Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Trip to Kentucky, Part 2

Back inside the bunk house, I read my Bible while the other girls were awaking and getting ready for the day.   Soon Brystol (Reckner) and Sarah were making eggs and toast for us. Brystol asked me, “Would you like to walk with Sarah and I? We do this often, especially during the camps and we pray as we walk.” “Sure,” I said. When one of her little brothers heard I was going to walk with them he said, “prepare to walk for 3 miles!” I thought he was joking, but found he was honest. I soon found myself walking as fast as I could and being amazed at the passion with which Brystol and Sarah prayed.  I admired these two dedicated young ladies who prayed powerfully and covered miles quickly!  I decided I would be both physically and spiritually fit by the end of my stay!

On our return to the house, I was given my assignments for the day, helping Kimberly in the kitchen: making a large batch of pizza dough (at least 12 pans in all), mixing up 72 granola bars, and cooking 20-30 lbs of hamburger.  Kimberly helped me find things and run their big commercial type mixer.  I was glad that I was able to see the preparation that goes into running this kind of ministry.  Saturday morning held a similar routine of working in the kitchen doing jobs that needed done or the family didn't have time to do.  At the end of the day, I once again moved my belongings, this time to the bunkhouse the girl's would be staying in during camp.  I picked a top bunk that didn't have any sides as the younger campers would not be allowed to sleep there.

On Sunday, the majority of the Reckner family and staff piled into the 15 passenger van to go to church.  It was about a 15 min drive through the narrow, winding paved roads of rural Sebree, Kentucky. The rest of the day was spent getting ready for the campers to arrive, staff introductions, and staff instructions.  I was assigned to be a team leader (Sheriff) of the blue group.  At 3:00 p.m., camp registration started.  My team's color was dark blue and when it came time for roll call, I had 2 boys and girls under my leadership.   After Timothy Reckner did an overview of the camp rules, we all tromped down to the arena to do our first horse event of the day—a water relay.  Each rider had to get a cupfull of water, mount their horse, ride being careful not to spill, and dump the water in a bucket at the opposite end of the arena.  The first team to fill their bucket was the winner. 

Next it was chore time.  Chore time was twice a day and consisted of at least 3 of the 4 chore areas: barn chores, dog & chicken chores, bunkhouse chores, and kitchen patrol. Each of the 3 team groups took turns doing the different chores so everyone had a chance to learn how to do each one. Barn chores consisted of saddling or unsaddling horses, mucking stalls, filling water pails, and feeding the horses.  The dogs' water and food was checked, as well as the chickens, except for the addition of checking the nest boxes for eggs.  As for the bunkhouses, there were contests morning and evening to see whether the boy's or the girls' bunkhouse was the cleanest; each was awarded according to cleanliness.  The dirty award was a string of dirty socks!  This motivated the campers to keep their bunkhouse both clean and orderly.  Kitchen patrol which was done in the evening, involved the campers in washing dishes, sweeping floors, and cleaning the bathroom in the Reckner's house. Surprisingly, the boys always asked for the job of cleaning the bathroom! 

Throughout the day a big bell was rung by the house to call campers to meals, give instructions on each team's next activity, etc.  At the sound of that bell campers came running from all directions, each team lining up from shortest to tallest.  Before speaking, the camp directors would make sure they had everyone's attention by yelling--”Eyeballs!” and the children would respond loudly with, “Click!”  Sunday evening, after the staff meeting, I entered the bunkhouse now overflowing with children.  I had know idea where some of my belongings were and to top it all off, I had agreed to sleep in the loft to give more room to the campers.  The top bunk bed I had used became launch pad and landing for those of us clearing the gap between the bunk bed and the loft.  I was glad I wouldn't be moving my sleeping space for a while.

The year theme for the camp was The Grace Rider: Enthusiastic young riders willing to risk life daily to carry the message of the gospel to the end of the earth.  Each night ended with a skit put on by the staff about a pony express rider name Ransom who got a job with the pony express had to decide how to respond to the other riders and frustrating situations in a way that pleased God.  Children also learned facts about the pony express.

The theme for the week was the fruit of the Spirit from Galations 5:16-22.  Each day focused on at least one or two of the fruits of the spirit.

Monday found Sheriff Hannah keeping five cowboys and cowgirls on the right trail to activities.  One of the most memorable moments of that day was our survival activity: building a fire.  Mrs. Winfree explained what materials are combustible and how to put them together in a way that will get it to burn.  The blue group had a contest to see who could burn through the line the fastest with the fire they built.  Deputy Wesley had the idea of how to build it and I helped instruct my campers on what materials to gather.   We made a tepee out of big logs, placing dry grass, small twigs, and dry leaves in the center.  Each team was allowed 2 matches to start their fire. The light blue team's fire was slow to start, but our dark blue team's fire lit and burned through the rope in about 10 seconds.  The children were elated, but then we were instructed to put out our fire because when learning to start a fire, one must also learn to put it out.  Mrs. Winfree challenged us to practice peace: Don't burn with anger, but be a peacemaker when we experience conflict.

Tuesday we learned patience as we attempted to play 3-legged freeze tag. Once we accomplished it with two people, then we were challenged to do it with 9-10 of us. We quickly learned those of us who were more patient with our fellow teammates and those of us who were willing to just drag and pull each other along.

Wednesday we were given materials to construct a boat that would then be tested for floating capabilities. Some of us didn't realize that we our goal wasn't just to make our boat float, but to be creative in the design. Our team's creativity and artistic abilities was definitely challenged that day, for we also had to design a marble works.

On Thursday, we received the addition of a sweet, energetic young lady named Gracie and our team of four campers turned to five. The day started out with a breakfast on the trail. Half of the 30 campers got to ride to the clearing where we would eat our breafast while the rest walked. Each of us received a sack lunch of an apple, granola bar, yogurt tube, and boiled egg.  A comical moment was when a couple of the younger boys attempted to make a seat by placing a branch across two stumps.   I worked for a while till one of the little girls decided to try it and they all quickly jumped to their feet when the branch cracked in two.  Faith was probably my favorite fruit of the spirit that was displayed in the educational event.  After watching children and staff walk by with white splotches on themselves, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to want to do the educational activity.

The title for this event said, "Walking on Faith" which one of the other leaders who had done it before us informed me that you actually got to walk on water.

“Hmm, this should be interesting,” I thought as I observed the children mixing the cornstarch filled water in the plastic swimming pool with their hands. “Wow! This is really cool. Look at this!”  the children called to me excitedly.  I watched, but stood back, not really sure if I wanted to join in as I looked down at my clothes wondering if I should have worn ones I didn't care about messing up.  “Don't worry.  It brushes off once it dries,” Brystol reassured everyone.  I was skeptical as I eyed the obvious white splotches on her outfit.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Trip to Kentucky: Part 1

 Kentucky.  Once I had been super excited to go there: a chance to get away, a change of routine, meet like-minded people, and be around horses. Then, my first volunteer application got lost in the mail and I had to fill out the 21 page application again.   Because of this delay, I was usable to go in June like I had planned and had to wait for the July27-Aug 2 camp to volunteer at.   During that time of waiting, God used the responsibilities and opportunities at home to diminish my excitement for leaving and increase my desire to stay at home.  I am glad God made me wait or I would have set my expectations too high and been disappointed once I got to Kentucky.  Instead I went bringing no expectations, just my service and an open mind willing to learn. 

After about 10 hours of driving we pulled in the long lain of the Higher Ground Ministry Mission, other wise known as the Reckner Family's Ranch. The huge mansion like house with the white pillars stood out at the top of the hill and about 10-15 slender horses grazed on short, dry grass. One of their sons came out to see who had arrived and Sarah one of their full-time volunteers came out to invite us inside. The Reckner family was very friendly and hospitable. They readily welcomed us for supper offering us Chili and Sweet tea (which is like sugar water! If I'd been a gumming bird I would have slurped it greedily!) It was a good supper and I was beginning to feel at home. Although the outward appearance of the house gave one the impression of a wealthy family, the atmosphere inside was just the usual down to earth ranch family that was using their house to minister Christ's love to others. I talked to their twin girls Kimberly and Bethany who were close in age to me—19.

 It wasn't till 10 p.m. that I was shown where I would be sleeping.  I was taken into the bunkhouse where the girl staff had been staying.  It was actually a small shed-type house with the one bedroom that had three of the four walls lined with a bunk bed that was three high. “Oh, my,” I thought when I saw my sleeping choices.  It was either a middle bunk or a top bunk which was about eight feet off the floor.   Because of my past nervous feeling about heights, I chose the middle bunk and proceeded to figure out how to climb into it.  I had three choices.

1      Step on the bottom bunk and do a push up combination jump while quickly ducking my head.
2      Climb up the end and try to avoid the ceiling fan blades while swinging into my bunk.
3      I resorted to climbing through the two foot by three foot gap on the end into my bed.  It worked and by morning, I was a pro at it! It made me smile to think how this camp was unique and different from large scale camps. It was truly something that this family had to just made do with what they had and hey, it worked!

I woke up around 6:30 a.m,  quickly stumbling about in the dimly lit room groping for my clothes and all the while trying not to waken the other girls. I hoped to catch my parents because I knew they hoped to see me before they left. I stepped out into the cool morning, a mist hung in the air.  The Reckner's big friendly border collie, Gunner, came over to greet me and as I bent down to pet him, I heard the van breaks squeak as my family's van stopped beside me. I gave Mom, Dad, Rachel, and Elijah all a hug and watched the van go down the drive way.  I looked down at Gunner sitting at my feet with a big doggy smile.   Crouching down, I sunk my fingers into his thick coat and asked,  “What have I gotten myself into?”