Saturday, July 26, 2008


This week I was working on the Pioneer program. What is the Pioneer program? Well, that is a good question and it is what I spent my week learning. Neither I nor my co-counselor had done the program before so we did a lot of winging it. Sunday night, we headed straight out to Black Hawk park on the Mississippi, where we camped for the night. On Monday we loaded all of our stuff into canoes and canoed through some backwaters and a little bit of the main channel of the Mississippi until we got to a campsite where we set up for the night. On Tuesday, we canoed through some more backwaters until we got the Ferryville, where we were picked up and taken back to camp.

Upon arrival back at camp, we had about 30 minutes to get ready to get on the horses so we could ride up to the bluff, where we were spending the night. The ride up to the bluff was quite an adventure because my horse wasn't behaving very well. When we started heading up the road to the bluff my horse turned around and took off in the other direction. I fought with the horse for a while until the wrangle decided it would be best to switch horses because she could handle him better. Then, were just starting back up and another horse spooked and kicked mine. So my new horse turned around and ran back down the hill and started running circles on the challenge course. I managed to get him stopped, got off and walked him back into the line up. When I got back on, however, he turned around and ran back down. This time he absolutely refused to move, no matter how hard I punched him. Eventually, the wrangler came down and round house kicked him in the ribs, which got him moving. After that, the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful.

The night on the bluff went pretty well except that a girl got really sick, so I was up at 1:30 am and ran down the bluff with a flashlight to wake the nurse and somebody to drive us up to the bluff. We got the girl down to the nurse's station but neither Kathryn or I got back to sleep until 3:30, so the next day we where really tired. It worked out ok, though, because all of the campers were also tired, even though they hadn't woken up. Also, the sick girl was better in the morning, so she was able to rejoin us, which was nice.

Because everybody was so tired, we ended up taking it easy on Wednesday and spent most of the afternoon playing in the pool. In the evening we hiked out into the back of the valley where a new campsite had been mowed down for us. It was a great night. We where supposed to have gone for a long hike that afternoon, but nobody was up for it. Instead we ended up doing a night hike by flashlight, which was an adventure and was easier because it wasn't hot out. We got pretty lost because I only had a vague idea of the trails back there, so it was a lot of fun. While we were out, we came across a dry stream bed which we thought would be fun to hike up. We didn't want to do it in the dark because there was a high risk of spraining ankles and not everybody had flashlights, so we came back the next morning and hiked a ways up it.

That was the general extent of the weeks excitement. Last night, after all the campers left, some friends and I went to a local pastor's house to spend the night. He had put out an invitation to anybody that wanted to get off camp for a little while. It was really nice to get away for a little bit and to be in an actual house. I also got a chance to talk to him about baptism for a while, which I wanted to do because he seems like an extremely solid guy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mustaches mean business

This week, some of the guys decided to have a mustache appreciation week on camp, so I went all out with the handlebar mustache. I kept my goatee for Sunday so that I didn't sketch out the parents too badly but on Monday I shaved down to a handlebar mustache. It made for a lot of good laughs. At one point during the week, we where having watermelon and I discovered that we had a huge watermelon knife. Because I was trying to look sketchy, I decided it would be a good idea to pose with it.

Apart from the mustaches, the week was a massive adventure. The biking was relatively uneventful. We didn't go as far as the previous week, but we had a good time and nobody got hurt. The canoing, on the other hand was quite an adventure. The weather radio was saying scattered thunderstorms and a heat index of 100 degrees. As such, everybody was wearing swimsuits and I was carrying 6 extra gallons of water. About three hours into the trip, however, it started raining and the temperature started to drop. A lot of people were already wet because we had been swimming earlier, which didn't help. We got to a bridge and held all of the canoes together with Robbie (my co-counselor) hanging onto a rock so that we were out of the rain, but we weren't going to be able to hold on very long, so I started working on getting the canoes out of the water. We pulled them up onto the rocks and got everybody out and huddled up to try to warm up the people who where really cold.

I was hoping that the rain would pass and sun come out so we could continue the trip but when the rain continued I wanted to check in with camp (and my cell phone was in the med kit). Turns out, however, that there was no cell phone reception. Then a guy showed up from the canoe rental place and told us that the storm wasn't going to let up and the river was rising fast. I thought about trying to just get to our campsite for the night and then see what things looked like in the morning, but the canoe rental guy said that the site would probably be under water by the middle of the night. I decided to leave Robbie with the campers and go with the rental guy to try and call out. We drove to the top a hill and I got cell phone reception but the battery in my phone died. Then he took me to the canoe rental place and I used the phone there, but all the camp numbers where in my cell phone, which now didn't turn on. I called anybody who's number I could remember hoping that they would have internet and could look up the number, but nobody was home. Then I got the guy to drive me to bridge 10 where all of our stuff was with a van and a horse trailer. There, we had a back up cell phone with all of the numbers, so I was able to call in to camp and tell them the situation. Dick was already on the way out to meet us so they wanted me to sit tight until Dick got there. This was a little annoying because the canoe guy and I had already decided that we were going to drive the van and trailer to bridge 7 to get the campers into warmth (I had been gone for an hour and they were bordering hypothermia when I left). Luckily, Dick showed up in a couple minutes and fully supported my plan right away, so we where able to take off. So I ended up driving a 10 passenger van and a horse trailer back to camp, even though I'm not supposed to drive camp vehicles and I'm not supposed to transport campers. Just driving was an adventure because the rain was still going really hard and both the van and trailer where fully loaded, meaning there wasn't much braking or accelerating power. I was pretty happy when we where finally back on camp and safe.

I have a ton of other good pictures from the week, but the internet is being really slow around here this weekend.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Now that I have my laptop down on camp, I can continue to post to my blog. This might be a long post because a lot has happened. Last week, I was doing Peddle Paddle, which is 2 days biking on the Elroy Sparta bike trail and 2 days canoing down the Kickapoo river. On the first day of biking, I told the campers that the holy grail of the peddle paddle program was to bike the entire Elroy Sparta trail, so of course the campers wanted to do it. That meant that we had to do 40 miles round trip to Sparta the first day and 30 miles round trip to Elroy the next day. On the way to Sparta, we ate lunch to late, so one of the campers was bonking really hard, but he still wanted to keep going. After lunch everybody perked up, so we made it. On the way back, we had some campers get dehydrated (their fault, we kept telling them to drink water). The trip to Elroy went a lot better because we made sure they got more food and they realized the importance of water and would chug water whenever we gave them a chance. Over all, it was a pretty brutal 2 days, but I'm really impressed that the campers made it, and that they were so determined to do it.

One of the cool things about the Elroy Sparta trail is that it is an old railroad bed and there are some really long tunnels on it. One tunnel is .75 miles with no lighting, so we had to bring flashlights and walk through the tunnels.

The tunnels actually made it really nice because it was cold in the tunnels so it was kind of like taking an air conditioned break from the ride. Coming out of the tunnel at the end looked really neat because where the cold air from the tunnel met the warm humid air outside, it would get really foggy.

After the biking, we had 2 days of canoing down the Kickapoo river, which was also an adventure because there were still a lot of trees down into the river from the floods earlier this year. In some places, we even had to get out and pull our canoes over trees. By the end of the 2 days canoing, I am actually really sore. We were canoing for 4-5 hours each day. The scenery totally made up for the work though. There are a lot a places where cliffs rise directly out of the river. I was looking at a lot of them and thinking how much fun it would be to go rock climbing up them because the water is always deep at those places, so you could free climb and the water would save you in a fall. There was a cliff directly across the river from our camp site, so I got to try climbing, but there was a lot of moss on the rock and not many holds in that spot, so I didn't make it very far out of the water.

When I got back to camp, I discovered that my birthday had completely come and gone without me even realizing it. The other counselors gave me a hard time about forgetting it and then decided to make up for it by making me a cake and giving it to me before the staff meeting in front of the entire staff. To keep with tradition, I made sure to take a picture with the cake, just like Mom would when I was younger.

One really cool thing that we did with the campers this week was to give them personal devotions time to read their bibles. We only had time to do it twice, for 30 minutes each time, but in my opinion, it was the most important thing we did all week. More important than the bible studies or the worship times. The first time that we did it, the campers were a little unsettled and didn't really know what to do, but the second time, they were really excited. I talked to some of the campers about it and they told me that this was the first time they have actually sat down and read the bible. In my opinion, it is an extremely important thing to do, especially for these 9th graders and they are sorting out who they really are and what they really believe. I hope that they continue to read their bibles now that they are home.

The week before last, I was working with the SITs (Staff In Training) which is the most amazing group of campers I have had so far. They just have so much maturity and depth to them. Sometimes when I was working with them, I would forget that they were still highschoolers. In fact they where so amazing that they each deserve to have a picture on here.

Devi "Sugar Cube"

It is really good that I had such amazing campers that week because I was really sick and they were the only thing that kept me going. The Saturday before they came, I was really tired and achy so I ended up going to bed at 8:00. Sunday morning when I woke up I still wasn't feeling real great and when I went to the bathroom I got really dizzy and almost passed out. I ended up sleeping for the rest of the day except for 4 hours in the evening, so I didn't get to greet my SITs or spend the first night with them. Monday morning, I still wasn't feeling great but decided to go for it anyways, so I met my SITs then. By the end of the day, I was feeling worse and had a really stiff, sore neck and back and a headache. I was thinking about going to bed early and asking my co-counselor to do devos, but we were planning on telling faith stories that night and I didn't want to miss it. So I took 2 tylenol and 3 advil (yay for mixing drugs) and had to lay down for part of devos, but it was totally worth it. There was so much depth and maturity in each of the campers stories. I got progressively better over the week, but it wasn't until Thursday that I could actually make it through a day without taking some kind of painkillers.

The reason I bring up my SITs is because this last week (while I was out on Peddle Paddle) they were back on camp shadowing counselors. When I got back to camp, I got to see them all again and I remembered just how much I like them and how happy I was to see them again.