Tag Archives: optimist challenge

week four: “my goal is just to have something i say be the title of one of your blog posts.”

week four has historically been fantastic (see here and here and here), and this summer has been no exception. everything was fun, we all made some great connections with the campers, and it was the kind of week where we wished all ten of them were stayovers. just full of blessing and fun. lots of fun.

i mean, just look at these guys. they’re all studs.

2014 w4 peoria - 12

we were set up for success right from the beginning. four of those guys had been in my cabin two years ago, and were some of my favorites of all time. one was the younger brother of a close friend, and another was a camp kid that i’ve known for the past few years. four were ones i’d never met, and every single one of them was awesome.

we did tons of awesome things, like every week. a favorite was once again the minifarm. it’s always a blast seeing the tough guys get really excited about petting baby bunnies. we had a contest to see who could sound most like the pigs, and also took some time to play chicken round up. becca and katherine’s cabins were with us, and becca managed to conquer her (apparently intense) fear of… chickens. we were all very proud of her.


this week, we brought back a favorite of mine from last year: the gentlemen games! i brought all the guys into the cabin and gathered them in a circle to relay our mission parameters. together, we decided to focus on the blazer girl cabins. we grabbed some sticky notes and markers, mentally prepared for the challenge at hand, and sprinted to the oregon territory. our cover story was that we were on a camp tree photo tour. naturally, we had to get some photos so our story was legit (also, note the ties we wore. we simply told people we were on a gentlemen’s hike).


we plastered cabin doors with odd complements (e.g. “you’re better than apple pie. and apple pie is my favorite dessert.”), straightened lines of shoes, and organized clotheslines. most of the girls were out of their cabins, but for the last cabin we had to do all these things without being seen or heard by the ladies inside. it was intense, but we managed to accomplish our mission and sneak away unnoticed. win.

since we were working so well together, it was a great week to do the optimist challenge. we paired up with some of the blazer ladies and trekked across it, encouraging each other along the way. there are so many reasons i love this activity. it’s fun and challenging, it forces people to ask for help and encourage each other, and it creates space for leaders to step up. one of my campers had told me a little earlier in the week that he was praying for God to grow him in his leadership skills (so cool. just so cool.), and so i asked him specifically to be setting the example for encouraging his partner and having a positive attitude. he totally did, and we were all really proud of him.


on wednesday i had the honor of being selected as a safety officer (well, batman did… and he and i are pretty close). it meant that i got a cool fluorescent vest and had the responsibility of making sure that everyone stayed safe. so later that day there was only one thing to do: take safety selfies with everyone. it was a hit. they were some of the safest pictures i’ve ever seen, to be sure.



another reason this week rocked was that i had the chance to be in an awesome chapel. in the skit, milson keeps getting torn down by people, who tear a piece of his heart each time they hurt him. towards the end, milson starts tearing his own heart because he starts believing the things that people are saying. representing Jesus, i came in and gave him my heart. it was a cool picture of the way that Jesus took on the pain and hurt that should be ours because He loves us so much. and even when there is deep pain, we still have an anchor in our loving God.




those two photos were taken by ben dehr, one of the camp photographers. he’s pretty awesome and you can look at all of the camp photos here. he also got some sweet pics of the firewors show (you can see them below), because of course the fourth of july happened this week. along with the fireworks show, we had a spectacular theme dinner on friday.



everyone gets into it, and it’s the best. hands down though, the best part is the relationships that are built here at camp. i love seeing guys, who don’t know each other on sunday when they arrive, leave being best friends. camp just does that. it’s in the dna here.



so, another week in the books. another week to come. crazy how it all flies by! what a busy, busy, sweet, sweet life.


Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.


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.


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.


DSCN3965     DSCN3966



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


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.


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


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


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.

DSCN3976     DSCN3975

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!


DSCN3998     DSCN3997



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.



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.

DSCN3986     DSCN3985

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.


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.

DSCN4003     DSCN4006

DSCN4008     DSCN4004

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


DSCN3992     DSCN3991


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


the last massive hot dog cookout:


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.


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




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


hip hop performed like a boss:


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.



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.

DSCN4041     DSCN4042

DSCN4043     DSCN4045

DSCN4046     DSCN4048

DSCN4051     DSCN4054


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


Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

week one: “time me to see how fast i can jump rope around the house!”

things i love:

1.) campers that are excited to be at camp.



DSCN2931     DSCN2938

2.) showchoir clinic with a bunch of kids who are not afraid to sing it loud and proud.


3.) trailrides.


4.) adventures in the creek and picking out a pet rock for the cabin.

DSCN2940     DSCN2941


5.) silly cheers.

DSCN2946     DSCN2948

6.) pop stop.


7.) completing the optimist challenge with our porch partners!


8.) nights off that are so full of wonderful people and conversation that there isn’t a whole lot of time to blog.



Tagged , , , , , , ,