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I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world. -Mother Teresa

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Week 9

Entirely too much happened this week, so I'll have to give the short version of everything. We only had 20 campers, & it was a leaders in  training week. We took turns sleeping in the cabin with 12 girls who did a lot on their own. We also took turns during the day, so whoever wasn't working with the campers did work projects. My first one was to decorate a Christmas tree for a fundraiser. I went with Ebony, my Unit Leader. We had a blast & then ate at the Corner Bakery. It was awesome getting to sleep in  a cabin with no campers for more than just a weekend. The next day, I helped clean the program  room, which was a big job. I also went  with Ebony to get Kelsey from the airport the day before. We also helped plant flowers at camp.  We had a session in which we talked to campers about their disabilities & how they're not alone in their struggles & about programs that can help them get & keep a job  or apartment, etc. They shared a lot of their own information, & I really learned a lot. We got Thursday off because younger campers were arriving for the weekend. There was a going away party for me at Desi's then I got delicious frozen yogurt with some of the girls. Then before campers came, we played Catch Phrase. Someone was describing a word to Ebony, so they said, "Kissing disease," to which Ebony replied with enthusiasm: "Cooties!" She'd never heard of mono. So then they were saying, "What hides under your bed?" Her reply was "troll" rather than "monster." But I also didn't know some of the words. Apparently everyone knows that an attractive older woman is called a cougar. Oh,  & in order to get me to guess a type of run in track, Kelsey had to say, "What did Jesus die on?" Then I was like, "OH...cross country." It  was really fun. We actually played it during rest one day, & even the nurse joined us. We played again the next day  &  Desi joined us. Fun times. Then I went with Eb to take Kels to the airport again  & decided to drive to Lawrence's house to get through Dallas & so I could leave an hour later the next morning AND so I could see him before I left...he had to quit camp because his house flooded. So I met his beautiful, sweet, funny mom, saw boxes stacked all over his house, had artichoke tea on the floor, & heard some of the songs he made up about people at camp. In the morning, he sent me off with a bag of snacks, bottled water, & 8 envelopes...one for each hour I was on the road. I might have to post some of them on here eventually. They were really funny, creative, & meaningful. THEN, I drove through Arkansas for the first time! I ended up at Camp McDowell in Alabama where I hope to work in the spring. A man they called Big Dave gave a talk about birds & snakes. He had an owl & some kind of snake for them to touch. I learned that there are only about 7 poisonous types of snakes out of the 40 that are in the area. Also, Diamondback (makes me miss my girls: bling!) & Copperhead venom have been used in cancer research. Also, I've always been ok with throwing food out the window, but Big Dave had a valid point that it attracts animals to the road, where they then get run over. :( I spent the night there, which reminds me: my night at Lawrence's was the first time I'd slept in a room by myself in at least two & a half months. Anyway, this morning I ate breakfast at the camp & went on a short hike before it started raining. Then I talked to a couple of the girls about what it's like to work there. Then I drove the 3 hours to my sister's where they had a welcome home sign up for me. :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Week 8

It's crazy to think back on how scared I was & how unsure I was of whether I would like it or end up staying the whole fall. This is my last weekend off in Texas. It makes me super sad to think about that. Now I've already started thinking about trying to come back next fall. I don't think I could work during the summer because it's only 24 hours off rather than 48. Plus I have other camps that I'd like to work at during the summer. Anyway, it's gonna be hard next week knowing that it's my last time with all of these people especially since theymll all get to be together for another couple of weeks.

This week we had 3 campers that we've already had in our cabin at least once this fall. Then one other person didn't show up, so we only had 4 new campers with us. One was the easiest to get along with & she did everything for herself. She was also really funny, & I'm sad that I didn't get to spend more time with her. Another one loved her princess stickers & thought that tooting was hilarious. For the dance, I did face paint for her even though I didn't know what I was doing. She'd been asking for it all week, so I painted a rose on one side & a rainbow on the other. She requested that the rainbow have black in it, too. :) She's really nice but also tough. Another camper was really sweet but had tourettes, so that was kinda funny. She actually didn't do any shouting very frequently, which made it even more surprising when she actually did. She had such a beautiful smile, though, & would often say thank you for little things we did. The funniest moment with her, though, was after I had showered her on my night out. Instead of going out, though, I decided to take a shower myself. One of the girls who was in was going to finish helping her get ready for bed, so I got my clothes & toiletries together, & just when I got my hair all wet, the camper's face pops in & she grins. I peek out the other side & she looks at me with that same smile. So I put my head back in the shower & she pokes her in again. It was about as awkward as having a 2 year old niece do the same thing...the only problem was that I knew how  much she loved the water, so I wasn't sure what I'd do if she came all the way in. So I grabbed my towel & took her to the other counselors who had a good laugh about it. Then we had Mary. Her group home that dropped her off told me she didn't talk. Then when she started talking, they said she just repeats stuff. We have so many good quotes from her. Mainly it was, "You're hungry. You're hungry, Mary. Don't take other people's food. It's not yours, Mary." We had to watch her constantly, & every day we discovered more things that she'd say, like: "Cat says meow," & "Mary, you know you think that guy's cute," & "Mary wants a kiss." She also counted to 13 if you got her started by saying 1. Thankfully we didn't get her to talk as much until the last day...the one where she stayed up til 2am saying she's hungry.  And Mary doesn't have a whisper ever. So I heard her across the room while my headphones were in. I went to sleep at about 1:15 & wakeup was at 7. I'm not sure if this is teaching me that I COULD have & take care of kids of my own or if it's confirming that I shouldn't. I like that I get a break from it every weekend. :)

Also, we had a staff member who worked on the boys' side for a while come to help us for the rest of the year. She's great & fits in well, so even though we're still down one person, it's the best that it's been all season. She's actually worked in a couple of other cabins & said that ours is so relaxed & we get along really well. :)

OH, and we had these amazing volunteers on Wednesday from a Christian discipleship program. They stayed with us from breakfast to dinner & helped & were so much fun. They prayed with us before we left & said they'll continue to pray for us. I loved it! One of them also told me about Christian Camping International because her uncle helps with it, & they help people find jobs at camps around the world. :D It might come in handy since I love it so much that I think I could do it forever.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week 7

One of the counselors in my cabin left on Wed. for good. That left 4 people total where most have 6. Instead of leaving us more stressed, though, it actually left us less stressed. I think she didn't really enjoy being here anyway & it affected everyone.

As for the campers this week, we had one who believed she was married to Elvis. She had about 50 pictures of him with her & would get us to help her choose which one to eat each meal with. It was fantastic. Another one always went into the bathroom to spray Kelsey's  perfume. She also got a hold of a journal & wrote/scribbled all over it. Thankfully, we used that one for her since it was the first day & nothing had been written in it yet. Another lady was deaf which made me really sad that I didn't know sign language & esp. that I didn't know the alphabet very well. I still had fun with her, figuring out what she wanted & laughing together. She could read lips which also helped. She gave me her address at the end. :) Another had been in our cabin before. We also had a girl who cracked up when I spoke in an accent, & she loved my stuffed Larry. Kim was very quiet but beautiful. She'd stay sitting up in bed doing nothing until everyone else was laying down asleep. She had a cute smile, too. Another lady girl couldn't say much besides yeah. She was fully aware of everything, so she laughed a lot & loved socializing. Then we also had a lady who played Old Maid with us which I was excited about. She was scared to ride a horse but finally did it. :) She would also pick up anything from the ground like it was treasure. It could be a penny or a bead or a top to a soda can.

Lawrence's house flooded a couple of weeks ago, so he's been gone to help with that, but he came back this week, which was super fun. Then I went home with Larissa for the weekend. We watched The Music Never Stopped, which we'd never heard of but ended up loving. Shayna was with us, too, so 3 people agreed that it was great which is more impressive. Anyway, then we went to the mall where we met up with Jonathan & his bff Cody. We sampled some yummy tea! :) Also, Larissa's parents took us out to eat. It was great being in a family environment. We cooked supper together the next night & Larissa taught us some yoga moves. Then we watched Pride & Prejudice, but were so tired that we didn't finish it. Now I'm back on camp, so anything I missed will have to wait.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Week 6

I found out that the camp is letting me leave early because of my brother's Dec. wedding. I'll be home for good the week of Thanksgiving. This is a huge blessing because I won't have to do so much driving back & forth. Plus, I miss my family, & I have plenty to do to get ready for England. However, it's also sad to think that I'll miss the fun things at the end of camp & especially the goodbyes! :(

We had a special meeting in our cabin about communication because some of us have felt uncomfortable around each other. It's been a little stressful, but still lots of fun & triumphs. :) It was fun talking about our experiences even though I'm not sure how much it helped the main situation.

Also, 18 of the scheduled campers did not come, so we began the week with 4 campers in our cabin. They were all sweet, funny, calm, & wonderful. Then on the second day, we got a camper from another cabin who had been having trouble with another camper. This lady was also sweet but definitely not calm. She talked almost nonstop & wanted someone to help her with everything even though she could do it all on her own. She woke us all up at 6:30 in the loudest voice, so it really put a kink  in our system, but we adapted & she even ended up not waking up until time to get up. I actually slept in the bed next to hers because it was more comfortable than my own. When I explained that everyone else was sleeping & that she needed to be quiet like them for another hour, she said ok  & didn't talk again for an hour. I was really surprised.

For one of our ladies, it was her first time at camp. She had never ridden horses, & I was the one that got to help her on & walk beside her. She loved it! It's things like that that make me want to work at this camp again even though I think I'd rather be at one closer to home that is teaching kids about nature and that pays more. Still, I already miss so many campers & the thought of never seeing them again makes me wanna cry.

Also from this week, on one of my breaks, Jonathan & I climbed a tree at night. On another break, we played pool. I won both games & even called the right pocket on the 8 ball on both. I also won both games of foosball. So then I let him win Scategories (sp?). One of the categories was Street Name. So I put a literal street (MLK Blvd) while he put a name someone might be called on the street (Money). I laughed so hard at that one! It didn't even cross my mind that it could've been that kind of street name, & from the look on his face, he didn't consider that it could have been the kind I thought it was.

Today I ate 3 cups of the tortilla soup Mama brought me all the way from GA. I'd been waiting for it all week because when I tried to eat it before the week began, I realized that she'd brought it frozen!

Also, because we had so few campers this week, I spent some time clipping branches for the camp to use at a fundraiser banquet. They hung jewels from the branches & used them as centerpieces. Then I also helped clean Cherokee, the guys' cabin that just got new bathrooms. We'll be moving into the remodeled girls' cabin TOMORROW! We're so excited! Also, I might go to my boss' house to watch the Rangers win the World Series tonight. :D 

If you're gonna write me, now's a good time to do it since I only have about 3 weeks left here. :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 5

This week was full of great surprises from home. I got the cutest package from my aunt & uncle in Alaska. My mom & I loved the chocolate-covered blueberries & cranberries. The package also included different flavors of Alaskan tea which I'm excited to try along with some honey sticks. AND there  were playing cards with pictures of the northern lights...so beautiful! I still wanna see them some day. The package was also taped with the coolest/prettiest tape! :) Everyone who saw it made a big deal out of it. :D

Then I got a package from Sarah that included an awesome notepad with a picture of London on each sheet. It also had Skirt! Magazine, snacks, & a tea cup! And an assortment of teas. :)

Then I got a text on Friday with a picture of my mom at the Texas welcome center. I couldn't believe it! I was glad I got to show them around camp & introduce them to a few people here. It made me wanna cry that they had driven so far to see me. They did a good job of keeping it a secret, too.

As for camp this week, there was one camper that I found out on the last day would give eskimo kisses. Another one would make whatever face he saw you make, which reminded me of Anna, a girl I went to school with. It was so adorable & hilarious. He was like a big teddy bear. Another one had an awesome accent, & while I was peeling an orange for myself, he came over & said, "Oh, look...my friend is peeling me an orange." So I shared it with him, another camper, & a counselor. Then I got another one for myself. Anyway, that's when I knew I wanted to be his friend, haha. He wore 3 jackets that night, too.

Well, my cabin is still the one that's always late, so we were talking about it with our boss. They can't help but love us even though we're late. So, the boss said to me after a while of joking around, "And I can't believe what you did!" I was like, "What did I do?" She was referring to a note that I wrote to my unit leader. I told her that even though I hate being late, I'd rather be late & laughing than early & angry. Yeah, that's what she showed the boss. Haha.

Oh, & I recruited another person to climb trees with me. Jonathan climbed with me & Kevin. Jonathan is one of the new guys (even though this is his 3rd week), & he's been on the World Race (11 countries in 11 months) & took Greek when he  was in college, which I was so excited to learn.

Hope you had a great weekend! Thanks for all the mail! Keep it coming...I only have about a month & a half left in Texas. It's crazy how fast it's gone.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Weeks 3 & 4

So, after I wrote that post about the campers being no more annoying than anyone else, I got one that was super loud & always wanting to be hugging, holding hands, or touching someone. But I really enjoyed getting her to whisper & be calm & giving her rewards for eating/telling her she won't get to do something she enjoys if she doesn't eat. Seeing stuff like that work for her was so exciting. I actually chose to spend a lot of time with her. She was so cute & would usually help out if we asked her to. So I got her to pick up trash, push wheelchair, etc. to keep her busy & also keep her hands to herself. Anyway, by the end of the week, I wanted to cry when she left. I didn't know what I'd do without my shadow. :)

It's so nice to meet the parents on the last day & hear how much it meant to them to have the week "off" & also to hear the campers tell their parents about something you did with them. Now that I've gotten a little more used to how things work, I'm getting closer to campers that aren't even in my cabin. This week, Brianna was adorable. She's so beautiful & sweet & loving! I miss her so much already. She would get so excited when you talk to her about things she liked. She also was very gentle & kind toward one of my campers who didn't communicate. Brianna carried a stuffed dog named Shiloh & was very open about having seizures & asking if my campers have them & what sets them off for them. I just can't explain how great she was. Oh, & she loved Beauty & the Beast. I danced with her during "Chicken Fried" & she was almost as excited as I was that I'm from GA, so the lyrics "raised underneath the shade of a GA pine...that's home, ya know" meant a lot to me. :) When I met her mom, she was just as sweet & beautiful!

While I'm thinking about it, there was also a camper that wore a shirt with Sheldon on it that said, "Bazinga!" I loved it! :D Also, the camper that blew me kisses at breakfast also agreed to go on the zip line if I would be his date to the dance. Even though he shook on it, he kept backing out whenever I left, so I arranged to be with his group when they went to ropes, but he still was saying he didn't want to do it. I kept asking him & talking to him & Bernard, one of Austin's counselors, explained the process of the zip line & how he won't fall, so finally he agreed. It was so great because his parents really wanted a picture of him doing that. He gave us all a hug after he did it. His counselors kept telling me that he was all I talked about, so today another one of them said, "He woke up this morning at 6:30 & no one said anything to him & the first thing he says is, 'Megan!'" :) When I saw him, he kept telling me he had fun & loves me & is gonna miss me. Now you know why I love my job! His mom told him to blow me a kiss before he left, too. So cute!

Then I walked onto the deck & said bye to Chase. He said, "Megan!" & his parents said, "Oh, he was just telling us about you. He said he danced with you & that you were his date. :D He is one of the cutest people ever, & he had mad dancing skills. We spun & did our hands across our eyes. It was GREAT! His parents said they were so glad they got to meet me. Precious!

As for my cabin, we've had someone from a previous week of the Fall every week of camp except the first week obviously. So that's been cool. Also, I got my first letter from a camper ever & fed a male camper for the first time ever. Even though this was the hardest week for me to wake up every single morning, it was fantastic being with the campers! And I might go to the State Fair tomorrow. :D


Friday, September 30, 2011

Week 2

I'm starting to wonder if there will ever be a week that seems easier than the rest. The campers definitley make it worth it, though.

I feel bad that I thought this, but before I came, I expected the campers to be really annoying, but they're no more annoying than anyone else. I haven't had a camper yet that I didn't love.

One thing about last week is that I wasn't scheduled for one of my breaks. I thought it was just because we only had 5 people instead of 6, but my leader told me this week that it was wrong. So it was nice to have more breaks this week. :)

However, this week still had it's difficulties. It was not a fun time of the month for me, so I felt grouchy & constantly hungry & my back hurt, which was bad because we had 3 campers that we had to push in wheelchairs & help in the bathroom. Besides that, I almost had a heart attack when I witnessed a camper back himself off of a 2 foot ledge while in his wheel chair. He wasn't one of my campers, so I didn't feel so responsible, & later I  had a blast dancing with him. :)

Some highlights are:

When a camper said, "Megan, I want you to get wet." They were supposed to choose a counselor to throw water on, so I said, "Why me?" to which she replied, "Because...it's not fair for Ebony to get wet...she's nice." Hahaha! Love it!

When I got to teach campers from other cabins how to juggle.

When campers wanted my address & a picture taken with me...& when one of them even said I was her favorite. :D

When we were at the cookout all busy making dinner & all of a sudden we hear a loud, deep automated voice from a camper who is like a grandpa that said, "You better keep an eye on Jason; you never know when he might run off." We all stopped & looked at each other like, "Where did that come from & did that really just happen? If so, then that's now my favorite moment of camp." :)

When a camper with hair like a lion's mane was so crazy in the morning that only a gallon of water would tame it. That night when the nurse came in to give their meds, the nurse's hair was down. It's usually up in a ponytail, so we were all like, "It looks so good." The camper agreed & said, "Yeah, you should wear it like that every day; it looks like mine in the mornings."

When another grandfatherly camper was so glad I danced with him & then said, "Where have you been all my life?"

When "My Wish" was played at the dance & it reminded me of my high school slideshow, so I felt like my family & friends from back home were singing it to me & saying, "My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to. I hope your dreams stay big, your worries stay small. You never need  to carry more than you can hold, & while you're out there gettin' where you're  gettin' to, I hope you know somebody loves you & wants the same things, too." At graduation, I never thought I'd be in Texas!

When campers were sad to hear that I won't be back next summer.

When I tried Starbucks Coffee for the first time because our secret cabin gave it to us at breakfast one morning.

Going to Walmart by myself during my evening off & discovering a little courtyard with a humongous & beautiful pecan tree.

Listening to a CD that Kevin sent me in the mail & feeling my soul revive from the exhaustion by seeing the bigger picture for a while. Another difficulty was saying goodbye to one of the counselors in our cabin who accepted a different job & will no longer be here. :( But that reminds me: we get a new counselor in our cabin tomorrow!

Getting so much mail that other counselors are starting to want more mail. Keep it coming, though! I don't want my reputation of being popular & getting fan mail to go away. :) Plus, I like knowing what's going on outside of camp.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Camp Week 1

Well, my group had a horse fall with a camper on it. She was fine, but it was heart-sinking to watch. We also had a camper throw up in the middle of the night & then again in the daytime (at horses actually) later in the week. I  was with her when it happened at horses. Thankfully, the only  clean-up I had to do was hose off the bench & the ground. We only got about 10 minutes in the pool, which reminds me that we were late to almost everything. We had a couple of slow walkers. :)

But despite everything, I had a blast! It was exhausting but so fulfilling. Some personal accomplishments were helping a camper shower for the first time (We had women from the age of 30 to 60.), lifting those in wheelchairs to help them onto the toilet (All of this was less awkward, but more draining, than I'd anticipated. The ladies were really sweet & patient & thankful.), & helping hoist a camper up the rock wall.

These women were also hilarious!!! They have the cutest grins. Aww, I miss them. At our cookout, 3 of them sat around me with their heads on my lap. Then one of them led us in the best rendition of "Silent Night" that I've ever heard. :) It was so fun & sweet, so then we all sang "Jinglle Bells." I asked one of them to put her socks on, & she saluted me & said, "Aie, aie, Captain" One of them wore a big baby outfit to the dance & even had a giant baby bottle that she drank her water from.

Through the week, we also had secret pals between the counselors. Mine bought me a strawberry limeade from Sonic, gave me a glittery note, & had other counselors & campers give me high fives during lunch. For mine, I wrote him a bedtime story & a descriptive acronym using his name. Then I sent him a text from someone else's phone. I also had counselors tell him their best cheesy pickup lines. One of my  campers found out that someone didn't get a secret pal, so she made him a really cute card. He made one for her, too. She was soooo excited.

Thanks for the letters you've sent me. I miss home, but I'm having fun. Oh, & I got my first paycheck today. :)

Sorry for the typos, I'm doing this on my phone

Friday, September 16, 2011

Finally a Whole Day Off

Today I've written 5 letters. I think I'm caught up now. I didn't wake up until 9:30 (typically it's been between 7 & 8). I drank some chamomile/lavendar tea that Reina sent me.

Some highlights from the past week and a half have been:

crossing the Mississippi for the first time in my life
learning new songs especially the ones we sing for grace before meals
having campers for a weekend
learning to pull someone off a horse & catch them
playing a pregnant person in a skit of what not to do during time off
getting a package from Reina
passing the swim test so I can take campers to the deep end
being the "lost camper" in the training drill
watching the last half of the Matrix
watching part of an episode of I Love Lucy as part of training not to gossip
not quitting
not messing anything up for the campers
surprising everyone by being able to juggle under my legs
answering get-to-know-you questions & hearing other people's answers
helping solve tweny-minute murder mysteries
building a fort out of beds as practice in case of a tornado
learning how to pick someone up with one or two other people
filling out a journal for my partner as practice for when we write camper's journals
realizing that I'm getting paid to journal for the next 3 months :)
sharing my fear & hope, & hearing everyone else share theirs
reading the list of 80 encouraging things to say & choosing a random number to encourage a few of the other staff members
thinking that one of the 101 stress relievers was "tell someone you love them as a joke" (It was actually "tell someone you love them/a joke")
realizing how much I have in common with the campers
hearing campers laugh/seeing them smile
getting to know each camper as an individual
being in Texas on the day that tied them for the summer with the most days that had a high of at least 100 & also for the day that broke that record
being barefoot during time off

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11 Ten Years Ago

This is the journal entry that my friend (Reina) wrote in her journal on the day of 9/11/01.
She was about 11, and you can see that some of her details are wrong
because she was still unsure of what had happened.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Favorite Love Story

Learning to Breathe Again has been my favorite book for years, and today marks the 10 year mark of the story told in it. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend doing so. I'm pretty sure I read it in a day. I think it's appropriate for me to write about it on this blog because not only is it a true story, but it also gives details about some of the notes her husband wrote her.

Here is one of my favorite poems, which also goes along with Tammy Trent's book:

I envy not in any moods
         The captive void of noble rage,
         The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:

I envy not the beast that takes
         His license in the field of time,
         Unfetter'd by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;

Nor, what may count itself as blest,
         The heart that never plighted troth
         But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
         I feel it, when I sorrow most;
         'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
             -Lord Tennyson

What's your favorite love story?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Texas, Here I Come!

Monday I'll be driving to my sister's house in Alabama followed by a 15 or so hour drive to a place just above Dallas, TX on Tuesday.

This time last week, I was still hoping for a job at Subway or Piggly Wiggly & especially as a substitute teacher at a school in walking distance. I was living with my sister, babysitting/homeschooling her 5 kids while she went to college twice a week. This I will miss very much, but at least I had the pleasure for a month.

Then, realizing that the experience I have that I've loved most has been being involved in summer camps. I searched year-round camps in AL & found about three. They had already begun camp or at least had their employees. Next, I found one in NC...also no longer in need of anyone until maybe January or February.

It was pretty discouraging because they were jobs it seemed like I'd love to do. I would have been teaching children and youth about nature and how to appreciate it, use it, and enjoy it. All on a beautiful campus.

If it hadn't happened this way, I'm certain I never would have ended up working at Camp Summit in Texas. I've never really been drawn to Texas or working with people with disabilities. The way it all happened really makes me think it's what God wants me to do. Knowing that helps me deal with all the fears I have. I know that I can do it if it's what He wants. Some songs that have already helped me are: "You Know Where to Find Me" by Matthew West & "Someday" by Nichole Nordeman. The first was one that seemed as if God would need to sing it over me in the middle of an exhausting, frustrating week of camp. The second is like a song a friend would reassure me of when I'm wondering why people even have disabilities & thinking of how unfair it is. I've already begun to consider how the roles could have been reversed and I could be in a wheel chair unable to do so many things I love or in a mental state that didn't allow me to graduate from college or write letters. One big thing it's teaching me is to appreciate what I have & can do even more. I'm even more thankful for the health of my family & friends, but I'm also more aware that it could change in a moment.

Anyway, the worst part of the job is that I have to wear close toed shoes except when I'm on break. My feet are gonna become sissies. Pale sissies. However, something cool that I found out yesterday is that this will be the first fall of camp. They've had years of summer camp but never a fall one, which should be exciting. :)

Some other details are:

They'll give me room & board as well as payment for each week.
It ends Dec. 11, & I get a week off for Thanksgiving.
They have 170 acres & will have horseback riding!
The two women I talked to on the phone seemed really sweet, fun, & excited.
I'll be helping feed, bathe, & assist campers in going to the bathroom.

So please keep me in your prayers. It will be a lot of new stuff for me, but I'm really excited. I actually had interview over the phone with Nikki, the assistant director, before I'd even finished my application because we needed to get everything done quickly. She gave me some scenarios of situations that could occur and asked how I would handle them. She made me feel a lot more confident when she informed me that she had no experience her first summer of camp and was really unsure of whether or not she could do it. Then she said it actually sounded like I'd be good at it. This is news to me even though family & friends seem to agree. I know that I can do it, too, but I feel like I'll be living the next 3 months emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. I think I'll always feel behind on keeping up with relationships back home, taking care of myself, and drawing closer to God. But maybe I'll be able to balance these better than I expect. One way that you could help is by sending me letters that include your prayers for me at this time, news from your own life, & Bible verses that could keep me going back to the Bible.

It would make my day to hear from you, & you can start sending mail today because I'll be there September 6 in preparation for training which begins Sept. 7 & goes through the 15.

Megan Starbuck
C/O Camp Summit
921 A Copper Canyon Rd.
Argyle, TX 76226

And since I won't have much internet access, I'm gonna have to put a pause on my blog posts. I'll probably still do some updates similar to this each week. I'm grateful to be able to pay off my student loans once they start really becoming due.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pomegranate White Tea

It's a good morning to grab a cup of hot tea, so as much as I didn't want to go inside to make it, I did. I chose Pomegranate White Tea from Trader Joe's. I hope to do this every week from now on because it makes the whole "tea time" theme a little more complete.

Now for highlights & lowlights of the past week, which I've also heard called Roses & Thorns:

A lowlight would be missing my family & friends. It's weird not knowing anyone in this town except people my sister is friends with. I'm not close enough to the people around here who are my age. I wouldn't mind making new friends, but I just like being at home & staying in touch with the friends I already have. Oh, & getting to a terribly sad, frustrating part in Oliver Twist. :(

Highlights include getting back into studying the Bible in Greek even though I'm not going as in-depth as when I was taking the course, substitute teaching homeschool style while my sister was at college, & walking/jogging with my sister 3 evenings in a row at the park. Last night I even went on the merry-go-round, slides, swings, & monkey bars. There's nothing like going on playground equipment to remind you that you used to be a kid. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brown Bag Stationery & Journals

So much for boring Mondays! 

I think it's super awesome that Mailbox Moments started this link-up about the same time that I found their blog AND the same time that I've been making handmade items to send my friends in the mail using only items I already have on hand. I couldn't stop at just sharing one.

So, first up is this stationery which is one of my favorites even though it was the least work. It's made from packaging paper that came with orders from Pampered Chef to keep the items from getting broken.

Next is a journal I made from brown paper grocery bags. I used these scissors to cut the pages:
 I do some cross-stitching, so I used this thread to sew the pages & cover together:

 The cover is thin cardboard that was used to keep my custom stamps from getting bent in the mail. I think this quote from Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey is perfect for the cover of a journal:
Sorry it's hard to read in the picture. It says: "Not keep a journal! How are the civilities & compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every evening in a journal?" :)

The last thing I made is this journal. It took the longest, but I'm not as happy with the results. Maybe it's too colorful to me and so it's not the soothing, peaceful journal I like. My niece said something about it being the coolest journal ever, though. :)
 This is actually my favorite part of the journal, & it makes me wish I'd been able to stitch the quote on the front.
 The ribbon as well as all of the cover paper is from gifts I've received.
 This back cover is from a gift bag that got torn & was therefore no longer useful as a gift bag. :)
 This is the inside cover made from the bottom of the gift bag. I taped it all around a granola bars box. In between this cover & the box is a slit that could be used as a storage pocket for loose papers, ticket stubs, etc. I'm not sure how easy it would be to use or how long this journal will even hold together. :( You could always tape/glue it back, though. :)
 I happened to have this heart-shaped hole punch that I used to tie this journal together like a spiral notebook (sort of) with yarn.
 This quote is from a song my sister wrote, & you can see how messy the tape & stitching (to the right) got. :( Still, I think the experiment helped me learn a few things. :)

Everyone should join in the Mailbox Moments Mondays link-up for next week. It's much simpler than this & gives you lots of options & ideas. If you don't have your own blog, I can try to put your idea up on mine. I can't wait to see what everyone puts! :)

Also, I've been thinking about starting an Etsy Shop for a while now. I guess this finally gave me the shove I needed. I began it yesterday so I only have one item, & you can be one of the first to see it. I'd love to know what you think! I know it's not much yet. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011


The actual state bird of Alaska is the Willow Ptarmigan. Sometimes it seems like mosquitoes are the state birds here, too, though. 
This came from my dad's brother who lives in Alaska
during the summer.
I've never been to Alaska, so reading these Fun Facts about Alaska was really fascinating:

  • Alaska is larger than the next four largest states combined

  • Alaska contains 17 of the 20 highest peaks in The United States

  • Alaska is only 50 miles from Russia.

  • Alaska has 29 volcanoes

  • Alaska has 33,000 miles of coastline...more than the rest of the lower 48 combined (This includes island shores)

  • Alaska is the only state to have coastlines on 3 different seas. Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea

  • There are more than three million lakes in Alaska

  • LoveNotesByLauryn

    I found a new blog that I wanted to share with you for a few reasons:

    1. Lauryn makes custom wedding, baby, & graduation announcements which goes along with my blog's theme of letters.

    2. She's sweet & funny...at least on her blog.

    3. By doing this, I could win some much-needed graphics for this blog.

    4. I learned a simple little calligraphy tip from her blog.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Young Prisoner

    This was from a guy I remember going to youth camp with a few years before I received this. I was very surprised to find out that he was in jail with my brother. Tyler is a year or two younger than me, which made it even more sad to me. More than sad, though, it made me want to offer some sort of joy to his days in jail. That's what I think my letters did. If it's something that touches your heart, consider becoming a prisoner's penpal through one the ministries mentioned here.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Winning Letters

    Mrs. Barbara entered my contest, winning 3 custom postage stamps. Here are some of her thoughts on letter-writing that I just couldn't help but share:

    When I sit down to write a letter, I can never think of anything to write about.  I wrote them on the computer.  Arthritis in my hands makes it hard to write.  Letters typed on the computer may not be very personal but one good thing about them, you can pretty much, in some cases, copy and paste the same paragraph in 2 or 3 different letters.  I guess that is o.k. as long as the recipients don't get together and share their letters and say Oh, Look...she said the exact same thing in my letter.  (a little humor here.) -Barbara

    Here are the letters Barbara wrote to her friends when she entered my one month anniversary contest. She has given me permission to share all three of them, and I'm so grateful. I'll be posting more from other winners later. :)

    July 26, 2011

    Hi  Patty,
         I haven’t heard from you in quite a long time and thought I would write to just get back in touch.  
         How have you and your family been doing?  I have four great-grandchildren now and they sure have been a blessing to me.  Three girls and one boy.  I baby sit with two of them Cole who is 5 and his sister Autumn who is 5 months old.  They keep me pretty busy.
         It has been a rough time since Frank passed away.  I miss him so much and still look for him to come in the house every day.  I don’t think I will ever get over missing him – he was my world.
         Baby sitting and making quilts is about all that I do to pass the time. I don’t travel anymore because I don’t like going places by myself, so I just stay home.
         Do you have a computer and are you on the internet?  I keep in touch with a lot of people and family on the internet on face book.  It is nice to be able to keep in touch that way.
    It has really been hot here this summer as I am sure it has been there.  We have had several days over 100° and heat index close to 105°.  
         A friend of mine has a Blog on the internet where she does journaling and invites people to send her letters they have received or written to put on her blog.  She has entries on her blog from her personal journal which is very interesting.   Part of the reason I am writing you is for her benefit and to also say that she has been an inspiration to me in getting me back into letter writing.  I have a couple of more letters that I am going to write, so will close for now.  Hope to hear from you soon.


    Hi  Elizabeth:
         Bet you are surprised to hear from me.  I just wanted to send you a letter congratulating you on your new job.  I hope it all works out for you and that you will be happy where you are.  How did your graduation party go?  I thought about you.
         How are your mom and dad doing?  I keep thinking about flying to Wisconsin, but just can’t make the expense of the tickets.  I look forward to seeing you, Shannon and her family on the cruise in September.  Good thing I already have that one paid for or I probably wouldn’t be going there either.  I can’t wait to meet Shannon’s babies and her husband.
         It has really been hot here this summer as I am sure it has been there.  We have had several days over 100° and heat index close to 105°.  
         A friend of mine has a Blog on the internet where she does journaling and invites people to send her letters they have received or written to put on her blog.  She has entries on her blog from her personal journal which is very interesting.   Part of the reason I am writing you is for her benefit and to also say that she has been an inspiration to me in getting me back into letter writing.  I have a couple of more letters that I am going to write, so will close for now.  Hope to hear from you soon.

    Aunt Barbara

    Hi  Ramona and Arkie:
         Thought I would write you a note.  I heard about your  fish fry/picnic where most of Hampton was invited. Jean told about it on the Family site.  She sounded like she really enjoyed it and meeting old friends again.  She sounds happy there with Ted and Sharon, I am glad that they have taken her in.
    Just wanted to let you know I appreciate your stopping by here on the way to Florida and inviting me to go with you.  Sorry, I couldn’t make it at that time.  I don’t go anywhere anymore because I just don’t like going by myself which is what I would have to do, so I stay home.  I never was good at driving on trips, and can get lost very quickly.  Frank used to say that I could get lost in my own back yard.  Flying is out of the question because of the expense.
         I keep busy with my great grandchildren; they are a blessing to me.  I baby sit for Linda 5 days a week and that keeps me pretty busy.  I drive to Martinez and back every day to baby sit.  Guess I will do that until I can’t do it any longer.  Baby sitting for her pretty much takes care of traveling.
    It has really been hot here this summer as I am sure it has been there.  We have had several days over 100° and heat index close to 105°.  
         A friend of mine has a Blog on the internet where she does journaling and invites people to send her letters they have received or written to put on her blog.  She has entries on her blog from her personal journal which is very interesting.   Part of the reason I am writing you is for her benefit and to also say that she has been an inspiration to me in getting me back into letter writing.  I have a couple of more letters that I am going to write, so will close for now.  Hope to hear from you soon.


    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    North Carolina

    I must confess that North Carolina is quickly becoming a favorite for me.
    Part of it is all the wonderful sites to visit, but mostly it's the great people
     that I know who live there...people I get to visit the wonderful places with.

    Fun Facts:
    • The Wright brothers completed the first successful flight of a
    • mechanically propelled airplane over the sands of Kitty Hawk, 
    • North Carolina on December 17, 1903.
    • Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville on 
    • March 7, 1914. 
    • The first English child born in America, Virginia Dare, was born 
    • in Roanoke, North Carolina, in 1587.

    • Jockey's Ridge is the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern
    •  United States. Depending on the weather, its height can range
    •  from 80 to 100 feet!
    • Whitewater Falls in Transylvania County, one of over 200 waterfalls 
    • in North Carolina, is the highest waterfall on the East Coast.
    • The Biltmore Estate in Asheville is the largest private house in the 
    • world, with 250 rooms.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Highlights & Lowlights

    Time to make some hot tea again, then share what's been going on this week...

    This week's lowlight for me is finding out I have to pay $84 to become a substitute teacher. I'm thankful that my lowlights have been small things lately, but sometimes it's those things that get to you most, leaving you in a bad mood because you don't think it's important enough to pray about. Or maybe that's just me.

     But the highlight is how much I feel like a kid again. My week has consisted of making a chore chart, playing legos & Apples  to Apples, climbing over the deck onto a huge pile of dirt, putting together a jumbo dinosaur puzzle, jogging a new trail at the park with my sister, climbing a tree, hearing my nephew read Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes in the cutest way possible, & sleeping outside on the trampoline with my 10-year-old niece. I did some sorta grown-up things, too. Sewed a small pillow & a hole in my shirt, started reading a verse of Greek a day; I'm going through Romans, & babysat.

    What were the highlights & lowlights of your week?

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Back to School Giveaway Challenge

    Happy first day of school! I feel a little left out that everyone is going back to school except me...but I feel left out in a good way. :)

    Before I forget, if you don't win, but you have similar items & choose to use them to "enjoy the moment," please let me know about your experience with it! Even if the contest is over, I'd love to hear how it inspired you.

    Ok, so this month's prize is a pencil! Wooohooo. BUT it is pretty cool because it has stickers that go on it so that I can spell out a name or phrase for you if you want. And actually it's five pencils.

    Anyway, one of my ideas is that you could use it to underline/make comments in a book. (If it's a really good one, I'd like to read your copy with your comments in it.) Oh, or you could draw me (or someone else, I don't know why I'm being so selfish today) an amazing picture. Or you could start a story about ME (kidding) & pass it on along with the pencil to a friend who would continue the story. They could pass it to a different friend or back to you until it's finished. Of course I want to read the finished copy.

    Anyway, if you have better ideas of how to "enjoy the moment" by writing with this pencil, let me know that, too. No matter what, leave a comment here (or email me) describing your plan & you could be tthis month's winner. Write away right away!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Tea Time

    As school starts again, I'm reminded of one of my favorite things about college: Tea Time. It was a small group of girls who gathered weekly to drink hot tea & share the highlights & lowlights of the previous week. Not being very fond of tea, I didn't attend until I became a chaplain & began helping lead it. I grew to enjoy hot tea more & more, as it brought us together in a most relaxing way. Tea Time evolved over the years, but the informal atmosphere never changed. And neither did highlights/lowlights.

    In an attempt to keep up with the weekly events of my friends & to grow to know new ones, I'm creating a weekly section of the blog for us to share our highs & lows: Tuesday Tea Time. So grab a cup of hot tea (coffee, hot chocolate, or apple cider will work, too!), make yourself comfortable, & share your heart. I'll go first.

    I always start with my lowlight so I can end on a positive note. This week was frustrating financially. I don't enjoy filling out job applications, but on top of that, the bank blocked my account because I used it to make a payment on my student loans. I hadn't used that account in a while, so my bank got suspicious. So I have to call them again to verify my identity. I don't like talking on the phone, & I guess I just wonder if one day I'll say something wrong & they won't believe that I am me. Anyway, it's just a small lowlight this week because all I can think of is the fun I had. Oh, yeah, I also didn't get much sleep, but that's because of my highlight.

    I went to my aunt's house with my sister! This includes about 50 highlights in only a couple of days:

    • Reading The Hunger Games (which I got in Dec. from helping in a Scholastic warehouse) out loud while Kristi drove 8 hours (we also had a nice long, uninterrupted conversation, partly about Notes from the Tilt-a-whirl, which is a rare occurrence when at her house with 5 kids around). This reading also caused us to stay up until 2am even though we got up early to go on a 3 mile hike at Raven Rock.
    • Stopping at SC welcome center for a frolick in the woods. Our legs were satisfactorily stretched, but before we hopped back in the car, Kristi decided to wonder to another section of grass. Reading the sign that it was an area for pets, she cautioned me, "Watch out for dog poop." Seconds later she slid in a fresh blob of it herself.
    • The discovery of the most plush bed as our resting place for two nights at our aunt's.
    • Going yardsaling with the aunt & uncle. We each came away with a little stash of treasure. We also stopped at the Dollar Tree & then off to Trader Joe's. I just tried my orange chicken, & it's delish! :) I also loved the mint ice cream sandwiches. Yum!
    • Then it was time for a swim, a delicious dinner of salmon they caught in Alaska a couple of weeks ago, & the watching of Pride & Prejudice. *Sigh* Yes, a dreamy weekend.
    • On the way home I got to see my new niece for the first time. So tiny! It was good to see the rest of the family, too!
    What are your highlights & lowlights from last week? Can't wait to hear from you!

    Friday, August 5, 2011


    This letter came from an amazing college friend over summer break. She wrote in my yearbook (haha, yes, we did this in college...I loved it because my private school was so small that we didn't have yearbooks) that she had heard that I like writing letters & that she liked writing them, too. She put her London address, making hers one of the most memorable messages in my yearbook. :)
    It was even better since she wrote back.

    Fun Facts about England:
  • Queen Victoria loved Valentine's Day cards. In fact, during her reign, she sent nearly 2500 cards.

  • The English gulp down more tea than anyone else on Earth. Even though Americans enjoy their tea also, the English use about 20 times more.

  • Big Ben is not the name of the entire building that contains the clock. The name is actually what the bell inside the tower is called. The structure is actually called St. Stephen's Tower.
  • Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Prison Ministry

    During the time this letter was written, I was old enough to visit my brother in jail. I remember being a little nervous, but also being very excited because I could talk to him on the little phone through the glass like on tv. It wasn't as great as I'd expected. It was too loud to hear much so lots of the time was spent saying, "What?" or hearing my brother tell the other people to be quiet.

    Also, I remember having taken a field trip with a leadership group in high school. We did a tour of the jail. Now, for a while I'd had this idea that jail might not be so bad because it gave you plenty of time to write & read. Plus, everything is taken care of for you. Naive, I know. But, don't worry, the field trip banished those thoughts. First of all, I love three things that jail doesn't give you: privacy, quiet time, and life outdoors! Some of the people on this trip were afraid of the inmates. Others were waving at their friends in there, lol! I wasn't afraid; I was just uncomfortable & felt sorry for them, even the ones (or especially the ones) who were yelling for us to get out of there. It really made me want to do some prison ministry.

    Writing letters seemed to be the best way for me to do that. That's how I found Christian PenPals & wrote to many prisoners through them (some of which I'll be putting on here later). Although I haven't used this site, I'm sure WriteAPrisoner is another good way to get involved. I'm thinking about trying it myself. It's different in that you see the prisoners' pictures and interests and choose which one you want.

    Anyway, the following is a letter from my brother who is about 7 years older than me, & I love him very much. He's been out of jail for a while & is maintaining a good job. :) He recently got engaged to the amazing Heather, whom we all just love! Thankfully things are looking up in his life from when this letter was written.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Don't Judge a Book by its Cover: Judge it by my Review ;)

    I finished this book last night, & it made me want to go to the jungle, cry, gag, & see God for who He is, not just who I want Him to be (not necessarily in that order). How many books can you say that about? Since it's a true story, I thought it should have a place on the blog. I had never heard of Bruchko until my sister said she read it to her kids & that I'd probably like it. She never suggests books for me to read since these days she mostly reads stuff about parenting. Or she reads children's books, of course. I don't want to ruin the surprise of the awesomeness contained in this book by giving away the details, so please try to get your hands on a copy & read it for yourself. I don't think you'll regret it; there wasn't a chapter that I wasn't glad I read. I learned so much, & it didn't even feel like studying. It's the kind of stuff you don't usually learn in a classroom. I want a faith like what's shared in the book, & yet the thought of it terrifies me, too.

    Let me know what you think if you read it! :)

    There's a sequel of stories that I hope are equally amazing. I'll have to check it out & let you know. What's your favorite nonfiction book?

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Thoughts by the Sea

    This journal hasn't been completely filled yet.
    I bought it on a trip with Singers
    when a friend pointed it out to me.
    It was perfect because it combined two things
    I love: the beach & journaling. :)
     People often ask me what I write in my journal. As you can see from this entry, I write whatever I think. I write about things that have happened that made me laugh, things I want to remember. Although most of this is probably only significant to me, hopefully something here will bring a smile to your face or an encouraging thought to your mind. Sorry I write so small & sloppy...& sporadically. :)

    By the way, I was totally joking about the reason we invite Mrs. Christine. She's an awesome friend of my mom's & is always so much fun. She really adds a lot to our trips to the beach...even when she doesn't bring bathingsuits for me. :D (And the bathingsuits look just as cute on her; she just doesn't think so.)

    Don't forget to comment on or email me about the "Enjoy the Moment" Giveaway Challenge for July.

    Saturday, July 30, 2011


    This is a letter to my friend Reina & her family from a child they sponsor. I was there when they got it, & it was so exciting! :)
    (Click to Enlarge)

    Picture the girl drew for them. :)

     Mozambique Fun Facts:
    Portuguese is the official language in the country of Mozambique. However, Swahili, Sena and Makhuwa are spoken commonly across the length and breadth of the country.

    In 2008, thousands of Mozambicans were forced to leave their homes for the sake of higher ground when the mighty Zambezi River overflowed its banks.

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    Love Bugs

    A few years ago, my grandma and I were talking to Megan and our Aunt Nancy about whether we liked writing or not. I said, "not really" and Grandma laughed and said, "Oh yes she does! I got a letter from her a few weeks ago about her trip to the beach. It was a long one. She must enjoy writing." Her comment made me realize that I do love to write...as long as it's on a subject of my choosing and as long as I don't feel rushed to finish. :) I recently found this letter at her house after she passed away. I loved how it said "SAVE" on the envelope. It was so much fun reading about the details of our trip which I'd long since forgotten--especially the shower scene! I am so glad she saved it, and it makes me want to write more to preserve these precious (although hectic) years with my children.

    -Kristi Kritter

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    I Love My Nieces to Pieces!

    Grace is my first of 6  nieces. This will give you a taste of why I love them so much! When I gave her the journal, one of the first things she said was, "Now I can be on your blog." :) Adorable.

    We both loved the "Another Journal Entry"
    cd by BarlowGirl. Grace even went to the
    concert with us.
    I realized that I have far too many journals
    that I won't use anytime soon. People are
    always giving them to me because they
    know I love them. :D So I've accumulated a few
    & thought that I could part with this one
    especially since it would be to Grace.
    A friend gave me a different BarlowGirl journal,
    so now we sort of match. :)

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Christmas in July Giveaway Challenge

    First up...
    Ok, who can come up with the best way to "enjoy the moment" with this hot pink monkey? Don't leave it hanging! 

    Monkeys used to be my favorite animal, so I've accumulated quite a few stuffed ones over the years.This one's arms even velcro together. :)  Maybe you could take it to a children's hospital & have each kid take a picture with it & write down what they think it should be named. You could give everyone their picture with it & give the monkey to the one withthe best name. Or you could write a note with it & give it to someone going on a trip to take with them & give it to someone wherever they go. Don't forget to tell them about the blog so that they can tell me what sort of adventures they had with the hot pink monkey. You know I'll share it with everyone on here.

    Leave a comment below of who you'd give it to & where they're going, etc., & you might be this months winner! Or maybe you have a better idea for this hot pink monkey...maybe you've just always wanted one. Just let me know how it will help you or someone else to "enjoy the moment" & go bananas!