Promises, promises

Sigh.  Never promise a post.  It has been nearly a month since returning from camp, and still no post on camp itself.  I guess I just don’t feel like writing.  I have wondered if I could make some extra cash by writing a book and selling it on Amazon in ebook form.  Well, here is my answer- if I don’t feel like writing a short blog post I certainly will never feel like writing a much longer work.

At the moment I am unsure what to write about camp.  I can start with a summary and see where to go from there.  I really didn’t enjoy camp as much this year as prior years, but it was still the highlight of my summer.  So what happened?  Well, I will try to figure that out as I write.  I do know that it was a day shorter than prior years.  We were also rained out for a portion- all activities cancelled or moved indoors.  I had a smaller cabin than ever before, but that should be a plus, right? 😉  Another change was- there was so much missing from prior years.  Gone for the first time ever was an activity called counselor hunt where all the leaders hid around camp and the kids had to find us, trying to avoid being tagged themselves by a select few who were hunting *them.*  Gone were the cabin video walkthroughs and awards for clean cabins.  And of course some activities had to be cut because of the shortened camp week.  One of those things I was really looking forward to- the talent show.  Not enough slots for all the cabins since we were short a day.  All in all, it just wasn’t the same.

Well, this has been a negative post so far.  How about what was fun about it?  Well, I had a really good cabin.  I didn’t really know any of my five kids beforehand.  I did remember having one of them in my weekend small group, but that’s it.  One was the brother of a 5th-grader I had last year (now 6th grade) who, like his brother, I have not seen since in the weekend ministry.  One turned out to be the nephew of my small group leader though I didn’t know it at the time, not until he asked if I saw his nephew at camp.  Yes, yes I think I did see him…

My junior leader was a freshman in high school- one of the youngest I have had.  I think one other was his age.  Get this though- his younger brother was also a leader, in a cabin with 5th-graders (my five were all 4th grade), just two years younger than him.  I think the church has loosened the age rule a bit on junior leaders- just a couple years ago the rule was 11th grade, with the occasional special dispensation.  This 7th grade leader was actually in my cabin in both 4th and 5th grade, as was another leader who I think may just meet that old 11th grade rule.  Shows how long I have been doing this…  While my junior leader this year was never in my cabin, he was a regular in my weekend small group when he was in 5th grade.

Well, I am officially tired of writing this post right now.  I could just save it to drafts and finish it later, but I had better just hit publish so at least you have something to read for now.  Coming soon- the return of Zorb, canoeing fun, and more.  Until then!

Not just yet..

Okay you may ask, where is/are the camp post(s)?  Well, in short, I haven’t written it/them yet.  As you can tell from the last sentence I don’t know how many of them there will be.  Work was quite busy over the last week and I really had little time for myself when I returned home, usually around 7-ish with photos to go through and upload.  Aside from that my mother had an episode a little over a week ago that left her with a slightly fractured ankle and so I have been doing some extra work helping with that.  Her ankle will be healing for about eight weeks (one down, seven to go…)

So how about some “small world” news?  Not about me, but about one of our church’s pastors?  Both of the main pastors at my church are from Canada, though now have citizenship here.  What do most boys growing up in Canada do?  Hint- it’s not baseball, the past-time of this country.  Even I participated in that for a couple of years- one tee-ball when I was very young, and one as a very poor player in intermediate league because my best friend at the time played it.  Interesting story there- he was on the best team in the league, I was on the worst.  What do you think happened when we played each other?  A classic case of overconfidence of course, so we won.  The only game we won if I remember correctly.  Oh, well.  My interest was never really there so I didn’t practice, got stuck in right field, and the only ball I ever hit was an easily caught pop-up.

But this isn’t supposed to be about me.  I am sure you have figured out by now that what most Canadian boys do growing up is play hockey.  You know all professional athletes start somewhere, and the story of a hockey superstar intersected with the story of one of our pastors on a team together as kids.  The reason for him bringing it up in his message was about teamwork, the body of Christ working together in their separate roles defined by spiritual gifts.  The story was how he tried and failed to score a goal on his own when a teammate was wide open to pass to.  Wayne even came up to him afterward and asked why our not-yet-pastor didn’t pass the puck to him.  Oh, did I just give away the superstar?  Even though I only gave his first name, I do believe that will be sufficient as all of you of course mentally added his surname.  Being a very gifted player even at a young age, you know he would have scored that goal too.  But anyway, just as not all hockey players are goalies or forwards, just as not all baseball players are pitchers, we in Christ are not all teachers, not all pastors, not all bearing higher-profile gifts.  God has given us different gifts and we are, as I already mentioned, to use them together whether our gifts are onstage, backstage, outside, or wherever.

So… how has your week been?  Camp post(s) still coming soon.

The theme song of camp

The theme of camp this year, for the entire summer actually among all the age groups, was war.  The years switch off between two themes for 4th/5th grade age group but this is the first time I noticed the entire summer was the same theme.  Anyway, this song from Passion 2012 was this summer’s main theme song:

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More to come, but I wanted to get this out of the way first that you may be blessed by it.

(note to admin: the Godtube tag no longer works?  No matter, I found a version on Youtube, fortunately  without ads- harder to do each day.)

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D is for Dull

A dull life that is.  There has really been nothing exciting to write about.  Working, eating, browsing the web.  And the few days during the week I trek to my church for small group, AWANA, and service.  Easter service a few weeks ago topped last year’s.  An award-winning gospel artist returned to sing with us again, there were boatloads of confetti, and the addition of a balloon drop.  Just normal life at a large church. 😉

This week the first year of my third stint at AWANA came to a close with Sparks and TnT awards night.  Two of my kids gifted me with a card & bookmark, and some homemade pretzel/chocolate treats which were snarfed down the next day.  Yum.  It was a nice night with some worship from the AWANA worship leader, handouts of well over a hundred awards (some kids received more than one when they finished a book from the previous year plus the current one).  I was surprised to see several awards to older kids who did not have an official AWANA time to meet- at our church it only goes through 5th grade.  At least one winner was in high school.  AWANA does have clubs for junior high and high school so these were legitimate awards, it’s just that our church doesn’t support them on more than an individual basis.  It was nice to see several of my team (red) as well as ones on other teams I lead on the weekends earning awards.  One of my Sunday regulars won a gift card from the director too for earning the most points over the year for verses memorized, uniform, Bible, and bringing friends.  Our next meeting is a special fun night for book-finishers in June.  How many will actually be there I don’t know.  A couple of years ago when 4th and 5th grade ministry sponsored small group outings I had exactly one show up for each one.

Speaking of 4th and 5th grade ministry, this is an off weekend.  Next month is the final month for 5th-graders meaning there are only three meetings left for them before they graduate out of children’s ministry and into student ministry.  Three more times to make a difference in their lives before they, like their predecessors before them, leave me behind.

Well, that’s it for now.  Almost three months since my last post about my life (though I suppose reading that book mentioned in another post was a part as well, so less than three months then) and not much to write about.  Maybe the title is accurate after all…

Yes I did enjoy the trip to visit my lifelong (seen teen years anyway) friends last month, but they already know the details, so not much to say there, right? 🙂

Repentance, revival, and a whole lotta fun

*RING* *RING* *RING*

Yawn, time to get up already?  Hey wait- it’s not wakeup time!  I distinctly remember setting my alarm for 7:25- it’s only 6!  Thanks junior leader- I know we didn’t want a repeat of last year (no alarm went off, late for breakfast…) but this is a tad ridiculous…  Guess what readers?  He didn’t even wake up- right back to sleep after I nudged him and told him his alarm went off.  Let me clarify.  *He* went back to sleep, I just lay there for the next hour…  I don’t think I’m the only one who didn’t get back to sleep after the false alarm, but at least whoever else awakened they kept quiet.  So, 7:25 rolled around and most of us got up.  There was only one who didn’t, and that is always a fun thing.  No, no buckets of water.  Can’t have that much fun. 😉  Only one though, so again, not as much fun as it could have been.

Breakfast was great- eggs, bacon, sausage, I think there were pancakes?  Starting to forget- good thing this is only two parts.  They even had hot sauce out for the eggs- they know me well!  Session 2- starting with a few Angry Birds shorts.  Wait- Angry Birds is a ‘toon now?  Have I been under a rock?  Anyway, find a bunch of them at RovioMobile on Youtube.  Here’s one as a sample- they are in hi-def too, so change the quality and go full-screen with it!

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Our next minute to win it game was up.  Last night it was catching-things-in-large-basket-on-head (whatever it was called), this morning it was be-a-tp-dispenser-for-teammate who busily tries to wrap him/herself without breaking the paper.  The boys and girls each had turns today (one boy, one girl from each team). Get ready- go! (press play on video below)

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Annnnnnd- we lost.  I believe I said last time we didn’t win any of the minute games, so you already knew this.  Oh, well.  Moving on, we worshiped and our family pastor gave part two of the lesson.  We didn’t focus much on the prayer in chapter two so much as what it meant- Jonah repented.  Still miraculously alive in the fish, he went to his knees (figuratively I’m sure- not much room in a fish I wouldn’t think…) and communed with God.  In the end, as you probably know already, the fish (relieved I’m sure) spat him up onto land and so ends the chapter.  Small group discussion back in the cabin and then- game time!  Plinko (isn’t that trademarked by a famous pricing game show?) in the lot- oh wait.  The snow caused a change.  Instead we played snow soccer.  Not much to say here- one ball, then two, three, large balls, giant earth ball…  I’ll let your mind play this one out.  Unfortunately halfway through someone caused the earth ball to deflate, meaning when we switched games with the other two teams they sadly didn’t get to use it.  We switched to acquire the tire- a steal-the-bacon game where there were inner-tubes (alas, I don’t think 10-and-11-year-olds could handle actual tires- something about the weight of them…) ranging in size from small car to tractor, and point values from 50 to 1000.  The big tractor tire was of course the 1000-pointer (how many kids would it take to lift a tractor tire?  Good thing they were just inner tubes!).  All they had to do was drag it over their line, with kids from the other team latched on to the other side of it dragging it in the opposite direction.  Easy, right? 😉

Lunch time- the expected chicken nuggets and mac & cheese.  This reminds me of a couple years ago when I was sure the mac and cheese was really mac and yellow food coloring, but the last couple years it was definitely pretty good.  I still long for BBQ sauce to dip the nuggets in, but ketchup was fine.  After lunch was cabin rest- wait, no it wasn’t- this wasn’t summer camp nor was it Michigan despite the constant references to cabins (classrooms, really), so we were allowed to treat the kids as if they were in a workhouse if we wanted to.  Okay, not really, but there was no cabin rest.  Just straight to session 3: revival.  Chapter 3 of Jonah started the story again, this time he entered Ninevah and gave them the warning from God.  Much to Jonah’s dismay Ninevah was repentant and God withheld judgment.  Chapter 4 expounds on this more, but that was the 4th session which no one was there for since they had gone home.  That’s right, there was no fourth session.  Revival was a good note to exit on, right?  Following a good up-front game, good worship, excellent teaching, and very productive small group time was the next team game involving giant slingshots and fla-vor-ice popsicles.  Last year the only goal was to get the popsicles on the roof, but this year they put up a giant target.  They could go for the roof as well, but the biggest points were the bullseye and… the pastor.  That’s right, our pastor came out a couple of times and made himself a target worth double the points of the bullseye.  I think the other team grazed him, but no direct hits that I could tell.  Maybe the other two teams fared better.  Or maybe he walked off a happy pastor. 🙂

The other game was inside and improved from last year- an ice-block relay.  The kids got to ride a large ice block to the other side of the gym and back.  It was improved as they made the blocks thicker this year so they didn’t fall apart after extended use.  I think a couple teams last year had to switch to scooters toward the end.  Extra points were given after awhile if they rode superman-style, on their bellies with arms held out in front like flying through the air.  Leaders had a turn as well.  Same with the tire game earlier- I forgot to mention it.

After the games we cleaned out our cabins so the younger kids could use them during church later and not have to work around backpacks and sleeping bags, then we had free time.  Not so free, just the appearance of free.  That is, they were free to play the games within their assigned area.  There were six areas.  Really, five- they tried to separate the games in one of the rooms, but we just let them play whatever they wanted instead- they were the games in the room they play every weekend so they already knew what they liked and what they didn’t.  The gym had the best games- a return of  gaga-ball in a less-permanent court than at camp, and they got to play nine-square this time.  On the other side was the explosive volleyball-like game of nuke-em.  Look up my summer camp recap for explanations of all of these.  The final room consisted of crafts, karaoke, and board games.  Okay, scratch karaoke- apparently they didn’t actually have it though the schedule showed it.  Oh, well.  The boys were only in there 15 minutes before dinner was called anyway, clever scheduling on the church’s part as this is a less interesting thing for boys generally.  The girls got a shortened weekend-games room time, but everyone got the full half-hour of gym time.

The end is drawing near.  Dinner time with spaghetti, a video, then parents arrived for a short recap, worship time, and closing ceremony with the announcement of the winner- the team we played against all the Saturday games.  The original idea (did I mention this already?) was to play against two different teams (Friday night was a four-team game), but the way they did the cabins that would have pitted boy-strong teams against girl-strong teams so we wound up playing the team that was most in line with ours.  To clarify, there were three cabins that made up each team unlike summer camp where we had four.  Two teams had two boy-cabins and one girl-cabin.  Vice-versa for the other two teams.  I would like to add that moi noticed the absence of the big song from summer, which became one of my favorites, and made a special request to do it since, after all, this was an extension of summer camp.  The worship team practiced Like a Lion during the afternoon and had it ready for this closing worship time.  Kudos to the band for that.

With the closing ceremony over, all that was left was to part ways.  We moved to the gym and the parents claimed their baggage kids.  It was a little sad parting ways after 24 hours of a blastin’ good time (yes, there’s a reason I used that word…), but part we must.  And that includes us- until next time!

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You’re still here??  It’s over.  Go home.

Go..!  (Sorry, a certain recent car commercial based on a certain famous movie was on my mind)

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Okay, one last bit.  I tend to avoid naming people and places and whatnot, but my church makes these videos public and I only have about two readers (partly my own fault I know) so I will just go ahead and link to the official video online.  Now you don’t have to imagine much of what I wrote- does the video hold up to your imaginations? 🙂  No, you won’t get to see me on the ice block, so keep on imagining. 😉  Careful eyes will spot me a couple times though…  Sadly, no HD version. 🙁

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And hey, nice song they used!  Adventurous people may find summer camp videos as well…

Rebellious ducks, or something like that

Continuing the medical theme from summer camp, enter the 2012 4th and 5th grade winter retreat held right at our church.  The older kids get to go all the way to the camp in Michigan for two days, but as a cost-saving measure for the parents I am sure, this crowd gets one night with no travel necessary outside of being brought to church.  That suits me just fine and allows more to come who otherwise would not.  I know of one family for sure whose junior-higher wasn’t going to be able to go to his retreat though his younger brother was at ours.

I arrived Friday night just a smidgen late and check-in was well underway.  In fact, most of my cabin was already settled in and watching the opening movie which entertained them while waiting for the official start.  I joined my colleagues upstairs and helped settle in the stragglers.  Did I mention that Friday was the day of a major snowstorm?  After driving on snow-packed roads from Algonquin to Elgin and back home, I and a hundred moms, dads, and other leaders slogged down the roads to make this event, the only one not canceled.  But I am sure parents would brave even more to be rid of their young-uns give their brood an opportunity to draw closer to our Lord and Savior.  Though there was one cabin that had several boys missing by the time the main event started, mine was complete (at least it was by dinner time when the last trooper arrived).  I even had a couple of repeat campers from summer, one of which I hadn’t seen since then as he attended the church’s school, but not regular church on the weekends- at least the one I serve at.  Even my junior leader was the same.  Yep, Mad Cow Disease was represented in full.  What?  Oh, yes.  Remember the medical theme I mentioned?  Well, all the cabins were named after diseases and cures.  Most girls would never go for a cabin labeled SARS or mad cow disease, so they naturally got the cures while the boys proudly represented their diseases.

Once the movie was shut off in the middle (sorry for those who may not have seen it before…) and rules had been gone over, it was time to get into things with a game of course.  That game was Duck Hunt.

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No, no, no, not THAT Duck Hunt.  This was a game where the kids hunted for little rubber ducks invading the church.  By little, I mean they were only about two square inches in size each meaning not that easy to find.  But there were several hundred of them.  All through, well not the church this year though that was the original intent.  Thanks to the fresh snow, the venue was changed and the ducks were strewn all over the parking lot instead.  Think a hundred kids mining for ducks in the still-falling snow.  They had to find the ducks and bring them back to their team buckets.  Sounds tedious?  Well, add in dodgeballs thrown by zealous leaders (they had to drop any ducks they were carrying if hit, to be thrown by the leader to be buried once again, waiting on another miner) and it made for a fun time.  There were also big balls the teams had to get to their buckets for big points.

The game eventually had to end and we went in for pizza and then our first session.  As per the norm, we started off with an up-front game (we lost- I don’t think we won any of the up-front games in fact) then moved into a couple worship songs before getting into the teaching.  The theme this year was Jonah, session one was about rebellion.  As many know, Jonah rebelled against God in chapter one, not only refusing to do what Got told him, but actively going the opposite way, as far away from his responsibility as possible.  The session ended with Jonah being thrown overboard for being the cause of the storm God sent.  All sessions ended in small group time, so we went back to our cabins to discuss the application to their own lives.

Lights out and the kids were asleep instantly dreaming of peaceful things like rainbows and unicorns.  Yeah, in your dre- hey, wait a minute…  I remember a winter retreat where a couple kids ran up and down the length of the building we were in all night (or much of it).  Things weren’t that bad but we still had talking, fake flatulence, complaints about the talking and the fake flatulence…  I had to get up more than once and just stand over someone to deter further noise.  I did sleep fairly well once I nodded off, at least until 6AM, but I’ll save that for the next post.  It’s getting late.  Talking of sleeping is making me want to be there…

zzz

3rd Time’s a Charm

Or three strikes and you’re out, but I prefer the title saying better.  It is midway through the year of my third stint at being an AWANA leader.  Some time ago, when I was still subbing, I was asked by family to break off a bit from the kids.  After all, I was doing drama and serving in 4th and 5th grade on the weekends then working all week in K-8 classrooms.  Not wanting to get rid of the weekend service, I dropped AWANA after the year was over.

This year things have been a little different but very much the same.  Originally, 3rd-4th grade were known as Pals (boys) and Chums (girls) while 5th (normally 6th too, but at our church 6th grade is junior high and they don’t do AWANA) were known as Pioneers (boys) and Guards (girls).  I believe it was during time #2 that the switch was made to T in T: Truth in Training for all three grades, boys and girls.  One year I worked with Sparks (K-2) but the rest of the time has been with 3rd-5th grade.  Would you believe the kindergarten Sparkies from that year are in 8th grade now?  Time does fly.  Other differences this year include keeping points for my team- kind of a pain with over 15 boys, mostly 3rd and 4th grade though I do have one or two 5th-graders- and game time is no longer the normal circle games, though at the beginning of the year we did do them.  Now we switch off between double-kickball (two balls, two kickers, one set of bases) and dodge-ball.

Last night was crazy hat night.  Every week has some sort of theme with varying levels of participation- last week was ugly sweater night and few participated.  Wristwatch night also seemed to be on the light side.  Hat night must have been easier as there was much participation.  Conservative, childless me didn’t have a hat anywhere near crazy status and I didn’t have time to think about it anyway since I arrived home from work after six and had to be at the church at 6:30.  There were of course Dr. Seuss hats among the fare, a mohawk hat, a creative lad wearing two Civil War hats representing both Union and Confederate sides, and another one wearing stacked baseball hats.  I am slightly chuffed to say the winner came from my own team, though of course I had nothing to do with it myself.  Cole wore the same hat he always wears to AWANA- he usually leaves it on all night except for prayer- but over that he had on a full Air Force pilot helmet, meaning not just the helmet but the breathing apparatus as well.  Technically not a hat, but it did go on  the head, so…  He informed me one of his relatives was in the Air Force.  If he went to this church on the weekend (he attends a different church- he came as another’s friend one week and signed up after that) he would fit right in at camp this summer and the winter retreat the following January- next year will be the military theme once again.

Anyway, speaking of winter retreat, *this* year’s retreat is tomorrow night and it is now after 11PM.  Time to hit the sack so I will have at least some rest for it.  And perhaps a blog post afterward.  Please pray for us this weekend- 24 hours from Friday 7PM to Saturday 7PM.