Posts Tagged 'Family'

Sweet Summer Camp

Tube Tug

The summer after seventh grade, I went to summer camp for the first time. I thought I was the luckiest kid in the world- I never, ever thought I would be able to go to summer camp. My family was always poor, and we couldn’t really afford it. But somehow, some way, that summer, I got to go.

It was a religious camp, and I went with my youth group. I loved that group of people. The people who ran it were wonderful human beings, and they cared about each one of us as though we were their own children. I was friends with everyone there, both male and female, no matter how much older they were than me. We were like a small family, which is how any group should be.

First, each youth group was split into boys and girls (this was a religious camp remember, totally NOT co-ed) and we were put into the two separate dormitories. That year, the theme was military. Our girls were on the Navy team, and the boys of the Army (in future years we would be Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk; The Cunnighams or the Bradys). The entire week was a competition, smattered with everything from the evening activity, to daily bible verses, to daytime events. But all competition aside (the Navy won), the big deal was the End-of-Week Banquet.

The Banquet wasn’t so much a banquet as it was a barbecue. It was the only year I attended summer camp that we had one. The older girls in my youth group were absolutely determined to set me up with one of the boys – one of their brothers, in fact. I felt like Princess Mia in The Princess Diaries, the way they dolled me up. I didn’t mind being set up with Joshua; at the time, I was completely in crush with him. In the end, I think we only sat together, and we may have chattered awkwardly. It wasn’t one of those “sitting by the bonfire, sweet first kiss” kind of things (I wouldn’t get my first kiss for almost another four years).

There were other things that happened every year that made the camp awesome. There’s a game called Eniliation where everyone is on their hands and knees in the dirt and mud, trying to get a greased volleyball into a hole. And Tube Tug, which is pretty much what it sounds like; that was my favorite. The second and third year I was there, they had a mud slide and I remember competing with one of the boys from my youth group to see who could get muddier (because all freshman girls do that, right?). The last year I was there, we even had a mechanical bull.

And those are just the events. There are definitely a few people who stand out in my memory, too. Matthew, who was my pen pal for a year. Kaitlyn, who was deaf, but sung like an angel. Jessica, who was just crazy, goofy fun. Andrew, or “The Fonz”, who scared us nearly to death one night at activity when he got a concussion.

Summer camp at the Monadnock Bible Conference in Jaffrey was one of the things that kept me going through the year. Every summer, in the last week of July. If I wasn’t counting down to the next Harry Potter book, I was counting down to summer camp. In the end, not all memories are perfect. I remember being frustrated to tears with the girls I was staying with. But I wouldn’t trade a single moment for anything. Because those weeks, and with that group, I felt totally and completely accepted and loved for who I was. And I needed that feeling more than anything. It’s how every human being should treat one another, only we don’t.

If not for summer camp, I wouldn’t be who I am today.



A collectible figurine in the curio.

May 18, 2010; Chesterfield, NH: One of my mother's collectible Boyd figurines.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr.

R.O.A.Ks.  Not to be confused with R.O.U.S’, which are the infamous Rodents of Unusual Size from the movie A Princess Bride.  What is an R.O.A.K.?  Does it sound a little familiar?  Maybe it would help if I spelled it out for you:  Random Acts of Kindness.  Now what we know what it stands for, you may wonder, why is she talking about that?  It’s not Kindness Day; the next one of those isn’t until November.  Why bring up the topic at all?

The topic is being brought up because the topic has to be brought up.  It occurs to me that we don’t do Random Acts of Kindness nearly as often as we should.  I did a WordPress Search for “random acts of kindness” and my top results were about World Kindness Week, commercialism of R.A.O.Ks, and about Random Acts of Kindness Day.  I didn’t find anything about acts being performed, but preachings that they should be.  So, I figured that maybe my sample size was too small.  I went to Google.

When you Google search “random acts of kindness,” the first thing that comes up is The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.  My first reaction?  Frustration.  Does everything needs to be commercialised?  Do we really need days, products, a foundation to inspire us to do R.A.O.K.s?  Then I found the testimonial stories.  I haven’t decided what to think of them yet.  Every once and a while, there’s a golden one, talking about an R.O.A.K. done for the teller.  Many of them are self-centered and self-promoting, which to me defies the point.  If you’re doing a random act of kindness to make yourself look good, then it’s not selfless.  Stories that claim “I didn’t punish my sibling for finding the toy they lost and I was looking for” don’t seem like a R.O.A.K. to me.  And stories that sound like a chain email could easily be fiction.

There aren’t a lot of stories on the website, and only half of them sound like legitimate R.O.A.K.s.  And all the legitimate ones are based around money (lost wallets, etc.).  That concerns me.  Do we even know what kindness is anymore?  I decided to look up the “official definition” of “kindness” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online, and the definition I received was “the quality or state of being kind.”  Geez, well, that’s not very helpful?  I looked up the word “kind”, and I got “of a sympathetic or helpful nature.”  So, if we plug that into the previous definition, we get “the quality of being of a sympathetic or helpful nature.”  Well goodness, no wonder so many of those stories are based around self-promotion?  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, all you need to be is unplannedly helpful and voila!  Random act of kindness.  That seems a little uneventful to me.

I am firmly convinced that the word “selfless” really needs to be included in that definition.  Bringing lilacs to a friend because they make you smile and so do lilacs… that’s unplanned and selfless.  Returning a wallet and taking the reward?  Not so selfless.  Returning a wallet is more helpful, yes… but it brings relief not joy.  Random acts of kindness should bring joy to both parties.  Not just a “thank God, my credit cards are still intact… I think.”  It should be the type of thing that makes you want to tell other people.  Tell other people “this complete stranger did this awesome thing,” not “hey, guess what, I got my purse back.”  I’d like to share some random acts of kindness that have been showed to me recently, just in way of saying that I appreciate them.  They have not gone unnoticed.

  • Last week, one of the ladies I work with gave me wrapping paper.  No reason at all- it had my name on it and she saw it and wanted to give me it.  I don’t know why.  I mean, we’re not really friends, but she did anyway.  That was really nice of her.
  • Bryan gave me a bouquet of Scarlet Mimis a few weeks ago, the Friday before he moved out of his dorm room.  They were beautiful and I dried some of them out to keep forever.  We hadn’t been fighting, and it wasn’t a special day, he just woke up that morning and wanted to do that.
  • Every once and a while, one of the girls I used to work with in ActingOut comes up to me, gives me a hug, and tells me I made a difference in her life.  Wow.  Way to make me feel like I’m doing something right in the world, and in that program.  I think hearing that and knowing its true it amazing, and always uplifting.  And I don’t think she realises how much hearing that means to me.
  • A few weeks ago, one of my friends gave me a stone (two, actually!) painted in nailpolish with my name on them.  No reason at all; she just did.  I named the smaller one Steve and it was exciting.
  • My mom bought baby carrots and pineapple at the grocery store last week, just for me.  It made my weekend for her to think of me like that!
  • My manager helped me doing some busy work last night in my closing shift, because he didn’t have anything else to do.  It saved me loads of time!  I think I said thank you a dozen times, but it wasn’t enough.
  • I had a customer compliment me to a fellow associate, who passed it on to a couple managers.  This is two random acts of kindness:  one from the customer, and one from my fellow associate.  It was nice of him to say it, and it was nice of the associate to pass it on, though he didn’t have to.  Thanks, guys!
  • One of my best friends stopped into work yesterday to see me, and even though I was crazy busy and didn’t even get to say “hello,” it was nice to see her, and to have her take time out of her day to say hello.
  • One of the gentlemen I work with in theatre dropped off some music cds for me to listen to for an upcoming show in his free time yesterday.  It’ll help me get ahead for the show, which is a relief for me, and it was nice of him to come out of his way to bring them to me!
  • One of my directors is pushing her husband to give me a lead role which (she doesn’t know because I’ve never told her) I really want.  She has so much faith in me, and that’s great to know, and great to have.  She’s always trying to help me improve and she’s always teaching me new things, for no reason at all but the goodness of her heart.

That’s just the beginning.  I certainly could keep going.  Those just touched the last three weeks, at the most.  People do kind things for me every day without even realising it.  We shouldn’t need an event or reason to do good things, selfless things for other people.  We should want to do them, just because they’re right.

Not to be cheesy, but have you performed a R.O.A.K. today?  Has someone done one for you?  Tell me about it!

Health ReportHealth Report: Just ate a Peanutbutter Whoopie Pie.  Those things are calorie-crazy.  Needless to say, some exercise will be required.  I’m thinking Wii Swordplay or Basketball for an hour or so, topped with improv?  Lets hope that’s enough.


Words Worth Getting AtWords Worth Getting At:  I maintain that the typewriter is great for writing something even when I don’t want to.  In fact, it’s on my to-do list today.  After Wii Swordplay/Basketball.  I already typed up a dead-end short this morning, but it’s good to keep writing.


Random SqueeRandom Squee: I found out yesterday that a young gentleman has made a motion to open an ice cream parlor in my hometown, fairly close to my house.  That would be marvelous.

The Long and Short of It.

A family enjoying ice cream on a warm spring afternoon.

May 15, 2010; Keene, NH: A family enjoying ice cream on a warm spring afternoon outside Rick's Gormet Ice Cream.

“There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” ~ Walter Smith.

I spent most of the day yesterday picking out things that I wanted from my grandparents’ house.  My grandmother died a few weeks ago and my grandfather is moving to a furnished apartment in Florida, so everything has to go.  It was so weird, going through things.  The apartment feels like someone is moving out… not like it’s being carved out, which is how it should feel.  I wasn’t upset at all.  I don’t know.  It’s a little morbid, I guess, but I like those sorts of things.  Cleaning up, cleaning out.  Organising.  My steal of the day was a typewriter from the 1950s.  I was typing on it today, for fun.  It’s so cool.  I don’t think I’d like to have to write term papers on it or anything, but I like having it as a luxury item.  I think I just found ribbon for it, too, so my life is basically complete.

Other than that adventure yesterday (I was in the car for five hours.  It stunk) not much has been happening.

I definitely grew to have a new respect for my grandmother.  I still don’t like her, per se, but I respect her more now, after going through her stuff and reading her notes.  It kind of makes me feel bad for not reading all those very long notes she left in birthday cards and stuff.


Health ReportHealth Report: Ice cream twice in one day?  YUCK!  I feel crazy fat and yucky.  And I know for a fact that I’m having pizza at work tomorrow.  The plan?  Eat nothing tomorrow but the pizza.  Theoretically, the calories should cancel themselves out.  Had a sweet romantic moment with Bryan last night and found myself feeling ugly and inadequate because of my stomach.  Something here needs to change.  I’m thinking exercise.  And I don’t like it.


Words Worth Getting AtWords Worth Getting At: I’m using my typewriter for freewriting.  It’s fun and helps me get my thoughts out.  The catch?  It’s pretty noisy.  But I’m really enjoying using it.  Honestly?  I feel like McGee from NCIS!  Wrote a snapshot today that was randomly pulled out of my head, as well as a letter-ish things about “the writer” and a writing process.  Freewriting, basically.


Financi-SmashFinanci-Smash: Yeowch!  Overdrew my checking last week and got slammed with a $25 overdrawn fee, even though I had it set up so that my bank would pull from my savings account.  So that stunk.  Lets not do that again.  Ever.


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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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