Friday, February 29, 2008

SUMC 2008 Winter Camp

Snoqualmie United Methodist Church
Middle School Winter Camp 2008
Lazy F Ranch on the Manashtash River, WA


On the weekend of February 23rd and 24th, five of the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church middle-school youth went up to the Lazy F ranch for UMC winter camp. The hardy souls were (clockwise from top left):
  • Andrew
  • Kelcey
  • Elizabeth
  • Hope
  • Kathleen (Kelcey's mom)
  • Molly
  • David Holmes (yours truly)
Kelcey's mom Kathleen was the other "Adult" besides myself. As per Marcia Reinert's suggestion, we stopped at the McDonald's in Ellensburg for lunch, where Elizabeth was shocked to find a hair in her french fries. Her face has this ability to convey intense amounts of disgust and horror. After getting some new fries, she and Kelcey went up into the playland area where they found a half-eaten SUBWAY MEAL. Gross! Elizabeth also reported strange grimy puddles up there. Again, the disgust was palpable.

As we arrived and registered I found that my plan of sneaking off in the middle of night to Ellensburg's accomodating Cowboy bars was foiled when the good Lord saw fit to put me in charge, at night, of not only Andrew but three youths from Wallingford who had no male youth leader with them.

Elizabeth and Kelcey tubing

The highlight of that afternoon was a couple of hours of tubing on the sledding hill. The kids went down the hill over and over again, sometimes solo, sometimes as part of a train and sometimes sharing a tube. The kids pleaded with Kathleen and I to join them but we chickened out; my idea of "Cold weather Gear" is a coffee-cup with a LID on it so I didn't want to get my jeans and sweatshirt wet.

Molly had no cold weather gear either but that didn't stop her from sledding and also attempting to walk in 3' snow. I watched her lose her shoe in deep banks of snow a few times and wondered what goes on in her mind.

After sledding there was barn-time where the kids played pool and ping pong. Molly likes to hit "home runs" with her ping pong paddle and this made for very short volleys. Kelcey showed some aptitude but before she and I could properly square off (and she be properly schooled) the dinner bell was rung.

We had all heard that the food at Lazy F was delicious and dinner did not disappoint. Dinner the first night was PASTA BAR. How cool is that???? Yum! And SUNDAES FOR DESSERT. After dinner we split up into small groups. I was in a separate group so I didn't see what happened with any of the other Snoqualmie people. Our group had three Davids among ten guys and, honestly, we spent most of the time playing Mafia. I'd never played that game before and I was intrigued by how the play seemed to involve very small amounts of public information. However, it appears that all players were using side-channel attacks because when I did an informal poll afterward, almost everyone admitted to cheating.

We called this kid "The Dolphin" in Small Groups.

The movie of the evening was "Night at the Musuem" which I had never seen, so I happily hung out and watched it while the kids furiously networked with each other. Hope can make friends in an instant; in fact, she's so good at making friends that we hardly ever saw her. Andrew is like that, too.

Our cabin that night was FULL; twelve dudes in six bunk-beds. It was hot in the room thanks to an eager heater but fortunately there was no snoring. Everyone was well behaved and slept well from what I could tell.

Day two started with breakfast of b & e and cinnamon rolls too. And some decent coffee as well. There was another small groups session and then some play-time in the snow. In one of these pictures, you can see Andrew resting after pelting some of his new-found friends in a snowball fight.

After lunch (Taco Bar) there was a long rally that I think all of us were initially dreading. But you know what? It turned out to be very moving. It was cleansing and inspiring and there were more than a few moist eyes in the crowd. I got something in my eye, too, but with some discreet rubbing I got it out.

At one point during the service, I mean rally, some back-up singers were needed and Elizabeth and Hope stepped up to the task. See them here. Sorry for the poor video and audio but I was far away with my small group of guys.

Elizabeth and Hope step up as back-up singers

Lastly, here is my favorite video of the trip. Its a technique called "fauxtography" where the camera operator pretends to be setting up for a single still shot but is actually filming video the entire time. Just as Kathleen is about to snap a photo, Elizabeth decides that Kelcey doesn't need to be in the shot, and indeed, she is no-where to be seen in the final picture.

Elizabeth is a Diva

As promised, we returned all the children to their parents with limbs and brains intact so the trip was an unqualified success. But on a serious note, I honestly do thank the Lord that he gave me the opportunity to get to know these wonderful kids last weekend.

-- David Holmes