Tag Archives: friends

“we have to go back! we didn’t take pictures of us stuffing our faces!”

so this is an update on the second week, but i didn’t actually spend it at camp tecumseh. instead, i got to be a counselor at edge 2014, which is a middle school summer camp in chattanooga, tennessee. myself, matt, and the other leaders from new life got to go with all the middle schoolers that we’ve been leading for the past year or more. plus, some of the incoming sixth graders joined us! let’s just say it was the best ever.

it was a bit of a shorter week, which meant that after i left camp t on saturday of week 1, i got a whole day to rest before shipping off with matt, jami, jessy, and the kids.  it’s a nine hour drive to chattanooga, so we had plenty of time to sing songs, play the alphabet game, sleep (the kids, not the drivers), and just generally be hyper. it was fantastic and tiring and wonderful. the frozen soundtrack was on repeat, naturally.

edge 2014 took place at covenant college, which rests atop lookout mountain. it was the first time i’d ever been on a mountain, and it was absolutely stunning. like, every evening was a painting. just really gorgeous stuff. when we woke up in the mornings, we couldn’t even see the city below, because it would be covered with a layer of clouds. sunsets and sunrises were absolutely beautiful. and there was so much color all the time. it was the best place to spend a week of camp.

we only spent monday evening through friday morning there, but each of the days was jam packed with stuff to do. on tuesday, our first full day, we had a water extravaganza. you kind of had to be there, but i’ll try to explain. there were watermelons to fight over, pyramids of death to climb (and inevitably fall from, as they were covered in tarps soaked with a copious amount of baby oil), and giant slip-and-slides to race down, all filmed by a flying camera drone (yep). totally awesome. on thursday we drove down to georgia to spend the afternoon at white water, a six flags park. most of my time was spent in the wave pool with some of the guys, playing games involving the inner tubes. most revolved around capsizing each other and claiming victory, only to be taken down a minute later. it was a fantastic day. we also took a couple of hours that week to explore chattanooga, which is a beautiful place. those times were some of my favorites, because we got to just hang out with all the kids, talking and laughing and continuing to build relationships with them, which is what we’ve been doing for the past couple years.

each evening there was a large group meeting, where we’d jam to some music, sing worship songs, and listen as the speaker for the week, jay, opened God’s word for us. he focused on the life of jacob in the old testament, and how the theme of God’s blessing can be found throughout his life. the Spirit really spoke through jay. he talked about how we often seek to earn God’s blessing, when by definition a blessing is something given as a gift. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the ultimate blessing we have been given. there’s nothing we can do to earn it. a beautiful truth (the gospel truth, in fact), and one that i need to be reminded of daily.

one of the things i most appreciated was that the staff of edge 2014 really took the spiritual well-being of the counselors seriously. every morning before breakfast they had set aside time for us to spend in the word by ourselves, and every evening before the main session there was a leaders’ meeting, where the camp director gave a short message from the word to encourage and fill us. i always came away feeling blessed.

so camp was awesome. there are certainly more things i could say, but i’ll conclude it with this: i am so blown away that the Lord has blessed me and the other leaders with the opportunity to lead and learn with the youth at new life. there are hardly words to describe how blessed i feel to know them, to lead them, and to learn from them. God is so, so good. i am so thankful to have spent a week with everyone, and i’m psyched to be back in muncie after the summer finishes up!

 

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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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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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