Tag Archives: camp tecumseh

training week: “you’re a poop head!” “that’s a put-down! that’s not allowed!”

well, training week has officially ended. as the staff stood in a circle last evening, saying our goodbyes until sunday, i found myself thinking about what a great summer it had been. we had done so much, made new friends, learned a bunch of new information. time to go back to the real world.

BUT WAIT. summer hasn’t even started! that was just training week! so then i got excited all over again. because this summer is going to be incredible.

a few updates. this summer, i am a blazer! i am beyond excited. my heart will always be with the braves, since that was my first unit, but it’s easy for me to see that being placed in the blazer unit is an answer to many prayers of mine. since this is my fourth summer, it would be super easy to fall into complacency, and just do everything the way i’d always done it in the brave unit. being a blazer is new, fresh, and provides new opportunities to learn and do camp in a new way. plus, there are many things i can do in the blazer unit that weren’t available for braves. i’ll be doing full cookouts, sleeping out all over camp, and participating in new activities that are exclusive to the blazers. i’m pumped to learn from the other counselors, both returning and new, and to experience this new side of camp.

my partner is amazing. his name is matty, and he’s from south africa. already we’ve become friends, and God has blessed our partnership with clear communication and similar ideas and goals for the summer. we’re on the same page with our vision for the cabin culture we want to set (we’re in peoria cabin!), and even after just the few conversations we’ve had about things we want to accomplish, i’m so excited to get into the summer with this guy! i can tell it’s going to be an incredible summer with him and the peoria cabin.

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along with finding out our cabin, unit, and parters, the rest of the past few days have been filled to the brim. we did activity rotations, took float trips, learned about what it looks like to be a well-rounded counselor, had fantastic conversations, and generally had a blast. such is the camp life.

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each of the units had some time together to get to know each other. blazers did some team-building activities, made friendship bracelets for each other, and played a bunch of games. i can tell that this is going to be a close-knit group. we have the perfect balance of returners and new counselors, and becca and jimmy, our coordinators, have been providing some great leadership.

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on our last night, each of the units did a sleep out. we had a bonfire, did a devotion together, and talked about in what areas of our lives we wanted to grow this summer, based on the sagamore creed. i’ve chosen a variety of things over the past three summers, but this summer i chose the responsibility bead. responsibility is simply taking care of the things that are important to you, and this is a summer where i want to focus on others, not myself. it’s something i’m trusting God for, because by myself i’ll do nothing but worry about me. but i think it will be easy to find friends that will hold me accountable to that this summer.

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now it’s the calm before the storm. i’m at the elliot’s house, doing laundry (they’re amazingly hospitable… i always feel so loved here). sophie and ollie are running around. they made a fort and found a turtle (his name is thunder). two more reasons that i’m excited to be here this summer.

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and so it continues. tomorrow the kids are here. that makes me feel incredible and excited and nervous and eager. how is it that God has decided to bless me so abundantly here? i don’t deserve a place like this to work. so, to quote the psalmist, “i will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” (psalm 13:6). what a great phrase. God has certainly dealt bountifully with me, in more ways than just allowing me to be at camp one more year. but i think He knows how important camp is to me, and so he deals with me especially bountifully in this area. so much to be thankful for.

it’s here, guys. time to love those kids!

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training week: and so it begins.

it’s here! camp tecumseh, the best place in the world. somehow training week has already come, and things have started rather spectacularly.

many new and returning counselors have been at camp for a while now, doing a variety of trainings. i see in new counselors a sort of freedom, the kind that comes from realizing that camp is a place where they can be fun and loud and a bit odd and that’s okay. i remember first discovering that a few summers back. it’s one of the reasons camp is such a special place.

i came here one day early to get my high ropes recertification. it was a day filled with fun people doing fun things. definitely got me in the mood for the rest of the following week. we did things like ziplining and tying knots and finding small turtles and getting excited for mountaineering and skywalkers.

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then staff training really started. the following day, we all got assigned to cabins for the week. this summer i have the pleasure of leading one with john fraisure, who is, we shall say, a character. one of my favorite characters.

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we have an awesome cabin of guys as well. at this point we’ve been together for about three and a half days, and it’s been really great. everyone is going to make a fantastic counselor, seriously. they’re friendly, hilarious, and everyone is willing to share. we’ve had some wonderful devotions over the past few nights, all because of the ways the guys have been actually thinking about the stuff we talk about, and are eager to apply it to this summer and beyond. they’re the best.

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here’s another picture of us at opening campfire… we were the rainbros.

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over the past few days (though they’ve felt much longer), we’ve done a ton of fun stuff, some with each other and some with other groups. we toured the camp, we visited the minifarm and went on a trailride, we played frisbee and spikeball and nine square, we’ve done cheers before breakfast and cheers before dinner, learned to set up a tent in south pasture, hiked all over God’s beautiful creation within camp boundaries, and have just generally had a smashing good time.

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last night the staff split into separate groups (mine was labeled the wolf pack… not mad about it) and at the end of the day we made hobo dinners! i always forget just how delicious they are after you’ve put all the hard work into them. we had a great time getting to know each other and telling stories and eating some good grub.

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today has been the best ever. chapel was so good. llama talked about how God isn’t just a piece of our lives, but rather the source from which and through which everything else is given purpose. it’s an important reminder going into the summer that nothing – not the activities, not the kids, not the experience – is as important as Jesus. if we forget that, we are doomed to spend a summer expending energy for no good reason. knowing God and pursuing Him gives everything meaning, and camp is no exception.

after chapel michael brandwein came in to talk to us for the morning and early afternoon. to take joel’s phrase, this guy is basically the yoda of summer camp. usually sitting that long listening to one person would make it easier to lose focus, but literally the entire time, i felt like i was truly learning and that everything brandwein was saying was able to be applied to the summer. all the guys in my cabin agreed. it was awesome.

then, in the evening we had our first mud hike of the summer. there was a new mud pit, and it was perfect. i’m always hesitant before i arrive, but i’ve learned the benefit of letting go and getting covered… there’s something freeing about it, and it was a blast to do it with the staff, who have all been growing closer and closer over the past few days.

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afterward, we cleaned up and headed to scheumann to create our name tags for the summer and pig out on ice cream. it’s always one of my favorite nights. tomorrow we will find out what unit we’re in and who our partner is, and so there’s a hum in the air from all the excitement. people were laughing and singing and painting the little circles of wood that will hang around our necks for the next nine weeks.

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and so tomorrow the summer will seem even more real. the next time i write, i’ll know who my partner is and what unit i’ll be in! i would have expected to be nervous right now… i’ve been in the brave unit the past three years, but this summer specifically there’s some mystery as to which unit i’ll be placed with. but i am so at peace with whatever happens. becca is with the other coordinators right now, meticulously piecing together her unit and pairing counselors. and tomorrow, i’ll find out.

i could not possibly be more excited.

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fall is the best.

but really. fall is my favorite, for so many reasons. the colors, the weather, the smells… everything. it’s always been easiest for me to see and appreciate the presence and creativity of God in the midst of nature, and autumn is the time, in my opinion, when nature is at its most beautiful.

last weekend was fall break, and it was wonderful. for the first time in a while, the entire family was together. plus, chris joined me for the weekend, so he got to experience my family in its fullness, which was really cool. friday evening and saturday were full of laughter and talking and joking and love. we caught up on each others’ lives, we watched movies, we played games, and we ate some delicious food. one of the things i love most about my family is that we don’t have to be doing anything in order to have fun with each other. i love it.

plus, on saturday, the wilhites showed up! everyone except britt was there (though we managed to skype her in for a minute), and we spent some time loving on each other.

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on sunday, chris and i headed up to camp. i had been given the opportunity to speak at camp’s annual meeting (a state of camp address, if you will) about why camp is special. lots of what i said was covered a few weeks back, and it was cool to have the chance to talk about it all over again. camp is a unique and amazing place, because it is both rooted in and permeated by the love of Jesus. with that kind of love, a love which defeated death itself, as its foundation, how in the world could camp not be special?

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but the coolest part was seeing camp in the fall. i’m not exaggerating when i say that i was speechless at the beauty i saw there. pictures don’t do it justice. it was like God had taken camp and infused every piece of it with a soft, golden glow. everywhere i looked, deep reds and rich oranges and yellows saturated the trees. it was stunning.

 

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man. i love that.

after getting lost on the way back from camp, chris and i just hung out at home monday and part of tuesday.  we went down to the river and walked to the old lock and dam. i grabbed lunch with owen at panera and got to talk about life and show choir and high school, and how weird it was that almost four years had already passed since we met. on tuesday morning mom and i went to breakfast, which was wonderful. we always make time for some kind of date when i’m home, and it’s always a highlight.

and then it was over, and life was back to normal at ball state. it snowed… but that’s okay because i’m still a firm believer in fall extending itself for a few more weeks. possibly. hopefully. either way, it’s been wonderful so far.

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“your beard connects all the way to your hair!”

life is in full swing here at ball state (it has been for the past month, actually), and it’s been way too long since i’ve posted. is it weird that one of the main reasons i’ve waited so long was because i got a new camera and just hadn’t taken a whole lot of pictures yet? it’s hard to get out of the camp mindset. i never had to warn anyone that i loved taking pictures of life… it was kind of just a natural thing there.

in actuality, the main reason i haven’t been on is that this year has been a big adjustment. there are lots of new things this year, awesome things, but things that take some getting used to. but they’re all awesome. seriously.

i live in a house this year with five of the coolest guys i know—dan, austin, sam, drew, and tom. they love Jesus, they love fellowship, and they take responsibility and accountability and the pursuit of God seriously. it’s the best.

we celebrated tom’s birthday recently with applebee’s, cake, and monty python. last sunday we had our first official monthly house meal. austin, sam, and i grilled up some steaks and made some mashed potatoes and corn. it was delicious, and we got to take some time to just talk about life and encourage each other.

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last saturday drew organized a time of prayer in the morning. we got together, praised God for all He had provided, and prayed for each other and our ministries. these are the kinds of things that constantly remind me how blessed i am to live with these guys.

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even though i’m not at camp, God’s provided tons of opportunity for me to hang out with and minister to kids. i’m leading my church’s middle school boys’ bible study with matt, who i know but have never spent a whole lot of time with before, and i can already tell that it’s going to be awesome. we’re studying the book of jonah, and the guys are all really invested in legitimately growing in their relationships with Jesus, which is just super encouraging. plus, leading with matt is a total blessing—his honesty and insight are both encouraging and humbling. i’m so excited for what the year holds!

i’m also involved in two other ministries: kids hope and college mentors. both are things i’ve done before, and God’s given me the time to invest in both. through kids hope, i meet with a second-grader named isaiah. he’s the best… talkative, hilarious, and really sweet. last friday we spent his lunchtime taking funny pictures and talking about books we both like to read. he asked if next week i could try to get some pop rocks, which he’s never tried before.

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we haven’t had our first activity day for college mentors yet, but our buddy family rocks and i got to meet henry (not my buddy but one of the guys in our family for the year) on tuesday, so i’m super excited. my guy’s name is malakai, and he wants to be either a police officer or a target worker. so he’s obviously the best, even if i haven’t met him yet.

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other things are awesome. like action group and learning to make food instead of buying it at woodworth and seeing camp people everywhere! we made hobo dinners and i can always count on running into a fellow camp crazy, usually while we’re wearing our respective unit shirts. not mad about it.

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life is good, God is great, and there’s a lot more ahead this year. i’m excited to share it with you!

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thoughts on camp.

camp is a beautiful place. as i sit in my new room in my new house distinctly not surrounded by ten crazy loud, insanely hilarious, wonderfully inquisitive nine-year-olds, i am reminded of just how special it is.

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camp is the place where people can come from all across the country (and all across the world) and still find things in common. camp is a place where you learn something new about someone every day. it’s a place where kids discover that different is okay, that it’s actually a good thing. camp is the kind of place that provides a chance to take a peek into different cultures and languages and realize that every child on earth is a child of God.

camp_2013miami2camp is a place where you meet new best friends every week. it’s a place where you find people who will laugh and cry and shout and dance and play games and be weird with you. it’s the kind of place where everyone exchanges addresses (or minecraft user names) on saturday so they can be sure to stay in touch until next summer.

camp_2013miami3camp is a safe place. it’s a place where people can be real and honest and a little weird (well… a lot weird sometimes). it’s a place where silly songs and outrageous costumes and funny voices are commonplace. it’s a place where you can stand on your chair and sing taylor swift songs at the top of your voice, and instead of looking at you like you’re crazy, everyone just stands up on their chairs and sings with you.

camp_2013miami4camp is where you can try new things and not worry about failing. at camp, there’s freedom to fail. there’s freedom to mess up. because it’s never been about doing things perfectly. it’s about trying and asking for help and growing and trying again. it’s about overcoming fears and anxieties and realizing that all of that stuff can be given up to God. cause He’s big enough for that.

camp_2013miami5camp is the place that helps put everyone’s best foot forward. camp is a place of encouragement, of love, and of words that build people up. camp is the kind of place that makes kids feel special just for being them. where kids are told that the ordinary things about them are actually really cool. in fact, it’s where they’re told that the really weird things about them are actually the cool things.

camp_2013miami6camp is a place where boys learn to be gentlemen. where they get excited about straightening shoes and clotheslines for other people. where boys run like mad to get to a door so they can hold it open for others. it’s a place where kids will gladly rise up to the expectations you set for them. it’s a place where putting others before yourself is the standard. it’s a place where guys can be gentlemen and ninjas at the same time.

camp_2013miami7camp is a place for mud hikes and baked oatmeal. it’s a place for slides that make you go faster depending on how loud you scream. it’s a place for fresh water whales and piranhacondas, for giant indian statues filled with maple syrup and mysterious squeegees living deep in the forest. it’s a place for stories of ghost cabin and trader jim and his friendship with the old wolf pack. it’s a place where the everyday becomes fantastical.

camp_2013miami8camp is a place where the stars shine bright and the leaves are green. it’s a place where boys (and girls) marvel at fuzzy caterpillars and giant spiders and creepy crawlies and blind beetles flying around in the field (wait, scratch that last one. everyone runs screaming from those). camp is a place where kids look up at the night sky and freak out because they’ve never seen so many stars before. where they get a small bit of understanding at the vastness of the glory of God.

camp_2013miami9camp is the place where God is put first. it’s a place where it’s cool to sing songs to Him and talk to Him and talk about Him. it’s a place where some kids talk about Jesus for the first time, ever. it’s a place for picture bibles and parables and skits and verses. it’s a place where we feel His presence everywhere we go. it’s a place where God works in the hearts of His youngest children.

camp will always be more than a job. it’s a chance to be used by the Creator to love and teach and support kids. to laugh with them and play with them and lead them. to point them back to Jesus, and talk about how big of a deal He is. to talk about the crazy insane love with which He loves us, and why that matters.

God is at camp. and camp is a beautiful place because God is a wonderful God.

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