Sunday, June 29, 2008

On a Roll (there) in Little Rock...

Where to start? Spina (Bifida) Week is is my 2008 Camp Aldersgate experience. The end. Period. :-(

Before I start bawling again, I'd just like to reiterate that Spina Bifida Week was the hardest, worst, best, and most glorious week of all. It was my first week working with girls, even though I still never lived with any of the campers with which I was working. (Living in the Orange cabin without campers was pretty much amazing.)

Children with Spina Bifida generally need extensive assistance with personal care. This assistance may range from showering to dressing and even urinary/bowel support. Working with the oldest girls, nearly all of my campers were able to "cath" (insert urinary catheters to reduce effects of incontinence) themselves. Two campers needed assistence with their caths because they were located in the abdomen rather than inserted through the urethra. Of the remaing five campers, one did not use catheters and the others self-cathed. I really enjoyed assisting the campers with personal care, even though I've smelled enough urine/feces and cleaned plenty of rear ends to last me a life time. ;-)

As strange as this may sound, I was a bit disappointed that our girls self-cathed because that meant I wouldn't have the opportunity to learn/practice inserting catheters (as we'd been instructed during Staff Training week). In order to complete my Spina Week adventure, I visited the Lime cabin one afternoon with hopes of adding another unique experience to my list of life happenings. Sure enough, I learned to cath this week! Yay! Let me tell you, I am a changed person after this week, hehe.

...Wow, I am so exhausted. *Must. Keep. Typing.*

Anyways, I was pretty devastated for Spina Week to end, especially because it meant that our time at Aldersgate had come to an end, as well. Everyone seemed really sad to see us go, and we were equally much so that I know I cried at least four times between Thursday night and Saturday morning. It sucked. Really.

Thankfully, a large group of us went out to eat at Damgoode Pies (best pizza place EVER) after camp on Friday afternoon, and then a bunch of us hung out that afternoon and evening, as well. We really had a GREAT time. In fact, Allie and I went out with a total bang by rolling "The Bostie Boys'" truck with ceran wrap and writing sweet phrases on the windows with shoe polish. It was pretty darn awesome if I do say so myself. I'd also like to say that I'm pretty sure the boys were rather impressed with our concoction, which probably earned us a bit more respect in the practical joke department. I can just hear them, "...Those Cajun girls sure are something else..." LoL. :)


After a surprisingly short seven-hour drive, I arrived home last night around 6 p.m. The last day or so has been spent with family and re-packing, which is, bittersweet, I guess. I'm sad that I haven't really even gotten the chance to morn my distance from Little Rock before having to re-focus and leave again. It's just so darn hard to worry about packing for two weeks (including thinking ahead six months) while my heart is elsewhere. Sigh.

As I'm sure everyone is in need of an refresher, here's an update to my schedule for the rest of the summer.
  • June 30-July 4: Serving as an Adult Leader at 4-H Camp in Pollock, LA
  • July 4-10: Driving (riding) 2,000 miles to Boise, Idaho; flying home.
  • July 14-August 2: Camp Bon Coeur (Staff Training/Camp) in Richard, Louisiana
  • August 28-September 1: Potential Labor Day weekend trip to Michigan/Ohio (?)
  • September 4: Arrival in Boise, Idaho; settle in for an interesting semester
  • September 8: Begin internship at St. Luke's Children's Hospital in Boise, Idaho
If anyone wants to write to me, here's where to find me (please note dates of specific locations when chosing which address to use).
Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center
3000 HWY 8
Pollock, LA 71467
1492 S. Roosevelt, Apt. A-2
Boise, ID 83705
Camp Bon Coeur
Acadian Baptist Center
1202 Academy Rd.
Eunice, LA 70535
I'm done.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

cherish the moments.

Not much time or inspiration to write about Spina week yet, but I just want to say one thing.

This has been the hardest, worst, best, most glorious week of all.

The end.

...Cherishing every lasting moment...

Kota 1 is done!

Another “ to be posted later” blog. This one was written on 06-22/08. Enjoy.


Gah. It seems like I have to go back forever ago to write about all that I’ve been up to since my last substantial blog. Last weekend, Allie and I went to Memphis, so I guess I can begin there…

Allie’s parents rented a lake house in a community (Population: 321) just outside of Memphis. Friday, she and I went out to eat with the staff at Creegan’s (sp?), an Irish pub in North Little Rock. By the time we finished, Allie’s parents had arrived, so we met them back at camp to give a tour of the facility before heading off to the lake house. Most of the evening was spent just relaxing…it was utterly amazing how great that felt. We layed around, watched tv, and…just…enjoyed life.

Saturday morning we drove into Memphis for most of the day. Allie, her mom, and I toured Graceland, which lasted a few hours. Her father and brothers had a “boys day out” playing putt putt. We all met up again for lunch at B. B. King’s restaurant on Beale Street; it was great. Our visit to Memphis didn’t last very long, however, because Allie and I were pretty much pooped from our first week at camp. For this reason, we all went back to the lake house pretty early and just rested for the remainder of the day. Allie’s daddy made jambalaya, which was just plain amazing. (I hadn’t eaten rice since leaving Louisiana weeks ago…needless to say, I was very excited about the Cajun food.) Then, she and her mom made some rice crispy treats that we took back to camp with us for the staff on Sunday morning.

Our plan for Sunday was to wake up at 7 a.m. and head back to Little Rock around 8. However, our bodies are so used to getting up early that we woke up at like 6 a.m. and ended up leaving an hour early. Good thing, too, because, Ella, the GPS, took us on some crazy roads and we barely made it back to camp with enough time to unpack and get ready for our meeting.


Alright, Kota 1.

Camper diagnoses for this week included Autism spectrum conditions, Down Syndrome, epilepsy, etc. These campers were rather difficult to reason with, and super crazy. Nuts. Seriously.

I was assigned to live in the Khaki Cabin and work in the Moss Cabin with boys (again). Our counselor group was different, but I had a good time. Working with boys was such a strange experience; I learned so much about boys that I never, ever wanted to know. Heh. I guess it was good for me though, right? The one thing about this week that disappointed me was the lack of connection I had with my campers. This week was so much harder because, in general, the campers have difficulties with socialization skills. Plus, most of them were able to care for themselves a lot better than the previous week, so they didn’t require as much assistance, either. I don’t know. There was just something about these kids that made it more difficult for me to bond with these kids. Sigh.


This weekend was just plain amazinggggg.

Friday for lunch, most of the staff members ate at nearby Senor Tequila. Then we parted ways based on our interests and plans for the weekend. Allie, Sydney, and I came back to camp to do laundry, shower, and sleep/relax for the day. When we got up, the three of us, plus Tom, went to Wal-Mart and then Subway (Free wi-fi! Yes!) for dinner. Then it was back to camp to finish up the laundry and wait for “The Bosty Boys” (Kyle and Cody Bost) to get back from visiting their Nanna and Dodju. They met us, and we all went downtown to walk along the river. Come to find out, it was “Juneteenth” (ask if you want to know), so we were rather uncomfortable amongst the crowd. Instead, we drove over to the other side of the river to hang out at Creegan’s. (By this time, it was nearly 1 a.m.) Finally, it was back to camp to hang out; we finally made it to sleep around 3 a.m.

Saturday morning, we (naturally) got up early and slowly moseyed on over to the Bost’s lake house in Heber Springs(?). The modest home (hehe) was super fun. We had a greatttttt time. I mean, seriously. Ah. We had a picnic way up on a cliff overlooking the lake. It was gorgeous. Then we played Phase 10 for hours before Cody cheated so much that we finally ended up going home. Back at the lake house we hung out for a while, ate, and attempted not to fall asleep from exhaustion. Then the boys had the GREAT idea to go snipe hunting. (I’ll try to write more about that later, but at this point, my brain is so tired, and I’m trying to finish writing this before our campers show up.) Interesting…I tell you. Afterwards, we relaxed a bit more and sat around playing Apples to Apples before going to bed around midnight.

Of course, we woke up earlier again this morning, and left the house around 8:30 a.m. to get back to camp with enough time to move into our cabins and shower before our weekly meeting. Now, I’m sitting inside the Yellow Cabin (which is where I’ll be working this week—with girls, finally, yay!) waiting for our campers to arrive. I am super excited, though, because I’m living in the Orange Cabin with Allie, Sydney, Bobo, and Katie Kirk (Supervisor). We don’t have kids in our cabin, which is pretty much amazing if you ask me. The cabin doesn't have the ever-lasting smell of urine from constant cathing, nor do we have to worry about disturbing kids and vice vesa.


Mid-sentence, our first camper arrived. Now, I'm enjoying the last part of my 5-hour "paperwork" for the summer. Kika, Tom, and I are hanging out at Java, but earlier Matt Eckess' parents treated us to dinner at a Chinese Buffett. A meal without camp food was just plain great. Hehe.

Will write more...

Friday, June 20, 2008

random excitement.




Also, plane tickets & national background check. Woot.

Kota 1 is done. Spina Bifida Week fast approaching.

Planning on a GREAT last weekend here in Arkansas and will write a more detailed update again soon.

Muchos CONGRATULATIONS to my baby bro, 2008-2009 LA State 4-H Vice President/2008-2010 National 4-H Conference Delegate! Love and miss you, bro!

I'm livin' the life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kota 1 has begun!

Working with boys in the Moss cabin in Khaki with some crazy girls. The girls this week are NUTS. For once, I think I'm grateful for boys...Hm, is someone trying to tell me something? ;-)

I BOUGHT AIRLINE TICKETS TODAY!!! Ah! Mission accomplished.

Extra long paperwork (break) last night. Allie, Cody, and I ate at On the Border and then walked along the river. It was a grand time. :)

Wishing everyone the best at 4-H University this week!

Hope to write again soon (Thursday?)
Au revoir.

Yes, We're the Cajun Girls!

FINALLY—A real update! Warning: This is super long.
[I’m writing this on 6-14-08, to be posted at first available access to internet.]


Yes, we’re the Cajun girls.

One of the very first questions we were asked upon arriving at camp on Sunday morning (06-01-08) was, “Are you the Cajun girls?” Since Day 1, Allie and I have been oh-so-lovingly referred to by the aforementioned nickname. There are slight variations from time to time, such as, “Hey Cajun!” It’s pretty funny if you ask me. I’m obviously very secure (proud?) in my Cajun-ness, and I love that everyone is so interested in our presence at camp. It’s great.


Sunday morning, staff reported to the Commons for more training and pre-camp preparations which included a video about Muscular Dystrophy and reviews of camper applications. Campers began to arrive around mid-afternoon; we unpacked their bags and played games until it was time for cabin picnics. After cabin picnics, everyone went out to the campfire for s’mores and tribe drawings. Everyone settled in for an early night (we did have a whole week of camp ahead of us).

Monday began with flag, breakfast, and then morning activities. My cabin, Moss, went to Art (which was Allie’s assignment) and Nature (held in the coolest place ever—the tree house). Snack time was each day between the morning activities, and lunch follows immediately after the second one. (There’s just something about being at camp that makes you feel like you are eating all the time.) After lunch was the highly-anticipated (ha!) rest period. Following rest period, everyone went out to our new, state-of-the art swimming pool, with a specially designed beach entrance, hot and cold options, as well as a supportive hand rail. The afternoon continued with “clubs,” or special activities which include art, science, games, and survival. (I was assigned to lead the games club. Basically, I led the campers in teambuilding activities, which was a huge success with the littlest kids, but not so much for the older ones…)

My five-hour “paperwork” (break) for the week was Monday night. Matt Eckess (Moss Cabin Volunteer/Counselor) also had his extra long paperwork assignment that night, so he invited me over to his house for dinner. Cody Bost (Yellow Cabin Counselor) and Lindsey Bierle (Moss Cabin Volunteer) came out with us as well. Ah, having a home-cooked meal was absolutely divine!! Ms. Ann (?) made spaghetti and meatballs with salad and bread. Eckess’ parents were super nice; we rented a movie and they made cookies and popcorn for us too. It was SO nice to finally get away from camp and just enjoy a brief night of relaxation.

While we were out, the weather basically turned into a monsoon, so back at camp, all the kids were stuck inside the Commons after dinner. To entertain the group, a talent show was organized. I heard that my campers put on quite a show…it was super cute. J (However, I was disappointed to have missed the traditional “Sundaes on Mondays” event. Maybe next week…)

Tuesday, the schedule was the same; my kids did archery and canoeing for their morning activities. The night’s activity was a pool party. It was super cute the way the supervisors decorated the pool area, music was playing, and I think the kids just had an overall great time. My cabin was severely understaffed for this event, however. Four of our staff members had “paperwork,” and one was assigned to serve as a life guard. This left three staff members to work with seven campers. Luckily, one of our campers sat out, so we let him hang out with some volunteers from the MDA, and the rest of us did our best to watch the remaining six campers. This was one small feat because half of those campers were ambulatory and the other half used wheelchairs, making for an interesting task of figuring out how to assign pool buddies. Everything worked out okay, though, thank goodness.

Wednesday’s night activity was tribe games. The tribe games event consists of beach(basket)ball, a water relay, bowling, and a boat race. As it goes, each person involved with camp is assigned to one of two tribes—the Caddo or the Quapaw. Tradition has it that the two tribes were once bitter enemies but became best of friends after meeting on the land that has now become camp property. For this reason, the Caddo and the Quapaw compete in friendly competition through each camp session and the winner is announced at closing ceremonies each week.

Thursday evening, a bunch of sponsors came out from Target, MDA, and a motorcycle group to provide food and entertainment for a while. That night was the dance, a camper favorite, of course. This week’s theme was Wild West. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive the list of dance themes until staff training, so Allie and I were at a disadvantage costume-wise. We did our best, but our costumes were not nearly as cute as some of the other staff members’, and even the campers’ outfits. It seemed as though everyone had a great time, and it was a generally fun way to end the week.

Friday morning consisted of packing and clean-up. Chris (Moss Cabin Senior Counselor) Robert (Moss Cabin Counselor), and Matt did most of the cleaning while “Bobo,” Lindsey, Sarah, Keenan, and I (Moss Cabin Counselors & Volunteers) entertained the campers. At the closing ceremonies, awards and honors were presented, as well as special thanks, and finally, the camp slide show. Afterwards, campers were released to their parents and everyone said their goodbyes. Staff members met for a debrief session (and to get their checks—ha!) before heading out to the cabins to pack up and leave for our short weekend break. Some of the staff members went out to lunch together; Allie and I went with the group to an Irish pub in North Little Rock while we waited for her parents to arrive (more about that later). We definitely had a good time; it was great to relax and hang out with everyone after a long, hard week, and I was definitely sad to say goodbye, even for the short two days we’d be away.


My thoughts on the week…

To give you a better idea of camp demographics for this week, there were about thirty boy campers and ten girl campers (MD is more often found in males). For this reason, many female staff members and volunteers were assigned to work with male campers. I was one of those staff members. At first, I was fairly apprehensive about this assignment, because I’m not all that great in working with males, especially young boys. However, I decided to look at it as a challenging opportunity to better myself and learn from the experience. Needless to say, it’s a good thing I chose that attitude.

Our cabin was perhaps the most behaviorally challenging group in all of camp. I honestly don’t know how to even begin describing the campers and all of their eccentricities. Each child’s unique personality, needs, and abilities made for a very difficult but interesting week. We had some amazing moments, I must say, though. The campers were utterly hilarious, and in times of extreme stress, we counselors/volunteers chose to laugh rather than cry. It was because of this attitude that we made it (in)sanely through the week, and were sad to see it end. (Granted, we were perfectly thrilled for the break, lol.)

…I really wish I could say more…but words just cannot accurately describe the week. Even though we are only half way through our experience here at camp, I have learned so, so much. Staff Training was absolutely amazing as far as learning about personal care of campers as well as childhood medical conditions. (It’s been too long ago for me to attempt to discuss everything we learned, sorry.) But in the grander scheme of things, I’ve learned so much about myself throughout the process. I never thought I’d be able to work with this sort of population, but guess what—I did it, I’m doing it, and I will continue to do it. These experiences have made me such a stronger person, and I know it will continue to shape my life throughout the future, both long- and short-term. These kids, I tell ya…they will take your heart, run with it, and never give it back. But hey, that’s what it’s all about, right? It’s about living for something bigger than yourself, and being thankful for every moment you’re alive, even when things don’t seem to be working in your favor.

We’re one camp week down, and two more to go. One can only imagine the amazing stories I’ll have to tell after this coming Kota I week. (Kota is basically an inclusion/integrated camp for children with disabilities, as well as those who do not have disabilities.) Word has it that Kotas are the craziest camps of all. I can’t wait to write more about life here in Arkansas, but it may take a while. In the words of Allie, we’re “busy like whoa,” and blogging just isn’t necessarily at the top of my “To-Do” list. However, just as soon as I can, I’ll write more about exploring Little Rock and visiting Memphis. Good times.

I really do miss you all and can’t wait until I have time to catch up with everything. Please be patient; I’m doing my best.

Best wishes from Rock-n-sas (or, Dork-n-sas? Hehe.),

Thursday, June 12, 2008


i'm making progress (on all-important internship, travel, and housing arrangements, etc.) and things are starting to calm down...maybe?

week one officially ends tomorrow afternoon, and then...


I will componse a full update this weekend...even if it means posting it sometime during my "paperwork" next week.

Keep checking for it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

too busy.

no. time. at. all.

progress with airline tickets (to idaho, for july and september).
still no contact with hospital concerning paperwork for st. luke's.
boy campers are nuts.
arkansas rocks my socks.
"paperwork" (breaks) goes by WAY too fast.

...gotta clock in soon...see ya, tomorrow?

one day, I promise...

Monday, June 9, 2008

mmm, spaghetti.

all i have to say is...home cooked spaghetti is wayyyyyyy better than camp meat loaf. ANY DAY.

...and thanks Matt Eckess for being a super amazingly hospitable co-counselor!

[Will write more...someday. Maybe?]

I'm out. (or off...)

Friday, June 6, 2008


This is going to have to be a quick one. Allie and I finally found another internet cafe (after our first one refused to work, and we drove to a few other places searching unsuccessfully...grr.). However, our usage time is up in about 14 minutes, so I shall have to write a more detailed post sometime during my off hours next week.

All I want to say is that, I'm having a great time! Yay.

...I want to be here, and I love it here, and everything is just so good. It's so weird because I still have three weeks here and I'm already sad about leaving. I don't want to leave. The people are great and we're having fun. It will be VERY hard work to care for these kids constantly, in ways I've never had to do before, but I know the experience will be amazing and I am just so thankful for it.

Just to give you a summary, training week was super informative. We learned how to use feeding tubes, diaper/shower/transport children, insert catheters (yes, I'm serious!), AFOs (ankle/foot orthoses), live as a visually impaired person, etc. CANNOT wait to use these super amazingly cool skills!!

Really though, I'll write more later.
Love and miss you all,
Cajun Girl L

Sunday, June 1, 2008

We have arrived!

We have arrived!

Yep, Allie and I arrived here at camp at 5:59 p.m; they were expecting us at 6:00 p.m. Talk about making in on time, ay? We would have actually been here about an hour earlier, had we not gotten.--gasp--lost. Go figure, right? This is Allie and I we're talking about here. LoL. Whatever. Ellen (Allie's GPS) took good care of us, except for that one little mishap, and we made it to camp just fine.

She and I were the only two staff members at camp last night. It was exciting/awkward/weird all at the same time. We walked around and took pictures of the facility, but that didn't take very long. The rest of the evening was spent studying childhood medical conditions and talking--like we'd already done for the previous 8 hours. Heh.

We're both very nervous about the coming month. It's scary to imagine being the only two new staff members, as well as not really knowing what to expect. However, these are "camp people," so they can't be that bad, right? We really just can't wait to get today over with so that we can stop thinking about it all. Gah.

There are a few things we're looking forward to while we're here--like exploring Arkansas and traveling to Memphis!! The camp encourages staff members to leave on the weekends, and when Allie and I realized that Memphis is only 2 hours away, we were instantly hooked on the idea. Ah! It's going to be so much fun!! Other ideas include a trip to Hot Springs and exploring "The Big Rock" (as Elise has referred to Little Rock). Yay.

Internet/communication situation. Yeah, I'm sorry guys, but it's looking pretty grim. There is absolutely no wireless signal out at camp. It took thirty minutes for us to find a coffee shop with free wireless internet this morning. (We actually happen to be quite close to the Arkansas 4-H Center which is where we came for the ACA Heart of the South Conference in November.) So, basically, I wouldn't expect internet updates except for once or twice a week. It will all depend on what's going on during my evenings and weekends off. However, it does seem like I may have phone access, especially text messaging. The service is perfectly fine; it will just be a matter of finding time to use it. (Wish me luck.)

Alrighty, I guess I will go ahead and check my e-mails and stuff now...but first, I'll leave you with some pictures. :)


Pool. Cute sign. Welcome Center.
Health Center. More Pool.
More pool. Old cabins, pre-something-million-dollar grant.
Sorry for the photo craziness, but I've never done a photo post before. Hopefully I'll be better at it next time.
Until then...
--Note: I tried (hot) chai tea for the first time today. It's made with soy milk. I bet you can guess my opinion... (Absolutely amazing. Thanks, Derek.)