Saturday, May 31, 2014

"If I get corn rows then I don't have to wash my hair. I can get them if I want, I don't tell you not to wear a hair clip."

Weeks ago I wrote about how one of the moments I was most looking forward to about camp was walking to chapel for the first time. That happened today. We could hear, "Be bold! Be strong!" as soon as we passed the Arrow slide. Soon the rows of the LV chapel were filled and we all sang along with Claire and Mike. 

Joel did a twist on the potter skit today-- three new guy counselors. John Amy, the intense lifeguard, Mike Jones, the bball guy, and Brad Hough the quieter friendship bracelet maker. Joel brought in a parent to meet the guys and he ended up picking Brad because of his differences. This story illustrates how we need counselors this summer with different strengths to have the best possible camp and experience for these kids.

Our first session this morning was with Scott about camp culture. Gosh I just love hearing people talk about why this place is so special. Everyone is included. Faith is emphasized. Shared experiences. Stepping out of comfort zones. We're in nature. People respect each other. We're in a camp bubble. Creativity is encouraged. You can be who you want to be. Everyone can make friends here. Happiness. You impact people's lives. Love is everywhere. Relationships continue after you leave this place.

Tom and Joel led a session that introduced us to devotions. We talked about why they're important, how devotions have impacted us in the past, what we should focus on and avoid, and what a typical layout looks like. We watched Tom lead a mock devotion with a group of "Blazer boys" before coming up with some devotions in small groups. 

This afternoon we had a rest hour which was a phenomenal addition to the staff training schedule. I went on a run through the Oak Forest and then around the OT before heading back up to the LV. This place is so beautiful.

I keep having surreal moments when re-realize this is real. I am at camp right now. Summer is really happening. People I love are all around. Campers are coming next week. I'm back in my place and I love it. There are times when I think you can physically feel that your heart is really full. Right now it's bursting.

Last summer Ellyn and I started the tradition of taking daily pictures together. By the end of the summer we had quite the collection of ridiculous, beautiful, amazing photos of the two of us together. We're back at it again for year two.

This is my new friend Stevo. Today I gave him one of my friendship bracelet nametag lanyards and he turned it into croakies for his sunglasses. Stevo not only knows how to make bracelets but he also knits and is really excited about life. Can't wait to hang out with him this summer.

We played Tecumseh Feud after dinner to talk about the personnel policy. Our teams were Indiana v. the Rest of the World. Good news--- Indiana won!!!!

The staff gets broken up into smaller groups to shift through rotations over the next few days. Tonight two groups went through two different stops. The CILT counselors are running Optimist Challenge and the Teams Course which is sweet because we get lots of quality time together and we'll get to meet every single counselor.

Molly is a precious nugget. We first spotted Mike on the course.

When all four of us spotted Scotty D he started doing the inchworm instead of walking on the balance beams. None of us had seen that strategy before.

I love getting to hang out with new and old friends this week. These people are all so awesome and I love that for this week it's our job to spend time together. Once the kids arrive our focus will be on them, but for now we're just being friends.

Smoon and Arielle are two of my oldest and greatest friends and I love seeing them become friends and living art together. Mags and Jordan finally got to do their Camp T handshake together.

Our last devotion time of the night was actually 30 minutes to go off and individually plan, pray, research, create devotions that we'll use this summer. It was good to have time to slow down and think through some ideas and themes for the CILTs.

Friday, May 30, 2014

"But no one eats the monarch butterflies because they taste bad. Gold is my favorite color. Yellow is my house."-

Today is one of the most exciting days of the entire year. I started as Miss Wright and ended as Sar. I left room 124 and ended in a bunk in Chippewa cabin. It's been an awesome day.

On the last day of school at HSJH everyone dresses up for awards. The kids all got to carry around their phones all day so of course took a whole lot of pictures. I will miss Audrey and Elyse so much. 

4th period has been one of the most entertaining classes I've ever had. I love Helen Zhang and that she rocks her family restaurant New China. Maddy Wade is precious and kind and I love hearing her stories.

Sean Williams is one of the biggest suck-ups I've ever had and I will miss him so much. Somehow you can't help but love @seanwilliamsyo when he's giving you compliments left and right. Gavin (aka Javin) is a beast and and I loved getting to have him as a student. Klink aka Androx has been a key player in this class, just like he is on the court, and he will be missed.

I don't know how I got so lucky, but I got the best kids in my class this year. Victoria's sweetness, Kate and Cecilia are so weird together and Caroline is not only an awesome person but she won my Comp award for the highest grade today.

I visited kids in all three lunches today. There was one last lunch crew picture. These kids restored my faith in middle school boys and I will miss them so much. I'm praying that they'll show up to YL in HS so that I can see them again.  Today there were cookie cakes hidden under tables, 212 award predictions and lots of yearbook signings.

We watched HS Musical 2 in class all day long and Troy and Gabriella are still singing, "You Are the Music In Me" and "Gotta Go My Own Way" in my head. My favorite tradition is at the very end of the day when all of the teachers go outside and wave to buses as they pull away. The kids arms are stretched out the windows and it's like a scene in a movie... like at the beginning of HS Musical 2 when everyone runs out of school singing, "What time is it? Summer time. We're on vacation!"

I literally ran through the school hallway so I could switch from my teacher dress to my nike shorts and tshirts. Two minutes later I was in my car and on my way to Tecumseh. The rest of the staff arrived earlier in the day and I couldn't wait to arrive.

I made it just in time to move into Chippewa and then meet up with all of the cabins as they walked over to flagpole. Ellyn and Arielle raced to me first and attacked me with hugs. I found my cabin and hugged my counselors Anna and Liz, the other returners I know and met our new friends.

Todd and Mags are pumped for Pathfinders. Ellyn is the CAC Queen and loving her new found royalty.

I'm so excited to be here with some of my best friends in the world for the next ten weeks. Can't tell you how much Maggie, Smooncat, Arielle and Ellyn mean to me. These girls are my family.

All of the full time staff introduced themselves and their families. Arielle thinks that Brynn is me reincarnated which I'm fine with. Mark wore his kindergarten graduation hat and wrote notes for speech. He told us he wants his nickname this summer to be monarch caterpillar or monarch butterfly.  He told us some of his favorite things and a good joke.

The whole full time staff broke out in a flash mob once the introductions were over. It was phenomenal. Not only are Scott and Joel excellent dancers, but Keith was dancing with a turtle the whole time.

Chippewa dressed up as full time staff for opening campfire. Can you spot Ellyn, Mike and Mel, Jordan and Stacey, Luke and John Amy, Tom, Joel and Renee?

Mike and I (Mel) are expecting our child in October. Ellyn and Ellyn---- which one is the real one?

The cast of Rugrats...

 Center table...

Mel, Mel and Dumbledore. Dumbledore is Mel's blue car. We made it to Opening Campfire and we had all the camp kids with us. I loved seeing Sophie with her old counselors Becca and Molly and then with Fizz.

Mags, John Baney and Mike Jones competed in a fire building contest.

The crowd was on their feet cheering people on.

John ended up winning but afterwards we found out he had been given a fire starter and Mike had a lighter. So Mags was actually the real winner.

The Coords helped welcome everyone to the family. Later in devotions one of the new counselors in my cabin said, "My high of the day was that welcome to the family song, it was so sweet." I forget sometimes how much that song really means.

Back in Chippewa we sat in a circle for our first devotion of the summer. We talked about JOY, created cabin goals and prayed together. During staff training all of the counselors hang out in Scheumann at night till late. I walked over with Liz and Emily and the party was already started. It's going to be an awesome week.


Finally the 2014 Dodgeball Tournament arrived. Manifest Destiny, who had been destined by God to drive out the competition and win it all, was pumped and ready to win. Our team included 8th grade boys: Johnny, Rhye, Kevin and Dugan and 7th grade girls: Maggie, Cecilia, Cami and Julia. We had all been talking mad game all week and were ready to show everyone what we were made of. #westwardho


Just kidding. We lost. In our first game. But we tried our best. We actually put up a good fight and each team only had a couple players left in the end. We won in our hearts though so at least we've got that going for us.

There were still plenty of teams left to play and the Manifest Destiny girls screamed our hearts out. Yelling for players was easily my favorite part of the whole thing. I loved the Lumberjacks outfits, rooted for Runge This Town and screamed for the Dragon Slayers.

In the end Jackson's team won it all. Over a hundred kids participated in this year's tournament--makes me proud and thankful to be a part of HSJH. I think next year I'm going to name my team Stomach Acid--intimidating, intense and ridiculous.

STAFF TRAINING STARTS TOMORROW! Tonight Brooke helped me pack up my car with everything I'll need for the next 10 weeks. We decided this would also be the worst day of the year to get my car stolen because all of my favorite things are loaded in there right now from my spirit jerseys to nike shorts, snapbacks to party tanks and my signed copies of Cold Tangerines and Love Does. So far, so good-- the car is safe. I'm almost finished with friendship bracelets for the year as well. I'll finish up one or two tomorrow and then call it quits until August. I can't wait to pass them all out to people.

Brookie and I surprised Julia with a slushie at her house while she was studying for finals. I'm going to miss these girls so much but know that we'll still find ways to see each other this summer. Sharp Top together in July is going to be beyond amazing. 

Brooke and I had one last Steak n' Shake date. We made a list of some of our favorite memories together this year and told lots of stories. If only we could hang out all the time and I could bring Brooke to school and camp with me. I love being around her because she's genuine and goofy and kind and positive and loves adventure. So thankful for her friendship.