Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another busy camp

This past week has been much sunnier, but the clear night skies sent the temp down to 34 degrees the other morning.
What we won't do for our youth. The beautiful blond dressed in blue (with the grey beard) is our pastor Mark, our program director. He has joined another staff and a cabin of girls in a tea party.

The boys have other games in mind. Here a dozen young men help lift a newly constructed, 20 foot long carpet ball table onto the bed of a truck for transportation to the games building. Dale and Mark designed the new game. Dale spent most of his spare time refining and building the monster.

Yes, we still have cold days, but when the sun is out Alaskans will play. How do you like the size of this slippy-slide?

Two of our counselors stopped by the kitchen. I noticed one was barefooted  in spite of her sweatshirt.

Our Mission Force (counselors in training) are so dedicated that the center girl drove her 4-wheeler to camp. This is common transportation. the following day she arrived on her bike.

A sunny day gave these girls an opportunity to model their tie-died T-shirts.

While in Fairbanks for our weekly shopping, we stopped to visit the WEIO, or World Eskimo-Indian Olympics. The even we witnessed was a painful ear weight. contestants hook a string over their ear. Attached to the string are 16 one pound weights. This strong man has lifted about 8 pounds off the floor.

Not to be out done, the lady has raised about ten pounds, that's more that the weight of a gallon of milk, with her ear!! So what's the point? the games of WEIO show some of the skills and physical abilities, such as strength, balance, tolerance to pain, and endurance that are required to survive in the Artic. The ear weight is a test of pain tolerance and endurance and simulates the pain of frost-bitten ears.

Included at the WEIO are booths of crafts by Native artists. I am most fascinated by the beaded baby belts shown above. The designs are created by sewing individual seed beads to animal skins.

As much as I'd like this pare of mukluks I don't think they would be practical in Texas.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Middle School Camp is still Damp.

Rains continue and the rivers are still full but camp goes on with a strange visitor to our dining hall.
The tall stranger with the head of a camel and the body of two stacked up campers, came to lunch wrapped in a blanket. Boys will be boys.

Two girl campers share a cabin porch for solo Bible study time behind a clothes line of drying tie-died T-shirts.

A favorite activity is "the cage". A counselor is chosen to be the focus of water balloon toss. This day in spite of the sun, the temp was in the 60s. You can see her to the left of the cage with the splash of a burst water balloon. Towels awaited.

Archery is another favorite activity.

 The water slide and "pool" was finally finished and enjoyed by all. The line up of shivering swimmers wait in the shade
The young man sitting on the side of the tarp wrapped pool is holding a wand with a GoPro digital video camera attached. He has taken fish eye pictures of camp, even some underwater. He promises me a DVD of the video at the end of the camp season.

Maybe hard to read but my thermometer was tossed into the deepest part of the pool and registered 51 degrees. The air temp was 62. During Sunday church, Pastor Dave recommended that the congregation get in all their summer activities quickly because fall was arriving soon.
I'm thinking of all you Texans sweltering in the heat and humidity.
The library wifi system has been experiencing difficulties, so this blog is short.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Middle School Damp

We are experiencing that wonderful age of middle school. Junior High kids are bigger, louder and eat a lot more. They are also unpredictable and stay up way too late.
I'm the documenting photographer but I have had my hands in the fifty pounds of beef, sausage, turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, etc and seasonings that go into making 14, 3 pound meatloaves. Double check my math and you'll find we also made a few hamburgers. Teens are BIG eaters.

 This year we did not receive donations of moose meat for our meat loaf. She looks happy about that.
On our Saturday shopping trip to Anchorage, we visited the All Nations International Pow Wow. I did not understand the deep meaning of this ceremony, but a Marine  was presented an eagle feather for heroic valor. He was not a Native American. We understood that the feather should have gone to a comrade that he had saved. He was presented the feather by the chief. The family of the fallen Marine accepted the feather from him. This is a high honor. The Marine wore several metals including a Purple Heart. He joined in the dancing to the beat of several drummers.

I especially enjoyed the tribal regalia and the dancing. I spent some time scrutinizing Native beadwork. Their regalia is so elaborate and has meaning to the wearer.

Back at camp, Dale and Mark work hard to complete another project. Since we don't have a lake or pool at the camp, these ingenious men have built one complete with a "found' water slide that they are installing.

To get the real picture, Lynne is sitting on the edge of the blue tarp that has been lining the water hole all winter. To the left is a portion of the slide. Several of our mission force girls ventured into the nasty water to bale it out and get rid of the leaves. A new tarp was added on top of this one.
Watch for further developments.

I was able to sneak away from kitchen duties to hear Cassie speak to the youth. Cassie was a missionary for six weeks in Japan. She has graduated from high school and is heading to college this fall.

Lynne and I braved the wilds of Alaska to take a hike with the church youth on Sunday after church. Between the gray-brown horizontal stripe is a lighter strip of raging glacier-silt filled river. Our hike took us 1.7 miles along the boulder strewn shore, up and over moraine (that's the terminus of the glacier) and into the alders to the head of the glacier.

Almost two hours later, we arrived at the head of the small receding glacier. What looks like rock formation is hard pack ice covered with silt and rock dust. The cave extends through the tunnel toward the other side. Notice the girl in the pink jacket and the boy taking pictures.

We had just turned back for our return hike to the car when it began to rain. Cold, hard rain for about an hour, then the sun came back out. Note the shadow. I had to document our adventure before stripping out of the poncho.
Next time I should have water slide pictures. Pray for those brave kids who attempt the slide.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fifth and Sixth grade camp

As we prepared for a new session of camp, the rains stopped and we observed a beautiful double rainbow over the old chapel (now cabins). The upper rainbow is hidden by the storm clouds. Saturday the temp reached 83. A new high for this summer. It felt as hot as Texas!
Fairbanks, 100 miles north of us, recorded over 3 inches of rain for June totaling over 4 inches of rain for the year. We were so glad to see the sun and rainbow. We have had little rain since the beginning of July. The campers are very happy to play water games rather than play in the rain.

This past week at camp we had two girls who celebrated birthdays with special birthday cupcakes.

On our last trip to Fairbanks to buy groceries, (100 miles, two hour drive each way) we picked up 5 folding picnic tables that are supposed to be kid resistant. I wonder if the squirrels with eat them as they have with the covers of the dumpster. No bears or moose visitors this week.

 Each session older teens work as Mission Force (counselors -in -training) who help with chores while they learn the responsibilities of counselors and continue their Christian training. This young lady is very proud of the 4th of July cake she decorated with strawberries and blueberries.
 Try making pizza for a crowd! Here we are trying to shift the dough for square pan pizza into the baking tray without making too many holes.
Crafts are enjoyed by all. Each session has crafts geared to the age and interest of the campers. These boys are using crayons on sandpaper to transfer designs to T-shirts. 
The bubble formula continues to fascinate the campers with their colors.

These girls are carving the bark from diamond willow. The thin tree trunks are covered with a dull gray rough bark that reveals a shiny white inner layer with red "diamonds". I will explain more later.

Counselors and campers share one-on-one time. Notice the mud on the campers shorts. She's been having a great time. I am in the kitchen during Bible study, chapel and Missions so have been unable to take pictures during those scheduled times. Perhaps next week I can sneak off.

We are training our Mission Force right. Do they look like they enjoy washing pots and pans?

Last Saturday in Fairbanks for our shopping we pulled behind this young lady on a motorcycle. Look closely at the license plate. It reads "Mooze" A large stuffed moose wearing a bandana and leather jacked is facing you. See his bulbous nose?
Until next week. Continue to pray for the campers and their families.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Raining Bears

Prayers for rain to squelch the fires have been answered by a deluge. For the past week we've experienced severe rain and the threat of flooding. The rain doesn't squelch the kids enthusiasm.
Morning temps have in in the upper 40s with highs in the mid 50s.

In spite of rain we spent a long work day at the Mission Resource Training Center in Tok. Lynne, Babs and I worked on transplanting native flowering plants in front of the building and beneath the sign. We transplanted prickly tundra roses, wild blue flag iris, yellow potential, and native lupine that look like Texas bluebonnets.

 I spent too much time squatting on the restroom floor painting baseboards. Can you help me up?
Back at camp we fed the kids an outdoor hamburger picnic.

 Every year we try something new. Ms. Ellen came up with this wonderful idea for making fantastic bubbles.
 In spite of the rain, the campers enjoyed singing camp songs and hearing Bible stories. Program director, Mark, always includes a salvation message geared to the age range of the campers.
 We had a very unexpected visitor. Fortunately this two or three year old grizzly came Saturday after the campers had gone home. He was intent on rummaging through the remains of the hamburger party.
 The Martins were inside their RV closest to the dumpster and heard the bear rattle the lid. I was inside my RV and also heard the noise but thought it was Dale fixing something. Sassie paced the hall but didn't bark. Lynne called me (thank the Lord for cell phone, what if I had gone outside?). They began taking pictures out their open door.
I watched the bear leave the dumpster and head for the fire pit pivalion where he turned over a trash can. Dale ran to the dining hall to take pictures through a window. The bear returned to investigate.

Lynne tried to stay composed as the bear passed so close to the RV steps that she could hear his breathing. The door was open and the only thing that separated her from our visitor was a flimsy screen door! He lumber on into our back yard. I watched through my back window as he meandered into the forest. Sassie, the wimp, just stayed next to me.

I pay a lot of attention to Sassie's body language. She may not bark at 'boogers" but at least she senses or smells critters. I don't hike without her.
Until next time. Continue to pray for us!