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!