Part II

Okay, long commercial break over. We are on Saturday now I believe:


7AM:  Lights turned on outside in the hallway, I wake up for the last time with a little headache but much less exhausted since going to bed.  I was exhausted because for three out of the four days prior I was up before 6AM looking for subbing jobs.  I found them, but the toll it took was severe.  So another sub-8 hour night, but I figured I would survive.  So everyone got up and I let some kids head to the bathroom to change out of their night clothes (they were too modest to change in front of others even if we were all guys- just wait until middle school boys, when you’ll be changing in the locker room in front of even more people).  Myself, I just wore my day clothes to bed- I had showered and put on some fresh clothes just before coming to the retreat so I would be able to do this.  20 minutes later, we were in line for breakfast.  The end of the line.  Oh, well.  Eggs, sausage, french toast sticks, fruit, and OJ.  Well, I think they were sausages- didn’t taste much like breakfast sausage.


8AM: Eyes are really bugging me.  The clothes weren’t the only things I left on overnight.  The contacts I have are extended wear, so I figured at least once I could wear them overnight.  I had successfully worn them during naps before so I figured I could get away with overnight just once.  My eyes disagreed.  I put drops in when I woke up and several times since, but no go.  Eventually I just gave up and went back to my room to take them out and put on my glasses.  Unfortunately the damage had been done and my eyes would be bugging me for most of the day.  So, time for session 2 now.  Each session started with a video that was just pure entertainment.  I came back at the end of this video to sit with my guys (the high school leader in my room was keeping watch while I changed into my glasses).  Up front game again- this time it involved two from each team, a boy and a girl, one from my own cabin (you can figure out which one…).  The boys had to wear shaving cream on their faces and the girls threw cheese puffs on them.  Hilarious.  At the end of the time the one with the most cheese puffs stuck to them would win.  In the end I think one other team had more than us, but their boy made the mistake of moving before they could be counted, losing half a dozen puffs.  We won.  Come to think about it, I think we won Friday night too.  Worship followed with another four songs like last night.


9AM:  Worship continued, and then Dr. Brian came on the scene and taught from Jonah 3, when the story started over with a better response from Jonah and this time and the Ninevites took the warning God gave them through Jonah seriously.  According to the Bible, they all repented of their wicked ways and came to God, and He spared them.  This has a fairly obvious (I hope) correlation to coming to Christ.  We even ended the time with a prayer giving the kids an opportunity to repent themselves and accept Jesus.  One of my guys raised his hand.  Unfortunately for me I had to let my high school leader- did I mention he was my high school leader at camp just two summers ago?- take the pleasure in talking to him about it during small group time since we decided to split the group for today’s small group times so we would each take five, and the boy who just accepted Christ was one of his five.  Since my cabin was being used for piano lessons, we had to use the room across from us.  We could have had both groups in there, but Eric decided to take his group elsewhere.  We talked about listening to God and accepting Christ for the next half hour.  My church being what it is, by fourth grade it seems that 90% say they have already accepted Jesus at some point, so I decided to lead the discussion in who Jesus is to them to let them see if they truly understand what it means to accept Him.


10AM:  At this time we were supposed to start cleaning up the cabin.  Of course with piano lessons we had to wait so I let them exchange phone numbers with each other instead before we finally had to sneak in and grab our coats for game time downstairs.  The game time was split in two this time with two teams playing each other in a game outside and in the gym.  We were outside first.  Has anyone ever played a game where a balloon is tied to your ankle and you have to try to pop everyone else’s balloon before someone pops yours?  This game was similar.  A popsicle (still in its plastic!) was taped to the kids’ arms and they had to try to rip them off of the other team.  Once a child’s popsicle was lost, he or she was out.  Last one standing won.  Well, at the end of the time the team with the most standing won, which was the other team.  Oh well, can’t win ’em all.  No, the kids couldn’t eat the popsicles during the game but they could at the end.


11AM: The teams switched.  The second game was ice block relay.  Only, one of the ice blocks broke so it became scooter relay instead, at least for the boys.  I think next year they need to create extra blocks,  several extras.  Yes, this was the indoor game.  One camper sitting on the block of ice, another camper had to push the other to the other end of the gym where they would switch places and come back.  With one block broken, the boys were on scooters (the square variety that you sit on, not the sort that is long with a handlebar) the entire time while the girls got to play the game with the ice blocks.  At this time I felt like I was coming down with something.  I sat down most of the time against they gym wall.  At the end of this time we had won three games out of four, but since they had won the popsicle game it looked like they won overall.  We went back to our cabins to take off our coats and head down for lunch.  We weren’t last this time. 🙂


12 noon:  I have to say I was very disappointed in this lunch.  It was chicken nuggets and mac & cheese.  Only, there was nothing to dip the nuggets in and the other dish was more macaroni than cheese.  In fact, I couldn’t taste any cheese at all.  The economy is affecting everyone, and it certainly took a tool on the food here.  One leader commented that he had eaten more junk over the last three meals than he had over the last six months.  Hmm.  Dessert was- not for me.  I am one who doesn’t like yogurt unless it’s the frozen variety and this is what they served.  Well, the lemonade was good.  At the end of this meal I finally had to pull the pastor aside and inform him that I was running a fever and my eyes were still bugging me.  Since I wasn’t feeling nauseous he suggested I just stay and rest during the next session which followed lunch and see if I improved.  After a short lunch, session 3 began.  The game this time had something to do with singing familiar tunes, but I don’t know exactly, nor who won.  I was in the back of the room with my eyes shut trying to rest.  The game leader I mentioned from Friday who stayed in our room because it was the one his boy was in kind of took over for me.


1PM: Session 3 continued.  Worship, then the message by Dr. Steve on Jonah chapter 4 which I didn’t hear, and then small groups.  We had our small group time in our cabin (piano lessons were over) while Eric took his group back where they were earlier.  Again, I didn’t lead but sat while my stand-in took over.  In the end he had everyone take turns praying, which I was willing to do at least, but he chimed in immediately after the last boy.  No big deal.  We got ready for the final game.


2PM:  Outside first again, the game this time was shooting popsicle sticks onto the church roof with really big slingshots.  You read that right.  They would have to pass a popsicle stick from camper to camper with their arms only and then the last one would run with the popsicle to the slingshot, set it in place, pull it back, and hope the popsicle made it to the upper roof for the greater point bonus.  Then (s)he would run to the end of the line and start passing a popsicle all over again.  Once all had the opportunity to shoot the popsicles, the game was over.  Our team finished first if I recall correctly for both the boys and the girls (who were in separate lines), but I don’t know who won for sure, only suspect from what place we finally came in for the entire day.  The second game was inside the gym again, where we played human foosball.  If you don’t remember this game from the other times I’ve written about it, it’s a game where the students are in four lines, hands held together, trying to kick really big balls into the other team’s goal.  The number of balls, and even the goals, changed over the course of the game.  The other team toasted us, but that was only because of one leader they had at the end of the offensive line who kicked in a good 60+% of their goals.  We had a leader at the end of our offensive line too, but he was smaller (a high-school freshman vs a leader in his 20s) and didn’t score nearly as much.  About this time I was on the upswing, feeling better overall.


3PM: Time for the group picture.  Donning our coats once again, we headed back outside for the final time.  The children’s pastor, Steve, stood on the roof with someone else whose name escapes me and took a few pictures with his, I believe, video camera.  Meaning in the retreat video there may be more than just a couple of still pictures of this event.  Afterward, they both grabbed all the popsicles from the slingshot game and tossed them onto the ground.  A few of the more competitive kids grabbed the and… threw them back up!  It was wild out there for a bit.  After the popsicles were gone from the roof, they started throwing snowballs down at us.  This was more acceptable to be thrown back as snow doesn’t make as good a tasty treat as popsicles, so more joined in returning fire.  Eventually this all ended and we headed back in to clean our cabin and bring everything down to the gym.  After all, they would need the classrooms for church at 5:00.  I made sure everything was picked up, and even had to look for the owner of a pair of socks.  I found out when I got home that of course I left my own pair of socks from the night before (one article of clothing I did change).  Hopefully whoever found them wasn’t too disgusted as I had worn them for only a few hours.


4PM: All packs brought down and the room cleaned up, we started free time.  This time wasn’t really very free, but the kids were free to be in one of four places for the next hour and a half.  In the gym they could play nuke ’em, another game returning from summer camp played on a volleyball court.  They could watch a movie in another room- they showed Up!, a movie I recently watched in Blu-ray.  In a third room they could play board games or, eventually, watch some of Wall-E.  In the last room they could do crafts or play other games.  I floated around this entire time, keeping track as best I could of my cabin.  Most of my kids spent their time in the gym, so I did as well.


5PM: Free time continued until 5:30, afterwhich we had dinner.  Dinner was better than lunch and consisted primarily of spaghetti.  Not much to say here really.


6PM: Dinner wrapped up and we moved into the worship/lesson area and watched videos until church ended and the parents started coming in.  Once everyone was there, the final up front game commenced.  A father-son team was called up from the leaders who were there the entire time with their sons and they played the frozen t-shirt game, where wet t-shirts were folded up and frozen.  The dads had to try to get them apart and on their sons.  Our team won again, giving us at least three of the four up front games.  After this, we sang one worship song, Steve talked about the retreat to the parents, and jokingly as an afterthought the winner was announced.  Since we came in third place, I suspect we won none of the big games.  Remember, while I was able to see who won some of the games, I did not know who won Friday night nor who won the popsicle slingshot game.


7PM: Parents were permitted to take their kids home and the gym rapidly emptied of parents, kids and their packs.  I got to go home and enjoy my fever which, while I was feeling better Saturday afternoon, still persisted through the weekend and made a return Tuesday, keeping me home from work.


Well, that’s it.  I hope you enjoyed the read.  I just spent the last hour and a half writing this second part, so please excuse me for not going back and proofreading it. 😉


Best winter retreat ever!  I had so much fun that nothing could possibly compare.  I wish I could say that was this weekend but that wouldn’t be honest of me.  For sure, many can say that and completely mean it as it really was a good retreat.  The reason will become clear, and you may even find it foreshadowed before I come out with it.  From the beginning:




6PM: Arrived shortly before this time, late for the 5:45 call time.  I thought I was ready, but of course remembered a few more things before I left.  At least I did remember everything.  In the past I have been left with no pillow, no deodorant, or similar mishaps.  Was given a gift bag at the meeting containing essentials- sugar, water, t-shirt, hand-warmers…  The latter was most likely due to last year’s bitter cold retreat- something that was blessedly not repeated this year, at least for this group (high school suffered just a couple of weekends ago).  Oh, anyone for some gum?  I got a box, but I don’t chew it.  Just send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I will ship it off. 😉 )Meeting ended, we took our posts for check-in which began at 6:15.  I was a greeter by the boy’s area.  For awhile I was a little nervous as I only had two arrivals for my “cabin” (room) while others had four or five, but I needn’t have worried- in the end every camper (retreater?) of mine showed up- others weren’t so lucky.  I think about ten boys failed to show up- the fairer section fared about the same.


7PM:  Check-in starts to die down.  Did I mention all of my campers showed up?  Actually, I did lose one.  There are two mentally disabled 4th-graders at my church and their dads (who stayed with them) wanted to be in the same cabin.  While changing cabin assignments was generally not allowed, we made an exception for them.  In fact, neither of them wound up in their original cabin as ours were pretty full, but in one that had lost two boys who didn’t make it.  Anyway, throughout this time, after letting them drop off their things, we sent them down to watch Jonah until the arrivals trickled down.  Jonah would be the theme of the retreat.  At about 7:25, the last of us headed to the movie area where the intro was made and we were sent off to start the first big game of the weekend.


8PM:  My assignment- auditor.  I stood by an opposing team’s drop-off bin, where the kids would drop off all their treasures.  Oh?  I never mentioned the teams?  Well, there are four teams, following the theme from summer camp which was a medical theme this year.  I was a Mr. Yuk over the summer but this time was a Red Cross.  The cabins were actually given names.  Do you remember when Sly mouthed “You’re the disease- I’m the cure” (paraphrased) in a movie 20ish years ago?  Well, the boys were the diseases with cabin names like H1N1, TB, and Mad Cow Disease and the girls were the cures (Neosporin, Aspirin, etc.).  My cabin was SARS.  So back to the game, auditors made sure the kids were following the rules.  This may be church, but you know some kids- suddenly forgetful of the rules when it could gain an advantage if you know what I mean.  Here’s what the game was- in pairs, the kids would link up (hold hands or arms) and search for little plastic ducks and reflectors strewn all over the church.  When they found one, they had to get to their team bin.  Throughout this, there were over a dozen leaders going after the kids with dodge-balls in hand trying to “infect” them.  That may sound like a lot of leaders, but we’re talking about 150 kids!  If infected, they had to drop whatever they might have been holding and hightail it to the medic to be “cured.”  There were a few hundred of these things strewn about so the game lasted for awhile.


9PM: Pizza!  Well, maybe I should have left that exclamation point off- we’re talking Papa John’s here.  If you’re not familiar with them, think mass pizza chains in the style of Pizza Hut or Domino’s and you will know what I’m talking about.  We chugged down pizza and pop and got ready for the first session, which started shortly after 9:45 with an upfront game followed by worship.  What is an upfront game?  Well, one camper (sometimes two) from each team was called up to play a silly or disgusting game- pure fun, though not always for the contestants…  Tonight was licking names off of a tray.  The catch?  Part of what was used in the writing was sardines- eww.  That’s apparently what the contestants thought too as none of them accomplished much in the allotted time.  Then worship began with singing.


10PM:  The session continued.  Four worship songs later, Dr. John came out to teach (medical theme remember).  You know how busy doctors get, so Drs. Brian and Steve would round out the retreat the next day.  Starting in Jonah, we traversed chapters one and two alongside Jonah, teaching the kids about consequences of trying to ignore God and how God always pursues His children.  After the lesson we broke off into our cabins.  We were running late, so we kept the large group of ten kids and two leaders together and discussed the lesson, including a reading from Psalm 139:

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

11PM:  Set up beds, get ready, and lights out.  Another leader, the game leader of the week joined us- his son was in our cabin.  He and I, the “old guys,” naturally brought air mattresses to go with our sleeping bags…  A little chaotic as expected, but by 20 minutes after lights-out time we finally got the boys laying in bed if not asleep yet.  Someone came in with a ladder to unscrew the emergency light bulbs- you know, one of those lights that stays on 24/7 even if the room switches are turned off.  This still left a flashing blue light from the router mounted in the ceiling unfortunately.  I hope it didn’t keep anyone awake.  I got this bright idea that I would just leave my contacts in all night since they are extended wear after all.  Up to this point I had done naps safely, so I figured why not?  I had drops to put in my eyes in the morning.


Midnight: Finally asleep, or at least sometime before the next hour.




Midnight-7AM: Z-z-z-z-wake up-z-z-z-z-wake up-z-z-z-z-you get the picture-z-z-z-z


(to be continued)

Too much free time

Who complains about too much free time?  Well, with no wife or kids, a dislike for many common social activities- okay let’s just go with the truth here and say no friends I hang out with outside of church, and work that takes less than the normal eight hours plus lunch per standard, I just have too much free time.  What do I do with it?  Get movies from the library, spend time on the internet, and play games mostly- what a life, eh?  In the last few days I have even purchased several games on Steam– did they have to make it so easy?  I didn’t even use steam until they had a $9.99 sale on their Orange Box collection a few months ago.  Now I have the complete Luxor marble game collection, Ghostbusters, GRID, and Osmos.  Anther service called Direct2Drive also successfully tempted me with a $5 sale a short time back.  I added no less than a half-dozen games from them including Neverwinter Nights 2 and Serious Sam Gold.  A waste of time and money really.  Well, I have been playing a lot of Serious Sam and the Luxor games, so just a waste of time in their case.  To be fair, I didn’t pay much for any of the titles, nowhere near full price, but still…

So what can I do instead?  Theatre groups abound in this area, but I know very few of them anymore- I would have to look them up again.  I have also looked a little into compassion ministries, serving those in need.  I still have to look it up on the church website as I was directed to a few weeks ago.  The obvious one in most people’s minds is the friends issue.  I have been to singles group, but it was very uncomfortable for me so I really don’t go anymore.  No friends that way.  Perhaps through the other two potential outlets?  I don’t know.  I know I have needed to schedule a quiet time with God, but I have known that for so long I wonder if I am really capable?

For now though I just sit here on the computer…

More of last week’s news…

When mentioning costumes for the 5th grade class I subbed for last week, I forgot to mention one other costume.  Or two, rather, though only one of them was in my class.  It is strange it slipped my mind because this boy was wearing a video-game-related costume which was very good.  He came as Mario, complete in the right colors with hat, large white cartoon gloves, and of course, mustache (though this piece kept falling off).  I mentioned to him that with his build he might have made a good Luigi too, but his costume did have the extra padding to make him pudgy ala Mario.  During the costume show, who walked across the stage with (I think) a third-grade class but Luigi, which from a distance also looked pretty good.  When our Mario waved to him I figured they were brothers, but when I asked him about it the only fraternal relationship was in the characters, so this just made for a cool coincidence.

I said I would mention Friday night, so I am finally getting around to it.  Friday night was our second annual movie night for 4th and 5th grade.  Last year we saw the excellent Meet the Robinsons.  This year was Bolt.  Having never seen this movie before I was looking forward to it even if I wouldn’t really get to see if I had to keep too much of a watchful eye on the kids (as it happily turns out, my fears here were unfounded and I was able to watch the whole thing).  Before the movie, however, there was game and pizza time.  This year they separated the boys and the girls so one group was playing games while the other ate.  We started out in the gym.  There was a fun game set up called “the gauntlet” but before we did that we warmed up with another game, link tag.  No, this has nothing to do with:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

though that’s a hilarious Family Guy-esque video (click to see it in a larger size).  It is a game with one (or a few) runner(s) and one (or a few) tagger(s) with the rest spread out, standing linked in pairs.  At any time the runner can link up with one pair and the person on the opposite side would become a new runner so the pair doesn’t become a trio.  If the tagger tags the runner, the runner becomes the tagger and the former tagger links up with a pair and a new person becomes the runner.  I think we had played this before a couple of years ago, calling it squirrel tag.  After this game came- The Gauntlet.  This is just as insidious as it sounds.  The kids have to run through a course, going over or under as the course dictates, while trying to avoid getting hit by balls thrown by us leaders (heh, heh…).  If hit, they would have to go back to the beginning.  For those of you crying “aww, no fair for the kids,” don’t worry- they got their turn getting back at us.  I didn’t make it very far…

So for food time, we had pizza.  I was expecting the variety made in our church’s kitchen, but it turned out they ordered from Little Caesars.  The parents had to pay for this event, so why not?  This was the time where we leaders got to hang out with a few boys sitting together, thereby selecting our small groups for the end of the night.  After the boys grabbed their dinner, I waited a minute or so before grabbing my own and sitting down with four boys.  There were almost a dozen guy leaders, so the small groups were quite small.  There were more girls and fewer girl leaders present, so their groups I understand were a bit larger.  Did I mention this was an outreach event?  The kids were encouraged to invite friends who didn’t normally come to our church, so it turned out that two of these boys were such invitees.  In fact, both were invited by one of the other boys, but all four actually knew each other from school.  After a brief time in conversation with them, it was time for the movie.  We cleaned up and headed to the learning center where the movie was shown on two screens.  We were supposed to sit with our groups, but the boys kind of crowded together, so I sat in the row right in front of them instead.  Don’t worry, the seating was tiered and the screens high up besides so I didn’t block their view. 🙂

As I wrote, we were able to enjoy the whole movie with no more distraction than some kids going to the bathroom now and again.  They even provided popcorn for the whole movie experience.  Now, I typically say I don’t like popcorn all that much, but it is strange that I typically find myself eating it anyway, and this night was no exception.  While not in the same class as Meet the Robinsons IMHO, I still enjoyed this movie about a dog raised thinking his “human” was a spy constantly threatened by the evil Dr. Calico (with his evil cats of course) and that he was a superhero- managing to escape from his trailer, he heads out on a mission to save his human whom he thought was captured (they ended the day’s shooting on this cliffhanger) but in fact headed home as this was after all just a TV show no matter what Bolt was raised to believe.

Finally, Pastor Steve came out and talked a little, focusing on superheroes and how God is the only superhero.  It was just a bit more exciting than what I just wrote, but you get the idea.  We then broke into our small groups and talked some more about it, ending with handing out Gospel tracts that folds in several ways to reveal the message.  I actually picked up a fifth boy who hadn’t been selected already by another leader so I may have ended up with the largest boy’s group of the night.  I felt the discussion went very well.  The two visitors actually attended different churches, so they weren’t as green as expected in an outreach event, but that was okay as I’m sure everyone still picked up something from the small group, especially on sharing Christ with others if they had already had a relationship with Him.

It was a great night- I can’t wait for Winterblast in a few months- the overnighter at the church.  The only disappointing time was seeing another fifth-grade boy at the church with his mom for a single-parents meeting who chose to not attend movie night because the ones he wanted to invite were not in 4th or 5th grade, which I learned was sort of a limit in this event though not strictly enforced.

Camp- the final chapter

It has been a while since the last camp post, so why don’t I just wrap it up in one post?  Since we’re talking two days, I have a lot of photos this time.   The highlights of course were the games and instructionals.  But before we get to those, the themes for the last two days were the tongue and the hands/feet.  The tongue refers to what we say and the hands and feet refer to our actions.  If you’re keeping up with the key verses, here they are (can you match up the theme with the verse?):

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20)

The one heart lesson on Thursday night was the good news- the faithful heart.  After three nights of learning about the bad hearts it was refreshing to finally get to the one that hears the Word and takes action, letting it take root strongly in one’s heart.

The first game was Man Overboard against the Blue Shields.  Man Overboard is a running game where the kids have to follow the directions of where to go and what to do.  There are four sides to a ship, but for this large of a group we only used two- bow and stern.  Besides the two places to go, the one in charge can call things like octopus!, shark!, hit the deck!, and of course the title, man overboard!  There are more too.  When the kids hear this they have to do an action associated with the command.  See the photo section for two such actions.  Since this is a relatively short game for the allotted time, they played a couple of games and followed with a couple rounds of Simon Says.  The boys actually played this the night before before going on a hay ride at the end of the day, but not for a good reason- it was because several boys didn’t listen to directions.  It was a fun sort of reminder for them I think.  Our team rocked on these games.  The next morning the game was Bedlam against the Red Cross.  This was a more subjective game where the teams were given an action to do, like act like a particular animal or object (i.e., ice-cream truck), and whichever team did it best overall according to the leaders judging would win the points.  I have no idea who actually won this one.

Hey, did I skip a game?  Well, that’s because I saved the best for last.  Last time I mentioned Counselor Hunt was switched to Thursday.  This is quite a different game from the rest.  This annual game is where the counselors all hide somewhere in the camp and the kids, working in groups, have to find them.  Over the last four years, I have tamed a bit on this one.  The first couple times I played it I hid so well that almost no one found me.  Last year (or was it the year before?) I switched tactics to make it easier for the kids- I placed myself so that I was hidden from most directions, but visible if they looked from a certain angle.  Several found me of course, but that was the idea.  Another strategy some take with this game is to hide in plain sight.  That is, they will place themselves in a spot they can’t be missed like the middle of the road or reading a newspaper in front of a cabin.  They are so obvious that they must not be playing, or so most of the kids think.  This year I didn’t hide at all.  I was one of the runners, called viruses in this medical theme.  You can tell by the name that this is bad news for the kids.  Instead of hiding, I was one of about four who would chase the kids.  If caught, they would be marked and would have to have the virus “cured” before they could continue the game.  This was a very tiring job- no wonder the high school kids were usually the ones to do it!  I think I marked about five or six kids throughout the game, regrettably one of my own (hey, we had to play fair!).  I ran up to three from my cabin, and instead of running away like they all should have, one of them ran toward me, an excited look on his face that he “found” me. Doh! (visualize hand slapping face here).

There were of course four instructionals throughout the two days.  I won’t talk too much about most of them though for brevity sake.  On Thursday we had fishing and archery.  Yes, there were actual fish in the lake but they didn’t get to cook up what they caught- just catch and release.  I’m sure the kids weren’t too disappointed they didn’t get to clean, gut, and cook the fish…  Not much to say on archery- most kids were, let’s just say not quite Robin Hoods, so I will move on to riflery on Friday.   The kids from Iowa put us to shame here.  They were so practiced at shooting that when they ran out of targets to hit they shot ours!  These were actually pellet guns powered by air- no real bullets for this camp.  This was a new event this year and I was looking forward to it as I remembered my times at Boy Scout camp, though there we had to pay for each round we shot.  You can see what the rifles looked like below.  Rock climbing was the final event of the week for us.  All but one of the boys in my cabin gave it a try.  Again, a couple of pictures below.

The only things left to write about (I’ll probably come up with more once I post this!) are the campfire and going home.  Wednesday night the girls had a campfire while the boys went on a hayride, which, by the way, had no hay- just the cart.  Thursday reversed these roles.  The campfire was to serve a couple of purposes.  The obvious one was marshmallows for s’mores.  The other was to burn a list of fears we wrote up the night before as part of the lesson, signifying that we release these fears to God’s control.  Since we had to wait a day on this for our turn at the campfire, you can guess what happened.  Myself included.  I’ll just say that I found my list once I got home and unpacked.  Speaking of going home, that’s what we did Friday night.  Cleaned up the cabins, packed, and headed to the bus bus.  Once again I was grateful for the buses coming down Dorothy’s Hill so we didn’t have to climb it with our luggage.  All but one of my boys boarded the bus- we left one behind.  On purpose.  Are you curious?  Okay, he was staying for family camp.  His parents wouldn’t arrive until the next day, but he stayed with another dad who stayed behind with his own son.

In the end, our team was not victorious.  We came in a close second, still far ahead of third place.  There’s always next year. 🙂

Oh, one more thing- winning the cleanest boys’ cabin twice really messed me up for one of the things I wanted to do one of the days.  Lots of balloons was the key here, but I guess I will be saving them for next year now.  On Thursday we decided that since we would probably not be allowed to win two days in a row, we saved them for Friday.  On Friday, we were busy cleaning and packing.  Oh, well.  Enjoy the pics, and be sure to click on whatever catches your eye for larger versions.

Oh, no contact lenses were really lost as far as I know.  What?  You don’t read the pop-up tooltips when you hover over the pictures?  For shame! 😛

An aluminum weekend

Sing with me… “Friday night I crashed your party, Saturday I said I’m sorry…” Okay, so I was actually invited but then the song doesn’t quite fit.  Oh well.  Anyway, this story starts before Friday, actually earlier this week.  I was given advice to see what represented a 10th wedding anniversary.  So I did a web search and found this site with information on anniversaries.  We all know about silver and gold wedding anniversaries, but the years leading up to them are rather short of the glamour silver and gold bring, with things like paper, cotton, leather, and wood.  10th anniversary is tin or aluminum, so I got the idea to purchase them some snacks in tins.  Well, apparently stores only sell snacks in tins around Christmastime- they were nowhere to be found.  I finally found something kind of lame at Meijer, but it was in a tin.  I would be giving them another gift along with it so I figured as long as the idea got across the tin would be fine.  Next day, I had a job in 8th grade and I noticed the teacher had a tin in his room- full of puzzles.  Ding- of course.  Games and puzzles can come in tins, and my friends are wild for games! So, back in Meijer after school I found some options in domino sets (double 6, 9, and 12), and Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader Disney edition.  I leaned toward the dominos, but decided to check Walmart across the street first.  Good thing, as their domino sets were half the price of Meijer’s!  But wait, they had several more items in tins including a classic game set, a couple of jigsaw puzzles, and a Phase 10 card game.  It took me awhile to decide what to get, but C & L know what the final selection was.  So, I wrapped them up, found a half-day job for Friday AM, went to bed, couldn’t sleep, canceled the job at about 4:30 after only short bursts of sleep, went back to bed until 9:30, then got up, finished getting ready, ate, and headed to Ohio, stopping only once for gas and a snack (what a sentence, whew!).  Once I finally gave the gifts away later in the evening C guessed something about me wrapping the gifts in tin foil and I had to kick myself for not thinking of it.  Well, the paper was the color of tin anyway.

Backing up just a little, I arrived at 3:45 and checked into the motel.  $25 per night- even better than the amazing $29 C told me on the phone!  Not too many frills, but I wouldn’t be there except to sleep so I didn’t care.  I finally arrived at the theatre around 5:40 and discovered several people were already there and I didn’t really need to delay at the motel as long as I did.  I saw C’s mom for the first time in a long time, as well as the rest of the family and friends there.  Once they started it was short but emotional.  One of the two (I won’t say which, though most of you readers already know!) broke down while reading which only added to the powerful sincerity of what s/he said.  Then it was off to the reception across the street where I had my second meal of the day (I skipped lunch) and, well I’ll just skip ahead since this part is already in my friends’ blogs.  We all had a good time.  When we went to their house afterward, they graciously allowed the few of us to stay for a short time and we had a fun few rounds of a Tribond game before we all retired for the night.

The next day they gave me some options for a fun, family activity- drive an hour to the Toledo Zoo or even longer to an animal park.  Umm…  Since I drove four hours the day before and would drive four hours again the next day, the animal park was really a no-go.  The zoo might have been an option, but I had seen the zoo just a year before around the same time of year so we finally decided to go to town.  It wasn’t bad.  The important part was just hanging out together, so it really didn’t matter much what we did.  The kids enjoyed some playtime at Menards, and then we went to a couple other places, including a few runs of go-karting (their eldest was visibly upset when she was asked to sit out first since not all could go at once, but I think she got over it after going twice in a row.  Everyone- including us adults as we had to watch their youngest who couldn’t ride- rode two out of the three runs) before having dinner at a pizza buffet.  Since it was a Chuck-E-Cheese style (somewhat) place I wasn’t expecting much from the pizza, but it was actually pretty good.  Not Gino’s East or Giordano’s good, but for sure better than Dominos or Little Caesar’s.  They even took requests, so I jokingly asked for something with jalapeños, and they actually obliged- not an unusual request I guess.  Well, when they have peanut butter and jelly pizza I guess nothing’s unusual!  The kids had their fun at the games there, and then we rented a blu-ray movie to watch through my computer on their HDTV.  Unfortunately, due to draconian copy protection and software issues it took some time to get the movie going, but we were glad when we finally did.

Hmm.  This post is getting a little long so I think I will chop it here with a:

Busy, busy

The last day or so has been a bit busy.  Part of it was me wasting time on Hamsterball, a clone of the 80’s hit arcade game Marble Madness, and part was preparations for church this weekend.  I have been wasting a lot of time on Hamsterball.  Those who remember Marble Madness will remember that the game uses a trackball.  The player would madly roll that trackball to guide his or her marble downhill (in one case uphill!) to the exit, encountering many an obstacle on the way down.  Two players could even play at the same time, adding to the madness.  Hamsterball plays a great tribute to this game, but it looks like the two player game is limited to either a one-on-one battle to knock the other off a platform, or playing just one board at a time instead of an entire tournament.  Actually, the battle part can be up to four players- one-on-one-on-one-on-one, as it were.  Instead of a marble, the wonder of current technology allowed the programmers to turn it into a hamster ball, with the hamster dutifully running in the ball as it moves.  You can play in resolutions of 640×480 up to 1280×1024, in a window or fullscreen.  Unfortunately, fullscreen for me means the game is stretched to fill my widescreen display making the ball look flat.  When windowed, the game displays a correct aspect ratio fortunately.  In lieu of a trackball, I have tried to play this game using a mouse, the track-pad on this oversized laptop, and an analog Saitek game controller.  The game controller works the best for my purposes, but I still would like to get an arcade-style trackball at some point.  I missed out on buying one for $50 back when I could afford one.  The game itself starts with ideas from Marble Madness and takes off from there.  Besides the classic enemies like an enemy ball and disappearing floors, you will encounter fans, saws, giant hammers and mousetraps, and much more.  Remember the world on Marble Madness where your marble goes up ramps instead of down?  Well, add sideways to this game in a world where the gravity changes depending on where your ball is on the screen.  Here are some pictures from the game (click for larger size).  You can also find a bunch of videos on Youtube:


The business with church involved the 4th/5th grade ministry and children’s drama.  I had a script to finish memorizing for the rehearsal which started at 3:30.  In addition, for the review game, Jeopardy, for 4th/5th grade I made some cards to draw for the categories and point values.  Sure, we could have let the students pick for themselves, but when there are 30-50 kids in the room, with half of them (two teams) having to agree that would have caused the game to drag.  One of the pastors used a die to decide in the past, but where’s the fun in that when we could have the kids draw from a box cool-looking cards instead?  On top of that it was rewards weekend.  As such I had to call about ten kids in my small groups to remind them to bring their reward sheets with them.  Most of them did, but a couple still forgot or couldn’t find them.

An odd thing happened this weekend.  There was a guest pastor from California, and for some reason on Saturday night he thought the service was two hours (it’s really 1½ hours) and so we were wondering in kids ministry what was going on when 6:45 rolled around, then 6:50 and the parents still weren’t there to pick up the kids.  I learned the next day of what happened.  The pastor was corrected and had to shorten his message by a half-hour otherwise chaos would have ensued between the two morning services as people for the second service arrived to a full parking lot because the first service hadn’t left yet 😯 . In the end, everything worked out well.  The review game was only its usual chaos, the drama went well- if not always perfect- for the three services, and the kids were too fully engaged in the room games Saturday night to care that their parents hadn’t arrived yet (I do feel for the other classrooms though that didn’t have carpetball, four-square, and air hockey).