Friday, July 31, 2009

"Break Week(s)"

*Okay, try number two at this…my computer shut down about two paragraphs into a blog attempt. Go figure. I’m gonna try to keep saving this time. Stupid computer epilepsy.*

It’s 8:23 a.m. on Saturday, July 18, 2009, and I’m once again sitting in the Memphis airport for longer than I’d like. It could be worse, I suppose. And hey, I have Mom’s ipod with me this time around, so yay.

As always, I probably should have written sooner, but since I was home for two weeks, I found it hard to think of something interesting to write about. A few times, I considered writing some thoughtful, inspirational rant, but obviously that didn’t happen. It’s probably better like this, anyway, because it gives me something to do while I sit here waiting for my connection to Little Rock.

Okay, two weeks at home…what about it? I got home on July 3rd and was able to enjoy a fairly relaxing time doing not much of anything productive. I saw my cousins a few times, which may be a record for the year, lol. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see many friends this time around, but I don’t mind too much, I guess. At this point, I’m used to seeing people only a few times a year, so one month really didn’t hurt anything. ‘Course it’ll be much harder to catch up with friends when I’m only home for a few days in August.

My family went to the beach in Perdido Key, Florida, for the weekend of July 9-12. Of the four of us, only my mom is really a beach-goer. The rest of us went along for her benefit, really. Personally, I enjoyed the getaway (when don’t I?), but I thought of it much more as a time to feel perfectly okay with laying around doing nothing but reading. In fact, I read two books in the three days we were there, lol. We also took family pictures on the beach, which was some goal/dream of my mother’s. Granted, I think the setting is really pretty and nice, but I just felt like it was really forced, doing the same thing that every other family from South Louisiana does when they go to the beach. Bah, whatever.

I was very grateful to finally have gotten a chance to visit with one of my college roommates, Annie. She and I have this “it’s really a small world” connection to each other, and have tried to keep in touch since we moved out of our apartment last May. However, it’s been difficult with me living in various parts of the country and she finishing up her nursing clinicals, then starting work as a full time RN with 12-hour schedules. We’ve been hoping to get together for about six months now, and finally it happened.

Actually, our May and first July hang-out fell through, but a day later we were able to meet up and spend the day together in Thibodaux. My has that place changed since I left a year ago. The campus looks so much fresher, welcoming, even. It’s unfortunate that I felt bittersweet about the changes, mostly because of the devastating news I received a few months ago concerning the FACS department. I am, however, still very proud of my little “Harvard on the Bayou,” for its continued improvement process, and by golly, they really are putting themselves on the map. NSU is climbing the charts and will be a pretty popular university for students across the state pretty soon. That makes me smile.

Annie and my adventure in Thibodaux wasn’t much of one at all, really. We had breakfast at a cute little cafĂ©, the Demitasse, and then walked around campus to check out the new features. We stopped in at the publications building and got two of our old yearbooks, and I even purchased one of the new “Harvard on the Bayou” t-shirts from the bookstore. Then, we went to the park to look at the yearbooks and catch up with each other. By lunch time, neither of us were hungry, but it was scorching outside. We decided to compromise with ice cream at Dairy Queen rather than heavy fast food. Afterwards, we stopped in at Walmart so I could purchase the new Brad Paisley cd that I’d been planning to get since it came out more than a week ago, and then went on to Chili’s to enjoy some 2-for-1 margaritas. Heh. Brian met us there and we talked for a bit before Annie brought me back to the park to get my car so I could head home before it got too late. It was really nice to see Annie, and hopefully she’ll get to come visit me sometime in North Carolina. Maybe she’ll even be able to road trip to DC or home with me at some point. We’ll have to work on it.

Waiting for me at home that night, were some very tasty boiled crabs courtesy of my father and brother. They’d gone fishing in Pecan Island early that morning and decided to bring home some crabs for me, as I’d been begging Daddy to get some for me since I was home in May. These must have been some of the tastiest crabs that we’ve ever had and they were even better knowing that I have to savor these moments since they are fewer and farther between these days.

During my last few days at home, I spent some time packing for North Carolina. I realize that I don’t leave for another month, but with such a quick turnaround between there and camp, I thought it would be a decent idea to get as much packed as possible before I go back to Little Rock. As of now, everything is packed except my bedding and the clothes that I have with me and in Little Rock. That should make things much easier when I get back, and allow me to enjoy my few days at home without feeling stressed. That’s the hope anyway.

Today, I’ll be arriving in Little Rock sometime before 11 am (I’ve been up since 3:30 a.m. and on a plane since before 6 a.m.). My two great friends Sydney and Kyle will be picking me up, and I’m very happy to have 24 hours in LR before starting up at camp tomorrow. This week is called “CAK” Week—Cardiac, Arthritis, and Kidney Disease. Allie and I were most excited about this week because we wanted to experience “heart kids” at another camp. Unfortunately, there are only 3 female cardiac campers—each in different cabins—so it won’t be quite what we expected. Maybe we can make it our mission to recruit more kids? …I mean, cardiac conditions are the most common congenital defect—more than all childhood cancers combined, and 1 in 100 kids are born with some type of cardiac condition. There should be more than 3 girls in attendance at Aldersgate!!

Anyway, I wanted to leave you with a few inspirational/funny thoughts. My DC buddies, Scott and Nick have sent me a few quotes/jokes over the last month and I decided that I wanted to keep them. So, I’m going to post them here to share with all of you.

I’ll write again soon.

-Why don’t cannibals eat comedians? Because they taste funny!
-Why do cows wear bells? Because their horns don’t work!
-Everything happens for a reason.
-“The mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open.” – K.S. Bigness
-Happiness is like peeing in your pants. Everyone can see it but only you can feel its warmth.

Monday, July 6, 2009

First 1/2 Camp = Done

It’s 5:24 p.m. on Friday, July 3, 2009 and I am sitting in the Memphis International Airport waiting for my 7:45 p.m. flight home to Lafayette. My first flight of the day left Little Rock at 4 p.m. and consisted of less than 30 minutes of in-air flight time. With nearly 3 hours to wait, I decided to spend some time attempting to blog about my previous two weeks at camp.

Hopefully I’m not out of my mind when I think back to my last blog and remember that I didn’t put much effort into writing about camp week two. Following MD Week, a group of children attended “Kota I” Camp. “Kota” is the Quapaw (Arkansas Native American tribe) word for “friend,” which is quite fitting for this week’s group of campers. Some campers had diagnoses ranging from Autism, Asperger’s, and Down Syndrome, to Cerebral Palsy, and various behavior disorders. In addition to those with diagnoses, some bring along siblings, cousins, or friends, which means that there are many “typical” campers, or those without diagnoses. I am sure you can imagine what sort of environment this can make for…lol.

Basically, Kota Camp is nutssssss. Kids are everywhere, activities are chaotic, and counselors just take it all in stride. That is what we’re there for, afterall. Last year, I worked with boys for both MD and Kota I Camp, so having the opportunity to work with girls for both of these weeks this year was pretty special. Even though I’m a little biased, I’m pretty sure that we had the absolute best cabin of all during Kota I. Only two of our seven campers had diagnoses and the girls were just really great overall. Everyone was friendly with each other, and we were always on time for activities—those of you who work at camp know that this is incredibly rare. (I’m pretty sure this had a lot to do with my wonderful Senior Counselor, Miss Amber Malik, hehehe. Love you, AHM-bUh!)

As for Spina Bifida Week (this past week), once again it was my favorite, though I knowww that most of it has to do with the fact that I absolutelyyy love my Spina girls. Four of my seven campers were in my cabin last year and it was great to already know their needs, personalities, and interests. It was a huge bummer that I was the only one of our five counselors from last year to be able to work with the girls again this year, but thankfully the wonderful Ashley Malik and Ali Miller (who are now supervisors) were able to at least be at camp with us and hang out from time to time. We love those girls with our whole entire hearts and were very sad to see them go. If I come back to Aldersgate in future summers, it’ll be for those girls, no doubt.

(Thank you Ashley and Ali for being so amazing. We missed you this week but know you were there with us in spirit and our bonds will never be broken! To all the 2009 Spina co-counselors, I had a great time working with you all for the first time, and Amber—it was especially fun to have you as my SC two weeks in a row. Thanks for everything!)

I must also note that we had an especially unique cabin this week, as we were the EggLime Cabin! EggLime, you say? Isn’t there an Eggplant Cabin and a Lime Cabin, but, EggLime? Why yes, yes you are correct…lol. On Saturday night, I received a call from Amber saying that she’d gone to move into the Lime Cabin and that it was especially hot; it appeared as though the air conditioner was turned off or broken. She decided to sleep in the Khaki Cabin with a few other counselors, and I chose to stay in Orange with Morgan, since we’d both lived there the previous week and were planning to move to Lime together the following morning. On Sunday, we reported the problem and steps were taken to fix the A/C. Unfortunately, something was wrong with the unit’s installation, and it couldn’t be fixed in time for check-in, so we were relocated to the Eggplant cabin, as it was set to be used as an overflow cabin for those who couldn’t fit into their assigned cabins (a counselor and a few volunteers). Thus, those who were assigned to Eggplant were relocated to the McOffice (supervisors’ living quarters) and extra rooms in the Health Care Center.

When campers began to arrive, it was a bit confusing because all paperwork, schedules, and luggage labels listed our cabin as “Lime” even though we’d been relocated to Eggplant. That evening, someone in the cabin suggested that we rename ourselves as the “EggLime Cabin,” and from that point on, insisted that we be referred to with that name. We were very pleased to find that everyone respected our request and it became our name for the week. Even the slideshow and future schedules/paperwork was labeled with the “EggLime” name. It sucked to walk all the way to the end of cabin row every day, but it’s also super cool that we were and will be (hopefully) the only EggLime Cabin in the history of Camp Aldersgate. Pretty sweet, if you ask me.

When it all boils down, each camp week has its own personality, just as each cabin within those weeks is uniquely different. Some weeks are more physically exhausting (such as MD and Spina weeks), while others are more mentally challenging (Kotas). I’m sure that as the summer goes on, I’ll develop more categories of camp weeks such as emotionally-challenging and sleep-deprived ones. This is why I love Camp Aldersgate…er, one of the many, many reasons.

Now, I’m going home tonight for a two-week break from camp. Aldersgate is closed for “break week” until next Saturday, July 11th, when it will reopen for Diabetes Staff Training and Camp. Unfortunately, neither Allie nor I were hired to work Diabetes, so we get an extra week off. Allie will be finishing up at Camp Bon Coeur and then going on vacation to Branson, MO, with her family. I was invited along but decided to stay home and spend time with my family instead. In my time at home, I’ve got lots to accomplish and hope to spend quite a bit of time relaxing too. My family even has plans to spend a few days at the beach in Perdido Key, FL. As much as I love “my home away from home,” I am very much looking forward to this break. On the other hand, I’m sure I’ll be super excited about my return flight to Little Rock on the 18th. I’ll try my best to continue updating, but be patient with me. My next priority is photo-positing on Facebook, as I am more than a month behind on that task.

Hope you are all having a wonderful summer!!