Tuesday, Jan 07, 2014

Life in Beans

Welcome to 2014! A whole new year ahead! New memories, new opportunities, new challenges, new friends, new resolutions. In 2014, I am going to ___________ (fill in the blank with your resolutions).

I'm going to......ummm

Well I'm definitely going to......well hmmm

Did anyone else pause at the blank? Did anyone else struggle to fill in the blank after only a week of 2014?

Each year we get amped about a new start, a fresh beginning and all that lays ahead. And yet, the luster and excitment wears off so fast! For some it lasts a week or two, others a month, and a lucky few hold fast to the excitment for a few months but for most, its only a day or two.

Our resolutions, goals and dreams get lost in the shuffle of everyday life. School, work, sports, chores, homework, doctor appointments take center stage and most if not all of our hopes for the new year get benched on a shelf in the back of our mind. They settle in and gather dust and are more often than not never glanced at again.

And what about life goals, like a bucket list, things you have always wanted to do but have put off for one reason or another? These happen throughout every year and yet they also often get left behind and forgotten or at least neglected.

Sometimes though, something will snap us out of our routine, it will spark something inside of us and reignite our originial desire to achieve this goal or that dream. The following video takes jelly beans to represent the length of the average life. It shows you how the average person uses their time and the dwindling pile of beans or days left after each common activity is removed. Once all the common activities are removed, the remaining beans represent the free time we have to do what we desire to do. I've spilled enough, just watch, it speaks for itself.

I was shocked to see the small pile of beans that remained and something stirred in me, perhaps it will have the same effect on you. All I know is that not just in 2014 but hopefully for the rest of my life, I hope to change how I manage my time. I want to take advantage of the time I have to do the things I have always wanted to do even if they are as simple as going for a hike in the snow, spending time with friends around a fire, reading a good book, singing a silly camp song or sharing a cup of coffee with a family member. Even if they are as big as living in a different country, helping an entire community, becoming more confident, standing up for what you believe in, I want to value every moment I can.

What will you do with that time?

If you need help thinking of goals or challenges for 2014 or for life, check out this list of 10 Challenges for the New Year.


I'll leave you with this quote from Kung Fu Panda. Master Oogway puts time in perspective when he says "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present."
Each day is a present, enjoy it, use it, praise God for it!


Camp Henry Guest Services

Friday, Dec 20, 2013

Christmas is like Power Tools

Genevieve Howell, Facilities Specialist, takes a moment to reflect on her position at Camp and Christmas time. If you have ever spent time with Genevieve, you can appreciate her unique and entertaining perspective on life. If you haven't spent time with Genevieve, you are missing out big time!

"Christmas is like power tools.

I recently started working with Ryan in facilities at camp. I was like, man, I’ll probably get to climb on every roof, discover things people have forgotten about for a hundred years (like old poop grinder pumps, yay!), drive every vehicle at camp (t minus 9 to old bus to lift off), chop down trees, and find out that the facilities people of the past have actually created an underwater world beneath barb’s point.

You know, the norm.

But I was also pretty stoked because I had never used a power tool before, or let’s be real, even been allowed to hold one. I’m not accident prone nor am I known for breaking things often, I’m not opening up discussion, this is just fact. However, with Ryan claiming I’ve nearly killed him three times, even though I say only twice, I understand that truth can seem subjective. All this to say I’ve been pretty excited about the power tools here at camp.

So how is Christmas like power tools? There’s this little tool called the sawzall here at camp.

It’s straight evil.

This thing has enormous potential, you just plug it in and you’re off cutting holes in everything within arms distance. You could probably trim your Christmas tree to look like Jesus without breaking a sweat. The only flaw is that every so often the saw blade comes loose and flies at your face going 500 miles an hour. It’s cool though, it’s like Hunger Games but REAL LIFE!

You might be thinking, yeah this really is not like Christmas at all. But here’s where I’m going with this. Imagine Christmas is this thing you hold in your hands. The holiday space of time is in front of us and if you’re anything like me you’re sitting somewhere feeling on the brink. Each year I feel like I’ve been handed this strange little break at the end of the year. All around me money’s flying through the air as people check off their "to-buy" lists and people are preparing their answers to the slightly veiled and always threatening questions of “so what do you have to show for your life?” The radio and tv make me want to punch things and forever tear red and green out of the rainbow. Only kidding. But sometimes Christmas can seem a little man-made, cluttered and chaotic.

The other day I went out on Lake Kimball and with Ryan attempted to jump through the ice (That’s right folks, we’re getting the lake ready for New Year’s Camp! Bring your swimsuit! But actually, bring it). The lake starts with a thick layer of snow (seriously I can’t remember a time before it started snowing), has a layer of thin ice, then water, slush, and more ice. In that split second that you bust through the first thin layer of ice, you think there’s nothing solid at all and it’s the end of the world. But after getting through all the slush, you realize there’s actually something holding it all up.

To me, this is Christmas. Without all the flash, stripped down, it’s pretty much the best day of the year, because it’s the day God said to each of us, “I love you so much I’m coming down!” If I had to pick one thing I’ve honed in on here at camp, it would be this: sometimes there’s a lot of sludge and excess and you have to dig down past it to get to the good stuff.

So enjoy your power tool/ice breaking Christmas, use it right, make it count, and in the words of that Insanity work out guy, “DIG DEEP!”"

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013

Staying Rooted

Mama Munch wraps up the 2013 Rooted theme by taking a look back at the impression Camp Henry has made on her life during her time here. Her wisdom and insight will be greatly missed.
"Last month I moved to Grand Rapids.  It has been a time of transition for me as I've left my position at Camp Henry to head to seminary in January.  It is with a heavy heart that I left a place I love so much and will miss each day.  I am so thankful for God's little reminders - especially in this time of change.  The other day I unpacked a box that contained many camp memories.  Among them were some notes I had from a chapel I led this past summer entitled "Advice From A Tree."  It could not have come at a more perfect time, and as we all transition into the last month of the year, I wanted to share the message again and ask us to always remember our roots.
A tree gives us the following advice:
1.  Stand tall and proud.
2.  Go out on a limb.
3.  Remember your roots.
4.  Drink Plenty of water.
5.  Be content with your natural beauty.
6.  Enjoy the view.
Camp Henry will always be a place that means a lot to me because of the many ways it has enabled me to follow the tree's advice.  It has given me the confidence to stand tall in what I believe.  It has encouraged me to take risks and be vulnerable.  It has reminded me of the importance of community and to stay rooted in God's love.  It has reminded me that I need to nourish myself with truth.  It has challenged me to accept myself for who I am.  And of course, it has made me appreciate God's creation.
Perhaps the thing I appreciate most, is that Camp Henry isn't just a wonderful place.  It is something that I can carry with me in my heart always, wherever I go.  The lessons I have learned and the ways God grew me during my time at camp don't end with a summer or a season or a job.  And my challenge for all of you is to take another look at that tree today.  What lessons of from camp do you need to be reminded of?  Are you living out the version of yourself you love most?  Are you pursuing God as much as He is pursuing you?  Are you staying connected to the Camp community?
Stay rooted, my friends."
Ashleigh "Mama" Munch, Program Director 2011-2013
Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

Camp Henry Buddy Call Luncheon

The Buddy Call Luncheon is put on to help Camp Henry continue and build upon its camping ministry. Here is the video they watched to learn more about how special Camp Henry is and see much fun Camp has throughout the year! Camp Henry is very thankful to have such wonderful support from so many individuals and the surrounding communities!

The beloved phrase "Only at camp..." can be heard in use around the country at all kinds of camps. It encompasses all the wonderful things a camp experience offers that sets it apart from the rest of the world. The magic in spending a day playing large group field games, challenging your group through a low ropes course or team building session, kayaking, practicing archery, learning about nature and then spending the night around a campfire, singing songs and roasting marshmallows before heading back to the cabin to bunk with new friends. It really is an experience that can't be recreated anywhere else but at camp! 

You have probably heard the Camp Henry staff raving about all the fantastic activities and experiences Camp offers. But it's not everyday you have the opportunity to hear this from someone else. Elizabeth Topliffe, Head of School at Stepping Stones Montessori and guest blogger this month, details in the paragraphs below, her experience as a school group leader when she brought over 50 elementary age students, 1st-6th grade, to Camp Henry for a 1 night, 2 day experience.

You may find yourself chuckling as she writes with an honest and humorous perspective, juggling her expectations for her students (what she hoped to have happen) with the pleasantly unpredictability kids bring to any situation (what actually happened). She brought her students with the hope of creating lasting bonds, skills to work together as a team and a community to bring back to school with them for the school year. Here is what she had to write about her experience.

 "I'm a school leader, and I've learned that educators lean toward the idealistic. We believe in potential and in possibility, especially as we imagine the beginning of a school year.

As our staff talked about adding a Camp Henry experience for the Stepping Stones Montessori elementary students, I pictured children exploring the woods, dining together, and singing songs around a campfire. This experience would begin our year so beautifully that during our entire year, there would be no fights, every utterance would be kind and polite, and we would return completely connected to nature.

As the date for our camp experience approached, my picture clouded with anxiety. What were we thinking planning an overnight trip with first grade children? How would this work? Would anyone sleep?

My anxieties worsened at camp. Some students chose not to participate. They sat out. They refused invitations to join the group. Everything was in place for my vision to occur. And these kids were being difficult.

Then, things changed.

The first thing I noticed? One of our students dumped an entire two liter pitcher of juice at lunch. Most of it landed in the lap of another student. That student reacted to the spill with irritation and annoyance. She was wet. She was cold. She was sticky. The first student was visibly upset. In tears, he found a rag and started to clean up.

Enter the third student. She quietly walked over to the sink and grabbed a rag. While she was there, she reassured the first student that it was okay. Just an accident. The second student just reacted because she was wet, sticky and cold. They cleaned up the mess together.

Later, one of our older students invited a student new to our school to share a canoe. He reassured the newer student. "Don't worry. I've canoed a lot. You can just relax. I'll take care of everything."

When a teacher commented how kind that was, the student said, "I could tell that she was feeling anxious and no one else was going to invite her. She didn't have any friends there. I figured I could do it."

I could share many similar stories about how our students used camp to transform themselves. In some ways, nothing changed. Our agenda, schedule, menu, staff was the same. In other ways, nothing was the same. Our students created a community. They taught one another what the community expected. They demonstrated who they were and how willing they were to take risks with one another.

Community is at the core of Stepping Stones. Our students do not need to do math or language as soon as their eyes open and before their feet touch the floor. They don't have to count, multiply, diagram a sentence or understand cultural differences before they arrive at school.

That said, before they rise in the morning, they feel and know whether they belong. Before any work happens in a classroom, they will know whether they feel safe enough to work and risk a mistake.

The Stepping Stones elementary students created their community at Camp Henry. Sure, we could have created community without Camp. It would have taken longer. It would have been more adult-driven. It would not have been nearly as breathtaking.

Our children still have conflict. They occasionally speak unkindly. [But] They know that they are capable of resolving it, of forgiving and of moving forward together.

As for my vision, It wasn't big enough. My vision settled for perfection instead of the imperfect beauty of a community. We'll be back next year for more!"


Elizabeth Topliffe is Head of School at Stepping Stones Montessori School in Grand Rapids, a member school of the American Montessori Society. Stepping Stones Montessori School is celebrating its 30th anniversary of cultivating a lifelong love of learning.

Elizabeth Ray, one of our program specialists, reflects back on Fall Festival and the New Year's Eve Camp that rang in 2013! She dishes on all the fun that was had and is to be had at Camp Henry! Check out our New Year's Eve Camp video too!

"Hey all you camp lovers out there,

I don't have to tell you all how great summer camp is because most of you have experienced it firsthand for yourself. There is something so special about leaving your everyday world behind for a week and coming to a place dedicated to creating a unique experience of love, laughter, nature, and faith.

Recently we decided summer isn't the only time of year to have summer camp fun, so we have created events during the year to allow campers to come back to camp to enjoy even more of that summer camp experience. Coming back to this place during the school year allows campers to recharge and remember the things they learned during the summer, to renew friendships, to be challenged, and to be reminded how much God loves them. It also allows people who have never been to Camp Henry before to get a small taste of what the summer is like here.


Last winter, we brought in the 2013 by having our first ever New Year's Eve Camp for campers and staff to come back, reunite, and have a blast! If you happened to be at camp last year for New Year's you will probably remember the awesome time we had playing broomball, decorating cookies, the big reveal of human-hungry hippos, and the many dance parties that took place. It was a wonderful time to rekindle relationships with one another.


Then, just a few short weeks ago we had our 1st annual Fall Festival, #CHfallfest. At Fall Festival, we had some of the classic camp activities such as climbing the cargo net, outdoor cooking, campfires, chapel, and skit night just to name a few things. We also had a big focus on fall themed activities. We had a great pumpkin scavenger hunt, pumpkin carving, leaf animal art, and a fabulous costume contest. In fact, summer staff member, Molly Peterson's favorite part of Fall Festival was "watching everyone perform skits in their Halloween costumes. Who could forget Penelope the hedgehog's costume or how extremely realistic (and terrifying) Maverick was dressed up as an ape?"


Fellow summer staff member, Rachel Szczytko, recounts her favorite leaf driven memory from Fall Fest. "One of my favorite parts of fall festival was catching leaves before Saturday's dinner. The wind really picked up and everyone jumped around on the deck attempting to get as many as they could- classic camp ingenuity and tons of fun!"

One of the chapels during Fall Festival, Ashleigh talked about the changing colors of season and how trees lose their leaves each year, only to be renewed in the spring time. It was a reminder to us that while things in our life may change or parts of us may get shed off at different times, our roots are constant. And if our roots are in God, we know His love for us will create new things in us, just like spring weather brings new leaves to the trees. This chapel was a great connection back to the 2013 summer camp theme of being Rooted.

Even with the turning leaves, the weather during Fall Festival was absolutely gorgeous and it allowed us to spend lots of time outdoors including some of our last moments out on the lake canoeing, sailing, and kayaking. A few who were daring enough even went swimming! 

We are now just under 8 weeks out from our 2nd annual New Year's Eve Camp. And we are so thrilled about this event, we have been planning for it since last New Year's Eve Camp! You can expect to see many familiar summer staff faces as well as the return of the Kimball Cup Broomball Tournament! While you are getting excited for this event, feel free to use #CHNYEVE so we can all share in the excitement and anticipation! We will have some of our classic camp activities mixed with a focus on winter and New Year's Eve themed activities, like sledding shenanigans and Camp Henry's very own, unique countdown celebration. It will be a great time to hang out, have a ton of fun, and to look forward to what God has in store for each of us in the New Year.

Come help us ring in 2014 Camp Henry style at New Year's Eve Camp! Bring a friend or two along, bundle up for cold weather fun and sign up for #CHNYEVE! If you attended last year, post a picture or two on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #CHNYEVE, we would love to share in your memories!"

Happy Trails!



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