Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reflections From Week One

Week One is over. It's Sunday, and I'm sitting in our cabin on the edge of Frontier Ranch. I hear the work crew members peopling the weed-eater and lawnmowers outside. Amy is on the other side of camp scheduling rides and finishing the housing requirements. By this evening about 400 high school campers and their leaders will ascend to Frontier Ranch for what is said will be "the best week of their lives." 
This is my first assignment. I visited Amy for a long weekend when she had an assignment at Windy Gap in 2004. We were still dating then, and I was just a visitor. This time I'm what is commonly referred to as a staff spouse. While this term is ostensibly gender neutral, I believe it is informally thought of as a female role. The first Monday of the assignment I attended the spouse's meeting; I was the only husband. Surprisingly, I left that meeting feeling more connected than before. Part of it was humbling: Seeing what Angel, a mother of three kids under the age of five, has to go through when moving to camp for a month helped me swallow my pride and move forward in my role. It gave me perspective and helped me realize that what I consider problems are really just lies that I need the Gospel to dispel. Since we don't have kids, I have more freedom in camp and also more time to get involved, which helps me feel like I'm a part of this mission.
Thankfully, Amy enrolled me in Real Life and the Broken Heart Skit when she came to Assigned Team training in the Spring. As this month approached, I became more unwilling to take my roles seriously, believing that Amy and the rest of her team conspired to take advantage of our non-parent status and hijack my free-time just so they could have a warm body in their little charade. However, watching the first set of campers leave last night, I was brought to tears. Getting handshakes and hugs from high school guys I didn't even know was a moving experience. 
Real Life is a unique way that we as adults share our story with campers. It takes place in three installments. We pretend to be the way we were in high school by pre-recording thought tapes of how we would process a week at camp. The first is our thoughts before leaving, followed by our response to the sin talk, and finally how we would spend our fifteen minutes talking to God. After this we then share a two-three minute version of our story. I, of course, was type-cast the party-guy, stoner, druggie, which was true of me in high school; however, thankfully I was able to give them the full story through my testimony. 
I have to admit that I didn't expect much out of this.  I knew that they wanted me up there because I have a colorful past and they need to have some variety. I didn't expect what I got out of it. First of all, I have told this my story to peers and members of authority before. However, every-time I have told it before I have been the one to do the work of distancing me from my past. This time was radically different. As I told my story to about 450 campers and leaders, I didn't feel chained to it at all. I think it was the first time in my life when I felt the victory of Jesus in this realm--He was doing the work, has done the work, of distancing me from the past. That alone is worth me inconveniencing my self by taking part of this, but it went further. I got to see kids, tough high school kids, in tears as they took a risk to come talk to me after the final Real Life. I don't deserve to experience this from another person. I don't have what it takes to care for another broken human being, but God chose me to be up there connecting with kids by sharing my past. I was trying to communicate these feelings to Amy, and I said something about not understanding why me sharing the darkest part of my past pushed kids from all walks of life to want to thank me, hug me, and just talk to me. It was the most unreal, counter-intuitive experience.
Today is Sunday, and everyone with a job is getting camp ready to do it again. I don't know if I can do it again. I don't want to cheapen the experience of the first week...I don't want the names of the kids that shared tears with me to be forgotten...I don't want this to be a formula. 

Friday, July 25, 2008

Don't take a knife to a gun fight!!

It's been difficult finding time to sit at my computer and update the blog...but now I have sometime, so here goes.

Our trip from NC to CO was a blast...we got to spend some much needed time together and do some pretty amazing things. I want to tell you about the most memorable. Long's Peak. After our exploring of Denver and Boulder we decided to do some hiking and backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in northern Colorado. At some point we opted for a hike up Long's Peak with some camping at a place called Boulderfield. Let's just say we had no idea what we were doing!
The first warning sign came when I read this...the number one suggestion for hiking "high peaks" is "Be in excellent physical condition." I didn't bother to read the others b/c I didn't want to be discouraged. We are NOT in excellent physical condition...I'm not even sure what that looks like. But, we go the Ranger Station the most precious old man gives us our Backcountry Permit and tells us about the hike. He has such confidence in us and our ability to do this thing. We have all the gear so we are looking the part for sure!!
Let me back June when I called they said it could take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours to hike this thing. We start at around 9,000 feet and are carrying ridiculously heavy packs. We are off and excited about this adventure. As we climb in elevation it becomes more and more difficult. We see others along the way-passing us with small packs. We pass a variety of people. "We can totally do this...that 65 year old woman we just passed did it, we can too." So, 6 and a half hours and 6 miles later we reach Boulderfield...our campsite. It is exactly what it is...a field of ginormous boulders with 6 or so camp sites. Let me also say that along the way we met some very kind folks and saw a herd of Elk playing in snow, along with Marmots...or varmots as older folks say.
We set up camp, purify some waters, and eat some dinner. We are now at around 12,000 feet. We kinda sleep, then wake up to begin the rest of our adventure to the summit. This too attracts all kinds of people---ranging from 8 to 70 and older!! People are actually descending as we begin at 9am!! The "path" is marked by a red & yellow bulls-eye. There is the "trough" and the "narrows" which are frightening! There were countless times I was paralyzed by fear. But, the beauty we encountered pushed us forward. We had to do this!! We got this far, plus if you could see the people who were doing it too. So, along the way we begin to hear from other folks..."this is one of the hardest 14ners in Colorado...there are 52" or "I've done 10 14ners and this is the hardest one." At this point I am wondering what the heck we are doing. Who's idea was this anyway?!
After a few hours we make it to the summit...a mile from our campsite, but 14,250 feet in elevation. It's the highest peak in RMNP. It was beautiful and a major accomplishment, but the summit didn't necessarily have the best view. The sights we saw along the way were evidence to me that God loves me...that He created these mountains to reveal himself to us. And He gave them to us to enjoy and maybe even "conquer." But the process of the whole thing is what still sticks with me. It's not about how long or short it takes to get there, but what you see and experience along the way. Adam was amazing during the whole thing...I really needed him. And that was good for me. In those moments of fear, he comforted and supported me.
So, as we hiked back down and back to the trail head we were amazed at this whole thing. And that's when Adam said "it's like taking a knife to a gun fight." That's kind of what we did when we SUMMITED Long's Peak.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jackie Chan

Hello Friends!!
greetings from Boulder, Colorado. I just wanted to write a super quick note to say hey and let y'all know we've made it safe to CO. it was a long trip, but great! Lots to share...and we will. Internet access is sparse and so the updates aren't coming as often as I'd hoped.

We are in now Boulder staying at The Boulder Mountain Lodge (great spot) and heading to Rocky Mountain National Park in the morning for our 3 day/2 night backcountry stay and attempt at Long's Peak.

Oh, and I'm watching some Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson movie as Adam sleeps soundly. We will post pictures soon and tell you more about our trip through 6 states!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Colorado or Bust

At the end of this week Adam and I are packing up the Subaru and heading out west.  We are both excited!! Ultimately we are going because I have an assignment as a Head Leader at Frontier of YL's most amazing camps.  But we are taking a week to drive out there and backpack/camp/explore and whatever else comes our way.  It does feel a bit stressful to pack for 5 weeks and for two different kinds of trips.  

In addition I've been packing up my desk/office because when I come back my boss and I will have new office space (eventually).   

So, this week definitely feels crazy, but I am excited about what is coming up!!!  Now that I've figured out Picasa we will be posting some of our pics.  Plus we got a sweet new camera!! So, get excited!!!