Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer 2012 was an adventure

The last full day of camp is strange. You wake up ready for another day of camp and then it hits you-- this is the last one. Jamie and I told our girls as soon as we got up, "This is going to be the best day ever guys. We've got to have as much fun as possible." Annie Fazzio got a Day Camp award because she's so great. All day long I was so nostalgic, I'll miss the littlest of things like the walk to chapel in the morning.

This last chapel was awesome. Brad and Molly did the most impressive version of the Donut skit I've ever seen and then Brad did an awesome job of wrapping it up and explaining so everyone could understand the story of Christ and his sacrifice better.

James played guitar, Morph was on the keyboard and all of chapel was singing with everything they had in them. It felt like a party as everyone was smiling and dancing as we sang.

I'm going to miss watching counselors with campers in down times. I love that in River we have this community where everyone knows kids from other cabins and we can all hang out together. We remember kids from past summers and get to know their friends. It really feels like one big family.

I love that by Friday everyone feels so comfortable and just plain happy. Life is so good here.

I love little girls like Tabby that make us laugh and smile and be so thankful that we get to be summer camp counselors. I love Brunner Runner Runner's energy and that Paige and Ellyn both got to come back to be counselors for a couple weeks this summer.

I love when Kata wears her cat shirt and gold hat. I love when everyone takes care of their friends so well.

Ellyn and I met the French Braiding girls at flagpole and gave them options, "We can go find a spot to sit and braid or we could try to go visit every clinic in all of camp and braid along the way." They enthusiastically chose to be explorers.

First we visited the Skywalker's course. Ellyn and I gave information as we walked about the Giant's Ladder, Something Big, Pirate's Crossing and Tarzan. Smooney told the girls all about IT (Intimidation Tower). They were stricken with fear.

Every time we visited a crafting clinic whether it was pen lathing, mosaics or friendship bracelets we surrounded the whole table and then said, "Ooohooooh" in unison.

I'd taught clay the work before and seen several interesting pinch pot creatures but was super impressed to see these.

We paid homage to the bronze woman Susie that saved the Bison in the West.

Inside Scheumann the girls got to meet our friend Mel.

Down in the basement of Whitetail we visited Fibers clinic and saw their tye-dye and screen printing masterpieces.

From the hill we could shout down and yell hello to Canoeing, Kayaking, Arielle, Jordan, John Amy and Hayden.

We whizzed like frisbees past Ultimate Frisbee and sang, "Lax, Lax, Lax on you" in Bieber style to Lacrosse.

We were the sound machine yelling "POW!" and "UGH!" during a tennis match and then told Archery, "May the odds be ever in your favor."

We had a dance party walk through in the CAC. After visiting Brazilian dance, the pool clinics, martial arts and cup-stacking we made it through to everyone. It was quite the hike but so worth it to get to see everyone and have a new adventure on the last day.

During second clinic we perfected our hip-hop dance to Good Time and Bonkers--the Hough twins and I just love all these kids. We were so excited to perform at closing campfire.

Friday was filled with a lot of sentimental moments--the last day of our neon hats and party tanks, our last day with Erin, and of Arielle and Kendrick being best friends in the CAC.

We taught the Friendship Bracelet Clinic how to make the diagonal stripe and worked on letters for something we would do at closing campfire.

It just felt so surreal that on this day we were hanging out with all our camp friends living life like we had for the past two months and tomorrow everything would get cleaned up and packed up and we'd all head home.

A spontaneous rainstorm drenched kids that ran towards Main Lodge and kept some of us stuck in the CAC until lunch began. Becca Huckstep finally got to put her poncho to good use, Arielle made a raincoat from a trash bag, and Sarah Scott, Mary Brody and I huddled under umbrellas.

Baby Lincoln has been one of the main characters of my summer. I'm so lucky that I got to see him every day for these months and just loved being there to hold him or crawl with him or try to get him to laugh. It'll be so sad to have him go all the way back to Michigan but I'll have to make frequent visits.

I wrote Parent Letter's like crazy during rest hour so that I could go play the rest of the day. I made it to the middle of swim time to jump in the Bradshaw and do some turtling with my girls one more time even though it was rather freezing. I've loved hanging out with Lucie all week--she is such a leader and always shares so much joy and excitement with the people around her. I wish we could have had her for longer. After pop stop we competed in the Blazer Dutch Auction.

We tried to win each round but mostly I liked just hanging out with the kids. Kaya kept coming over to our cabin's circle and Erin and Abby traded turns on my lap because they were both freezing.

I love silly faces and becoming a family and being friends with kids...

and learning to work as a team and giving hugs and encouraging the counselors around you.

I was glad Illinois sat down right next to Choctaw, we may have orchestrated that, so Annie and I could kind of hang out for another hour. While they were tallying scores Annie and I got one of our campers to take the camera for a mini photo shoot.

Annie and I have been friends for three summers, two whole years now, and I'm consistently so thankful for her. It was so cool this summer to live with her in the Longhouse as she interacted with the CILTs, to watch her lead as one of the Coords in Day Camp and to see her be a resident counselor for this last week. She is so good at this whole camp thing.

Choctaw got all dressed up in their denim, cowboy hats and bandannas for the country hoe down.

Erin reminded me of the girls from It Takes Two with her extra large sweatshirt and my overalls that went down past her knees.

Any occasion where we can wear overalls is a great one in my books.

Dinner is all about belting out Taylor Swift, dancing with campers in the Party Room and trying to find time to eat so you won't end up starving later on. I think every River Village counselor came in to sing Order of the Oar to Braden Gleason.

We sat in circles during Trading Post, the once centered around baby Lincoln was pretty popular per usual.

He got to try an ice-cream sandwich for the first time which we thought he'd be thrilled about but he's not entirely sold on them yet. I've loved getting to be friends with Jamie all summer and get to know her so much better.

This week's drama clinic was the Teen Choice Awards. Molly won Biggest Party Animal, Grace got Biggest Prankster, Arielle won best Swimming Clinic, Abby gave me the Most Friendship Bracelets Given Away and Hayden got a Taylor Swift award.

Another Bucket List moment for the summer-- she got to ride in the Horse Parade that leads the way to closing campfire.

Campfire began with one of my favorite traditions. Counselors from every Unit of camp (Pathfinders, Blazers, Warriors, Trippers, Braves, CILTs, Equestrians and Day Camp) held a letter and then read a list-- i.e. S is for Shawnee, Seneca, stars shine bright, sneeches with stars upon thars, all the Sarahs, sloppy joes, Silly Willy and Silly Moose, etc.
When we held up the letters at the end we revealed the special unit shirts that were made for this night in honor of Dave's last campfire--each one had a CT1 radio on the front and a phrase to connect day and the unit on the back.

The Buffalo brothers sang a tribute to Dave and Beth that literally brought tears to my eyes. Well done guys.

The counselors that have been on Resident staff for three summers came on stage to get their special green jackets--the most coveted clothing apparel item among staff.

When it was time for the awards Tom called up Nick and Katie for the Y M side and Bethie and me for the C A huh! side. Katrina held baby Lincoln up front too so it was a whole family party.

My favorites were "I pledge allegiance to Camp Tecumseh," the Yo Mamma/ Your Father and when Bethie took my hat on and off.

We make a really good team.

Hip-hop got to perform and I was so proud of our kids. Country Line Dancing was to One Direction's Up All Night and they were SO fun--Braves were literally dancing in their seats. LV hip hop was really good and the LV show choir did a tribute to Dave. It was an awesome campfire.

At the end Dad was Cheif Noonway one last time. I remember seeing him do this back when there really was no stage and we all sat on rows of logs. Now years later he is finishing his tradition of sharing the Sagamore Creed and history of Tecumseh with all of camp.

I stayed sitting between two of my girls as the counselors went up on stage to sing Tecumseh for the final time this summer. I love this place with my whole heart and it is so hard to say good-bye at the end of every summer. My girls and I hugged each other close as we sang and I wasn't surprised that they were crying right along with me even though they're only 11 years old.

Saturday morning we sad good-bye to Bo the Hobo for the last time as well. Just like Desert Pete and Enoch he has been a regular guest at the Green Cathedral for years. We'll miss the way he just pops out of the woods, his entire Hobo demeanor and his stories about the Tree of Life and the Fruits of the Spirit.

Back at the Longhouse porch it was time to say good-bye to all of our little girls. Arielle and Lele were so close--they had been in the same Day Camp trail group years ago and now in the same cabin.

We had a heck of a week in Choctaw and our girls were go down in the books for being so goofy and crazy. There is no possible way I could forget them all.

Lucie, Abby and Caroline all came together for the first time and I loved watching them proudly do their cheers for their moms. They were so excited to share everything about the week.

This trio was so good about being really good friends all week long--they include each other, they encourage one another to follow the rules, they're patient and respectful, they're hilarious and so creative.

I love that as counselors we're trying to teach our kids all week long but really they're teaching us too. Whether my campers are 16 or 14 or 11 they're always giving me and teaching me so much whether they realize it or not.

Once all the campers had left and counselors had packed up their cabins all of the staff met at the Main Lodge for the final lunch together. Katie corralled most of the camp kids, those of us who are lucky enough to have had a parent work at camp, for a big picture. We're still missing a few but it was so cool to have most of us in the same place at the same time. I'm so lucky I get to belong to this group.

Later that night everyone got cleaned up at gathered again for the final banquet of the summer. We traded in our camp frat outfits for something a bit classier. I love my family so much and am so glad we got to spend the summer together. It's so sad to have to say good-bye to them now.

Because Day Camp ended a week earlier and they're in and out all summer I hadn't seen a lot of these counselors in weeks. I loved having almost all of them back in one place. This staff is the dream team of Day Camp staffs and I hope that they will all return again next summer whether that's back in Day Camp or moving over to Resident Camp.

It's one of the greatest perks of being a returning CILTs counselor that I get to see so many of our old campers become terrific counselors.

Jamie and Smooney have been two of my best friends this summer and have been such encouragers to me in faith, in presence and motivation. I'm excited to stay friends with both of them this year even though it will be long distance.

I love the Molly, Kata, Arielle and Burke generation of counselors and have loved the life and creativity and volume they've brought to camp this summer.

Molly, Mary, Chrissy and Kendall all have such a special place in my heart and I'm so lucky that I get to be on staff with them these days.

It's so many different people that make up by camp family-- Linsey, Mar Bro, Peanut, Arielle Face, Bailey and Finney Baby are all part of it along with dozens of other people. They each play a different role in my life here but I can't imagine my camp story without them in it.

Summer 2012 has been an adventure. There are weeks of stories, hundreds of kids, dozens of counselors and so many moments that I hope I'll never forget. During staff training Eric talked to us about being joyful for the small things and keeping a list of at least three great things that happened each day so that when we reached the end of the summer we'd have a record of all those awesome things we don't want to forget. My journal is bursting with love tanks from CILTs, notes from friends and all my daily lists of great things that happened. Someday when I'm missing camp an extra lot I'm so glad I have those pages to go back and look at.

I'm so thankful for this summer--the days that were easy and the ones that were a challenge, the times we sat in circles and talked everywhere from the floor in Choctaw to the middle of the Oak Forest, friendships that we worked to grow and the ones that easily fell into place, campers that made me laugh and the ones that gave me so much love they made me cry, one on one conversations that challenged me, encouraged me, and pushed me to grow as a counselor and a person, prayers that were answered and ones I'm still praying today, adventures in the middle of the night and things checked off the bucket list. It's been a summer to remember.

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