under the sand to make giant clay balls with a group of girls. When we were too cold in the water, we sat on the sand and buried our legs to warm up. It was almost like summer camp lake time.
Then it was time for the all staff picture. I remember when I was a little camp kid growing up I would look forward to this event; I got to hang out with all the counselors, sit in the front row, and be in another staff picture on the wall of the fellowship room.
Now it's still a big event for all the spouses and children to show up for. New counselors get to don a royal blue staff polo for the very first time; this costume change is a much anticipated rite of passage.
After dinner everyone scattered to gather supplies for a sleep-out. We packed our bags with everything we thought we would need--headlamp, extra layers of clothes, snacks, sleeping bag, pillow, blanket, water bottle, hammock and flashlight.
We're intense. We put comforters inside fleeces and name our sleeping bag Megan.
But before the camp out we met as a Village in the party room. I love this time, it's become one of my favorite staff training sessions. We spontaneously sang through all of Dynamite as everyone filtered in and you could tell by the look on Adam and Eric's faces that they were both just stoked to be leading this group.
We each shared three things we're thankful for and then watched The Happiness Advantage, a TED video about positivity. This summer every RV counselor has a journal to write their three positive things each day. We're also going to work on finding quiet time, exercising daily(that one is easy) and completing random acts of kindness. Camp is such a place of happiness and if we're intentional about positivity we'll be that much stronger.
Then just as dusk was falling around us, each unit struck off into the woods to find their camp-out spot. The CILTs took off down the River path past the Black Hole looking for a cluster of trees that would work for our hammocks. We picked a spot by the river and went to work rigging everything up.
Jamie, Arielle, Morph, Hayden, Lesem and Colleen are some of the best counselors, most loyal and faithful friends, and hilarious people I've ever known. I'm thrilled that I get to spend my summer working alongside them. Before we went to sleep we took turns answering the questions 'What are you most excited for/ nervous about in CILTs?' and 'What's your story of how camp has changed you?' I loved getting to hear their answers and getting a clearer picture of where they're coming from.
We were hot when we went to bed in our hammocks, but at some point in the night I woke up freezing and stayed that way the rest of the time we were in the woods. In an effort to conserve body heat I put on a second sweatshirt and slept with my head in my pillow. Finally the sun came up and I pulled my head out of my pillowcase to this view.
Everyone was still nestled snuggly in their hammocks.
There are too many CILTs to ever get to go out in hammocks together but it was sweet to have this adventure as a team.
Arielle spotted a fawn as we walked back to the main path. Can you see it?
Then Jamie did the fox walk to get closer without scaring her away. She woke up just in time for the picture but never ran away.
To mirror the stories in the Butterfly Circus, a large group of counselors and leadership staff shared our cardboard testimonies during chapel. One side holds the story of brokenness or pain in our life and the flip side is how God has redeemed our lives and shown through. It is incredible to be able to see a community be so vulnerable and honest and to see God glorified through each person's life.
You make all things work together for my good
Your love never, never gives up, never runs out on me
As I was walking to River village later in the day I was struck by this view. It's one of my favorites in all of camp. I love this long road and the way the sunlight filters through the leaves. But the thing is, it's so much better when the path is filled with campers talking and cabin groups singing--I can't wait for everyone to get here.
Getting to spend so much time with other counselors this week has been a huge blessing. I loved getting to see friends like Sarah Mooney and Maddie Bien all day long when we're usually in different villages. It was really cool to get to know returners like Natalie (baby) Finney and Mary Lang better since last year we didn't get to hang out that much.
I loved spending time with my cabin and getting to know this group of women better. It was neat to watch Grace Mears become a counselor after knowing her for years and to see Bailey come back into this role after being a camper years ago.
I love getting to know new people-- things like how Liz snorts when she laughs, Erin has intense dance moves, Bre is more than her chill exterior (but we like that too), how funny Alex Allison is, and that twins Becca and Brad take such good care of each other. I love seeing Day Camp counselors move over to resident staff--watching them grow into awesome counselors and give back to camp is one of the coolest things.
We formally ended staff training with a recap video of the week and then the Shalom song. Besides our weekly staff meeting, this is the last time it will be just all of us until the Staff Banquet after week 9. We have just over two months to live the dream and make a difference in the lives of the hundreds of kids we're going to meet this summer. We have about 40 hours until our first cabin group will arrive.
Jamie, KJ, Smooney, Katie Sink and I started our free time with a trip to Dairy Queen for Blizzards. While we ate outside at a picnic table, two little girls at the table next to us figured out we were Tecumseh counselors. They come to Day Camp and told us about their counselors last summer and how they got a birthday postcard from them and they can't wait to come back. Camp is everywhere.
Then we decided to geocache in Delphi. After crawling all over and under and around this cannon Sarah Mooney found the hidden box. Inside was a secret message and a log of all the previous finders. We added our names and then folded it back up to re-hide.
Back at camp Sarah and I walked all over the Lake Village before heading to the Touchstone dance party. Usually it overlaps with staff training so all of the counselors go, but this year almost everyone had gone home. We still danced hard and were soon joined by 15 more counselors that had decided to stick around. Hours later, after dancing to hits like Love Story, Starship, the Lazy Song, Cotton Eyed Joe, Boyfriend and the Cupid Shuffle, we retired for the night.