week eight: castles, mud hikes, and other normal things.

one week left. that’s it. one more week, and camp is done for the summer. it’s insane to really take that in, because for the past eleven weeks my whole life has been camp: the training, the new friends, the old friends, the campers, river village, clinics, parent letters, opening and closing campfires, camp food, unit games, cheers and songs, nights and weekends off, this camp blog, meeting new kid and saying goodbye to new friends, writing letters, taking pictures, and the exhaustion and joy that comes with all of it.

it’s bittersweet, of course. i only have seven more days of camp. but then again… i have seven whole days at camp!

nine weeks of campers is a good amount. i’m pumped for this final week, but i’m also ready for some consecutive days off, just to relax and recuperate. i’m also looking forward to my ball state community, excited to meet new freshmen and hang out with old friends. i’m pumped to be back at new life and be more involved in the youth ministry there.

goodness. how awesome and undeserved a life i have. each season of it is filled with such blessing.

well. the last part of my week was great. we had breakfast in bed (read as: breakfast on the table outside the cabin… because a true breakfast in bed would be a disaster with brave boys), went to chapel, and met matthew, our tenth camper! he’d been in a baseball tournament and his team was the state champ! he went to chapel with us, and then we went to choose clinics for him.

of course, we had to take a picture with all ten of them! these were their “we have all of us!” faces:

clinics this week have been awesome. i’m teaching riflery with marie, which is always such a blessing… marie has a way of turning something that could be stressful into a game or something else fun. i love watching her with the campers, how she makes them all feel so special even if they’ve just met. plus the kids feel so proud of themselves after hitting the target! everybody wins.

next is mountaineering, which is rock climbing with matt and nick. only blazers can do this clinic, so it’s an awesome opportunity to hang out with kids that i don’t often get to see. i even had one of my campers from last summer, ben, in the clinic. i love being a mountaineering instructor for many reasons. first, i trained with all the other clinic instructors, so they’re some of the staff that i know better and am closer with. plus, our time on the rock wall is a perfect chance for the kids to encourage each other, get out of their comfort zone, and realize that hey, they can be proud of themselves for doing something. i love it.

finally i’m in the cac with nel for world cultures. it was the first time in a while that i’d taught it, and i was glad to be back. the kids love all the crafts, and it’s fun to be in a place where creatively flows freely and kids see that there are no mistakes when it comes to art. plus, who doesn’t like to color with crayons and build cardboard castles?

     

more things i love about the cac:

1.) seeing becca teach gymp at the table right next to mine.

     

2.) random dance parties that break out in the middle of the room.

     

3.) the togan masks that we made!

thursday we went to the lake after lunch, and i was working the cargo net, timing people who wanted to earn gold medals for their cabin. one of my favorite things is when the boys get up there, totally expecting to beast it across, only to find out that it’s actually a real challenge.

     

the other thing i love is their faces when i tell them that the record was set by a girl camper: across the whole cargo net in twenty-seven seconds. no big deal.

after lake time we had a mud hike. for whatever reason, it’s always something that takes me a little bit to get excited for. but once i’m there and see the way the guys just eat it all up (we get to get dirty and it’s okay?!), i always have a blast.

     

we were there with another cabin, and as usual, there were two groups: the muddy buddies and the clean team. both were proud of themselves for their choices.

after, we washed off in the lake and hiked back to the riv, telling riddles and jokes and cheering cheers and having beach towel costume contests. dinner that night was a cookout. it was actually the first outdoor cookout that i’ve been on for (either because it was raining, looked like it might start raining, or was way too hot), and so i was really excited! cookouts are my favorite because we can eat anywhere. the gaga pits and tetherball courts are pretty popular.

     

there’s always a mad rush for seconds, so tabb and nick made sure to keep order at the front of the line.

     

that night we talked about loving our enemies, and how it’s weird and doesn’t make sense and isn’t our first reaction, and yet Jesus tells us we should do it anyway. i love it when boys realize it’s okay to be honest even when it means showing that they’re not perfect. i love when my campers see that i need Jesus just as much as (if not more than) they do. i love when people realize we don’t have to be perfect, because Jesus was perfect for us.

friday was an awesome day. in honor of the olympics, we had our very own decathalon, where my guys each got to participate in a small activity (like digging for a buried clothespin, catching three frisbees, hula-hooping for three minutes, or spelling long words) and then do a relay race at the end. two great things happened: the miami gentlemen came in second place, and i learned how to hula hoop! wish i had a picture for you. just imagine me with a hula hoop around my waist, shouting excitedly for others–anyone–to come see as i threw my hips around in a ridiculous circle.

later that night we had our sports mania themed dinner, and everyone dressed up.

falco suggested that miami and mohawk go together as our country, togo. naturally, everyone agreed. we walked to flagpole holding our flag as our campers walked behind us, waving to everyone around. then we led our togo cheer for everyone else. it was great.

bonus: we sneakily taped our flag up on the back of the stage. so now whenever the meal host speaks, it looks like they support togo, no matter what they say. when they announced the gold medals this morning, our flag was standing boldly behind it all. i’m pretty sure it’s still there. we’ll see how long it lasts.

brayden sat with our table for dinner (note the extra big mug he brought for his chocolate milk)! i love this guy. he and gavin, both kids whose parents work at camp, are just two of my favorite people. they’re fun, they love camp, and they love hanging out with us. i’ve gotten to know both of them a lot better this year.

that night during trading post i got to hang out with some of my favorite campers from last summer, cameron and jacob. for those of you who read my blog last summer, jacob (on the right) was the one who pretended to sleep walk all the time. this week, i told him on monday that it made my day when he yelled my name and waved whenever he saw me. and so, an average of about four or five times a day, i would hear my name called and look over to see jacob waving at me, the biggest grin on his face. it was one of the best parts of my week.

closing campfire is always great. this week becca, morph, johnny d, katie and i did a skit from mine and bec’s childhood called “makin’ eggs”. it had never been done before, and it was a huge hit with everyone. my kids were quoting it all night. it’s so weird to think that we only have one more before the summer is done.

one of the last things we do at closing campfire is the torchbearer ceremony. torchbearers are what we call the oldest pathfinder campers, the ones that will be too old the following year to come as a camper. they’re called forward by name, given a leather medallion and a candle, and are encouraged to keep God first and bring the light of camp to the rest of the world. it’s a really cool part of campfire. as we leave, the torchbearers’ candles are all burning, lighting the way for us as we go back to our cabins. i love the symbolism and the gravity with which camp treats the call to be the salt and light of the world.

and then saturday comes, and after breakfast and chapel it’s time to say goodbye. i’ll miss all these kids.

     

     

     

we have two brilliant stayovers, which means that i’m even more excited for next week. it’s the last group of kids, and i’m determined to make it the best ever.

after everyone leaves, it’s an odd quietude that settles over camp. it’s really busy during checkout, but then suddenly everyone’s gone. bec had the car with celyn today, so me, james, josh, kyle, and katie went to dairy queen for lunch. we just talked and hung out, and james revealed that those ketchup cups are actually meant to expand so they can hold more ketchup! take a look.

          

          

it was great to hang out and get to know each other better, even if we only have a week left together.

then we came back, and i’ve been blogging ever since. i love being able to take time to write. it’s therapeutic and fun and helps me clear my head of all the stuff that’s been rattling around.

one more week, guys. one more week and camp is up.

pictures from this week that i love:

lesem and e.j.

diego and one of his campers.

grace and her lake buddy.

huron boy and his new bug friend.

irving all dressed up for the olympics.

the list we made for hugo.

“don’t you turkeyerize me!”

two of my campers who were the best examples of gentlemen i’ve seen this summer.

have i told you guys i love what i do?

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5 thoughts on “week eight: castles, mud hikes, and other normal things.

  1. cmac420 says:

    Brad! This is awesome! I’m glad you’ve been having the time of your life. If there’s a way to be able to do this for the rest of your life, it seems to be your niche! 🙂

  2. Jessica Hill says:

    This week seems packed! I’m so glad it was a great one. It has been a really fantastic summer for you. now come back!

  3. Mom says:

    Wonderful….just wonderful!!!! 🙂

  4. Aunt Jean says:

    Brad, this looks like so much fun. It reminds me of my summer camp days at Camp Stella Maris on Conesus Lake. You describe it so well. The pictures are wonderful. Thanks for sharing your experiences here………..love from Aunt Jean

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