Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Can it really be this good? And can it really almost be halfway over??

Wow, I can't believe how much time has gone by already! This week has been great. Mcos and I are really growing a lot closer. In fact my co-counselor, Kyle, would say that, "This week has been a dream. I've gotten to teach my favorite classes, aerobics and cross country. And our girls are incredible! There is even one that's my twin! Her name is Olivia and she loves food, shoes, guys, mini-golf, James Morrison, and soccer!" haha...so anyway, that's Kyle's thoughts.

But anyway, so my cos and are are becoming closer and understanding each other better and how we approach life and the girls. I can't believe that we're on our 5th week of campers! And it's weird to think that there are only two weeks left before a lot of the staff changes and new people come in. I don't want my new friends to leave! It's been so much fun to have 2 great cos.

One of the best things about this term is that my little brother is here!! YAY! He's so great! It seems like he's grown up so much, especially now that I'm seeing him in the context of kamp and remembering what he was like in kamp last year. It makes me so proud of him! He decided to take soccer specialty this year, which is different for him, but cool at the same time since he wants to try to play at school next year. His best friend from Colorado, Austin, is here for the first time, too, which I think is a huge blessing for him! It's so fun to see them run around together and just have fun! I don't know exactly what Austin Armstrong thinks of kamp so far, since it's a new thing, but I know that he'll love it by the end!

It's weird to think that this is the last round of everything as a counselor. The last tribal night, the last Traildust western dance, the last campfire, etc. I have absolutely LOVED where I'm at this summer so far! Being a counselor is incredible! I love teaching classes (esp. mountain biking, sailing, canoeing, trampoline, blobbing, and working the really tall white slide!) I also love having cos and just getting to hang out with the girls. Often, I feel inadequate as a counselor, but I guess that's OK. When I am weak, HE is strong. It's just weird not always being able to see the fruit of your labor. I feel like so often I don't see the benefits of what we're doing. I just have to keep reminding myself that that's OK.

Aside from all the good things going on at kamp, there has been a lot of craziness. It seems like spiritual warfare is so prevalent! Please in prayer for K-West, Kanakuk, and all the Christian camps this summer. Sickness has been so prevalent everywhere, and it seems like everytime we turn around something crazy is happening, whether it's with staff or kampers. Please keep us in your prayers.

As for me, I would say that I'm going pretty strong. I think God has prepared me for the time that I'm going to be here. Part of me is tired, but, overall, I'm motivated to finish out these last two weeks as a counselor. And I'm excited to move into the kitchen on July 7th! The girls that I'm going to be working with in there are incredible! It's going to be so much fun getting to live life with them!

Alright, well I'm gonna call it quits...I need to wrap some things up and get ready to head back. Love you all and thanks for all of your continued support!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don't go by too fast!

Wow, I'm blessed to say that I've not been too tired yet this summer...but I'm tired today. What a week! This is my fourth group of kampers, which is weird to say, since everyone else is only on their second, but these girls are absolutely incredible! They are more mature than I was expecting and we have been able to have such solid conversations with them. Gosh! These girls are getting it and it's awesome. The past two nights at kamp have been pretty deep.

Three nights ago, we had Cross Talk, which is a night that we present the Gospel to the kids in kind-of a walk-through drama type thing. The first time we had Cross Talk, it was raining, so it was good to have a nice evening and be able to actaully walk though it. It went really well! I was able to sit with a few of them at the cross for awhile after it was over. When we get back to the cabin at night after our evening activity, we usually have a devo time with the girls where we debrief the day and talk about life. After Cross Talk, we decided to do things a little differently. We gave them some time to journal and then told them that they could go to bed if they wanted to or come out on the porch and talk to us if they had questions. It was so cool to see what happened! Six of the girls came out to talk, but the other half stayed inside and talked together, sharing their thoughts on the night, their testimonies, and their favorite Bible verses. It was so cute! I was so impressed at their desire to talk about things and figure them out together. It's always fun to hear their questions...

The next day was Purity Talk....two big days in a row. Joe White, the president of Kanakuk, came over to K-West and talked to the kids. He's a great speaker and I think this group of girls enjoyed it. After he spoke, we broke up into our cabins and went over different aspects of purity with them, discussing them all and looking at what the Bible said about them. Some of the girls weren't open to what we were saying on certain things, but overall the discussion went really well! It so fun to be able to encourage them to stay pure and show them that it's more than just physical, but spiritual and emotional too. What a cool night. Tuck ins that night were a lot of fun. After we have our cabin devo every night, my cos and I split up and each pick a few girls to tuck in. It's my favorite part of the day! I love to ask them about their day, what they enjoyed, what they learned, and how I can be praying for them. Then I get to pray for them before they go to sleep. It's so cool!

So I guess this point in the summer is when we start to get tired as a staff and we really have to focus on being filled by God. Second term, these past two weeks has seen a LOT of sickness. Please be praying for our kamp. And, apparently, people are getting sick at Pine Cove and elsewhere too. It's been weird. Our nurse's station is COMPLETELY full, and the room above the nurse's station that are usually for married staff and maintenance men had to be occupied too. It's crazy! We've had to send at least 10 kids home and have had to quarentine (sp?) several staff members to Branson to get better. It's definitely hit us hard as a kamp. Our kitchen staff has been hit especially hard. Two days ago, we were down from 10 kitchies to 4 and had at least 1 cook who was sick as well. Those on leadership are trying their best to help in anyway we can and thankfully, some of the other kamps have sent over nurses and kitchen help as well. We're pretty secluded as a kamp right now though. Our mountain biking and walking classes aren't supposed to enter any other kamp grounds (we usually go through K-2 and K-7 since they're so close) and we've been trying our best to stay contained and use as much Germ-X as possible. Once this group of kids leave, we are HARDCORE deep cleaning the kamp. Any staff who is still sick will be quarentined again and everything will be scrubbed. Please be praying for us as we try to knock this thing out.

But overall, kamp is WONDERFUL! I had a fun re-realization the other day as I was walking up from the dock. KAMP IS SO GREAT. Done. Fact. Absolutely one of my favorite places in the world. I mean, where else do you get to see people that you love EVERYWHERE you look, be constantly encouraged, be in constant focus of God, serve kids together, love on kids, play sports, swin in the pool, play in the lake, and just enjoy life?? Oh, it's awesome. My favorite things to teach during the day are definitely mountain biking, any pool activity, and the lake sports. A couple days ago, when TONS of people were sick, I was scheduled to teach sailing all morning! So 3 periods in the lake, and it was my first time to teach it without Sarah-Graham, who is definitely the master sailor here. She was sick though, so here I go! Thankfully, I had someone else teaching it with me, but it was slightly crazy trying to keep track of everyone and yell across the lake "put your dagger board in", "wait til your outside the buoy!", "get in irons!", "take down your sail!", "swin harder, girls, it's almost time to go!". But it was a blast! I had four of the girls from my cabin in class, so it was fun to get to hang out with them. The scariest part, though, was loosing a boat second period. There we were, sailing along, about to make our way back in, when I realize that I'm pretty sure we had 5 boats out instead of 4. But they're nowhere to be seen. So here I am, trying to get the other boats back in and look for the lost one at the same time. I felt horrible! haha...thankfully though, a ski boat that was coming back in said that they saw the boat all the way around the bend. They were completely out of site! How they got over there, I have no idea!! But, thanks to Dock Daddy Zach and his jet ski for saving them!

I guess I'll wrap this up....but AUSTIN COMES TOMORROWWW!!!! I'm so excited for my little brother to be here! It's going to be such a pick-me-up to see him! And then, I have a day off on July 5th and will be able to spend that time with my parents before they pick him up. Oh! It's going to be great! Alright, well my laundry is about to be done. I better go....but thank you for your prayers and letters. I'll continue to update this as I have time off. Love y'all!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hello outside world!

Let's just say that today is the first day this summer that I have truly MISSED home. I got a sweet video message from Peter and Beth Smart and I literally almost started crying because it brought me such joy! Thank you. And then getting to talk to my parents and my good friend, Jonathan, just now brought it on even more. Jonathan is getting married to a sweet girl named Kat on July 4th and it make me so sad that I won't be able to be there! Thank you all for all your sweet letters of encouragement and love over these past several weeks. I have cherished them all! Unfortunately, life has been crazy busy as a one-week counselor! Since K-West is designed for two-weekers, my cos and I feel like we have to use every free moment that we have to dig into the lives of these precious girls. So that means lots of hanging out and 1:1 (for you, Uncle Pete) walks during FOB (our rest period during the day). So, basically, that has translated into not a lot of down time for Allison. Those of you who know me well know that I'm good at keeping myself busy in the first place, so that's definitely something that I'm trying to work on again. I would definitely appreciate prayers for that. I need to find a balance between spending time with the girls in my cabin, hanging out and being refreshed by others at kamp, and finding time to be with myself, too.

I may have mentioned this before, I can't remember, but lately I've been learning what it looks like to rest in God. To not focus on what I can DO or what I'm supposed to DO, but just BEING with Him. I guess it's kind of ironic looking at what I just said about trying to stop and rest, but that's just where I'm at.

I'm going to cut this blog short for now because I really just want to call people, but things have been going well. It's so much fun being a counselor, and each group of kids has been different in thae way that they approach things. With the first group, I would say our main focus of teaching was grace, the second, purity, and we'll see about this third one...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

They're here! They're here!

Hey all!

So the kids are finally here! Yay! And surprise, I got assigned to be a counselor for one-week campers. This is definitely going to be a challenge, since K-West is designed for two-week campers, and that's what I'm used to. Thankfully, my co-counselors are incredible! They're names are Kyle (yes, she's a girl) and Diana. It's unusual to have two cos, but, for some reason, K-West was over-staffed on the girls side for this session, so there are 3 counselors in most cabins instead of 2. Anyway, I knew that since my girls were only going to be here for a week, that I would have to really dig in and get know them quickly. But, to my surprise, this first group has been absolutely incredible! As a whole, they are so outgoing and have opened up so quickly! They're mostly 13, with a few 12 year olds, going into 7th and 8th grade. Half my girls have never been to Kanakuk before which leads to them asking a lot of questions that I never would think of! There is so much to kamp that I always forget that others don't know or understand. So it's taken some patience, understanding, and discernment to work through some of those, but it's been great.

The kids arrived on June 1st, and it was a pretty chill day. As the girls got there, I met some of their parents and then just went through the typical unpacking and paperwork. The girls then went to "play in the pool"/ really have a swim test disguised as fun, and then we changed and headed out to the football field for an all-K-West picnic. yay for burgers with BOOYA! sauce. We got to meet out brother cabin, which is always awkward and funny with middle schoolers. Thankfully, my brother cabin counselors are a lot of fun and helped to break the ice quickly. The next day we had a lot of introductory type activities, like cabin competitions, kamp store, and a girls-side dance party! I got to get in front of whole girls side (like 200 people) and teach the ZZZ dance from Baylor! It was so cool! I even got to wear a sweet headset microphone! It was so much fun to get up and lead everyone and see girls from all over the country learning a dance that my friends made up.

Yesterday was our first "real day" of kamp, which meant it was also my first time to teach classes. I was a little nervous, because you never really know exactly what you're going to get scheduled to teach, and sometimes you just have to "fake it 'til you make it" and hope that it turns out all right and the kids think you know what you're doing. So, first period, I was scheduled to teach games class. Awesome. Got that. We'll play 'pterodactyl' (sp), which I though they would love. WRONG. Fail. They didn't think it was as funny as I did....so, uh, let's play psychiatrist! Phew!! They liked that one. Second period, archery. Ok, I love archery. Awesome! And Lia is teaching it with me! Too bad I strung the bow wrong when I was trying to demonstrate to the kids! Thankfully Lia was able to recover for me and we talked in British accents that rest of the time to try and make up for it : )...Now third period, kayaking. Cool. I can do this. And Lia is teaching it with me again. Awesome! Except I'm not the best at wet exits. In fact, they slightly freak me out. But one of us has to demonstrate it so that each of the girls can learn how to do it before they can actually kayak in the lake. But Lia doesn't want to do it, so here I go! Here's where the "fake it til you make it" comes in. Don't get me wrong, I can do a wet exit, it's just not always very graceful! Thankfully, however, I was able to put on my confident face and get er dun! I thought that the girls in the class would be nervous about it, but they did great! Only 2 of them got a little scared, but they all did their wet exits beautifully!

After lunch, I was assigned to work at the pool during free time. I was so excited! It had always been a dream of mine to be that counselor that gets to work at the top of the waterslide. And yesterday I got that chance! I guess most counselors don't like doing that because you have to get wet when you go down the slide at the end, but I really wanted to do it! It was so much fun to stand on the tower and meet kids as they came up and encourage them as they prepared to go down. The view from up there is incredible! Although the red slide that I worked is not as tall as the white slide, I could still see a lot of the lake and the surrounding hills. So beautiful! Later that afternoon I was scheduled to lead soccer elective. What?!?! Ok, I like soccer (don't worry Beth, I think it's great), but I'm just not the best at it. I WISH I was better and that I knew better how to teach the basics, but here we go! Again, fake it til you make it. So, thankfully, my co, Kyle, is a soccer player, so I pleaded for her help during F.O.B. (our rest period after lunch). She gave me some good ideas of games to play, so I felt semi-perpared going into it. We played knock-out, and I called on a couple of the girls to go over basic skills just to make sure that we were all on the same page (and since the girls were teaching it, I didn't necessarily have to teach, which is a good thing haha). And then they just wanted to scrimmage!! Perfect! So we scrimmaged!!

So real kamp really isn't too bad! I think I'll be able to get the swing of this teaching stuff pretty fast and continue to figure things out as I go.

Oh! I forgot to mention that 2 nights ago was Tribal night. I absolutely LOVE this night! For those who don't know, one of the longest traditions at Kanakuk is tribal competition. For the girls, the two tribes are Kickapoos and Kiowas. I was PROUDLY a Kickapoo haha. For the guys, there are Cherokees and Choctaws. My brothers are both Cherokees. Anyway, during the second day of kamp, all the new kampers get assigned to tribes. It's so exciting! Then, that night, we have our first tribal competitions and then we have a more serious time where Ward, our director, tells the kids all about the tribal traditions at kamp. It's really cool because we all go down to the tribal ring, where the kids sit around a giant fire with a teepee off to one side. Ward comes out in his full chief garb and then 5 of the men from leadership come out, too. They perform some traditional dances and really make the kids feel like they are a part of the tradition. The chiefs and princesses are then introduced for that term. These are one kamper from each tribe that are elected by their peers the year before. They prepare for their job throughout the year and then come to kamp prepared to lead their tribe! It's so fun haha. I guess I'm still a kamper at heart : )

Anyway, it's getting about time to move on and make a few calls before I have to head back. I miss you all, but, as you can tell, thoroughly enjoying my time in the Ozarks! I wake up every morning excited for a new day and a chance to get to know the kids better and share the love of Christ with them. Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement. I have about 2 more weeks until my next 2-4, so it will be awhile until I am able to update this again, but know that I'm thinking of you all and would love to hear from you!