Tag Archives: mud hike

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.


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.


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


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.


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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week seven: “will they know where to send it if i just write ‘mom and dad’ on the envelope?”

week seven absolutely flew by. it was an amazing time with some amazing campers, and i already miss them so, so much. lots of great things happened with these boys.

on sunday, we decided to dress up for opening campfire as ninja carolers (the week’s theme was christmas in july). we would sneak around and jack would find people without much christmas spirit for us to sing to. the guys loved it.



clinics for the week were great too. i had mountaineering with becca and liz. we told our campers that we were actually all triplets. it almost backfired when campers started quizzing us on the details of our lives, but we managed to hold it together.


i got to do peteca again too! i love teaching this clinic with dan. he’s totally made it his own, but is always willing to try new ideas. we thought about bringing it to the lake one day, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. regardless, the kids had a blast, and it was actually our largest peteca clinic yet!


i got to have one of my campers in it too, so that was great. we got to bond a lot over a few peteca tosses.

peteca is also a wonderful time to see daycamp, who always runs and rambles past us. monday they were covered in green goo, and they screamed whenever we talked about scooby snacks. plus we got to see jaaack! he’s taking pictures for daycamp.

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monday night was time for round 4 of the gentlemen games. we were back in the oregon territory again, but this time we were much more secretive. we made an entire game plan to follow, and even had an alibi… we were only back there to take pictures with different kinds of trees.

naturally, we had to get legitimate pictures with trees in order to back our story up.

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we were spotted a few times, but the boys pulled it off flawlessly (that is to say, they would run giggling to the closest tree and say something like “look! what a beautiful tree to take pictures with!”) and no one suspected us. after a successful night, we spotted an entire cabin made of nothing but trees, so we had to get our final picture with it.


it’s just so much fun.

we also had a mud slash nature hike that ended at the sand pit. i love the look in my kids’ eyes when they realize that we’re telling them they can just play around in the creek. it’s like we’ve told them we’ve just given them all the ability to fly.


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have i mentioned that the guys were awesome this week? great senses of humor, open and honest conversation, the ability to get serious, a desire to do gentlemanly things all week… it was so cool.


a few of them especially were the kind of boys that really exemplified the i am third motto. they loved putting other people before themselves, and it just came so naturally to them. they never did it to be praised, but just because it was the right thing to do.


i got to have some really great conversations this week. conversations about life, about God, about camp. it stinks that none of them were stayovers.


that one right above is all of them at the lonely post (a meeting place we created), giving me their best sad faces (out of respect for the post’s loneliness).

on the way to my night off on tuesday, i did some surprise picture attacks. everyone managed.



then i lost my camera until saturday morning, when it showed up in one of my campers’ bunks… he didn’t take it, but i think he found it and then just forgot to tell me about it til saturday. but that’s okay, because it meant that i had it just in time to get pictures of chapel.

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and pictures of saying goodbye. did i mention saturdays are really bittersweet?

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one of my favorites wasn’t even in my cabin, but he’s the kind of person that decides you’re his best friend, and then you are. so we’re best friends. plus, one of my favorite campers ever came to visit me when he picked up his sister! he just hung out with us as other parents picked up their sons. it was so great, and so unexpected. God is good with small blessings like that.

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and just like that, i only have two weeks left. how is that even possible?

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week one: “everybody watch out! nate’s summoning the thunder tonight!”

how is it already thursday of week one? having tuesday and thursday off always does that to me. the days are long, yet somehow the weeks fly by.

and what a week it’s been so far! wednesday we had gold rush, which is always a favorite. parents will often send their kids on certain weeks depending on which weeks we’re playing it. it’s a lot of running, a lot of searching adventurously through the fields for gold glinting in the sun, and a lot a lot a lot of water breaks.

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they brought a mountain of gold for the winning cabins to sign. good thing camp had that stashed away somewhere. some of my kids were wondering how it hasn’t been stolen yet.

wednesday was really, really hot (hence the water breaks). these are my kids’ oh-my-gosh-it’s-so-hot-i-just-want-water faces:


luckily we support water here at camp. in fact, we just installed these neat water filter things that count the amount of plastic water bottles saved depending on how much water is used. lake and river are in a competition to see who can save the most water bottles. river is demolishing lake. wednesday we topped 2,000 (thanks to the show choir clinic!), and today we breached the 3,000 mark. it’s okay, you can be excited. we were.


today was a full day as well. before lake time, we had a brilliant mud hike. because of all the rain, the usual mud pit was out of the question, so instead we found really muddy spots on the hike and camped out there. it was probably the most fun i’ve ever had on one before. the guys really, really got into it.

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so did the counselors.

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chaos. beautiful, beautiful chaos.

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i love these kids.


thursdays are also the days we have cookouts for the whole village. the coordinators help set it all up, so while the rest of the village was at lake time, kellie, chrissy, matt, and i all got the food ready. that is to say, we brought everything out, and then matt and i grilled like seasoned pros while the ladies cheered us on.



we were all exhausted by the end of it.


i love cookouts. i stayed for dinner and sat with my kids, reveling in the sun and the breeze and the hotdogs and the bug juice. cookouts are pretty popular with the campers too. i mean, when else do you get to eat dinner in a gaga pit?


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the rest of the night has been relaxing and productive. i got a start on my parent letters, did some writing, and before i go to bed i want to spend some legitimate time in the word. so far things have been so chaotic that it hasn’t happened a whole lot. the cool thing is, a lot like the last two summers, i’m finding that God is all around. His presence is everywhere at camp. i can’t get away from Him, and i love it.

more things i love:

1.) watching hugo interact with basically any camper. especially when they find out he is ticklish.

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2.) the fact that all my campers think tali is a brazilian princess. although she basically is.


3.) the fact that i get to have this guy in hip-hop dance clinic for a second year (even if i don’t get him in my cabin again).


4.) telling my kids that the louder you scream on the black hole, the faster you go (the one on the right was my first ever camper to tell me that i was wrong because sound waves don’t work that way).


5.) my kids this week.


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