My Trip To Estes Park, Colorado

This past week I spent 4 days in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. Each June I have an all expense paid trip to fly out for my GROUP Work camp training. (http://www.groupworkcamps.com/) As MC, they like for all of us directly impacting the camp and nightly programs to come for training before our camps. Instead of a chronological rundown of my happenings in CO., I have decided to hit some of the major highlights.

Training: Training was the same as usual. The 40 or so MC’s sit in a huge gym from eight in the morning till five in the afternoon seeing the upcoming work camp programs unfold. Each year they ask various MC’s to demonstrate a part of the week. I always sit there and feel bad for the men and women who have to go through that. Only because they are suppose to demo the program to the very people that will be doing it just a few weeks later. Each one of them sitting there thinking they are better then the person up in front. Also, you have the two guys who wrote the program sitting in the front row. Did I mention that once that MC’s finish that everyone takes turns critiquing him or her? Well after four years of successfully escaping the minds of the head trainers, I was finally asked to demo a program. I had to stand in front of everyone and do the “Sunday Night” program. It’s only the longest and in my opinion the worst of all the nightly programs. Starting last year, the MC’s have to sing a song on Sunday night. So not only do I have to perform this song in front of 700 kids this summer, I had to do so in front of my peers and trainers. I was the most nervous for this that I think I have ever been in my life. I barely slept the night before. My heart was racing and my body was sweating. By the time my demo had finished, I was filled with a mixed bag of emotions because part of me was glad it was over and the other part knew I blew it. There were times when I really hit my stride and felt really comfortable up there. Then there were other times when I totally spaced out and forgot where I was in the script. Sure everyone said I did well afterward but the girl who went after me was even worse then me. (Not because she is a bad MC, she’s actually very good, she just froze many times and forgot a lot of her parts) and everyone told her the same things they told me. It was like in Seinfeld when the doctor told Elaine and the ugly baby they were both “breath-taking”. The program as a whole looks pretty strong, although very controversial. I will see how my two camps go before I judge just how controversial.

Hiking: Each year I take a night after dinner to do some hiking in Rocky Mountain national Park. I usually hike up what is known as “Bible Point”. This year I decided to try something different and try a new trail. Not having a clue how long the hike would be, I left at 6:00pm on Thursday and began my trek to “Sprague Lake”. Three hours and 9 miles later, I returned to my camp completely worn out. The view or “Sprague Lake” was well worth the sore back, ankles, knees, and chaffing I experienced. I’d like to hike it again next year but this time I’ll know what to expect.

Friends: The cool thing about training is the fascinating people you get to meet. These friends I only see once a year but when we do reconnect it’s like we haven’t missed a beat. Here are a few of my work camp friends and their amazing stories:

Mike L.: Mike is a youth pastor in PA. Or should I say was. He and his family have decided after much prayer to leave their church and town and move to Grand Rapids, MI. to become part of Mars Hill Bible Church pastored by Rob Bell. Mike doesn’t have a job on staff, he and his wife just feel that too much of an amazing thing is happening there at Mars Hill and they don’t want to miss an opportunity to join them. The idea that someone would be so devoted to God and to a leading to move so that they could attend a particular church blows my mind. Most people aren’t even devoted enough to their own churches much less pack up all they own and move to a new state for the sole purpose being to join in a particular churches ministry.

Mike W.: Some of you will know Mike as the summer staffer who did the interpretive dance in the variety show in Huntington back in ’02. Mike is now married and employed as a youth/family pastor. He and I seem to really connect with our theological, ministerial, and sarcastic ideas. Nothing starts training off better then Mike and I taking the tour of GROUP Headquarters and making fun of pretty much all things sacred to GROUP. This year we threw in little putt-putt on the hardest miniature golf course in the country (par 56), some Phase 10, and laughing until we cried at a story of some camper that threatened to, “Stick a knife in a fellow female camper and cut her until her bowels fell out”. Good times.

Everett J.: Everett was my roommate this year and the only African-American MC on staff. He is not only one of the smartest and brightest people I have ever met in my life, but also the most fascinating. Everett is a senior executive for the National Security Agency. He handles work for the CIA, FBI, DOD, and Homeland Security. His main job duty is managing the government’s translators. Whenever the US intercepts a message from terrorist, Everett and his team translates what they are saying. He speaks seven languages fluently (English, Spanish, French, Russian, German, Arabic, and Aramaic). He works in downtown DC on Pennsylvania Avenue. He served in the Navy, and has degrees from college and seminary. He is currently thinking of going to get his PHD. He was on the 9-11 Commission and is friends with the new head of the CIA. All this and he’s only 48 years old. We sat up late one nightly talking nothing but politics. Talking to Everett made me feel like a middle school drop out. Not because he comes across as a know it all, he’s actually one of the most down to earth MC’s at training, but because he knows so much that his capability for learning and retaining knowledge seems endless. I couldn’t even memorize a 15-page script and he knows seven languages.

Ed R.: Ed was at my camp last summer in KY. He and I hit it off really well so this summer at training we spent a lot of time together. The best way to describe Ed is to say I think he is what I picture myself being my 25 years or so. He has my attitude, humor, and smart-A cynic personality. We would listen to some knucklehead MC or director babbling at training and with just a quick look at each other; we knew what the other was thinking.

Mike, Mike, Everett, and Ed were four of my favorite parts about my trip in CO.

A new group of people that get on my nerves: People who insist on bringing their luggage on the plane with them. I have no idea how they make it through security. They get on the plane with their huge bags, and then they get mad when they have to struggle to get them in the overhead compartments. Once they get them in, their bag has taken up almost all the room in the storage area. On top of that, once the plane lands, everyone else has to wait for that bozo to pry their bag out. All the while hitting the people who are standing around them as they try to remove the bag. Hey luggage on the plane guy/girl, do us all a huge favor and CHECK YOUR BAG AT THE COUNTER!!!! Each air marshal should be allowed to shoot one big bag person per flight. If they could do that, there would be a lot less of that over-sized luggage on board.

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