Archive for April, 2014

Surprise and Possibility: A Confession

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Winter...ahem...SPRING is beautiful!

Frog knocked at Toad’s door.

“Toad, wake up,” he cried. “Come out and see how wonderful the winter is!”

“I will not,” said Toad. “I am in my warm bed.”

“Winter is beautiful,” said Frog. “Come out and have fun.” –Arnold Lobel

(Don’t tell anyone…but I really like these spring snow storms.)

The reason I like them is twofold: 1) I like surprises and 2) I think spring snow creates awesome possibilities.

First, just like any meteorologist, there are often flaws in our weather reports. A forecast of 1-3 inches occasionally gives us less than half an inch—or we will get over a foot. So, for me, it is better to not tut and worry over the impending Snowpocalypse, and just hop out of bed in the morning, open the blinds and say, “WOW!” And the morning after a big snow in Colorado is almost ALWAYS worthy of a wow…and sometimes a big sigh…especially if you left your boots on deck.

Second, spring snow creates possibilities. It is the weather equivalent to long-term economics. When we get snow, it takes longer for the snow to slowly melt and seep into the semi-frozen ground—which means better moisture retention for our trees, plants, and wildflowers. Since we often have about 6-8 weeks of very dry, warm weather in June and July—I see these late snows as significant deposits into our drought fund. (Did I just pay taxes this week? Indeed.)

It also creates really rare moments and experiences if you are a kid (or a kid at heart). This morning, while walking to work, I found myself “Running the Gauntlet” Ninja-Big-Spring-Warrior style, a game invented out of the need to attempt to avoid the giant snow cascades unloading from the top, sun-warmed branches. Final Score: Ponderosas—3, Ariella—4.

My kids, and most of the boys at Big Spring, love nothing more than to spend hours slopping through the muddy spring roads draining puddles, building and diverting stick and foot dug streams, and otherwise enjoying the extended hours of daylight following the school day. When it snows a foot one day, then the temperature reaches the 50′s by noon the next, we have A LOT of mud options.

Snowy Easter surprise!

And, finally, with Easter weekend upon us—our spring snowstorms sometimes even catch the Easter bunny by surprise—leaving both bunny, and boys, wondering for days if they had found all of the eggs. (They did not.)

The experiences the snow creates are often priceless, and—unlike the snows of December—you know the warmer weather is just around the corner. There is no need to hunker down and wait out these storms, they are as ephemeral as childhood—and full of as much possibility and fun as the summer. Perhaps that is the most exciting part of a spring snowstorm: it simply means summer is almost here.

“When I was small, not much bigger than a pollywog,” said Frog, “my father said to me, ‘Son, this is a cold, gray day but spring is just around the corner,’ I wanted spring to come. I went out to find that corner. I walked down a path in the woods until I came to a corner. I went around the corner to see if spring was on the other side.”

“And was it?” asked Toad.

“No,” said Frog. “There was only a pine tree, three pebbles and some dry grass. I walked in the meadow. ; Soon I came to another corner. I went around the corner to see if spring was there.”

“Did you find it?” asked Toad.

“No,” said Frog. “There was only an old worm asleep on a tree stump.” “I walked along the river until I came to another corner. I went around the corner to look for spring.” “Was it there?” asked Toad.

“No,” said Frog. “There was only some wet mud and a lizard who was chasing his tail.

“You must have been tired,” said Toad.

“I was tired,” said Frog, “and it started to rain.”

“I went back home. When I got there,” said Frog, “I found another corner. It was the corner of my house,”

“Did you go around it?” asked Toad.

“I went around that corner, too,” said Frog.

“What did you see?” asked Toad.

“I saw the sun coming out,” said Frog. “I saw birds sitting and singing in a tree. I saw my mother and father working in their garden. I saw flowers in the garden.”

“You found it!” cried Toad. “Yes,” said Frog. “I was very happy. I had found the corner that spring was just around,”

“Look, Frog,” said Toad. “You were right. The rain has stopped,”

Frog and Toad hurried outside. They ran around the corner of Frog’s house to make sure that spring had come again.  -Arnold Lobel

Zen Masters, Unite and Write!

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

As community building and preparation for the summer, each camp creates a staff-only Facebook group so staff can discuss the upcoming summer, make introductions, and ask for advice from directors and returning staff members on all things camp.

Yesterday, the topic of conversation was laundry—how is it done, who does it, how often, and more.  As the ideas for underwear management were traded back and forth the line, “unless there is a name on it” was repeated over and over.  Though some of the comments were written in jest…there was a slightly desperate undercurrent and tone from many of our returning staff members.

The Klean Karma Laundry has been such a foundational part of camp for so long, that—in our quest to keep its reputation unsullied—we decided we must clean up our acts and seek order and crisp clarity in setting a goal to keep our laundry Karma pure.

This made us think:  how could we create Laundry Nirvana at camp?  Much like the Eightfold Path, we need to have the Right Effort to achieve the Right Mindfulness which is found through Right Concentration.  Laundry truly can be a meditative effort and when we put our minds to making the whole laundry process one of zen-like calm and clarity.  If we can make it so, then we are all able to concentrate on other things….like playing outside.

Though some may say the sword is mightier than the pen, we disagree.  We believe there is nothing more powerful than a Sharpie Rub-A-Dub laundry marker.  And imagine the impact you could have on the lives of countless children, young adults, and weary laundresses if you practice this meditation every laundry day between now and camp:

You stand at the folding table, a content smile on your face, your head is clear of any negative thoughts.  You mindfully lift and fold clothing item after clothing item, noticing your breathing and sending positive energy toward the wearer of the Fruit of the Looms you hold in your hand.  As you inhale, you lift the Sharpie purposefully, intently, and then slowly inscribe the name of the wearer on the smooth elastic band, deeply exhaling as you lift the pen from the cotton.*  Repeat.  If your mind wanders, use the image of a sad counselor lost in a chaotic mountain of unlabeled clothes to help you refocus on your breathing.

Laundry nirvana is achievable if we label mindfully and follow the orderly path to sorting the fresh and folded linens….at least, everyone in the cabin and the unit will be much happier that way.

In closing, we offer you this mantra to chant:  May your karma be forever clean, and may the names on your socks (and your skivvies) be your own.

*Or, if you are more of the contemplative ironing type, may we recommend Mabels Labels or Stuck On You as a great option for helping clothes—and everything else—find their way back to the right owners.

News from Camp: April 1, 2014

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
We will be heading into the high mountains soon!

A few of our summer birds, including bluebirds and robins, have returned to the Ranch so we know spring is on the way.  We still have quite a few snow drifts scattered around, mostly on north-facing slopes, but the first Pasque flower of the season has been spotted. Temperatures have warmed up and the nice weather really inspires us to work hard on our many pre-summer projects.  The summer staff will begin arriving in less than two months.

Speaking of staff, we have some great people returning for 2014!  At Big Spring, returning wranglers include Austin Coffey, Charles Nunziato, and Bryan Belsey.  Ridge Leaders will be Matthew Goodrid, McLane Grow, Jeremy Mabe, and Evan Simpson.  Other returning staff include Peter Hoeller, Evan Niebur, Josh Ohaus, Matt Sieminski, Tre Sisneros, William Stupp, Jonah Sublette, Jake Gulliver and Ethan Wallgren.  Jackson Blackburn, Mike Piel, Ian Stafford and Chris “BC” Miller-McLemore will once again be part of the Big Spring Leadership Team and Mike Mac will lead the staff as usual.

At High Trails, Sara Everhart, Hannah Flink, Valerie Peterson, and Erica Wilkins will be returning as Ridge Leaders.  Mary Talbot will be the Outcamp Coordinator; and Jamie Olivette, Jenny Hartman, Maggie Kittner and AnnaMaria Viazzo will be wranglers.  Tully Sandbom, Sami Burrell, Jane Canter, Barrett Donovan, Makenzie Goldstein, Kaiti Kinshella, Iska Nardie-Warner, Melody Reeves, Evy Royther, Haley Schreier, Emily Thompson, Nora Philbin, and Lucy Stockdale will return as counselors.  Kelly Muedeking will again be Program Director, Carlotta Avery will take care of trip organization, Maren MacDonald will direct the riding program, Jessie Spehar will take photographs and Ariella and Elizabeth will keep everyone organized.  We also have a great group of former campers returning as staff members, and some wonderful new staff who will join us for the first time.

We have begun our Spring outdoor education program and are excited to provide experiential, nature-based classes for 4th– 6th graders from 15 schools over the next six weeks.

Our April will be filled with putting the finishing touches on improved programs and trips for this summer, renovation projects to improve our facilities, hiring the last few summer staff and counting the days until camp begins.  We’ll be painting, cleaning, flying tents, and planting flowers in no time.

Our 2014 community is really coming together.  The First Term at High Trails is filled and there only a few openings left in the Second Term of High Trails.  Many grades in the First Term of Big Spring are filled, and Big Spring still has openings in most grades in the Second Term.  Some Sanborn Junior terms in both camps are filled but we have a few openings in other terms.  Families interested for the summer of 2014 should call to check availability.  As always, we are happy to send our brochure, DVD and references to any interested families. 

We can’t wait to begin creating the fun, adventure, and friendship of the Summer of 2014!