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Scarf Exchange 2015

So I have a confession… I am a little bit of a blog addict. Specifically, I seem to really enjoy the ones written by Christian women about their style, life and homeschooling. Don’t ask me how I have found all of these or why I, as a single 20-something with no children in sight, am reading these but man, do I spend A LOT of time on the weekends catching up on these blogs. Courtney’s is one of my favorites so I was thrilled to read about this Scarf Exchange that she was hosting with a few other blog owners.

After some emails Lindsay from The Wild Ginger got my name and I was THRILLED at the scarf that she picked for me. IMG_4082

Seriously, y’all. It is warm and comfy and the color is on point! I love a good infinity scarf and I love it even more when I can pair it with at least 3 different tops off the top of my head.  I love window shopping and online shopping for scarves but I am not the best at buying them for myself. (Sweaters on the other hand, call the intervention! I am addicted!) This one is the perfect edition to my fall and winter wardrobe. What I love most is that Lindsay shopped locally with her sister-in-law’s boutique that I cannot wait to check out online. You should know that even though I am a part-time employee and avid shopper at the great ON, shopping locally and supporting small businesses is something I enjoy.

I got to shop for Laureen so stop over there and say hello!

Peace, Beth

PS- Check back this weekend for a day in the life post to prove I actually do more that run around in the woods playing hide and seek 🙂

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Because of Paul

This past week I headed back to Camp Gray in Wisconsin to volunteer for the week. The reflection on that week will be posted soon since after all this time, I finally realized what a good idea journaling about the daily activities was! Some things at Camp have not and will not ever change, which was a great sense of comfort to me. Other things, however, are drastically different and can never be the same as that hot, hot summer of 2012.

One of those things that has changed is the staff. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise for me, as the full time staff is pretty much the same as when I saw them last August, however, driving up and not seeing swing set in the yard next to the office still makes my heart sink a little. Paul and Annie had already moved to Tennessee by my last visit to Camp, but at that time I think I sent a short text to Ann saying it was weird stopping by “their” house and not seeing the living room full of toys. After that, I proceeded about my weekend. This past week, however, it was a glaring reminder to me that my life had been impacted by someone so great and just like that swing set, Paul is no longer with us.

I was asked in discussion last week if working in camp made me think of Paul. Yes! I have thought about Paul so often in the past six months that if he was still here and I told him about it, I can here that giggle of his and him saying “Thanks, Beth…but that’s a little weird.”image

I have thought about Paul when literally the last thing I want to do is go on a hike in 40 degree weather on a Friday with kids who are tired and my weekend is so close that I can taste it. Because of Paul, I stick a smile on my face and play more games than necessary to make sure those last few hours with the kids are just as memorable as the first.

I have thought about Paul when a teenager has called me an “effing b****” and I wanted to cry, content to let a student win. Because of Paul, I remember that Christ still lives in her and while she might not have the best attitude, I can pretend it didn’t happen and help her have the best experience possible.

I have thought about Paul when I haven’t dressed appropriately for an unplanned trek through the soggy outdoors. Because of Paul, I roll up my pants and vow to stick my sneakers in the dryer later. Who am I to say no to a creeking adventure if the kids want to?

I have thought about Paul when a student makes a discovery, remembers a fact they learned or said something hilarious. Because of Paul, I share those stories with whoever will listen later. I have several notes from him thanking me for taking the time to recognize the achievements of my kids and sharing them with him.

I have thought about Paul when I face my fears and witness kids do the same. Because of Paul, I have jumped from ridiculously high heights, have touched more bugs than I care to admit and can reel off some facts about water beetles. For it was the only time I ever heard/witness Paul be stern as a boss when I had a meltdown in staff training about digging in the mud and touching bugs. In his firm but reassuring way he said “Beth, you signed up to do this and that includes digging in the mud. Now let’s go back and just try it.”

I have thought about Paul when I get up at a campfire and do something I consider “his part”…the 47 skit, the farmer in the camp counselor skit, a run on in between acts. Because of Paul, I learned these things and in the back of my mind I see him doing them right along with me.

This past week I thought about Paul as I sat in Camp’s St. Francis of Assisi Chapel and how even on our busiest days, he made sure we had ample time for prayer. How we could have 150 kids showing up in an hour, but it was important to him that we say a whole rosary or do all of the Stations of the Cross or attend daily Mass in town. Because of Paul, I went to 10:30pm Mass even though I was tired and hungry and the cereal in the dining hall sounded more inviting. Because of Paul, I took time to visit the chapel and bring students along. Because of Paul, I still start to say the missionary prayer every time I sit in those pews.

I thought about Paul when my campers asked if we could wake up in the middle of the night to play Panda Ball while the rest of camp slept. Because of Paul, I found myself agreeing that this could possibly happen. (Why not? What’s one night?) And I KNOW it was because of Paul that the girls (to my relief) decided it wouldn’t be the most fun after they were woken up at 3am to go to the storm shelter.

Because of Paul, I brace myself when I hear someone say “you know, I was just thinking and I came up with this great idea. What if we…” Because I know that it probably means more work but in the end, it will definitely be memorable.

Because of Paul, I go the extra mile in cleaning camp because I watched countless times as he scrubbed toilets, swept cobwebs and emptied vacuum cleaners to help us out.

Because of Paul, I have found the job I want to have for the rest of my life. If it weren’t for Paul taking a chance on someone who blatantly admitted to not liking anything to do with the outdoors (who hires someone for camp when they say things like that!?), I don’t know what my life would look like right now. Because of Paul, I am a better person.

The hash tag that has been used is #livelikepaul which I have found, at times, almost creepy. You see, the theme at camp the year I worked there was “Live Like That” based on the song by Sidewalk Prophets. The opening lines read “Sometimes I think, what people say of me when I’m only just a memory when I’m home where my soul belongs? Was I love when no one else would show up? Was I Jesus to the least of us? Was my worship more than just a song? I want to live like that and give it all I have so that everything I say and do points to you.” Paul exemplified these lyrics to a t and every time I hear the song, I have to wonder, what did I do today to #livelikepaul?

It’s been 6 long months without you, buddy. I can only hope that Heaven is filled with Charleston Chews, Wee Little Leprechaun jokes and more adventures than you could have ever imagined.

#livelikepaul

Hi friends!

As anticipated, camp is wonderful! The co-workers are awesome, the programs are great and middle school is still the perfect age to teach.

It has surprised me how easy it’s been to fall back into the camp life routine and the tons of nature facts that I have remembered. What I did not anticipate is how much I wish my friend and former boss, Paul Coakley, was working with me every day. Now don’t get me wrong, my current bosses are fantastic! I simply find myself yearning to tell him about my students and to ask advice about day hikes and plants and games and things to entertain my kids. I want to share with him some of the games and activities I have learned here because I know Paul would have loved them.

Recently, I taught a class I had recently developed for the first time. (The whole thing came to me in the shower,fun fact) and I was pretty unsure of how it would be received by the kiddos. The class is about storytelling and I use Rory’s Story Cubes as my main teaching material. PAul introduced me to the cubes in Wisconsin and after purchasing two sets for myself, I had been pondering how to use them in a class. Anyway, as I’m about halfway through the class and the kiddos are practicing their stories for the group, I’m sitting at the edge of the stage wondering if this is actually coming together as perfectly as I had hoped. (It was.) I looked down and right where my foot had been almost the entire class was a small white feather. In camp tradition in Wisconsin, the feather means you are on the right path. I took it to mean that a certain red bearded man was looking down and letting me know that I made the right decisions with the class 😊

There have been countless other times I know I have felt Paul’s presence or swore I heard his laugh further down the path and what I truly wouldn’t give for a 10 minute phone call or one more warm fuzzy note in my mailbox from him. I know the one way to keep his memory alive though is to #livelikepaul. Doing crazy things, being adventurous, facing each part of my day with a smile and above all, living as Christ for others.

I hope I’m making you proud, buddy.

Never Say Never

Hi Friends!

Almost two years ago I thought we were done with this blog. I said my goodbyes and moved on from life in the woods. Well guess what? We’re going back! Life has taken some unintended (but really for the best) turns and I have found myself preparing to once again lead nature hikes, play games in the woods, build fires and teach young people about the wonders of the world around us!

In less than a week I will be headed to a new camp in central Ohio to work in their Nature’s Classroom program. A few differences already between this program and the previous one- it’s a secular camp. I haven’t worked in a secular environment since my summers in college and I surely didn’t need to explain creation and the wonders of the outdoors to people I was entertaining at the ball park! Second, I get to pick what I teach. This excites, intrigues and kindof worries me all at the same time. We’ll see what I end up choosing! Third, all nine staff members are sharing a house. The last time I lived with guys that were not in my immediate family was in an intentional community in college. We’ll see how this goes.

So that’s a brief little update on me. Please keep me in your prayers with this new transition- I’m nervous about working with people I don’t seem to have a lot in common with (yet), I’m excited to go back to doing something I love and I’m sad to leave my precious pup with my Dad for the next few months.

I’ll be interceding through my former boss, Paul Coakley, while I’m there to help me conquer my fears and be the absolute best version of myself while I’m with the kiddos. If you’d like to pray that he is with me, feel free to intercede through him too. Paul helped me learn so much about myself, others and the world around us in the last round of camp and while he can no longer help me physically, (and believe me, I’ve typed out several text messages to him& his wonderful wife Annie to relay to him before I remember he is no longer with us) I know he’ll still be there helping me every step of the way. If you haven’t heard their story yet, visit lovelikepaul.com for more info.

Peace out Girl Scouts,

Beth

The End

Dear Friends,

It has been just about two months since I left camp. I’ve been putting off this blog entry due to the vast range of emotions (and the craziness of life!) that has come since leaving the beautiful woods in Wisconsin. Below is part of a blog entry I apparently started in April. I don’t remember writing it, but that doesn’t surprise me because everything after Easter is a very busy blur!

As I said, we were a bit busier in the past two months. We took our talents on the road multiple times to different parishes and schools and it was SO. MUCH. FUN! We worked with preschool-8th grade on these various retreats (some were just middle school, some we broke into groups and our team covered different ages, some we worked all together…you get the picture) and we learned very quickly how to transition from talking about sharing and taking turns with the little guys to carrying our burdens and holding each other up in prayer with the older students. Call me crazy, but my most favorite part of going to the schools was OBVIOUSLY lunch and recess time 🙂 I ate with the littlest guys both times and it was very amusing to hear what second grade boys and kindergarteners talk about at these times. And recess! Oh my goodness– football, playing on the jungle gyms and playing in the snow! Yes, you read that correctly! Here in Wisconsin the kids play in the snow drifts during recess as long as they have proper snow gear with them (and let’s be honest- these kids live in Wisconsin. OF COURSE they all have snow gear with them every day!)

We have also been blessed with some amazing high schoolers here on camp. They have been coming for Confirmation retreats and have taught us just as much as we have been trying to teach them. I always get nervous to have these kids come to camp, as you never know what you are going to get when they get off the bus or out of their cars. We are asking them to give up precious weekend time to spend with us and that, I know, doesn’t always sound appealing. I have been incredibly appreciative of my small groups and for the time we have spent as an all-girls larger group, to hear the discussions, concerns and just about their daily lives.

One of the most difficult groups for me this winter was our open elementary school retreat. 30 kids in 3-5th grade. Don’t get me wrong, they were a BLAST! And I laughed a ton! But I had sort of forgotten (or repressed the memories!) how early they wake up. The last student finally settled in for the night at 1:30am (nothing is more terrifying than waking up to a small child standing over your face at 1am sobbing that they want to go home!) and promptly at 5:15am I heard the first kid skid down the hall, ready to go. Luckily, they were pretty well-behaved and laid in bed until it was time to get up over two hours later, but remember that Lenten sacrifice I mentioned earlier? Mine was coffee.

Coffee has taken an extreme precedence in my life. I’m usually a 2-4 cups a day person. I can drink it virtually anytime. My team has voiced it many times that Beth without coffee is a rough day all around. I love coffee and have an extreme appreciation for the caffeine it provides. They were incredibly shocked when this became my Lenten promise. Actually, they were nervous and scared for this. But I was determined to not let my caffeine withdrawl effect my performance, my mood or my team. And if I do say so myself, I did a darn good job! However, those early, EARLY mornings were definitely more of a challenge than I had ever hoped.

I often find myself wondering how much I have actually changed while being at camp. I mean, yes, some of my priorities have changed, I am more cost conscientious and I don’t have the energy to match my socks anymore! (Thank goodness for the camp trend of mismatched socks!!) But really, has anything happened that will stay with me past my time in good ol’ Wisconsin?

So, what has changed? Certainly not my love of coffee. (Down to one travel mug a day, but still a big deal in my life!) I think the things that have stuck with me aren’t necessarily physical, though I do have a couple sweet scars on my leg from some rabid sticks. What has stuck with me is the empathy I learned to give to the toughest students. The patience to work a 17 hour day and still be smiling at the end. The humor to brush off the little mishaps. The sense of adventure to leap out of my comfort zone. The courage to see God at work in everything. 

I would not have traded the last year for anything in the world. I miss Camp more than I thought was possible, but I am at peace knowing that God chose exactly the right time to end that adventure and start a new one. It also helps to know that Camp will always be there to welcome me back when I happen to be in/near Wisconsin or if I just need a Catholic boost.

So, this chapter is closed and so, I suppose, this is the end of this blog. Weird. So very weird. But not the end of the adventure that is my life. The next blog is located at sainttraining.wordpress.com with the first post coming shortly, mostly to explain the name.

 

I’ll leave you with the Camp version of the Irish Blessing. Thanks for sticking with me this last year… Oh, Camp Gray- How I love ya!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLin3rPfaEo (cue my tears)

The Next Step

Hello Friends,

First off, it’s the end of January. At this very moment my current place of residence, Reedsburg, Wisconsin, is under a flood watch. Yes, a flood watch. So random! And it is a definite watch- camp is gross with rain!

Anyway, the question of where I am going next year and what I will be doing has been weighing heavily on me in the recent weeks. Do I pursue media? Do I work for a Church in a youth setting? Do I just do something completely different? With all those thoughts in mind, I have been applying to a multitude of jobs that span all of those categories and have had a total of 1 interview. When I say a multitude, I’m referring to 50+ businesses and parishes across the country– New York to California, all the way down to Texas and Florida! At this point, I’m really willing to go wherever God puts me…though I am extremely hesitant about returning to Cleveland. But if I’m supposed to be there, God will find a way!

My only interview thus far has been with NET ministries. They are a traveling ministry (NET stands for National Evangelization Team) who travel across the country ministering the Catholic faith to middle and high school students. The interview itself was challenging and at the end of the first night, I wasn’t even sure if it was meant for me. But the second day was filled with talks, prayer and small group time that rejuvenated me and reminded me WHY I have been called to this life and this ministry. It’s certainly not easy and it could even be called exhausting at times, but knowing that I can play a small role in developing the faith of so many youth is a beautiful gift God has bestowed upon me. I am so blessed to be called to this and would love to continue in this ministry if the Lord so desires.

Now, the logistics. I know that this is not a well paying job. I know that this means deferring loans (again!). I know this means support raising and having to temporarily move home to earn enough money to pay for airfare to& from Minnesota at Christmas and again in May 2014 at the end of the term. (And probably August 2013 to start my term) I know this means giving up even more than I already do now, including a stable home. (In NET, you live with Host families. Sometimes you’re there up to 3 weeks, sometimes only for a night depending on where you are placed.)

So that’s what the next step looks like now. I really don’t know what the next step is yet. Hopefully I will in the next few days. (For my sake and for my current team’s sake! It is driving me BANANAS with the waiting!!) Until then, please pray that I will know God’s will and be able to effectively serve wherever He places me. And if you have any job leads, send them my way!

Peace,
Beth

Year in Review

Hi Everyone,

It’s been such a crazy year! Seriously, if you would have told me last January that I would be sitting in Reedsburg, WI right now working at a Catholic camp, I’d probably tell you that was crazy. As is customary at the end (or beginning) of a year, I’d like for you to join me in a look back at what a crazy, fun, adventurous year 2012 was!

I rang in 2012 in Cleveland with my friend Katie and some others I have met from my two summers working at the Cleveland zoo.Image January also brought my last semester as an undergrad which was more fun than work (though I think I spent more time in the library as a senior than any other year of my time in school!) One of my most memorable classes of that semester was Video Performance and Production which essentially was myself and my classmates filming a sports show. It taught me a lot about performing and interviewing and about being a jack of all trades!ImageImage

February started off with an all-nighter as I traveled with my friends Steph and Miriam to Punxsutawney, PA for Ground Hog’s Day! Unfortunately Phil saw his shadow but it was incredibly fun none the less and we made the news at home in Erie.Image That month also held the run of the Schuster Theatre’s production of The Cherry Orchard in which I stage managed.Image(photo credit: Rick Klein) Memories from that month that remain undocumented in picture form include my Valentine’s Day spa night with members of the Men’s basketball team (Dance Moms, homemade facials and pudding shots were all great parts of that evening!)

March brought the BEST St. Patrick’s Day I have ever experienced, and possibly the warmest! It was a great day spent between local establishments and Gannon fraternities with many new and old friends.Image It also brought a service trip to Joplin, Missouri to do tornado relief with 17 other students and three staff members. I learned a ton about giving myself fully to others, giving and taking and what it means to have a servants heart.Image March also included an undocumented whirl-wind trip to NYC for my mom and I as I had a job interview in Midtown! We were able to score rush tickets to Godspell on Broadway and meet the whole cast at the stage door afterward. Another fun undocumented memory was the manhole covers blowing up in Erie. As a good communications student, I was first on the scene without shoes or keys- just a cellphone to call local media and my mom 🙂

April brought my decision to randomly apply for a missionary position at a Catholic Camp in Wisconsin. It also brought the interview and an acceptance of the position! It also brought me getting to meet one of my heros, Matt Roloff of Little People, Big World. ImageApril saw the end of the spring semester which included my final midnight pancake breakfast (and AJ’s Way dance party!),Image a concert featuring Andy Grammar, Jack’s Mannequin and The Fray Imageand an all-nighter that spanned two days (total amount of sleep in those 48 hours: roughly 5 hours) working on a to-scale model of a theatre and set design. It brought my final sorority induction as an undergrad and I also was inducted as an alumnae member of my sorority.ImageImageImage

May brought graduation and my final bar crawl as an undergrad. ImageImageImageThose few days were a BLAST! The next week was spent packing and cleaning before I took one last trip to NYC with my Gannon theatre family. We spent the day in a workshop with George Salazar of Godspell and got to see the show. (my second time!) ImageImageThe rest of the day was spent sightseeing with my good friend Steph and ending our day sitting third row for Gore Vital’s The Best Man which starred Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones. ImageThe month ended with seeing my baby brother Matt take home St. Edward High School’s first ever state rugby championship!Image

June brought me to Wisconsin! It began our training as a staff and my summer camp life! June made me appreciate air conditioning, sleeping in, and many apologies to my parents for waking them up so early as a child.ImageImageImage(photo credit: Camp Gray)

July brought ridiculous temperatures and a fire ban. It also brought the most EPIC soccer game I have ever been a part of with a 3-2 win over the Jewish Camp down the road. Image(Photo Credit: Camp Gray)ImageJuly also brought my first trip back to the Eastern time zone to be a reader in the wedding of my best friend Carolyn. ImageImageImageThe same weekend happened to also be the reopening of my Church, St. Patrick WP, which was amazing to be a part of!

August bid farewell to summer camp but not before I got to have a cabin of my own and some more fun nights and days with our staff. A favorite undocumented memory would be the day trip to Devil’s Lake that almost the entire staff participated in- hiking, swimming, drinking and general lounging were definitely needed and enjoyed! 

September brought the beginning of my SaLT life. New haircutImage(that’s 11 inches!) as well as many new jobs and situations. ImageImage

October was absolutely insane! We had settled into a “routine” if you could call it that but it involved SOMEONE working nearly every day. We saw 3 groups of students that were at least 70 kids each as well as several other smaller groups and lots of Confirmation groups. We also saw a school of inner-city kids that reminded me a lot of the students I worked with in the after-school program in Erie. They got to spend Halloween with us. In between the craziness we still had time to make some trips to Madison, hang out in town, play basketball with the local parishoners and of course, celebrate my birthday!ImageImageImage

November was probably our most challenging month. We had our routine down pat but ended up a team member short for basically the entire month, as one of our members lost her father early in the month. This month taught me more than ever the true meaning of perseverance and “fake it til you make it.” It also proved to me, and I believe the rest of the team, that we CAN do this and we ALWAYS have each others backs. ImageOn a positive note, it brought one of my best friends, Steph, to Wisconsin. It was a BLAST seeing her and getting to hear her volunteer experiences, as she is currently serving with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Minneapolis.ImageImage 
One of my favorite undocumented memories of the month was going to see Wreck-It Ralph  with the team. That story is a blog post in itself 😉

December was incredibly quiet on camp. We spent most days in the office which left us with a ton of free time in the evenings and on weekends. What did we do, you ask? In addition to our second “Chopped” competition of the semester, we also saw THREE Christmas concerts featuring former campers,ImageAmy, Kristina and I spent a day in Chicago checking out the sites and visiting both old and new friends. (My former campus minister, the Suz and Kathy’s brother John whom we had never met before appearing at his door!)ImageImageImageThe month also included a sprained ankle (as well as 3 hours in the doctors office and 12 hours on crutches) for me, cookie decorating with the kids on camp and several more adventures in town, including one with Santa!ImageChristmas was spent in Cleveland with my family and it was a blast! 

I arrived back at camp yesterday and though I am extremely glad to be back, as I type this I keep waiting for the familiar footsteps of my roommate to come down the stairs. Unfortunately, (and I knew this from day 1 in June) Kristina has taken a job in New Jersey and won’t be with our team anymore. It was rough to say goodbye and our big old basement bedroom is a lot bigger and a lot neater without her. We are adjusting to going from a 6 pack to a holiday 5 pack, but I know we’ll get our groove together eventually.

This new year will bring a lot more excitement and challenges, I’m sure and it will also bring a visit to at LEAST 1 new state. In two weeks I will be traveling to Minneapolis, Minnesota for an interview with NET Ministries. If I get the job, I will be traveling across the country come fall working with high schoolers. This is not what I had originally intended for next year and I am still applying for “grown up” jobs, but I strongly believe God wants me to remain working as a missionary for a while longer. Please keep me and this vocation in your prayers.

 

Peace, Beth

Thanksgiving

Hello Friends,

It’s pretty close to Thanksgiving and our break and though I am eager to get back to the ol’ Land of Cleve and all my connections there, I am a little nervous about leaving camp for a whole week! 

The past three retreats have brought home some of my favorite summer campers and counselors. Seriously. The things that have been brought up in the last week have been nothing but funny and proud moments that we have all been able to share. Of the 5 kids that I have seen (and somehow managed to have 4 of them in my different small groups!), 3 of them were in the village during my time with the explorers. I learned, laughed and cried a lot in those weeks, and I know the kids did as well. It was so wonderful to hear about their lives, how school is going and what has stuck with them from camp.

Unless you worked with the kids specifically, I think you can only tell so many stories about how great, witty, smart, funny, etc. they are until the rest of the population is sick of hearing about it. I know that’s something I struggle with here. Everyone “gets it” but they can only handle so many of these stories as well. To have the kids themselves here and reliving stories of us “stealing” cookies from the kitchen, the 3 hour siestas in the ‘vill and of course, the memorable frozen bagels and fruit snacks breakfast was just the pick me up I needed to head into the break.

My favorite moment, though, came from this last Confirmation retreat where we had 2 explorer ladies with us. I was preparing to give my testimony on how I “Live Like That” which usually involves a testimony on our gifts that God has given us. I had done this talk earlier in the week for some middle schoolers and while it went alright, it was not my best testimony and I knew I could do better for this group. So I was writing a draft and was thumbing through some old notes and stumbled across a few affirmations from the explorers this summer. One talked about how glad she was that I was “real” and showed them that counselors aren’t perfect but can still learn from their mistakes, like everyone else. When I found this, I knew that I had to scrap my draft and give a real talk. I ended up talking about how I haven’t always known how to “Live Like That.”I was honest in saying that my college life wasn’t always the most Christ-centered but coming to camp and surrounding myself with good people who can go out and have a good time, who love the same things I do, but still put God above the rest, has helped me learn to prioritize and live for God and live my faith to the fullest. It might have been the best testimony I have given all year. Probably the coolest moment for me was knowing that the explorer who wrote that affirmation was present for the talk and she was aware of how much her words impacted me. (I guess the hugs when the girls came racing off the bus ranks at a VERY close second favorite moment!)

So that’s what I’m most thankful for this week. Explorers, Confirmation, the Holy Spirit and Camp Gray. Not gonna lie, I live a freaking sweet life and I would not trade it for the world.

 

Peace, Beth

Woah…We’re halfway there!

Hello everyone,

Welp, we’ve just about hit the half way mark in my time here at Camp. It surely does not feel as though I have been here for just over 5 months. I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I’ve accomplished, the things I have dared to try, the things I would have never dreamed I have done prior to camp and maybe even the things I’ve fallen a bit short on.

Never ever did I think that I would be living on 225 acres ministering the Catholic faith to kids from all different walks of life. I never thought I would be playing in the stream or teaching kids to shoot archery or leading kids in the dark in the most epic version of sardines known to camp. I didn’t think that I’d be eating my food with no hands and encouraging kids to do the same, nor did I ever think I’d be the one saying “Oh, you’re at camp, it’s okay to get messy!” But here I am.

A normal day for me starts as the sun is rising and ends long after the sun has set. It involves playing games with silly names like “Secrets of the Universe,” “Bob the Weasel” and “Ninja.” Grace before meals ALWAYS has a tune to it and we only eat family style. Normal days involve some walks on the trails, looking for mole hills, deer tracks and burrells on the trees. It involves explaining why invasive species are detrimental to our forest, why cranes use the same flight path every single time they migrate and the differences between a managed and unmanaged forest. In the evenings we have campfires where, time after time, we sing about brown squirrels, David Hasselhoff and what we’d do if we were not at Camp. Nights end with prayer. Looking at pictures of Jesus and why they are so symbolic or reading the story of creation by candle light or listening to a testimony from a team member.

God has blessed me with this opportunity to work with literally hundreds of kids over the past 5 months. Ministering to students ranging from ages 7-18 has brought challenges but also laughter and some serious fun. There was the time that a group of 7th grade girls asked us to come back to their cabin with them to have a nail painting party and eat some Halloween candy. Or the group of 6th graders that were so terrified of the dark that everyone was somehow holding on to me as we played Alpha Wolf. There was the cabin that was OBSESSED with Shel Silverstein and secretly placed a picture they drew of him in my purse to find after we went separate ways. There was the group of 20 kids that valiantly answered the call to enviornmental stewardship and ate a 120 servings of mashed potatoes as to not waste what was brought out to them. And the high schooler that took the time to apologize for being rude to the staff at the beginning of his retreat and made sure to let us all know that he was truly understanding and appreciating what we were teaching him.

I could go on and on about the kids I have met and hung out with, the chaperones that have helped us in more ways than they know and of course, about the people that are not only my teammates and some of my only friends here in Wisconsin, but they’ve become my family. 

My favorite part of these last five months though? That would be the renewal of my Catholic faith. Being able to learn right along with so many of these students and hearing the comments and questions they have bring me so much joy. I love celebrating Mass with them and being able to say that I understand you don’t know much about Confirmation right now, but I didn’t either when I was Confirmed. Being able to reassure kids (and some of the adults!) that it is okay not to know everything about the faith, it’s okay to ask questions and God is always waiting for you to come back. Camp is a place where God is so fully present in every aspect of life and I feel so incredibly blessed to be here and be a part of shaping countless young people’s faith lives.

 

A lot has happened in the last 5 months and I seriously cannot wait to see what happens in the next 6!

Peace and love,

Beth

Hello family and friends!

Autumn is almost over here at camp 😦 Seriously, sad times. However, the trees have been BEAUTIFUL! A midwestern fall is something everyone should experience. Camp has been incredibly busy.We have had groups of all sizes come through. When I’m cooking in the kitchen and then consequently doing the dishes, I’d prefer the smaller groups that bring only 10-15 kids. However, when I’m out in the woods, I love having 10 kids in my small group. The questions and thoughts that come out of their mouths seriously make me smile.

 

Cases in point:

A recent group of 8 8th graders built and maintained TWO fires in the pouring rain. I didn’t think they could but they insisted on trying anyway. (The two dads that chaperoned my group also helped them) After they finished they got to call everyone on the radio and announce their achievement. The whole rest of the time they were with us they referenced that. “Beth, remember that time we got TWO fires started in the rain?! I bet no one else could ever do that!” No, bud. Most people probably couldn’t.

A recent group of rowdy 6th graders were out on a nature hike with me. One boy, I don’t like to say it, but he was my favorite, his ADHD and all. He asked if I knew any Spanish. Well,I took two semesters in college and apparently overemphasized the word MUCH when I said I didn’t know much. 
Kid: Como estas?
Me: Yo estoy asi asi
Kid:…..now you say y tu
Me: Oh, y tu?
Kid: (says a line of words extremely quickly that I didn’t exactly know)
Me: I have no idea what you’re saying. I’m sorry!
Kid: ……I said I’m excited to be here! Mr. B, I think Beth failed Spanish when she was in school. She doesn’t know ANYTHING.

Well, I could say I was okay! But yes, Spanish is not my forte and in the Spanish realm, I really don’t know anything.

8th grader: So how often do you get to watch tv?
Me: Never. We don’t have a tv that gets any channels and I don’t usually watch shows online. Except for Dance Moms.
8th Grader: NEVER?! How do you survive?!
Well kid, I didn’t think I could survive either.

Me: Listen, bud. I’ll meet you halfway. You participate today and answer just a few of the group questions and maybe pretend this isn’t the worst experience ever and I’ll let you light our campfire tonight. Deal?
Junior in High School: Deal. (Complete with sigh and eye roll)
Teacher: …Excuse me, but did you just bribe him with fire?
Me: Yup.
And guess what?! It worked. And has continued to work. Sometimes you just gotta let kids do something they like, such as lead a game in exchange for going to bed well and sitting still for skits. 

Other than this and the (what seems like) billions of kids that roll through camp, not too much is new. My birthday was celebrated in a low-key Gaertner style but big on camp standards. Through a generous donation to the feed the staff fund, we were able to eat out at a nice restaurant called the Moose Jaw. On my actual birthday, my mom sent me flowers which were delivered before I got out of bed. My roommates met the delivery person and brought them down to my room (have I mentioned I live in the basement?!) and sang to me while they watched me read the card. I got coffee delivered to my room, made exactly how I like it. One of the other team members came over with eggs fresh from the camp chickens and cooked me a fresh veggie omelet. YUMM-O!

In the afternoon we bummed around town and enjoyed some Starbucks. Wow, I haven’t had Starbucks in forever. It was so great. We then finished the day with a homemade Chicken and Dumplings dinner. Patrick, my friend from college, came down from Madison to have dinner with us and the team was generous in their gifts. I received some fuzzy socks, gummy worms and the best travel coffee mug ever. But seriously.

The bonding here has been great. Disney Princess Potluck was a few days ago and included Ariel’s Shrimp, Snow White’s Apple Crisp, Mulan’s Chinese food and Pochantas’ blueberry cornbread, among several other dishes. I love having a themed dinner, and I made Rapunzel’s angel hair pasta. We have also gone mini golfing with some tickets donated to camp and been to a pumpkin patch for a corn maze and petting zoo. Tonight we are having a “Chopped”/ “Iron Chef” competition with the guys and the ladies in the other building. It’s an appetizer competition and some other members of the camp staff will be judging. We will all be going to Wal-Mart and will draw the three secret ingredients in the parking lot. We have only $20 and 15minutes. We will then get some time to cook and will present our dishes at 8pm. Seriously, so fun.

Finally, we have become big fans of “The Walking Dead” here at camp, so I ask you: If zombies were to come to your town/area, where would you hide? We have this discussion about camp at least 3 times a week.

Peace, Beth 

 

Zombies, Princesses and Cute Kids