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

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