In the beginning…

Sunday morning.  Most of my things were packed the night before, so I thought I would make it on time without a problem.  Big mistake.  The few things left still occupied enough time to make me about 20 minutes late.  There were no worries of course about missing the bus as leaders were scheduled to be there before dropoff time, so instead I got there in the midst of things.  Good thing I was only assigned to help load gear onto the bus.  At about 9AM everyone was checked in and we were off on our four-hour bus ride to Michigan.  The kids watched videos all the way there, but I later learned that our friends from Iowa only got to watch one video- on the way home.  In case you missed it, they are from Iowa and therefore had a trip time over double ours.  That means a lot of time remained for social activities, to put it mildly.  Anyway, we arrived at about 1PM (time zone change, you know) and were welcomed by big banners held by a cheering staff.  After unloading and moving into our cabins- I had a group of six plus a junior leader- we headed to the swim front for swimming tests and a fort-building competition.  Note the non-mention of lunch.  The kids brought their own lunches, and I even remembered my own this year (it was last year or the year before that I had left it sitting on the freezer at home).  This year I was a representative for the army team, moving out of the air force from the last two military themes prior two and four years ago.


Starting a new paragraph just because I can, the fort contest began while various cabins two-by-two (or one by one in the case of a few very large girl cabins) took their swim tests.  The sand forts (remember- this is a swim front so there was a beach) generally had moats around them because digging in the sand was probably the easiest thing for the kids, but there were buckets for making buildings like garages for tanks and whatnot.  No air strip this year, though I suppose they could have done a helipad had one of us had thought of it.  The Iowa team, the marines once again, was not present for much of this but they did arrive in time to take 2nd place.  Army ended up 3rd, the highest we would ever get this week outside of the upfront games.  As for the swim tests, just about every cabin has its non-swimmer.  Mine had three, half the kids.  Well, it doesn’t mean quite as much for this age group as water activities are limited anyway.


Since this along with cabin check-in and welcome/rules took up most of the afternoon, we can move on to after dinner.  Throughout the week post-dinner would mean the daily game competition, but for Sunday we just moved on to the teaching time.  It was here the theme for the week, the armor of God in Ephesians 6, was introduced.  Each day would focus on a different part of the armor but not until Monday.  the format was typical of a weekend service, but longer.  Game activity time (the competition game in the case of this week, gym or crafts in the case of weekends) followed by worship, teaching, and small groups.  Mornings would replace the field game with an up front game- unfortunately I missed most of these as I took this time to put in my contact lenses while the Nico, my junior leader, stayed with the kids.  This first small group time was a great way to really start to know the kids, most of whom I already knew through small group time over the weekends.  This year they tried to keep small groups from the weekend when possible- a matter simplified by there being three service times plus Iowa to make the four teams, each team then being divided into 4th/5th grades and boys/girls. four cabins per team.  Since I stuck with my 4th-graders from last year, my cabin was all 5th grade.


Finally, there was free time on the courts where kids could play tetherball, nuke-em (played on a volleyball court where any number can play catch with the ball- dropping or missing causes an “explosion” so someone is out), four-square, trampoline basketball, regular basketball, or just hang around and talk or play in the sand.  They also had the opportunity to buy treats at the canteen.  I was disappointed to see that they doubled the price on pop this year, though I think they also lowered ice cream a bit though I didn’t buy any.  They told me that the higher price on drinks balances with the loss they take on ice cream, and keeping most things at $1 just makes managing the accounts that much easier.  I can’t argue with that, but I did make sure to stick with the one 20-oz offering all week- Dr. Pepper.  Everything else was in cans.  Of course, being right before bed, many kids chose Mt. Dew…  Speaking of bed, it was a little difficult getting my six to sleep that night. I could blame the Dew, but it was really mostly the excitement of being there.  Unfortunately Steve, the man in charge and two cabins away, had to visit our cabin not once but twice that evening.  Oops…


more to come.

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. 😉

Getting close now…

Well, school is almost upon us once again.  Depending on where you live, it can be a week or three, or maybe your kids attend an all-year school that started up again in July after a much shorter break.  In the two districts I’m signed up with, it starts in 1½ and 2½ weeks.  What’s that you say?  Two districts?  That’s right.  I am only in hometown and supersized districts this year due to my continued job of shooting pictures of cars.  I have chosen to work three days a week on the cars for now leaving two days to teach.  Of course it will likely be another month before I am needed as a sub, but that’s the plan.  As you probably figured out already, these two districts are where I have gotten most of my work in the past and so I stuck with them, losing the less productive ones, even though near-urban paid me the most.

So how is the new job going?  Well, I got my first store finally- unfortunately it’s 45-minutes away!  The one who had this store didn’t do a very good job so he was replaced.  Not the best way to start, but I’ll take whatever I can get.  Today, in fact, Kim (one of the owners of the company I work for) and I spent much time fixing the stickers on the cars that were tilted, stuck over unremoved adhesive from previous buyer’s guide (warranty info which by law has to be in the window even if just handwritten) or otherwise placed with a lack of care.  I think we did no less than two dozen.  The rest of my time was spent in doing four cars that were ready for me.  Not a lot, but the idea is to have three dealers (four if they are small like this one) in one day to shoot a reasonable amount.  The most I had in one day training with Rene was 42.  At $7 a car that was nearly $300 for the day for her.  Of course that was three large dealers, and even then that number is rare.  My goal is eventually 20-30 cars per day.  Another trainee may be leaving as his school just gave him a reality check- no, it is not possible to graduate in a reasonable time if you only have classes two days a week.  If he leaves then I am hoping to get one of the stores promised to him, but not the other one.  There is a dealer that is way over toward Chicago (strike one for the bad traffic).  They require the cars to be shot in their warehouse a mile away, meaning the cars have to be driven from their lot to there, adding a tremendous amount of time (strike two).  Also, the warehouse has bad lighting with three of the five lights burnt out the last two times I was there making it difficult to take pictures inside the cars (strike three).  I am scheduled to do new cars every other week, but the one who has been doing the used cars while Pat was training to take it over can keep that part as a punishment for his bad performance at the dealer he lost (yes, same guy)!

In the meantime, all this work has meant that I haven’t gotten the DVD done yet for my kids from camp- I’d better start on it soon, or just do what I did the first year- give them a CD with all the pictures, but that’s no fun and can’t be viewed without a computer.

Camp: Day 4

Whew- what a scorcher this day was!  I am certain temperatures were in the 90s…  The kids certainly got no breaks at meals with drinks other than plain water.  Normally, they have to drink a glass or two of water at lunch or dinner, and then they can have punch or lemonade but for most of this week it was just water.  Of course they could get pop or Gatorade during canteen time, but for meals it was all water because it was so hot for most of the week.  It was so hot, they moved the normal Wednesday evening game to Thursday!

So today, the teaching was on the ears in the morning.  As for the ears, it is what we choose to hear: (1) What do we listen to, (2) Who do we listen to, and (3) How do we listen.  For (1) a big thing is music.  At their age it hasn’t become such a big deal yet, but we talked a little about it anyway. (2) involves what people they choose to listen to- besides their parents.  We will blissfully assume that they do listen to their parents. 😉 )Mostly this is about other kids or so-called role models who model inappropriate behavior- will they listen to such people or remember what the Bible says instead?  For (3), even if we listen to the right things, what do we do about it?  As the Bible teaches, we must be doers of the Word and not hearers only.  The evening message was about a crowded heart, one where Christ’s teachings are there, but crowded out by other things in our lives like TV, sports, internet (er- including this blog 😮 ), hanging out with friends, etc.  These things aren’t necessarily bad, but if there isn’t room for God then something has to go.  The memory verse was Proverbs 12:15: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,  but a wise man listens to advice.” Speaking of verses, today we added all the key verses around the room- the five memory verses and Psalm 51:10, an all-encompassing verse for the week (I’ll let you look that one up- you don’t expect me to do all the work for you, do you? 😀 )Incidentally, we won cleanest (boys) cabin for the second time this week!

Of the two game times, I unfortunately have no pictures for you.  In the morning, we played our nemesis team, the Biohazards- nemesis because we were the top two teams all week, dukin’ it out for first place.  The game was the obstacle course.  I really didn’t get any pictures here because I was helping out our team at one of the stations.  The stations included going through a tire, swinging across a hole with water (and a “6-foot leech”), navigating balance beams (logs) and stumps, going across tall monkeybars, a “meat grinder” (old wire/cable reel), going over a couple of walls, and going across steel cables (my station).  The kids had to help one another, and many came back when they were finished to help Diego out.

The evening game was against the same team.  It was another course to navigate, this time in the game field.  I have a video of just the course- I suppose I could upload it to Youtube or something later but it’s really not as exciting as I had hoped.  This time I didn’t help out at a station, but I only took videos with my camera this time around- no pictures.  We won this game, but mostly because we had less people on our team.  I have no idea who won the obstacle course but I suspect the other team got the nod making the two games a wash.

Today the kids got to do the all-time favorite instructional- the zipline.  Now, you may be thinking, “what kind of crazy camp allows children to use a zipline?”  Well, aside from the obvious answer that our camp does, let me explain that this zipline is not the sort where you hold on to some sort of handles while sliding down the cable, letting go when near the bottom onto a net or something soft.  No, these kids are strapped in and attached to the cable- there is no way they can fall, short of the cable breaking, and I am sure by law the camp has to make regular checks of the zipline to prevent that from happening.  At the bottom they are stopped by two burly staff members- one slows them down, the other stops them entirely and unclips them from the cable.  There are two lines, so two kids can go at once.  They had time to go down about a dozen times each even though three cabins were there (normally there are only two cabins at an instructional- I’m not sure why they did it this way).  The other instructional was biking, though this year I think they got less instruction than previous years.  The biking, by the way, was at the top of that hill I talked about in a previous post.  I think it is only 40-45°, but it feels more like 60-70° when climbing it!  By the way, it’s named after a student who went down this hill on a bike when she was in junior high.  She got to the bottom, flipped, and broke multiple bones.  Needless to say, bicycling down the hill is no longer allowed…

Well, I think that covers all the main stuff.  The afternoon canteen was at the swim front as it was every day, but hot as the day was, would you believe that only one of my kids hit the water?  Unbelievable.  I even joined him for a short time- the first time in all my years I have gone in the water- I have always been paranoid about wearing contacts in the lake.  Even this year when I did go in I made sure to wear goggles to protect my eyes, which worked for the most part.  I’m thinking of combining the last two days into one post to get it over with- what do you think?

Camp: day 3

Work was a bit long this week, then add in the travel times since all but one of the jobs I have been doing has been at least a half-hour away.  Today, in fact, coming home took over an hour for what should have been a half hour before traffic.  Sigh.  So without further interruption, here is installment number three of camp 2009.

Some of you may recall that the week I was away was the first week of summer, in more than one way.  That is, starting Tuesday it was h-o-t.  This would have been a far better day for us to have all the water games!  The start of the day went pretty much like Monday, so I won’t bore you with that.  The first highlight was the up-front game before the morning teaching session.  The lesson was going to be on the eyes (see the picture below of Pastor John and his special glasses… 😀 )The “game” therefore involved an eye chart which the kids read as if they were in an optometrist’s room.  Did you notice I put the word game in quotes?  That’s because there was no winner.  As soon as one of the four read the lower lines, “if you can read this you are about to be pied,”  WHAP!  All four of them.  But don’t take my word for it- look below for the picture of one of my guys. :mrgreen:

So lesson, then small group- the memory verse for this day was from the book of Psalms: Ps 119:37 “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” See?  Eyes.  Pun intended.  Okay then.  This time, after the session for the big game, we had the same two games as yesterday but switched.  While the other two teams played the wipe-out wiffleball game, we played the same team as yesterday morning in human foosball.  I am sure to have mentioned this game before as it is a standard for camp and winter retreat.  It is a life-size foosball game where each team is divided into lines, holding hands, like on a foosball table.  Multiple giant balls are thrown in (more added throughout the game) and the kids have to kick them over the other team’s heads into the goal.  The lines can bend, but not break.  This game was so close in the end 70-something to eighty-something.  Sweating from the direct beating of the sun, we had a break from action with crafts.  The kids worked on pouches the first had to stamp with leather tools before tying two pieces together with a needle and plastic thread.  Among the different bevel, letter, and picture stamps were a couple of crosses- you can see one below.

We continued to maintain a fairly clean cabin and added open bibles on pillows, key verse highlighted to the mix.  Unfortunately another cabin thought of this too (or was a spy listening in at the right time (!) ) so they won the award.  Cabin S, the dirtiest cabin of yesterday with proof on video was much improved, but they still weren’t the winner- that went to the team that would be our nemesis all week- the Biohazards.  Well, tomorrow we would add something new.  While they were inspecting our cabins, we were at our afternoon instructional- tennis.  To get there we would have to travel over a huge mountain in the woods (well, it was a hill with a stairway, but it seemed like a huge mountain at the time!).   The weather continued to be brutal with a hot, sunny sky so I spent much time in the few shaded areas while the kids went through their instructional.  When it was done, we hiked back over the mountain hill  and went right to the swimming front for afternoon canteen time.  I had given kids the option of getting in swim gear before we headed to tennis to save time since tennis was almost on the way to swimming, but only one heeded the advice so most would not be going in the water.  None in fact, as the only one who prepared still didn’t go in.  One who didn’t prepare ended up looking longingly at the water as the heat continued.  He was sure to get his trunks on next time.

Well, there really isn’t much more to add.  The rest of the day was pretty much like yesterday.  I don’t think I mentioned that the evening session started with some youtube-esqe video with a puppet voiced by a falsetto voice talked about movies.  I could only understand maybe half of what was being said and don’t know the name of the video, but it ended up Friday with revealing the number one hit movie of all time.  If someone could help here I am curious.  Anyway, these shorts “introduced” our video of the day- a five-minute-or-so video of all of us throughout the day.  The next heart talked about in the lesson was the shallow heart, the heart that receives the Word of God, but not deeply so that when things go sour one turns from, instead of to, God.  Now that really is it- tune in next time.  All pictures in this thread by the way have once again been selected, or in some cases edited, to help keep from revealing identifiable faces.  I shouldn’t have to say it again, but click for larger pictures. 😉

EDIT:  I skipped over the evening game!  Of course, after most of the hot day was over, only then did we get a game involving swimming trunks and getting wet.  So the kids changed into their trunks once again and headed to the game field after dinner.  Smack in the middle was a large inflatable pool filled with objects in water that the kids had to find.  This was a summer-ized version of the classic “steal the bacon,” the version where the kids are told what to find and bring back.  They were told such things as, “three chickens, two pics, and one noodle,” which of course they had to bring back one at a time.  Several kids were called at any one time so that made it less work, but more chaotic.  The boys and girls each had their own game going- gee, I wonder why? 😀 )We won this game despite the odds-evening attempt against us (we were doing too well by this time) by giving us less numbers so when #10 or 11 were called we couldn’t go.  Well, at first we did pick someone to go for those numbers as normal for when one team has more than another, but were “corrected” when caught and accused of cheating.  Well, we really did what was normal so we weren’t cheating, but in the director’s mind the number we had was it, no extras to be given.  I think he should have explained this better.  Well, it was still all good fun and the kids enjoyed it.

Camp: day 2

I guess if I am to not forget important details about camp, I will have to post a little more often.  I have been working more lately (for less, may I remind you, during training) and when I have been off I have not felt like posting much.  Anyway, on to day two.  My alarm was set for 7:15, but I woke up at 6:45 due to my junior counselor who wanted to take a morning shower.  Personally, I’m an evening shower person when at camp- taking my shower after lights out.  It is good to get out of the clothes I have sweated in all day and wash the day’s residue off.  So David got up at 6:45 for his shower and I tried to get back to sleep, which I think I did ten minutes before my alarm.  Okay then, everybody up, I finished getting shaved and dressed and headed off to the senior morning staff meeting.  The kids got dressed, teeth brushed, and headed to the flagpole raising with David.  Jim went with his boy Diego to the flagpole.  Not much to say about the meeting- we talked a little, prayed, and the kids came in for breakfast.  We sat down in our spot from dinner last night (which by the way would be our spot for the entire week, for the first time in five years) and chowed down on our hot breakfast, eggs and sausage I believe.

Bleah.  If I keep writing in this sort of detail I will never finish the post.  Here, let me post the daily schedule and try to focus on the highlights:

7:30 AM Wake Up
7:50-8:00 AM Flag Raising
8:05-8:40 AM Breakfast
8:45-9:45 AM Spiritual Check-Up (Teaching)
10:00-10:45 AM Physical Therapy (Game)

11:00-12:00 noon Instructionals
12:15-12:50 PM Lunch and Mail Call
1:00-2:00 PM Bed Rest
2:15-3:15 PM Instructionals
3:30-5:00 PM Canteen and Free time
5:15-5:25 PM Flag Lowering
5:30-6:15 PM Dinner
6:30-7:15 PM Physical Therapy (Game)
7:30-8:30 PM Spiritual Check-Up (Teaching)
9:00-9:40 PM Canteen and Campfire
9:40-9:55 PM Cabin time
10:00 PM Lights Out!

Right after breakfast, as you can see, was the teaching time.  Well, as you probably learned from last time, this starts off with worship.  Actually, it starts off with an up front game where someone from each team comes up and plays a crazy game such as eating strange food or toilet-paper wrapping.  I don’t remember what the game was but overall this week they weren’t as exciting as in the past.  Did I mention that this whole time was outside?  They built a sort of amphitheater a few years ago with tiered bench-seating and step-logs.  Aside from the stage, it fit rather nicely with the woods around it.  One of the worship songs was a song that would become the theme song for the week, sung at every worship time- ten times over the week.  I don’t recall the title, but it’s about sharing our faith and in the chorus they yell “we won’t be quiet” (about our faith) and “we won’t deny it.”  I don’t much care for the music, but the lyrics were sound.  As for the teaching time, the first memory verse was given, Romans 12:2- “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” In fact, this is our theme verse for this summer given the release of the second Transformers movie.  We were back in Luke 14 and talked about the brain.  Well, the mind, but “brain” fit better under the medical theme.

So with that done, our team along with another team were told to get on swimming gear for the game and meet on the game field for a game of wipe-out wiffleball.  This is a game where the kids get wet.  Really wet.  They had a hose connected though a filter to the nearby pond affectionately known as leech lake.  Lots of leeches- and some water moccasins.  No swimming in that pond.  So with the hose they would wet down the slip-n-slide between home and first base (a giant inner tube that was safe to slide into.  All other bases were toddlers’ wading pools filled with water.  The hose was also used to douse the batter between pitches, and sometimes the kids waiting to bat- no mercy.  We won the game in the end after taking an initial beating, and lucky for us our two instructionals were at the swim front so the boys wore their swimming trunks until free-time in the afternoon. This year the camp received two pontoon boats, at least one of which was for free.  God has blessed our church many times over with such gifts, including the camp itself.  So John, one of the camp directors and family pastor at my church met us at the swim front (the boys had to check in with their numbers and “boat in”) with one of them.  The ride was beautiful what with the sunny day and things to see.  There were some swans, a dam, a couple of islands, and more.  All this in the giant pond.  Yes, pond- apparently it is man-made and referred to as pond rather than lake.  Hmm.

Well, the afternoon brought us the first bed rest time.  This is a Michigan law that every camp has to follow- an hour of bed rest each day to keep campers from heat exhaustion and the like.  During this time kids were required to stay in their beds in the cabin.  They were allowed to read, play a quiet game with someone in the next bed, or sleep.  David and Diego chose to sleep.  I cleaned a bit which would become a daily ritual.  We actually won cleanest boy’s cabin for this day.  They jokingly (I hope!) called it least disastrous when they informed us.  Following bed rest we hiked back to the swim front for canoeing.  Not much to say here.  They learned how to get in a canoe and how to paddle.  We were out for a good twenty minutes or so following instruction.  I got in a canoe with two of my red-banders (non-swimmers) as required for them to go out in a canoe.  It was a nice time.  Then it was free time.  Guess where they spent free time?  The swim front!  Since we were already there and already in swim gear it was easy.  We had to “boat out” then “swim in” since boating was done.  Besides swimming, kids got to play “nuke-em,” baggo, or tetherball; lounge around on the many chairs, or get a snack at the canteen.

After dinner it was time for the final group game and lesson.  The game involved a giant basket and a lot of balls.  The object was to get as many balls in the opposing basket more points for the big balls!) as they could.  I have no idea who won that game.  The lesson pretty much went as day one.  The focus was on Mark 4 with the parable of the soils, with the focus on the hard soil, or hard heart which those who have not come to Christ have.  Those who hadn’t accepted Christ yet were encouraged to talk to their leaders.  Small group again (yes we had it in the morning too even if I didn’t mention it) and it was time for the evening free time on the big court.  I know the schedule mentions a campfire, but that was only for two of the evenings- one for the girls, one for the boys.  Monday was time for neither.  Tonight most would leave a little early to hit the showers, though one of my cabin decided he would go for morning instead.

This is a long post, so pics to follow in another post.

Camp 2009: Day 1

Days -2, -1, and 0 were getting ready days of course.  Day one however is where it begins.  Past years have had a check-in time of 10:00AM.  Not so this year.  With a brand new 8:00AM check-in time I dragged myself out of bed early and got a ride over to the bank lot across form the church.  While I didn’t really care much for the early call time, it did give us a couple extra hours once we got to camp.  The chaos of checking in seemed less this year for whatever reason.  I know numbers were down due to the you-know-what, but even considering it seemed pretty tame.  Parents checked in the kids, picked up tags, saw the nurse, carried the bags to the appropriate bus, waited for departure.  During this time I had the chance to say hi to three of the kids in my cabin and their parents.  Another one I found out would meet us at camp while the fifth I didn’t know at all, leaving it a total surprise when I finally did.  Around the final prayer and departure time, I finally met him as he was pointing to some bags that hadn’t yet been loaded on.  I looked at the tag and saw the bags were for someone in my cabin.  I turned to him and saw he was the fifth boy- Diego.  I later found out that the bags were for his stepfather who was coming with him.  This was no ordinary boy either- he was in two leg casts (to straighten his legs- they weren’t broken) and was… small.  Ever watch Little People, Big World?  Yes, he has that condition.  After a prayer with the parents and campers we hopped onto the buses and we were off.  We gave them about a half-hour of chat time and then the first movie went in.  All the movies were Disney of course- rated G animated features.  Ratatouille was first and it engaged at least 95% of the kids.  Wall-E followed.  Too bad the bus DVD player had no remote as Wall-E had a couple of nice shorts in the extras.  Halfway through the bus ride we stopped at a rest-stop so the drivers could take a quick pit-stop.  Yeah, leaders too. 😉 ()Kids were stuck on the bus, but the movie was kept playing so most didn’t mind I’m sure.  Having forgotten my lunch (it’s always something, right?) I scrambled here to get overprice vending machine offerings while still trying to pick up something extra for the kids in the same boat as me.  Other leaders chipped in too.

So 3½ hours later, or 4½ when you take the time change from CDT to EDT into consideration, we arrived- about ten minutes after Wall-E ended.  We got to the usual drop off point- and kept going.  Yes!  No walking a half-mile to the camp, partly down a 40º incline (or back up that same incline at the end of the week for that matter!).  We were greeted with large welcome signs from the staff, waiting for us on the game field.  While the bus was unloaded and the luggage carried to the cabins we were given an introduction speech.  The week at camp was officially underway!  We split for the cabins so the kids could get ready for their swim tests, then headed for the swim front.  For one of only two times during the week the gate was swung open so we could enter without checking in.  At all other times the kids were required to check in to the swim front to keep track of who was there in case something happened.  I had told Diego’s stepdad that we would start out with a sandcastle/fort competition when others were doing their swim tests, two cabins at a time.  Wrong!  Just because we had the previous four years didn’t mean this would be year five- oops.  Instead, we played a friendly game of nuke ’em, a volleyball variation where instead of hitting the ball it is thrown up in the air.  If it isn’t caught by the other team, the person on that team who last touched the ball trying to catch it, or the one who it fell closest to otherwise is out.  The game is over when one team is out.  At the end of our swim test during this time, three of my kids had red bracelets for non-swimmers.  Diego was one of course as he did not even take the test because of his casts.  This was definitely different for me with more than half my cabin wearing red bands; in the past I have always had only one or two.

So with that done, we changed out of the swimming gear, went to the court on top of the hill by the girls’ cabins for more instructions for the week, then hit the lodge for dinner.  It looked like this year they turned the tables 90 degrees from previous years, but other than that it was the same as previous years.  Following dinner was the first lesson.  This week’s theme was Code Blue: Having a Heart for God, so all the lessons were based on this theme.  The main passage of scripture was the parable of the seeds and the soils they landed on or in.  We broke out for small group, and what was another first we never broke into smaller groups.  In the past I have had 7-10 kids in my cabin so the kids could be split into two groups since every cabin had at least two leaders, but with only five kids we just stayed together with all three of us leaders taking turns leading discussion.  My five kids this year all had been raised in strong Christian homes, and they all had stories to tell of accepting Jesus.  I have had others in the past that had not and have even been able to lead such kids to Christ, but this year it was all about living the Christian life with all these kids which I will be the first to say is a struggle.

As the last part of the night the kids had some “free time” which for this age group is staying in one area free to play whatever games they wished in that area.  This was their first opportunity to hid the canteen, a short bus painted like a bee where they could buy candy and pop (Gatorade and water as well).  This first night was also where I received my first scars which still populate my arms to an extent of mosquito bites as I was eaten alive.  After this I would remember to put on bug spray…

The students were given a choice on whether or not to take a shower- the only night I gave that option since they didn’t do much activity that day- and then we prayed, turned out the lights, and this post finally ended. 😀