Hey Hey Hey, Gooooodbye

I would be lying if I said I didn’t welcome the end of kids’ camp, I think that we all would, but it’s still really sad to see the end of a summer disappear.  It’s sad to see all of our kids get on the bus and go for the last time, but at the same time, it’s refreshing.  Terrifying for those of us who have to teach in six days though and haven’t planned anything… WHOOPS!

Zenith was a blast.  The kids seemed to have so much fun, and they participated enthusiastically in everything we threw at them!  We loved it.  Yesterday was no exception.

It started out kind of foggy yesterday morning, and we weren’t totally sure what we were in for weather-wise, as the forecast called for a chance of thundershowers all day long.  I don’t know what the difference between a thundershower and a thunderstorm is, but thankfully, we got neither.  Once the fog burned off, it was sunny, hot, and humid all day long.  This is some of the nicest weather we’ve had all summer!  It makes me very sad to leave the lake when it’s this warm out.  I’m sure the kids felt the same way.  I know our staff had a hard time saying goodbye after 9 or 10 weeks together.

After lunch, we managed to have another panel discussion with the two groups of kids, one in the Chapel and one in the Underground, but this time the panel topic was for members to share a time when they chose to put themselves second.  I was not in attendance at this event, but I quite like the idea of a panel of adults being able to affirm what’s being taught in session, and allowing the kids to ask questions and hear different perspectives.

Activities throughout the day were completely unhindered by weather, as I mentioned earlier, which is an amazing way to finish off the year’s summer programming.

There was a chance for the canoeing and kayaking majors to head out.  I managed to quickly snap a shot of the kayakers headed out into open water before they disappeared beyond the reach of even my fantastic zoom, AND you can check out the canoers flipping their canoes and practicing getting back into them.

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There were in fact kids at the beach.  I saw some girls enjoying the water, even though I imagine after all that rain we had the other day the water is quite chilly.  That’s not going to stop me, I’ll be in it before I leave on Saturday.

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Tubing managed to happen today, and I believe it was run at both major periods because it didn’t get to run the day before because of the weather.  Madelyn got to go out for one last tube ride of the summer with Brenna before she goes home tomorrow and Brenna went home today.  I took Madelyn out on Saturday, and boy is she a trooper.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a 3.5 year old be quite so adventurous before, but maybe I just don’t know that many 3.5 year olds?

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Not only were there kids at the beach, but there were kids at the volleyball courts as well, which isn’t really shocking.  They did play in the rain the day before, so it’s not surprising that they’d play in the sun.  Second only to tetherball, I’d call volleyball a very popular Kahquah activity.

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When I walked into the Chapel to check on the Art Majors, it was completely silent except for some lofty background music playing.

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There were a few who managed to get out on paddle boards throughout the day as well, and I overheard one group of girls who saw me snapping pictures say “oh great, Laura took a picture, now we’re gonna be in the blog.”  Yes, girls, yes you are.

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After dinner, the camp wide activity had two parts to it.  The first was a physical relay.  Kayakers set out to kayak to Daniel, who waited beyond the swimming area.  When they’d turned around and come back, they needed to tag a runner, who ran with the highest of knees for the back buoy line at the end of the swimming area and back, waiting to tag a paddle boarder.  For obvious safety concerns, we didn’t think it’d be overly safe to let kids race while standing on wobbly boards beside rocks, so we didn’t give them paddles and let them lay on their stomachs and paddle themselves out and back.  Upon their return, the paddle boarders would tag three legged racers, who raced across their beach to tag a canoer, who would then jump in their canoe with their partner and canoe out to Daniel and back.  Keep a close on the picture of Nate and…. either Brad or Jaydon’s…. canoe (I can’t tell from the pictures who it is)… they had some struggles, started out going kind of backwards, and finished with the canoe nearly submerged.  The canoers would tag a swimmer who swam with all their might to the swimming dock, sending another swimmer who was on the dock waiting back to the beach, where the whole team got together to strategize a way to build a sandcastle that was three buckets high, which required teamwork to figure out how to stabilize the bottom so it didn’t collapse.

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The second part of the relay was a building challenge, where teams were sent to different stations.  They had to build a structure that only one group could see in the Underground.  The group in the underground could relay the message (what the structure that needed to be built at the beach looks like) only to the messenger group, who could relay the message only to the suppliers at the volleyball court, who relayed the message to the delivery people, who took the supplies down to the beach and relayed what the structure was supposed to look like to the people who needed to build it at the beach.  It was intense, and very closely related to telephone, but on a much larger scale.

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We managed to get all of tuck taken care of between the game and Underground, while a major dance party happened as we waited.  Once Underground started, the group of Glee Majors who have been working hard on their harmonies and combining several songs, showed off their performance, which ended in Paul Fletcher being broken up with and told that they are never ever ever, getting back together…. like… ever.  I was really glad that I had my phone in the tuck shop with me so that I could run out and witness this when I heard it start.  They worked really hard on this.

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Paul delivered a powerful message on suffering, grief, and loss, and what to do with it, that I could hear from the tuck shop while I was processing refunds and finishing up the paperwork for the summer.  He talked about suffering, and what we’re going to do with the information we’ve learned at Camp.  If suffering is kind of like a test of the knowledge you’ve learned, are you going to get 10 out of 10 because you have meditated on and kept close to you the information you learned?  Or will you fail it because you heard it once and didn’t think about it again?  It’s a choice we need to make with the Scriptural teaching we’re taught.  I didn’t catch all of the teaching.  There was a lot of mental math going on in that tuck shop last night, and I was concentrating on that quite intently, but that part of Paul’s message really stood out to me.

This morning, we piled all of the kids onto the bus one final time, sang our song to them as they pulled away (na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye), and then immediately flipped into cleaning mode!  All of us who remain (Me, Frank and Nancy, Lynn, Jared, Sarah, Jay and Trish, Ethan, Danielle, and Chris and Sherri) have flipped into “let’s get this place clean!!” mode so that we can all take a much-needed day off tomorrow and enjoy some down time before the next season starts.

For me, that means as soon as I hit publish on this blog, I would desperately like to get my first week of school mapped out.  For Chris and Sherri, they head back to London with their kids and go back to their off-season jobs.  Jay and Trish and Frank and Nancy get ready for a Labour Day Weekend retreat rental group, and then some downtime before three weeks of retirees’ retreats begin.  Ethan and Danielle are getting ready to begin Grade 8 and Grade 7.  Lynn will be leaving so that she can get back to teaching, and Jared and Sarah can get ready for school and their jobs.  It’s like the Camp season has come to a screeching halt and it’s time to wrap our minds around different things.  It’s been an amazing summer, and I want to thank each of you who’ve read this all summer so sincerely, because without your following and reading, there’d be absolutely no point in the work that went into writing it.

There will be blog posts throughout the off-season as well, but it will not be daily.  Please stay subscribed so that you know what’s going on with us all the time.

Have a wonderful fall at whatever you’re doing!

Zenith

I was trying to come up with words earlier this morning to describe Zenith, and the culture that surrounds it, but it’s really difficult to ‘define’ Zenith.  Boisterous, perhaps?  Frank used the word outlandish in the Kahquah Family News this week, I like that word choice.  Lunches and dinners are often characterized by the words CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG, which, surprisingly enough, we haven’t really heard that much this year.  I think, though, if I had to come up with one word, it would be:  loud.  But it’s not a bad loud.  It’s the loud that lets you know that everyone here is having an absolute blast and they wouldn’t rather be anywhere else to finish up their summer.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we’d had quite a bit of rain over a 24 hour period.  Check out the trenches that the steady running downhill of water carved into our driveway.

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The rain persisted into yesterday morning, which cancelled a lot of our water activities due to not only rain, but thunder rumbling in the distance.  There was no tubing, no kayaking, nothing…. so…. we busted out board games and bracelet making in the lodge, as well as some computerized Deal or no Deal in the Pine Room.

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After the thunder had stopped for a reasonable amount of time, a few die-hards went out and played volleyball in the steady drizzle.

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There was a completely empty beach, though, which we don’t see very often.

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The Glee Major was uninterrupted by the rain, leaving Liz, Sarah, Jillian and Katie sounding lovely hammering out some harmonies to a song they’re working on.  I can hear them through the floor of the office right now as well, and it’s sounding great!

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At art major, I witnessed some very talented teens (and leaders) drawing, painting, sketching…. Sometimes I bemoan the fact that my best attempts at drawing often end in stick people and pine trees, but I suppose I’m artsy enough with words that it makes up for it 😉

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Right before lunch, we had….. that awkward moment when you get so excited that it’s lunch time that you ring the bell so hard you pull it right off its stand…. but never fear, Paul Fletcher is here!  He’s got big shoulders, and he hoisted one of the DiNunzio twins up onto them and they put the bell back in place, to be met by many cheers.  The call then came from the porch, “Ring the bell!!” followed by another call… “GENTLY!!!!”

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After lunch, the kids were split into two groups, one sent to the Chapel and one into the Underground.  They were there to listen to two separate panels of our staff talk about their careers, how they got there, the paths they had to take, and any advice they’d offer to the teens as they begin to think about where they’ll be headed in the next few years.  The teens were given an opportunity to ask questions later, and some asked some really insightful ones.  It seemed like it was well received at both sessions!

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A bit later in the afternoon, the clouds started to break away, and the sun even peeked through and joined us for the better part of the afternoon!  It was very unexpected!  We were able to send some kayakers out onto the water for some fun, while we were lacking both rain and thunder, so we thought we should take advantage of that.

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Alongside of that activity, there were others… like bracelet making, which seemed to be a big hit…

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and Caramel Chocolate Popcorn Making, which I’d have loved to get in on, but then my hands would have been too sticky to touch my camera…. darn.

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After dinner, we had a giant game of Clue as the camp-wide activity.  None of us knew who committed the crime, even Hillary who planned it, because she just divided the cards up into separate envelopes, and labeled them with locations, and one that said “solution.”  All I knew when the four different teams came to me was that it wasn’t Matt with the poison at the campfire.

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If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time at all, you’ll know that I just can’t get enough of Kahquah sunsets.  Last night was no different, as I find the very best sunsets come after cloudy/overcast days where the sun has something to shine through and around as it dips behind the island.  This morning we woke up to fog so dense that we couldn’t even see the island.  Thankfully, it has burned off, and we’re able to enjoy a slightly overcast but completely functional day today.

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As I was standing on top of the hill overlooking the lake taking pictures of the sunset, I could clearly hear the words “PUNISHMENT!  PUNISHMENT!” being chanted from the Chapel.  Apparently Liz ended up being the murderer in the giant clue game, and her punishment choices were a pie in the face or to walk the plank (the dock) into the lake.  She wanted to go backwards off the dock, but waterfront director Alyssa would have none of it.

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Before session, in typical P-Fletch fashion, we had a dance party in the Underground.  Luckily it wasn’t 35 degrees outside like it was earlier in the summer, because dance parties when it’s that hot lead quickly to a really stinky, sweaty, disgusting Underground.

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Following the Dance Party, Paul gave a solid presentation of the Trinity, from Creation to Jesus’ death on the cross, to present.  He invited volunteers up so that his illustration had a visual.  He invited three guys (Noah, Steve, and Dan) to be The Spirit, God, and Jesus; Sathiya to be Satan; Nicholas and Katie to be Adam and Eve; Daniel to be The Flesh; and Julia to be a child born into this world who has to wrestle between listening to the lies of the Flesh or the truth of the Holy Spirit.  It was really impacting, even for me, and everyone was listening quite intently.

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After Session, the kids filed over to the campfire pit in a not-so-orderly-fashion, where even from my Mom’s dining room, we could hear “SQUASH BANANAS!  SQUASH SQUASH BANANAS!!!!” through closed windows.  What a group.

Rain, rain, go AWAY!

I don’t know how many of you have looked at our forecast up here at Camp, but it has been raining for 24 hours straight.  I am not kidding.  Thunder, Lightning, flickering power strength, etc…. have been themes over the past 24 hours as well.  The thunderstorming started heavily around 11pm last night, and went well through the night, causing a loss of power at around 3am.  I sat in the office in the dark to watch the lightning flash over the lake with a couple other staff who didn’t want to walk to their cabins holding metal laden umbrellas, and right before that moment, we’d been standing on the porch feeling the thunder course through our entire bodies as it rumbled the ground we stood upon.  It was really neat, for those who are not afraid of thunderstorms.  Naturally, as I’m sure you can imagine, we are having to adjust our activities accordingly.  Luckily, it was just rain when the kids had to do swim tests, and the thunder held off until later.  The rain continues now, though it appears to be lessening a little bit.  We’ll see how long that lasts, as it’s been one cell after another moving South West since yesterday afternoon.

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Our staff shirts this year for Zenith are BRIGHT orange.  I saw Frank standing in the kitchen yesterday afternoon, and the reflection from his shirt made the white paint behind him glow orange.  Check out the pictures of the orange wave taking over.  Many of these pictures were taken while we were waiting on the arrival of the buses with our last run of kids’ camp kids.

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When they did arrive, I found that I’m always surprised at how big the kids are, even though I know they’re in high school, because we’re so used to little kids’ camp that when Summit and Zenith happen, it’s always a ‘whoa’ moment.  Here they are, disembarking from the bus, while our capable staff unloads their luggage, and then shuttled it quickly to the chapel porch to get it out of the rain.

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After lunch, the kids were split into teams and given a challenge where they needed to come up with a name, paint a canvas with their team logo, and then create a cheer or chant to accompany it.  I was very impressed by the artistic abilities in a lot of these kids, and their creativity was flowing freely yesterday afternoon.  I’m not sure who won the challenge, but I won’t lie to you, if I was the judge it would have been the Stacked Pancakes, who incorporated a human pancake stack into their chant.  They were all excellent though, and I was pleased to see groups working together everywhere I looked.

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After dinner, they ran a Minute To Win It challenge, and as it was raining so ferociously, I opted not to leave the lodge with my camera.  I didn’t realize, unfortunately, that there were challenges in the basement, but I did get the Skip It challenge on the front porch.  Again, I’m not sure who won, but I did see many people making the best of the sopping wet conditions and loving life anyway.

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The last thing was a movie night.  Following Session, where this week’s Pastor Paul Fletcher is preaching on the theme ‘I am Second,’ and after they all came to see me at Tuck, they grabbed pillows and blankets and piled on the Underground floor to watch October Baby.  Hillary, our fearless director, apparently has a friend with a movie theatre popcorn popping machine, so it was made ahead of time and brought up.  My apologies to everyone, as when I took this picture I was met with some groans and a couple “Why are you taking pictures!?” because the flash was very bright 🙂  But such is the life of the photo blogger….

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Please pray for us as it continues to rain (although admittedly to a lesser degree), and is supposed to do so all afternoon.  We can make the best of it, but we’d certainly rather not have to if it can be avoided, especially on such a short retreat.