Tag Archives: summer camp

week five: “THE SECOND THING YOU NEED TO BE A GENTLEMAN IS MINTY FRESH BREATH!!!”

things about this week that were just awesome:

1.) these guys are super into being gentlemen. like they decided it was their theme for opening campfire.

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2.) it’s nearly impossible to hold them back from holding open the door for others. we had to start limiting it to three gentlemen at a time, so that everyone else could actually get through the door. and yes, all of those below are peoria gentlemen.

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3.) wacky wednesday. we got to choose a theme for the afternoon and decorate the whole cabin. we decided we had lost our theme, and held some theme tryouts. one of them (my favorite, admittedly) was the gentleman bootcamp. a couple of the guys were really excited about it and decorated a whole corner of the cabin in camouflage, with one as the commander and the other as the cadet. they shouted a few directives back and forth, and the cadet ran outside to straighten shoes. all of us had a blast.

it’s always so encouraging to see when the guys legitimately want to be serving others by being gentlemen, when they see it as fun. i hope that it’s something they carry on after they leave camp, but i know that God’s in control of all of that. i’m more than content with the role i get to play here at camp.

4.) bible study. it’s the best. this summer we’re going through the prophets in the old testament, and we talked about isaiah. i love being with campers all day every day, but it’s refreshing to have good conversation about important things with fellow believers. we have good food, good fellowship, and lots of fun. such a blessing.

5.) these guys are just the best. and we have fun as a group. everyone seems to get along, and it’s been great watching as friendships have developed.

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7.) it’s just impossible not to have fun with these guys. one of the reasons i love my job so much.

8.) clinics. riflery was a blast, mountaineering is always encouraging, and hip hop is basically guaranteed to be the best (also we got some swag).

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9.) closing campfire. for some reason this week was extra fun all the way through. jack and mike brought out their hilarious “who’s on first” skit back. cheers were full of life and craziness. hip hop performed. and a mysterious sweater somehow made it on stage for literally every single act.

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10.) have i mentioned these guys are awesome? i’m going to miss them. i already do.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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week one: “…and my high was knowing that we have a whole week more of this stuff.”

oh guys. camp is wonderful.

i apologize for not updating until now. that’s pretty unusual. typically i post twice a week or so, but there were a few things that kept me. my camera broke, i had an unexpectedly long nap in the nurse’s station, and i was actually unable to use my computer all of last week. also my wordpress media upgrade (which allows me to post pictures) expired. so no new pictures until that gets worked out (i’m really sorry and sad about that). but this is my week one post. and i’m so excited to finally update you all!

because guys. it was wonderful.

first, my partner matty is just the best. i seriously could not have asked God for a better partner. he’s a natural counselor. so many times throughout week 1 i got to see him loving our kids so well. he’s patient with them, he takes them seriously, and he makes them feel valuable. plus, he really looks out for me. we tag-team really well, and i know i can rely on him. i can’t wait to see where peoria cabin ends up by the end of the summer.

second, my cabin was just the best. matty and i are wanting to be really intentional about creating a culture in which our guys are expected to be gentlemen, and see themselves as such. this is great, because we can tell them that as blazers, they’re blazing the trail for younger campers, and even older ones. they have the opportunity to lead by example and be third.

our week one guys were all over it. they were so excited to get out there and be gentlemen. more than any other week i’ve experienced at camp, our guys were encouraging each other when they saw behavior that exemplified the i-am-third motto. they called each other out for being example-setters, and each of them looked for ways to put others in front of themselves. it was the best ever. these guys are a bit older than braves, too, and i’ve noticed that they’re much more interested in having deeper conversations. i have an action bible (it’s the comic book translation) that has absolutely captivated their attention. there wasn’t a single rest hour that it wasn’t being read by one of the guys. it led to some sweet conversations (and by that i mean that God used to to lead to some sweet conversations) about idolatry, the reason that Jesus didn’t save Himself from the cross, and why we can’t earn our way to heaven. seriously. i was blown away. God was very obviously answering my prayers to provide opportunities for such conversations.

finally, the week itself was just awesome. one of my favorite times was our hammock sleepout in the pine forest. peoria joined up with our brother cabin, potters, and did some s’mores and games. we did a joint devotion on fear and how God is with us all the time (some of the guys were a bit freaked out by the dark forest around us), and then went to bed. it was so peaceful, listening to the sounds of the forest and looking up at the stars while rocking lightly in the hammock. one of those times when it’s easy to recognize God’s blessings.

so i would love it if you would take some time to praise God with me for all the cool stuff He’s doing here. camp is as amazing as ever, and He is as faithful as ever.

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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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