Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hot Sauce and YL Swagger- Pacers Club

Last weekend all of Indianapolis Wyld Life gathered together for the first All City Wyld Life Club. Tonight, all of the Young Life Clubs from Indiana and Kentucky gathered together at the Pacers Club for the first ever All Region Club. It was insane and amazing and ridiculous. 

I drove downtown with Julia and Natalie and quickly ran into KCraig and Hannah. We redeemed our vouchers for free Pacers hats, a hot dog, french fries and pop. Concessions and people are always my favorite part of any sporting event.

Because all of the YL areas were gathered together we got to pull together all the Tecumseh people in attendance. Kmart and Carolyn Oneal, Emily Harlow, Josie Luptak, Ava and Emily Peterson, Julia Dewolf, Natty B and Frances Miller all made it for the picture. Other Tecumseh friends I later ran into included Joey Oneal, Molly Neterer and Courtney Brody.

There's so much more enthusiasm and fun when all of these people get to gather together. I love seeing leaders from different areas like Emily  Welx, Mary Ellen, Katie Evans and Abby Miller. I spotted the FBC guy leaders from Bloomington and talked with Carmel girls as we watched the game. My friends and I sat in the very top row of the very top section. It felt like we could leap and land on the court without much effort.

KCraig and I worked on bracelets while we watched the game. Our favorite moment of the game was a tie between the Pacers Hip Hop team and the trampoline-flipping-dunking-guys. Unfortunately the Pacers didn't win the game but the luckily the night was far from over.

All of the YL people headed down the the bottom level and found seats facing the court and the stage we'd set up. Ryan led us in Don't Wake Me Up and Let It Go to start which was pretty sweet to have him up front. 

Next KCraig came out with two other YL staff people as the Program team. They were the Pacers Mascot Squad, here to teach us how to turn up. Oh my goodness I love KCraig, especially as G Squirrel.

Big Apple, Blanana and G Squirrel pulled all 1300 of us on the court to play Over the Mountain. I ran into Annie from North Central, leaders Audrey and Abby from Butler and later Katie Evans too. I'm such a fan of YL people.

Next Julia and I represented HSE in a game with a leader and kid from every area. In the first round we had to run out into the crowd and grab an item from people of different areas. The last teams back got eliminated each time.

We returned with shoes, Pacers hats, belts, ticket stubs and hair ties. Then we had to compete in a round to go find Big Apple in the crowd, give him a high 5 and make it back up front the fastest.

Julia and I were one of six teams to advance to the final round. They played a song over the speaker, Julia had to hit my head to make me drink a shot of hot sauce and then she could try to name the song.

On the very first song she whacked my head, I quickly drank the hot sauce without thinking about it too much and Julia answered, "Ice, ice baby?" correctly. WE WON!

Moments later I was downing water trying to get the taste of hot sauce out of my mouth and Julia was checking out her scraped, bleeding shin that had gotten injured in one of the earlier phases of the game. Anything for victory.

I loved getting the chance to be a team with Julia tonight. She's my go to girl for fun and adventure and she was all about playing to win. I think we could take on just about any game down the road. Amazing Race? Survivor? Bring it on.

Jed, another YL staff person, gave the Club talk tonight and shared with us about his walk with Christ and how Jesus was sent here for each of us. It was surreal to hear the gospel being shared in Bankers Life Fieldhouse with hundreds of kids listening. God is good.

I don't think all the HSE YL people ever managed to all find one another, but here's a good chunk of us. I'm thankful for leaders that show up to live life with kids, for our kids that are living life to the full, for friendships grounded in faith, for fun like this that I can't get enough of.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Some say they're the deadliest son and mother duo since Jesus and the Virgin Mary."

If you've yet to see twin sisters Abby and Sarah perform their Sam Smith medley on the Ellen show then you  should probably take 5 minutes and do that right now. 

The question is, how do we get them to come be Braves this summer at Tecumseh? They can teach River Village guitar clinic and perform at Closing Campfire. 

If you know me very well you know there is a rhythm to my weeks. Monday Young Life, #tecumsehtuesday, No Pants Wednesday, FBC on Thursday, jeans and blue on Fridays. 

FBC today was fun as always. I love that Grace and Sydney come consistently and that they'll both be in FBC next year if I do end up going to Fall Creek. Syd is the official DJ and she happily runs around the room turning on the projector, dimming the lights, checking the volume and finding the next song. 

I sat with a table of 8th grade girls today as we worked. They each pulled out a bracelet they'd been working on, art boxes and plastic bags bursting with strings, patterns on their phones and patterns printed out. They are friendship braceleters to the extreme.

For the first time ever, I attended the Mr. Royal Pageant at the HS tonight. Oh my goodness. It was one of the best things I've ever seen. My sorority ran an event called Mr. Dutch in college that was the same concept, but this knocked it out of the park. I showed up with Julia, Audrey, KCraig, Conner and Jess-- ready to cheer on all the YL kids in the show. 

Bgrad, Brannt, Tristan, Huffer, Drew Notar Donato, Kyle Sams and a few of my old students were some of the Senior guys competing for the title of Mr. Royal. Hannah Conrad, Madi and Jessica were the hosts of the night. Chad Davis was running production behind the scenes. Abby Martin, Danny Tully and more of the YL guys got to help out with talents. Just so many familiar faces.

The show opened with a 90s choreographed mash-up that was one of the best dances I've ever seen. You could tell many hours had been put into practicing this dance that the 18 guys had learned. I hated that there were so many people I wanted to watch and I couldn't focus on more than one at a time. It was my favorite part of the show.

Highlights of the talent portion included a brass instrumental Disney medley, Fresh Prince of Bel Air HSE style, Piano Man complete with piano and harmonica and HSE lyrics, reenactment of the Jingle Bell Rock scene of mean girls, a native South African tribal dance, Evolution of Dance and stand up comedy. They had a 90s strut, a formal wear Q and A and then all the contestants came back out to find out the winner.

While the judges decided we got to watch more talented HSE kids perform. Hannah and Natty B were part of a group of girls that did the pool mash-up from Pitch Perfect, Jessica Paris did a duet of You and I and the Fusion Dance team did one of their competition routines. So much talent.

Brannt won Mr. Dance, Tristan tied for Mr. Spirit and we couldn't be more proud of the rest of our guys. It was a phenomenal night.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I'm with you.

The first chapter of Bob Goff's book Love Does is a pretty phenomenal story. As a high schooler, Bob decided he was going to drop out, go climb mountains in Yosemite and get a job working in the valley. He stopped by his YL leaders house to say good-bye and the YL leader Randy volunteered to just go along for the ride. "I'm with you," he told Bob. The two drove across the country to Yosemite, camped out, quickly ran out of money and had no leads on a job. Randy never told Bob that he had messed up and was making a big mistake. He was just there with him. After a few days Bob said, "Ok, I think we should go home." Randy just told him, "I'm with you."

The craziest part comes when they got back home. As they dropped Randy off at his house, Bob realized that just before they had left Randy had gotten married. His house was full of wedding presents and his new wife was waiting for him to get back. Randy had loved Bob so much that he was willing to put his new life on pause to be with him. 

Tonight at Wyld Life we talked about the story of Randy and Bob and what it means to "be with" people. How have people shown up in our lives? How can we show up in theirs? 
We read the story of Jesus' birth in Matthew 1 and how Jesus was born with the name Emmanuel which means "God with us." Jesus was sent to be with us here on Earth because of God's immense love for us. Now the Holy Spirit lives and goes with us. God is all about being part of our lives.

I got to tell my small group of girls about some of the people who have gone with me and shown me that kind of love.

My parents have always been with me. They're my biggest fans and cheerleaders. They've been prayer warriors in my life for as long as I can remember. They're the first people to volunteer to help me figure something out or make something happen. They're with me.

I tried out for something called The Pull my sophomore year at Hope College. It's a very intense tug of war that can't be adequately described through words, but the point is that I wanted to be part of it. I went to the practices to try out with my 9 good friends that all lived on my floor. I still remember the night we found out that the 9 of them had made it and I didn't. I was embarrassed and sad and felt like I was missing out. Instead of celebrating with the rest of the girls that had just made the team, my friend Kim came and just sat on my bed with me in my room. She didn't try to make me feel better, she was just with me in my disappointment. She was with me. I want to be a friend like that.

I had two other great friends at Hope named Lani and Emily. We had just flown back from a week long mission trip in the Dominican Republic and we could finally get reception on our phones again. I had a voice mail from Scott Brosman, the summer camp director at Tecumseh. He offered me the Pathfinder Coordinator position for the upcoming summer and told me I'd be partners with Eric Glanders, Sarah Fitz and Michael Kraft. It was something I had been eagerly waiting and hoping and praying for. I remember beaming as I listened to that voice mail, I could barely contain my excitement. Lani and Emily started jumping up and down in the airport so I excited that I was so excited about something. They had no idea what a coordinator was, didn't know my friends that I'd be working with, had never been to Tecumseh--but they were with me. My joy was their joy.

I think that when we show up for people, when we're with them, we get to be like Jesus. We get to love people wherever they're at. Sometimes it's a celebration and other times it's really difficult but I think we're called to do that for each other.

In 1 John 4 it says, "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us."

Kid President has an awesome new Letter to the Future that you should watch if you haven't yet. I don't know if he realizes that he is preaching the gospel of love but he totally is. Kid President says, "We need people like you. Wouldn't it be cool if we could all just be cool to each other? Throw kindness around like confetti. Be the reason someone dances this week. Be bold. Be kind. Be awesome. Then repeat. It's like shampoo, but for your life."

At the end of our small group time KCraig had all of us write a letter to Christy, the owner of Mama Bear's, thanking her for being with us. Normally her coffee shop is closed at night but she opens up just for us to have Campaigners. Then we all wrote one more note to someone that we think God is calling us to be with. Each kid and leader wrote to that person that they want to encourage and love and just say, "I'm with you," to them. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tecumseh Stories

I love Tuesdays. I love that once a week I'm joined by campers and counselors that are all remembering Camp Tecumseh. In honor of #tecumsehtuesday here are some of my favorite stories from this past summer.

Maggie and I kidnapped Linsey from another cookout group during staff training. We detained her in the Giant Chair and sent a ransom note, "To whom it may concern, We kidnapped Linsey. If you want her back, you should prove it. She is hungry and we will not feed her. She is locked up on the giant chair. --Your worst nightmares" We didn't anticipate her whole group to come charging through the woods to rescue her. 

It's tradition for the whole staff to go on a mud hike during staff training. The veteran secret is that the first to the mud pit is the first to leave and get to the lake to rinse off. The first ones back to the cabin after rinsing off get the first showers. Sooo.... when we headed out from the LV Arielle, Smooney, Michelle, Claire, Alli and I sprinted through the Oak Forest. We were ready to jump in the mud pit but then got held up at the RV flagpole and told we had to wait for everyone else. Alli and the rest of us were not too happy about running for nothing. 

Ellyn and I love taking daily pictures during the summer. We wanted to come up with an original shot one afternoon and one of the barn assistants let us saddle up for the sole purpose of taking a picture. Ellyn is allergic to horses but that didn't keep her way.

Session 1 might have a record for the longest it has ever taken a session to write their cheer. We spent a whole rainy, stormy night inside the River lodge brainstorming ideas. While we were trapped inside we consumed all of the snacks the 40 of them had brought with them to camp.

During the World Cup in Brazil, Tecumseh hosted it's own World Cup. The CILT counselors and a couple campers ran the score board. Between each game we lowered the tarp, updated the scores from the runners and then hoisted it back up again and secured. The games were short so the transitions came about every two minutes.

I wish I could tell you more.

Arie loves working out. All day. Every day. Every where. This girl should have her own work out show. Smoon would always join in with the leg lifts and squats and creative push ups.

Smoon and I took the early morning shift working on the new boat house at the lake all summer. Did you know we were such handy carpenters?

One of our creative ideas this summer was a little game called, "Spit Water On Your Friends." Smoon and Arie didn't even know I invented it until we started playing. They caught on really quickly.

One of our goals of the summer was to have a sleep out with ever CILT session. In an attempt to not repeat the raccoon encounter of 2012 we opted for locations where we'd be off the ground and hopefully in a place not easily surrounded by vermin. Session 2 marked my first sleep out at the Three House Tree House. I'm happy to say there were no ring tailed bandit visitors that night.

Session 2 got to have an Easter Egg Hunt in July. Smooney also got them to do it with one eye covered while hopping on one foot. Two lucky kids found friendship bracelets inside eggs and two more found quarters to get an extra pop stop in theirs.

After I couldn't find acceptable Best Friend Necklaces at Wal-Mart, we opted to make our own with a bag of assorted beads I found at the CAC. Arie, Smoon, Ellyn and I wore our necklaces every single day for the rest of the summer. Fingers crossed, these Best Friend Necklaces will catch on like potholder headbands and wolf shirts. Everyone is invited to show up with their own Best Friend Necklace next summer.

In a completely unplanned move, we took the CILT girls on a spontaneous tour of the main loop. Arie, Smoon and I took our gaggle of 30 girls on an adventure through the Yurt, paused for a game in Main Field, into the Nightingale basement, had a pre-rest hour and then headed back home again.

Never had I ever slept inside Mt. Wood until Session 3. We unrolled our sleeping bags on the pebbles and shut the door so no raccoons could sneak in. We also may have locked a few frogs inside with us...

Historically, the last few days of CILTs are always filled with surprises. After spending our last night off at Indiana Beach, Smoon and I picked up a gallon of ice cream to bring back to our girls. We got them all to close their eyes, counted down and then threw plastic spoons like confetti when they looked up. Nothing beats chocolate ice cream right before bed.

Many moons ago, our friend Sam Glanders pulled off a stunt on Christmas in July that Stevo brought back this year. Just like a true Christmas elf, he skipped around the dining hall pouring sugar into the mouths of all the delighted children.

It's a CILT Pack tradition to hike to the Gish on the second to last morning of their session. It's a hike along the Tippecanoe River that is muddy in spots and extremely steep at the end. After an especially fun night with our Blazer girls week 9, Ellyn and I decided to be adventurous and take our girls up to the Gish. We made it there and back in just under an hour and they loved it.

I was surprised when I returned from one of my last nights off of the summer to find Annabelle in my bed with a note. The Choctaw girls had created a scavenger hunt that wound around the cabin following a trail of clues. Using my flashlight I followed their hints until I found dog up on the bunk of the girl who snores.

10 weeks of Tecumseh culminated in this: Lilli sitting in an Uncle Sam hat, zebra floatie around her waist, reading her new camp bible. Last camper of the summer. When Arielle and I told her the night before that we loved that she was weird, she smiled and said, "I'm REALLY weird."