Friday, July 15, 2011

Another Quick Update

Hello all!

I again apologize for my long absence in the blogging world.  Life has been hectic to say the least...

So much has happened in the past month that I don't even know where to begin.  I'll try to give you the highlights until I have enough time to write more. 

In my last entry I mentioned being sick.  Well, I still am.  Turns out I have Giardia.  Giardia is a parasite that is transmitted through beaver, deer, and human fecal matter.  I'm not entirely sure how or when I got it but I must have drank some water with the parasite in it at some point in time since I've been here.  If you'd like to know more about it here's a link (  Right now the doctors in Lake City have me on a steady diet of Metamucil and the drug Metronidazole (aka: Flagyl).  Hopefully I will be back to normal this time next week because, to put it quite frankly, I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

However, God is definitely teaching me that I cannot do this out of my own strength.  I am starting in on my fourth strait week with campers this week.  June 26th-July 5th I was with a rambunctious group for rock climbing camp and last Sunday I started in with Advanced Base Camp which will run until next Friday.  We just got back from a three day backpack trip and will be going rock climbing, rafting, and hiking up Uncompahgre in the week to come.  The group is a lot of fun and they all have a hunger for knowing truth and growing closer to God, but we are having issues with snarky sarcasm. 

I have been stretched, served, taught, and loved these past weeks.  I am being stretched out of my comfort zone into a level of challenge that has brought me to tears several times.  I have been served by my fellow guides through these challenges and taught that the only reason I am able to keep going is that God's grace, strength, love, and patience is bringing me through.  I have also been loved tremendously by my co-workers in this past week.  I love the community and honesty among our group and I love that I have been able to get to know their hearts and hear how God has and is working in their lives. 

Overall, I just wanted to let y'all know that I'm not dead.  I am quite the opposite actually.  Life has been wonderful and exciting yet challenging, and I will hopefully be able to write more come next weekend.  Until then, thanks for reading and praying! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Birthday!

It’s June 16th and my 21st birthday!

However, I’m not doing what I would have wanted or expected to do.  Whatever sickness entered my body on Monday has not wanted to leave yet.  I’m still not feeling 100% well and I’m still pretty weak from not eating much for the past few days. 

At the very beginning of the week I thought I would be climbing a peak in the area with a group from TX.  Then it appeared that I would be going rafting with the open sign-up basecamp.  Then I got sick, but stayed hopeful that I’d be able to go rafting.  Last night Steve (my boss) asked if I’d be willing to go on the peak hike with the group from TX in order to have more staff on the hike.  I was planning on doing that if I felt up to it.  However, when I got up this morning at 4am I was not quite as healthy as I would have wanted to be so I was unable to go on the hike. 

Your question may be then, how am I spending my birthday?  Well, my official responsibility is to entertain the few injured folks from the TX group while the rest are on a peak hike.  However, most of them are adult leaders and the one student is quite content drawing and writing.  So, to make a long story short, I’m not doing anything epic for my birthday.  At first I was kinda bummed, but God reminded me that I get to spend my birthday in one of the most beautiful places in the country!  I’ve taken a nap in my hammock and I intend to take some time this afternoon for cleaning up my stuff in the Cove and spending some much needed time with Jesus. 

It’s not an epic day, but it will be a good day.  I’ve been told that we will be doing something this weekend to celebrate, but until then I am content with today. 

Thanks for the happy birthday wishes!  Love you all! 

Weeks 1-3

I wrote this yesterday (June 15th) afternoon but have not been able to post it until today.  Just FYI…

We survived our first week with campers!  However, I shouldn’t say survived because the group was wonderful and a lot of fun to work with. 

Week 1 kicked off on Sunday, May 29th with a group of 17 soon to be 10th graders and 3 of their teachers from Veritas Academy in Austin, TX.  They did a typical base camp week complete with team building initiatives, high ropes, rock climbing, rappelling, peak climb and white water rafting.  The group grew so much during the week!  A lot of trust was built among the group, personal fears and doubts were demolished, and many (if not all) of the kids grew closer in their walk with God.  Throughout the week clique lines became more and more blurred, and all of the kids said they wanted to bring the new found unity of their group back to their school in the coming year.  Overall, it was the best way I could think of to start of a summer!
Sunrise on the hike up Grassy 
Veritas hiking up Grassy 
Redcloud has been building a new shower house and yurt on our side of camp, but they have been leaving a lot of construction mess behind.  Because of that, our big work project so far this summer has been cleaning up the brush, concrete, and other stuff around the construction site. 
Fritz (aka: chainsaw master) 
Nick riding some of the larger chunks of wood out to the burn pile
A few weekends ago we went to Gunnison to climb at Hartman’s and get some groceries.  I was able to sport lead a climb and was doing just fine but then Nick told me to stop and purposely fall.  He wanted me to know what it would feel like to fall on a lead climb so I wouldn’t be afraid of falling anymore.  I was preparing myself for what would be about an 8 foot fall when all of a sudden I feel a strong pull on my rope and fall down unexpectedly.  Apparently Nick got impatient with me and decided to pull me off the rock.  It was for the better that he did it because now I’m a bit less afraid of falling on a lead climb but I did bang up my knee pretty good. 

Climbing the Pinnacle at Hartman's
In case you are wondering what a sport lead climb is I will explain.  There are four types of rock climbing: top rope, sport climbing, trad climbing, and aid climbing.  Top rope climbing is when the rope is put through an ancor point at the top of a climb and the climber is at one end of the rope and the belayer is at the other end.  In this style of climbing you do not fall hardly at all if you loose your grip on the rock.  Sport and trad climbing are quite similar.  They both involve attaching your rope to the rock as your climb up.  In sport climbing you attach quick-draws to bolts that are drilled into the rock.  In trad climbing you place things directly into cracks and holes in the rock.  Aid climbing is where you use things like nylon ladders to climb to the top of a rock wall.  This type of climbing is usually only used in mountaineering and rescue missions.  Here is a website that explains things a bit better and has pictures  

Week 2 we had no groups or campers in so we had several work projects and other training items to complete.  The favorite activity of the week was our peak hike training up Sunshine Peak (14,001 ft above sea level) and Redcloud Peak (14,034 ft above sea level).  We started on the trail at about 5:30am and got back to camp around 7:30pm.  Needless to say we were all worn out after that but it was probably one of my favorite peak climbs that I’ve been on!  The hike up was steep and long but the view from the top made it all worth it.  We spent nearly an hour at the top of Sunshine taking pictures and what not and then hiked across the saddle to Redcloud where we ceremoniously painted our faces with the red dirt that is up there.  The way down was made a thousand times better because of glissading (aka: sliding down snowy slopes on your backside).  I was able to get going the fastest which we decided was because I’m from MN and go sledding a lot.  However, it was most likely because I was wearing my waterproof pants that slide well on snow. 
Hiking up Sunshine (it's the peak on the left)
The men at the top of Sunshine with their ice axes
On top of Redcloud with red dirt facepaint
This week (week 3) we have three different groups in: ATC backpacking trip, open sign-up base camp, and a group from Family Life Church just outside of Houston, TX.  I was supposed to be on the latter of the three groups but because of the change of events I described in my last little post I am on the open sign-up base camp with 6 boys and 1 girl.  This group has definitely had its challenges but I know God brought each of them here for a reason and I’m excited to see how exactly he’ll use this week for his glory. 

Today the group is hiking up 13,811 (a peak in the area) and I just learned that they have summited.  Why am I not with them?  Well, I’ve been imprisoned in the infirmary the past few days.  When we got back from rock climbing on Monday I started to feel like my stomach was doing backflips.  I thought it was just some heartburn that would go away in a few hours but later that night my innards decided they wanted to be outards and I had a fever.  So, I’ve been hanging out in the sick ward with several other ill staff.  On the bright side, God has been teaching me a few things through this experience and I’ve been able to have some good conversation with a couple of gals from family camp.  I am feeling much better now, though, and I will most likely be going white water rafting for my birthday tomorrow!  J

Next week, our only group canceled on us so we will again be working on projects around camp.  Two of our guides will still be out with the 10 day ATC backpack trip, but for the rest of us we will have some more team bonding time and work projects. 

Prayer Requests:
- Health among Expeditions staff – over half of us have spent time in the infirmary
- The kids on this week’s base camp
- Safety for the guys on the ATC trip
- That we don’t get bored with work projects next week
- That the MN Twin's continue to win more games than lose!

Also… Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  You’re the best dad a girl could ask for!  Thanks for all you’ve done in my life!  I love you and I can’t wait to see you in a couple months out here!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quick Update

Hello everyone!

My intention was to post sometime last week but business ensued and I was unable to find time to write.  I thought I would have time last night to write up about my last few weeks, but a change of events happened.  I was scheduled to be on a trip with a youth group from Houston, TX this week, but God had other plans.  I am now on a open sign up base camp with 6 boys and 1 girl.  So far the week is off to a good start, however, I would really appreciate your prayers this week for rest, bonding among our group (especially that the one gal, Kat, feels part of the mostly all boys group), and that God reveals Himself in mighty ways to the campers and to us as guides.  This will most certainly be a challenging week but I know God will use it to stretch and grow me. 

Again, sorry for the long awaited update, it will come soon!  Also, thank you for your prayers!  I and the rest of the guides really truly appreciate them!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Staff Training

I am writing to you all on my first day off since getting to Colorado.  We have been going non-stop for nearly two weeks now and it is definitely refreshing to have a day to catch up on sleep and life outside of camp. 

If I had to use three words to describe camp thus far I would choose snow, fun and fervor.  It has snowed at least 80% of the 14 days I have been here.  While those of you in Minnesota have been enjoying temperatures in and around 70° we here think we are having a heat wave if the temp reaches 54°!  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you this because I don’t like the weather, but I just hope to encourage you to enjoy the non-snowy weather where you are. 

The second word is fun.  The expeditions staff and I have been having tons of fun!  We started our training with team building initiatives and high ropes.  One initiative involved leading a blindfolded partner in a game of tag with other blindfolded people.  Imagine being unable to see, told to go left, right, forward, stop, etc. by someone at least 10 feet away from you and on top of that dodging obstacles and other people.  Needless to say, this created some hilarity.  A few other fun highlights include briefly swing dancing in the rain/sleet, playing Nerf guns with the Anderson children (my boss' children), snowball fights while backpacking (as you see below), and breaking out in dance while packing food. 

Dodging a snowball 
I also use the word fervor because of the passion this staff has for seeking after God and sharing Truth with the people we have and will encounter.  We have been sharing testimonies and stories of our lives throughout training and I am so excited to see what God does through us this summer!  Prayer has been a huge part of our time here which has really helped in focusing our group on what is most important for the summer: God’s will. 

Our staff went on a 4 day backpack trip during the first week of training.  When our bosses told us to take with snowshoes just in case I was thinking, “Great, another thing I don’t need that will add weight to my pack.”  However, I was shown very quickly that bringing them with was a very wise decision.  The second day of hiking was on snowshoes nearly 80% of the time.  This wasn’t all bad though because of the snowball fights that ensued. 

All of us fell in the snow at least once during our pack trip

We were able to have a campfire every night which made the cold a lot more bearable.  We also enjoyed the added benefit of natural smoke scented deodorant.  There were several herds of elk along our trail and I’m sure that a mountain lion or two was watching us as we hiked through their territory. 

Watching the moon rise at our first campsite

My camera doesn’t seem to like being in snow so unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of our last day on the trip, but let me tell you, it was a snowy one.  From the time we woke up in the morning to the time we got camp packed up it had snowed on us nearly 3 heavy and wet inches of snow!  It was, however, the last day so we didn’t worry too much about things being wet.  We just wanted to start hiking so we could warm up! 

After our pack trip, we traveled down in elevation to Gunnison for some rock climb training.  Gunnison is usually quite a bit warmer than Lake City, but the snow liked us too much and decided to follow us there.  We did enjoy it though by trying to two-step and swing dance in the sleet and snow.  It is hard to climb up wet rocks so we traveled into town to the smallest Wal-Mart in the world to pick up a few things and ate pizza in some dry comfort. 

We camped out at Hartman’s (the rock climb area in Gunnison) that night and were given the challenge of starting a fire with only what we could find around us (which was mostly wet) and a lighter.  We did eventually build a pretty sweet fire! 

Our campsite in Gunnison
The wind the next morning woke us up by blowing our tent off from over us (the yellow one above), but the rest of the day turned out to be quite nice.  We were able to finish our rock training and head back to camp. 

The rest of the camp staff arrived last weekend so the beginning of this week was filled with get-to-know-you games and general camp stuff.  There are not very many returning staff in the other divisions of camp this year, but I have met quite a few really fun people.  Actually, there are three other native Minnesotans and a Wisconsinite on staff this summer!  I like to think that I blazed the trail for other Midwesterners at Redcloud. 

We have also accomplished several work projects this week.  We cleaned and swept out the weatherports that campers will be staying in next week.  This was an adventure because of the ridiculous amount of rat scat we found.  We decided that the small furry creatures used the weatherports for their public restrooms over the winter. 

Another project we tackled was cleaning out the cove and surrounding areas.  Nick and I were on rug duty.  There is a rug that sits in front of the couch in the cove and until a few days ago we thought it was primarily the color gray, but through beating the dirt out of it we have discovered it is actually purple. 

Nick beating the dirt and dust out of the rug

Overall, I have been having a great time in Colorado.  It is different from last year but still lots of fun!  Campers are coming next week from Austin, TX then we have a week with no groups, but come week 3 we will be at nearly full capacity for about three weeks.  It will be tiring but I know God will be doing truly awesome things during those weeks. 

Prayer Requests:
Campers coming next week
Continued health among staff
That I will continue to be diligent in spending a consistent time with God daily
Continued relationship building within the staff

Around Camp and Staff Picture

If you are curious who I’m working with and where I’ll give you a quick look at our team and give you a few pictures of around camp.  This will also help you in deciphering some of the terms/places I will most likely be talking about in my following entries. 

If there is ever something or somewhere you don't understand or know about let me know and I'll be sure to get a picture or description up.  

This is the Redcloud Expeditions staff for this summer

Top Row (L-R): Todd Davidson, Nicholas Garcia, Mark Anderson, Steve Nutting, Jake Wrye, Kirk Sisk, Zac Smalley
Bottom Row (L-R): Me, Elise Soniat, Jeanne Marie Soniat, Donna Jackson, Cori Ward

The chapel that we use for evening messages

 View from the chapel.  The large building is the horse barn and behind it is the family camp building and Mark and Sarah Anderson's house

This is the Front Field where we play some games.  The building towards the back is the bike barn where some of camp's mountain bikes are stored

Hebrews Coffee Shop and the staff lounge 

This is the food pack room where all of our food is stored.  It is in Cabin #4 

The Gear room where all of the gear campers can check out is stored.  It is also in Cabin #4 

One half of the Cove (the other half has all of our stuff in it).  On the other side of Cabin #4

One of the Weatherports (aka: glorified tents).  Inside are very simple bunk beds.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Beginning

After an abrupt ending to last summer's posts and nearly a year long hiatus my blog and I are again headed out west for what I'm sure will be another life changing summer!

I fly out on May 12th and we begin training the next day.  Until then I have lots of packing and schoolwork to finish up.

My boss has warned us to bring with lots of warm clothing for the beginning of the summer.  There is still a foot of snow on the ground in Lake City and it doesn't appear that too much of it will be melting in the next few weeks.  Maybe we will have to bring snow shoes with us on our first backpack trip!

Despite the snow I am very excited to be working at Redcloud again!  I am excited to get to know the new people on our staff and see those I worked with last year.  I hope that you will enjoy this experience with me through my blog and the pictures I post (I have a better camera this year so the photos should be even more epic!).  I have been told that I should post more often, so I will definitely try to make that happen.  Until then I will leave you with a few pictures of some of the scenery I am waiting anxiously to see again!