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week nine: “aren’t the mafia the ones who drive buggies and don’t use electricity? no wait, that’s the amish.”

well, to no one’s surprise, week nine absolutely flew by. looking back, i can’t believe that it’s been over a week since i welcomed them into the miami cabin with nate and they became part of the brotherhood of the miami gentlemen.

we started off the staff meeting with days of elijah, a definite crowd favorite. i love it because it always reminds me that, even though sometimes we get stuck in the day to day frustrations, God has already won everything. and we are His, which means He’s defeated everything so that we don’t have to worry about it.

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then the guys arrived! i could tell right away that it was an awesome group. lots of different kinds of personalities, but they were all really excited to be there. they seemed to warm up to nate and i pretty quickly too.

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for the final opening campfire the guys wanted to dress up as a variety of things, so we finally settled on a group of pajama-wearing nap attackers, who also sometimes looked like ninjas. we would find unsuspecting groups and go fall asleep on them.

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there were many creative cabins there for week nine. creek and chickasaw came as a roller coaster, which i’d never seen before.

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then at the campfire tom and mike had gone with the always-classic seaworld theme, doing their whale-training dance and everything. kickapoo even had a mini orca that performed tricks for everyone. it was quite the show.

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everyone was excited about week nine. on monday we got to catch a glimpse of some jedi warriors.

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someone even found a baby bird out in the field, and it didn’t mind hanging out with us all at camp.

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clinics were great this week. i got to teach hip hop with fizz and kevyn, which was basically the most fun thing ever. the kids were awesome and pretty much everyone was excited about everything we were doing.

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i got to finish out the year with mountaineering as well, which was a blast with matt and nick. we had some great campers, and almost all of them climbed all the walls. we even had someone touch the owl up at the top of nub town!

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we did tons of fun stuff with the cabin this week too. on monday we went on a hike to the ghost cabin, which a lot of them had been asking about. it was pouring rain, but that really just added to the mystery. our friends from the mohawk cabin joined us, and it was a blast.

we ended up doing lots of stuff with mohawk that week, and it was so much fun to see them all basically adopt each other as fellow miamihawks. i got to develop some really great friendships with some of them too.

usually nate goes on the trailrides with the guys, but this week he let me do it. it was awesome! the boys were really excited.

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i walked alongside them as we traveled through the pine forest. for three of them, it was the first time they’d ever ridden a horse, and they were super psyched.

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it was a blast. i love seeing kids get so excited when they get to spend time with God’s creation. some marveled over the size of their horse, others couldn’t get enough of the pine forest, and they all thought it was hilarious and disgusting when they got to see a horse go to the bathroom.

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we also did the optimist challenge this week. we teamed up with the ladies of delaware cabin and had everyone pick a partner from the opposite cabin. i wasn’t sure at first if it would work out smoothly with some of my guys, but it was actually really cool to see everyone working together. i think kids surprise themselves with how well they help others and how much help they need on this thing. it’s definitely a favorite of mine.

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the week was also filled with lots of lasts. we had our last goldrush:

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the last breakfast in bed (which we had to start calling breakfast-on-the-porch):

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the last massive hot dog cookout:

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and the last friday themed dinner. this week the theme was the oscars, and so everyone dressed up (some as celebrities, some as announcers, some as people watching from home, and some as the red carpet). throughout dinner we handed out awards to the best dressed and best look-alikes. one of the guys from my cabin was awarded the oscar for best-dressed male! he was pretty psyched.

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there were lots of pictures taken because there’s a lot of love at camp, especially on friday of week nine.

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the last campfire happened too. it was so much fun… the brads and beccas did the arustasha song.

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hip hop performed like a boss:

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and i got my green jacket! it’s an honor given for counselors who have completed their third year, and it’s a really nice gesture. plus the jacket is super comfortable. so that’s a plus.

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it feels weird to think that i’ve been working at camp for three years. part of me thinks that can’t be right because i only started working at the beginning of the summer, but the other part of me feels like i’ve been working for my whole life. camp is weird sometimes like that. and beautiful sometimes like that.

and then, as always, it was the last of the goodbyes to campers. it was especially sad this week, because these guys were so great. it seems like on saturday any frustration or exhaustion you’ve felt over the course of the past week kind of slips away and you’re left with just the things you’ll miss about each kid.

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these guys are the reason i come to camp. and they are the reason i will keep coming back.

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week four: “beavers are well known for their superior climbing abilities.”

week four is over, and that is sad. but there were so many awesome things that happened.

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one of our campers had a birthday! i’ve never seen a camper so pumped to have his birthday at camp. he literally talked about it every day and asked multiple times if special things happened for birthdays at camp. we told him OF COURSE they do! we sang the order of the oar for him, i snagged some birthday stuff from walmart and decorated our table for meals, and we ate tj and ike’s cake for breakfast. it was a good day. also, the party hats were a hit.

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that day also happened to be the fourth of july, so there were some awesome fireworks!

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we oohed and ahhhed at all of them and then went back and did one of the coolest devos i’ve ever been a part of. we looked at 1 corinthians 13 and talked about love. we shared moments that made us feel loved, and then one way each of us wanted to be more loving. it was so cool to hear the guys open up and really think about what they were sharing.

later that week, one of our guys in mountaineering got to the top of nub town, our hardest wall! we call him beaver, and he was super proud of himself. we were too.

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on friday, we were visited by a surprise guest:

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that’s right, ALI! it was so, so good to see her again. she brought all of us diet cokes for coord time (and when i sarcastically texted her, asking her to get me a meal from texas roadhouse, she thought i was serious and ordered the texas roadhouse meal from mcdonalds. that was a fun story to listen to). then, of course, we took pictures.

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then i got to hang out with adam, who is one of my favorites. he wasn’t in my cabin last year, but we hung out at lake time and became friends. we’ve been writing back and forth all year.

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this year i also got to hang out with his younger brother, who is one of the cutest kids i’ve ever met. together, they just made my week.

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at closing campfire, the buffalo brothers had some stellar performances to coronate the buffalo queen. plus there was an awesome new arapaho cheer that jeandre came up with. he’s such a great counselor.

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plus hip hop got to perform, and they rocked it!

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one of my favorite things to see was katrina and tom watch their little girl, sophie, who was in res camp for the first time. they were so, so proud of her, and it was adorable.

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finally, our kids were just amazing this week. i don’t know how i keep getting blessed with them, but they are amazing and they make everything better when things get tough. can’t believe i get paid for this job.

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life is good.

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week four: “farting is a gift from God. it helps with digestion.”

let’s talk about how awesome this week has been so far.

it’s been pretty awesome.

started off perfectly, with me seeing ike and tj, identical twins that may or may not be two of my favorite people God has ever created. they’re both such amazing guys. polite and respectful, intelligent, lots of fun to hang out with, and totally invested in all things camp. it’s like the best. this year, they’re in separate cabins, because they wanted to try something new. before they even checked in, they swung by mine and hugo’s cabins to say hi. hugo had (naturally) gotten them brazil shirts, and so i ran and got mine so we could take a matchy-matchy picture.

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it’s bittersweet to see them around this week… i love having them here, but i just want them in my cabin again. then again, that’s one of the cool things about being at camp for a few summers… i have the opportunity to see the way God is growing some of my favorite people on the planet into even more amazing people. that’ll happen regardless of whether they’re in my cabin.

also today their mom mailed two cakes. one was for me and my cabin, the other was for hugo and his. i’m talking 9×13 pan filled with delicious cake. no big deal.

other things that happened on sunday include us getting a new day camp counselor:

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this is awesome for two reasons. first, victor is the bomb. he rocks. the kids are obsessed with him. second, our old dc, jack, is a res counselor this week! i have loved seeing him step so easily into the role. he just doesn’t realize how much of a rockstar he is.

it was also adam’s birthday:

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we all love adam, which means we all had to do the order of the oar for him. like all of us. i think the kids were fine while we were gone. but it was really loud so i might have missed something. i believe in this picture adam was reminding us not to jump because the floor might cave in.

that is a legitimate concern for river lodge. but it’s kind of endearing, in a scary way.

also on sunday was opening campfire. river village attempted to dress as minions from despicable me. i was proud of the miami effort.

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you can see how awesome those guys are from the picture, right? they’re amazing.

there were many awesome things happening for campfire. ottowa came as a deck of cards:

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every now and then they would yell “ottowa shuffle!” and everyone would run around and switch places. the kids absolutely loved it, and it was hilarious to watch.

lake village came as a bunch of people dressed in white things:

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jackie was looking extra lovely that night:

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this week is eval week, which means that i get to spend lots of time talking about how awesome the brave counselors are and then tell them how awesome they are. seriously, i still stand by the fact that our unit is stacked. kellie and i talk about it a lot.

doing evals does mean that i’ve had to spend less time with my kids this week, which has been tough. but praise God that it’s such an amazing cabin, because that means it’s been super easy to connect with them all in spite of the time i’ve had to spend away from them. they’re so awesome.

on tuesday the gentlemen of miami and the ladies of catawaba did some team building up at lake village. we managed, after some really intense brainstorming and lots of loud words, to get all ten guys onto one 2×2 wooden box for long enough to shout the miami cheer. they were beyond proud of themselves, and it was really cool to see which ones became leaders and encouragers and communicators.

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the catawaba ladies also managed it, but they stayed on for an entire verse of twinkle twinkle little star.

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the boys then got to get on the huge see-saw and balance it out with ten of them. then nate jumped on. they kept saying that if he farted it would throw it all off, which may or may not have been true, depending on the day and what nate had eaten recently. fortunately, it all worked out.

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oh man were they excited when they saw this picture.

yesterday we also got the golden toilet seat! i legitimately think this is the cleanest cabin i’ve ever had. i had no doubts we were going to get a perfect score on our cabin when we left that morning. and low and behold, after nate won a round of psychic paper scissors for the tie braker…

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and then yesterday we had another installment of the gentlemen games. we went to the oregon territory this time to get all the lady cabins we missed last week. they were very creative with their complements this time around. here were some of my favorites:

“you smell better than a pile of roses.”
“i like you better than cheese.”
“you smell better than peach perfume.”
“you have nice shoes and a nice clothesline.”

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one guy has been super quiet and timid all week. but the moment we started crawling around (we were gentlemen ninjas, and since gentlemen don’t do nice things to be recognized for them, we tried not to be seen by anyone as we did this), he lit up and started spouting off brilliant ideas for creative complements. i had never seen him so animated as he was when he was straightening shoes and clotheslines. it was the best ever.

we also made nice signs for the kitchen staff and nurses, and since we were presenting them in person, we had to have moustaches.

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naturally.

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week one: “i just want to like penguins. is it okay if i like penguins?”

aaaaand one week down, eight to go.

fridays and saturdays are always an odd mixture of crazy chaos and bittersweet. there are so many things going on, and then all of a sudden everything stops and the kids go home. sometimes it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under you. but things get a little better when you remember you have a fresh group of kids coming the next day.

sometimes that makes things more stressful, depending on the week you’ve had.

friday is always a blast. everyone’s exhaustion gets pushed off at least a little because OHMYGOODNESSITSFRIDAY. clinics are fun, everyone has a special kind of energy, and everything seems a little more exciting. plus you get rockstar counselors like soaps and nick who dress up because why not.

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my showchoir and hip-hop clinics auditioned for adam, and they rocked it. showchoir was pretty psyched to hear that they’d be performing in closing campfire.

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friday also means the unit game. kellie and i figured that we should start the summer off strong with the beloved banana death march. it’s always a favorite. it was interesting being behind the scenes and being responsible for setting everything up. there are things we’ll do better next time, but it was so much fun to look around and see all the kids having a blast destroying their bananas.

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the kids did a fantastic job of going all out, because only two cabins came back with bananas. the rest handed us peels in various stages of distress. kaitlyn’s and bradzilla’s cabins tied for grand prize, so they got a nice new hairdo that included mushy banana. they were such good sports.

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friday means theme dinners, too. this week the theme was disco, so we got a lot of colors and fabrics and wigs. it was great. the best part about theme dinners is that you don’t actually need something that goes with the theme. if you can pull it off with confidence, it automatically matches the theme.

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my favorite is when you get campers whose parents bought the same costume. i think a camp record might have been set with these guys (from three different cabins):

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friday night is topped off with closing campfire, a time to celebrate the week, showcase awesome campers, and watch the performance clinics rock it on stage. show choir was maybe sort of excited to be up there:

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we watched people dance, sing, act, and boogie all night. we sang about silly willy, watched a soap opera about two girls both toasting to their guy rudy jay begonia, and hailed the new buffalo queen.you know campfire as usual. the first campfire of the summer passed by smoothly and hilariously. loved every minute, and i was so proud of my clinic campers! they had a blast on stage and they looked so great!

after campfire we went back to the cabin for the bead devotion. it went really well too; i feel like it was the one where the campers were best behaved and really listened. when they chose which characteristic of the creed they wanted to work on, they really though about it, which was cool.

then saturday came, and it was time to say goodbye. enter the bittersweet.

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i also managed to get some great pictures with campers from last summer. i love these guys.

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gabe’s grown up a lot. this is one of those kids that i just know God is going to use to do huge things. gabe has the most sincere heart out of anyone i know. i love him to death.

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joey and reed are some of my favorites. these guys, along with another named nate, are staying over, so i’ll get to see them next week too. my partner nate is working this weekend and has them all in his cabin. i joined them for devos tonight, and it was so incredibly encouraging to witness how the Lord has been growing them in understanding of what it looks like to live a life that honors God. i was humbled and blessed and so thankful. i’m excited to watch these guys grow.

camp is significant, friends. it changes people. God moves in really cool ways. and i’m pumped to see Him do it all over again next week!

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a bunch of beginnings.

guys, staff training has officially started. and it is amazing.

allow me to brag on this year’s crop of new recruits. they are so, so awesome. they love Jesus, they love camp, and they are ready to love those kids. it’s already evident that everyone here is willing to do the work it’s going to take to make this summer amazing.

things i love:

1.) starting the week with prayer.

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we are a people who are powerless without Jesus. we cannot do the things that need to be done unless His Holy Spirit is moving mightily in our hearts and in the lives of our campers. we are cars without gas. we are unplugged lamps. we are tools that need to be used to be useful. and while that may seem to paint a bleak picture, the glorious truth is that we have the fuel, we are connected to the One with true power, and we are utilized by the Creator of the universe. that is insane. but so, so cool.

2.) crazy costumes at camp.

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yes, that first one is a guy dressed up as kevin from up. just more reasons i love camp. my cabin and i dressed up as killer whale trainers. even did a whole choreographed routine (okay, maybe giving us a bit too much credit).

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turns out two other cabins also dressed up as killer whales. coincidence? or sign of great things to come? i tend to think the latter.

3.) meeting new friends. and seeing old ones.

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camp is a place to meet people that you will stay close with for the rest of your life. God is creative in the ways He brings people together. something that i take a whole lot of comfort in when i’m feeling lost or unsure is that God not only is with us every step of the way, but He actually planned each of those steps. and He did so because, wherever you’re at, the circumstances you’re experiencing are what will best glorify Him and accomplish His plan. makes things seem a little more secure.

i think He loves to do this with people. people are brought into our lives at specific moments when we need them, often sharing truth and wisdom that are deeply needed. i’ve experienced this at camp, at school, and at home. i’m excited to see this happen with the staff this summer.

have i mentioned they’re awesome?

4.) opening campfire.

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we didn’t have it where we usually do, but that doesn’t mean it was any less awesome and crazy and loud and fun. one of the things we talked about tonight was camp culture. craziness is just a slice of it. family and belonging, acceptance and encouragement, and love and fellowship were all mentioned. i love to be able to work at a place whose culture is so beautifully reflective of the way Jesus loves His church. it makes me excited for the rest of the summer. maybe i’ve mentioned that already.

friends, camp is here and i am beyond blessed. we went around at devotions and shared our favorite part of the day. mine was right before dinner was served… for the first time since i’ve been at camp this summer, i was joined in singing grace by the voices of all the staff. it was such a happy moment.

things like that happen at camp.

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