Today I started off in the garden – Bryan and Brickell and I watered the garden and turned compost. It was a typical day in the garden, and I can tell my garden is continuing to thrive. I am sad that selfish and vicious gophers ate my Kale but I know my broccoli and parsnips and mysterious melon will grow into something marvelous. I get this reassurance from not only the other interns but from my beautiful girlfriend as well. Positivity from other people continues to give me motivation when it comes to the garden. After the garden we all ate breakfast together and then later were introduced to the Camp Opportunity Staff.
For the rest of my morning, I was able to talk to Tess about my conceptual projects in regards to the Enduring Principles. I had came up with quotes for the secular portion of my project and me and Tess went through and discussed each quote I had put up. From there Tess gave me ideas on what to add to my project and what other quotes I should search for. She also gave me valuable resources to use to further my project. This past week I have made a lot of progress in my conceptual project and I hope to be finished with it soon.
After discussing what to do for my conceptual project, I ate lunch and was then off to lifeguarding for the rest of the day. Lifeguarding has become something I enjoy more every time I do it because I am becoming more comfortable doing it. It is also a learning experience every time and I enjoy seeing all of the laughter and fun people have in the pool. It is also nice when there are not severe emergencies that happen in the pool and people follow the rules. I will not be lifeguarding when I leave Happy Valley and I know I must cherish every moment I get the chance.
Once I got done lifeguarding, I was ready for dinner. Dinner was amazing as usual especially since Chef Toni hooked me and Bryan up with some delicious ribs. It was also a great night because I got to Facetime my beautiful lady for a couple hours talking about my conceptual project and everything that was on my mind. She and I are both ecstatic to see each other in a couple weeks and it is always a pleasure for me to hear her voice and share my experiences. Despite being here in the second greatest state ever (Texas being number one), it’s tough not being able to see the beautiful one as much as I would like to. However, I am blessed to have her in my life just as I am to be blessed to be a part of this internship and I will continue to enjoy every single second of it.
After Facetiming the beautiful one, I was able to hang out with Maya and Brickell and watch the movie IP man. It was a relaxing Sunday night and it was exactly what I needed. This week is going to be a busy week and the following week will be busier. However, I know it will be two fantastic weeks and I hope to enjoy these last weeks as much as I can. Also, Brickell is an amazing friend who let me share her blanket with her while we watched the movie.
Last week was Children’s Camp, and I was able to see some of my best friends, who were counselors, and help teach the dance class. I have been helping to teach the dance class for the past four years now, and it is so much fun to choreograph a dance and watch the kids master it. There were only three kids in the class this year, but they were very lively, so there wasn’t a dull moment! This was the first year I wasn’t able to be a counselor for Children’s Camp, but it was still cool to see familiar faces around and still be a little bit involved in the camp.
Yesterday, the interns and I took full advantage of our time off by sleeping in, picking fruit (that was later turned into pie!), lounging by the pool (I got sunburned, but fret not, I shall be gorgeously tan in a couple days), eating delicious food (courtesy of Lisa, Tim, and Jeff, who catered to my pescatarian palate with a delectable Halibut), and visiting the boardwalk. Stanley and Brickell have become obsessed with the new Pokemon Go app and spent their time hunting Pokemon. I might have to download the app just so I don’t feel left out!
A new camp came in today, marking the end of the relaxing day and a half the other interns and I had been taking advantage of. It’s another kid’s camp, so I’m sure they’ll keep us on our toes. It feels weird to be here when there isn’t anyone else here, so I look forward to Happy Valley being busy and full of campers after the day and a half of quiet.
Today was an ordinary day filled with random adventures on this Sunday. It was the day after children’s camp and all of the interns decided to sleep in. We did not wake up until 10:30 and went downstairs and got some brunch. After this me Brickell and Maya met up with Tess and Donald and went blackberry picking. This was my first time going berry picking and I loved every second of it. However, blackberries have an annoying defense mechanism where they have thorns everywhere. It was not pleasant being poked constantly by thorns but I muscled through and made sure to pick the ripest blackberries. I even got on a ladder and picked the ones high towards the sky.
After we picked blackberries, we went and to the garden and got all of our plants watered. We also turned the compost and then Tess and Donald came to the garden with a lot of plums. I never had a plum before so I also got to try this sweet fruit. They had picked a lot of plums and we all brought the fruit back to the kitchen to wash. For the remainder of the day I relaxed and talked to the beautiful one and read my book.
It was not until 4:30 where I went and took a shower. For dinner, Tim and Lisa invited us all over and it was the best dinner in the world. The steak was incredible and the asparagus was definitely on point. It was nice to eat around a family dinner table and enjoy time with people you love. It was also great to hang out with Jude who is a constant reminder to myself and others what innocence looks like and affections of love. Me and Jude were both so excited that we were going to the boardwalk beach after dinner that we accidently knocked over a glass of lemonade at dinner! Granted we cleaned it up, but we just could not wait anymore to get to the beach.
While we were at the beach, Brickell and me proceeded to catch as many Pokemon as we could on the new Pokemon Go app. We also went on rides despite my fear of roller coasters. One specific one we went on was a ride that made us feel that we were flying. I was terrified but Brickell continued to assure me everything would be okay. She made me think that I was Superman and that I was just flying through the sky to save someone. Granted while we were in the air, it did not feel like I was saving someone but that someone needed to save me, but it was still a fun experience.
Once we were all done with the boardwalk, it was time for the trip to get back home. However, we needed to stop by Tim and Lisa’s house for some incredible pie. Remember all of the blackberries we picked? Well, they got turned into an incredible decadent pie. It was “the goodest pie” Jude ever had. This blackberry pie and vanilla ice cream was the best way to end this fun Sunday night. Today was an amazing day filled with spending time with people I love and respect. It is also nice having Lisa and Jude here because we do not always get to spend time with them. Until next time Happy Valley Conference blog viewers.
This week I have been a counselor for children’s camp. It’s been a fun experience to work with the kids. I sleep in the same cabin as the campers, go to their classes with them, and even go on some fun adventures. We visited the Children’s Peace Pavillion in Freemont a couple days ago. Today we went to the beach.
The water was cold and the wind was strong but the children quickly ran and played in the water. The campers that didn’t enjoy the cold weather as much sat in a small lagoon opposite of the ocean.
It has been a very long week and children can really tire you out. But I have enjoy the time I have spent with these kids. They have taught me a lot about working with young learners. This has been a great week.
Last week I had the opportunity to enjoy camp in a different light. I took on the Counselor Role which was a little bit different from the usual job of Intern. It was a crazy week to say the least!
When the week started I was ready and by the end of it I was exhausted! Each day had new adventures and plenty of experiences. Day 1 included meeting the cabin, getting to know names, faces, and the attributes of each camper. I wasn’t very good at it on the first day but by the end I knew most of there names!
As the days continue the more I spent time with this amazing staff and amazing campers. We spent the days away laughing, learning and really enjoying the time with each other. We spent time at the beach where some of us enjoyed the cold water and some enjoyed the warmth of the sun and sand. Most morning where spent with a warm cup of coffee at a staff meeting which I always looked forward to, but one morning were we woke the camp up at 5, and sped our way to the beach for a sunrise worship, singing songs of worship, listening to the waves crash upon the shore, and feeling the mist of the ocean breeze.
I cant wait for my next adventure at Happy Valley! Look for my post next Tuesday!
This past week we had senior high camp here and we did a lot of different activities with them. They planted in the hegelculture garden they made during Reunion and we also had a color run. I had left early this week to go back to Dallas and I did not spend a lot of time with the high school kids. However, this week we were given conceptual projects and this was something that took up the majority of my week. We were all assigned to do all of the projects but we all took on separate projects. I was given the job to incorporate the enduring principles project into Happy Valley. I thought this task would be the best thing for me to do because I am a Religion/Philosophy major and I love incorporating different principles and making them applicable to all groups of people. This past weekend I was able to talk to multiple individuals about the enduring principles and see their perspective on them. Most people have never heard of the enduring principles, however, they were all able to define what some of the principles meant to them after hearing them. One of the principles that stuck out was the sacredness of creation. A lot of people said that the world needs to view the environment as sacred and this does not need to be a religious term. Society needs to take care of the environment because we are currently destroying the earth. Getting a lot of different feedback from the enduring principles was a major part of my week and I am looking forward to completing my conceptual project.
This Thursday was my day off. It was really enjoyable because I got to participate in a lot of activities that the senior high camp was having instead of working any shifts. I slept in but still made it downstairs for breakfast. We had a color run and we had the opportunity to get crazy with some color paint.
Stanley left for a conference back home in Texas so Donald and I enjoyed the drive to the San Jose Airport to drop him off. We also got to stop at In-N-Out for lunch. On the way back we took Vine Hill Rd. which is a small curvy road that leads to Branciforte. It was very beautiful and very exhilarating. It reminded me of the drive down from Whispering Pines, my church camp back home in Arizona.
I spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool and reading. I’m working on a pretty nice tan but sometimes I get a little sunburnt. My grandma always reminds me to wear sunblock and I always remember to keep my skin safe. I spent the rest of the night playing games with the students here and then watching Netflix. It was a relaxing day.
Last week I had the absolute pleasure of being a counselor at Camp Cromberg for Junior High Camp. I never went to Cromberg as a camper, and I had never counseled Junior High Camp before, so I went into camp not knowing at all what to expect. I was actually quite worried to be counseling Junior High age kids because Junior High was probably the worst two years of my life, and my experience with Junior High age kids had not been overwhelmingly positive. So, I went into Cromberg with the same mindset I try to go into all situations with: minimal expectations with maximum energy and a positive attitude.
The drive up to Cromberg was excruciatingly long, especially with stops to pick up other counselors and campers along the way. The drive was beautiful, and it was great to see the Sierra Nevadas and breathe the mountain air I grew up in again after months of being away at college and Happy Valley.
We were the first to arrive, and we had the entire campground to ourselves for the first night. After months of living in a more urban environment, I had forgotten what it was like when it was actually dark outside and what the stars looked like when there aren’t cities around to spoil their brilliance. It was beautiful. As good as the iPhone camera gets, it is still absurdly bad at taking pictures of the brilliance that is a clear night sky in the mountains, so I will spare you my attempts at night time iPhone photography.
The next day dawned and after spending way too much time, money, and effort into decorating the joint cabin I shared with Sarah with dollar tree decorations fixed to the walls and ceiling with dollar tree brand duct tape (all of which ended up on the floor within two days), the campers began to arrive.
I was immediately greeted by campers that I knew from counseling at Children’s Camp, including campers that I had in my cabin multiple times. I was immediately more comfortable. Instead of seeing faceless, crazy, sassy Junior High aged children full of preteen angst, I now saw Lexi, who was the loud but super sweet girl who was in my cabin my first year as a counselor in training (CIT), and Ruth who gives the tightest hugs, and Diana who has grown, I swear, a foot since the last time I saw her, and Alex who adorably sang “Problem” by Iggy Azalea in a Children’s Camp talent show, and Anthony who pretends to be a twerp but is actually an awesome kid.
Wednesday, disaster struck. Sarah got a migraine and retreated to her bed for the night. That left me with 10 campers solely under my charge and Sarah’s duties for the Wacky Wednesday birthday themed Pajama Party.
As the night drew to a close, I was running late back to my cabin to make sure the campers were getting ready for bed and starting their devotions. The closer I got to the cabin, the more worried I became. All of the cabins I passed were loud and rowdy, and all I could think of was how loud 10 unsupervised preteen girls with a sugar high must be and poor Sarah in the cabin with a migraine and a queasy stomach. But as I opened the door, I was shocked to find the lights out and the girls in bed silent as they respected Sarah’s health. I was blown away. We did devotions at a whisper level with both of the cabins together and went to bed.
As the week drew to a close I continued to be blown away by the kindness of the campers and the (mostly) loving silliness with which they treated each other and the staff. They showed more maturity and love than I ever thought they could, and being able to be there with them, listen to them, joke with them, be silly with them, and be someone to lean on was a truly life changing experience that I did not see coming.
One of the campers that I grew especially close with reminded me so much of my younger sister from when she was in Junior High that I was taken aback many times by the familiarity of her mannerisms and energy. Being able to bond with her and treat her with love and patience as others became annoyed by her loud, sassy, competitive nature made me feel like I was getting a second shot at being a good, supportive older sister. Because, while my sister and I are very close now and have a wonderful relationship, I did not have the patience and maturity to be the sister she needed me to be when she was in Junior High and I was in High School.
There is an affirmation ceremony that takes place under the stars on the top of Inspiration Point on the last night of camp. The staff space themselves out along the path up to Inspiration Point and light the way for the campers who have to hike up in the dark. The campers can choose to stop and say hi to the staff and give a hug on their way up if they want to. I was so touched by the campers who gave me a tearful hug and asked if I was going to be back the next year. And it was incredibly moving when the camper that reminded me of my sister threw her arms around me and sobbed that she “didn’t want me to go.” It felt so good to be able to be a supportive person in those campers’ lives who had possibly never experienced what it was like to have an authority figure be able to balance be “in charge” of them and also have fun with them and listen to them.
As each camper hiked up, I realized that I would miss every single one of them at the end of camp. While I had seen the majority of them at yearly intervals for the last four years and have watched them grow, mature, and blossom into young adults, I also grew up with them. I have grown up and changed quite a bit since I was a first time Children’s Camp CIT at the age of 16. Being a counselor at Junior High Camp was a well-timed reminder that comfort zones are meant to be leaped out of and demolished if personal growth is to be achieved, and I feel so blessed to have been able to counsel such a wonderful group of campers.
This past week we had a kids’ camp here and it was a fun week getting to interact with them but also having some free time to ourselves. The majority of the week I lifeguarded and was in the dish room but I gained much needed experience in both of those areas. Whether it was saving a camper from the pool or finding the best method in cleaning trays, I was able to find the best method to complete my task. Our interaction with the camp was not a lot, but it was definitely a learning experience throughout this entire week.
This past week I had the Graceland takeover on Instagram and posted pictures about my life here at Happy Valley. I was able to appreciate a lot about being here because I took a lot of time deciding on what to post on the Instagram account. One photo I posted was me and Tim.
The caption said: It has been my pleasure to have gotten to know this man Tim Dodds the past few weeks. I took this internship without knowing much about it except hearing from other people on how amazing it is. Tim has definitely been the biggest reason why this internship has been incredible because he has taught me a lot about perseverance and continues to do extraordinary things. He has great strength and teaches others what it means to be sophistrong.
Having the Graceland Instagram for one day proved to me how blessed I was to be here and how I am learning a lot from other individuals and constantly making myself better.
One activity I picked up on this past week was beach volleyball. On my day off, Bryan and me went to the beach and played hours of beach volleyball and it was a great time! There are a lot of people here in Santa Cruz who appreciate the sport and I picked up on that despite not being great at it. It was nice to try something that I do not always get to try and I will continue going back when given the opportunity.
This past week I also got to start my own compost pile and I will proceed to brag on it. Number one, I was the first to use hay in my compost out of all the other interns. Next, I had 5 compost buckets rather than 2 or 3 compared to everyone else. I also have the biggest compost pile out of everyone else and it is looking great. I am looking forward to how well my pile will turn out and how much it will benefit all the plants that will grow from it once its finished!
The highlight of my week was my sister coming up to visit me this past week. She typically does not go on trips and I rarely get to spend time with her. However, she came this past Thursday and I was able to show her the Redwoods, and show her my garden, and give her a tour of my life here at Happy Valley. It was much needed family time and I am looking forward to this next week with the Senior High Camp!