Tuesday, July 28, 2009

High school camp

This week the camp hosted high schoolers. Biggers eaters, rambunctious and energetic, they played hard and enjoyed our cooking.
The group is playing a game called "trash can". If a person lets go of his neighbor's hands or is slung (tripped or caroomed) into the trash can, he/she is out.
In order to keep the kids comping back to camp, Mark was constantly thinking up new activities.
He encouraged the boys and girls to build a paintball fort of plywood, old lumber and tarps.
Lynne caught me on a ladder, hugging a tree in a high wind while trying to take pictures of the kids playing paintball.

High schoolers welcomed an improved, Alaskan waterslide, even though the temp hovered in the upper 60s and the wind chill was way lower.

A missionary to East Africa spoke to the group about her families life is Africa and their mission there.

Lynne and Dale have been collecting t-shirts on their missions trips. I was excited to help her cut out and arrange the shirts to make a quilt using an Alaskan themed fabric for the border.

We could only work in the dining hall after dinner, around 8 pm while the kids were out and about until all hours.
Sunset is now around midnight, with sun rise around 4 am. However the night is still more of a twilight. We are loosing about 6 minutes of daylight per day.
These girls are struggling to get up from an overnight in the tents. Their counslors said that they didn't stop talking until sometime after 3 am. No wonder they look bedraggled.

Thursday after an easy breakfast and fast clean up, Lynne and I drove to an overgrown trail where we picked ripe rasberries. No snakes in Alaska! but we had to watch our footing for there are thickets of thorny roses. Bears like rasberries.
We soaked the berries in vinegar to make vinegarette.

That afternoon we watched the boys build a fort in the woods. Dale explored the far side of this overgrown area for more rasberries. He quickly returned when he almost stepped in fresh bear scat!
The girls finished up crafts projects for the Christmas Boxes

Here Ellen displays 36 wrapped Christmas Child Boxes that she will soon ship overseas.
Friday afternoon, after the campers returned home, Lynne and I surprised the staff with jars of homemade fireweed jelly.

When we heard that blue berries were now ripening, we spent our Saturday off hunting the elusive berry.

With the three of us picking in the hot sun in a burned out area, we soon (several hours) had 11 cups of berries. Enough for a couple of batches of jelly.
Someone asked Dale where we had found the blue berries. When he told the location, he was admonished that :a true Alaskan never reveals his berry patch."
The wind has been gusting to 60 mph. We've had several birch and one spruce tree fall. There is still smoke in the air at times due to the forest fires near Fairbanks. This coming week, we are "off", no campers, so we will catch up on camp clean up while Dale and Levi do construction and repairs at First Baptist, Delta.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Junior High Camp

On Monday when the Junior High school kids arrived it was a typical rainy, cool Alaskan afternoon. These girls are dancing in the rain.

When not in the kitchen, I sewed up a baker's dozen stuffed frogs to be included in the Christmas Boxes.

Jr Hi kids don't SLEEP! They think summer is a time to play 24/7 since winter is long and dark. Lynne caught me wearily frying sausage after a sleepless night, listening to the kids high jinks.

Here the kids are engaged in a rousing game of drench each other with buckets of water. Who cares if it's only 60 degrees.
Dale played with a new mechanical toy this week as he dozed the archery range, a road and then dug an Alaskan water slide pit.

The boys' line shows off the results of tie-dying pillow cases.
The Alaskan made water slide was a HIT! You can't see the chill bumps. They lined up again and again for the opportunity the slide and freeze.

Another favorite game is paint ball using cardboard cylinders as refuge.

The girls are proud of their tie-dye pillow cases, too.
The girls are having fun with crafts.

Friday, while the counselors played frizbe, this young moose munched his way around the cabins and behind our motor homes. Notice how close he is to my bike, which was parked right behind the rig. I'm hiding under the awning.
On Saturday, a group of Chinese from University Baptist Church in Fairbanks arrived for a weekend at camp. They didn't need out help in the kitchen so we made a road trip down the Richardson Highway to Paxton and then 30 miles west along the Denali Road.
The fireweed were in full bloom. In the far background is Black Rapids Glacier in the Alaska Range.

We stopped to photograph many varieties of flowers along both high ways. This Alaska cotton fascinated me with its brilliant white, fluffy heads blowing in the wind.

Lynne caught me taking pictures along the Delta River at the base of the Alaskan Range.

The Denali Road is paved for the first 25 miles and then becomes gravel for all but the final ten miles of its 160 mile stretch from Paxton to the National Park. Traveling along the gravel section we were fortunate to see a covy of ptarmigan, the state bird. These birds survive the winter by turning white. They were in their summer brown plumage.
Returning to camp around seven we discovered our junior moose browsing behind the rigs again, then he moseyed through the new pavillion as if he owned the place.

Sunday on our shopping trip to Fairbanks, we stopped to pick two five gallon buckets of fireweed stems. While riding along we then plucked off the blossoms to fill several quart bags for making fireweed jelly on Monday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 6-10 5 &6th graders

Another week of excited campers, fifth and sixth graders from Fairbanks and locally. The boy in camouflage below is the only kid who stopped long enough for a picture. They play capture the flag and other hiding games in the forest at night after supper. It's still light all night long.
Dale dug this hole, now lined with plastic and filled with water, as the base of a water slide. Next week I'll have pictures of it in use. Kids of all ages love water no mater how cold the air is.

I helped these girls with their crafts.

This group of girls are creating journals to go into the Christmas Boxes and other journals to use as autograph books.

Ooops, I loaded this picture twice and can't figure out how to delete it.

Our counslers get into the fun. Here some of the girls are preparing to hide for the game of "find the counselor".

Party time!

Lynne and I found time to cut fireweed bloom stalks in preparation for making fireweed jelly. Back at camp we picked the blossoms from a packed five gallon bucket of stalks to make 16 cups of washed flowers.
After washing the flowers they were boiled and strained to release deep fushia colored juice. We added lemon juice and lots of sugar, boiled the sirup into jelly. Umm. I'm bringing some home to share.
The kids were shocked at dinner one night as they were randomly assigned unusual kitchen utinsels as eating impliments. They're having a great time and cleaned their plates of moose meat loaf, mashed potatoes, peas, hot yeast rolls and mud pie.
The last breakfast before returning home, these ladies would have prefered going back to bed, since they had stayed up until after 3 AM.

I have met some fascinating folks this summer. Manu and Phie from Austria were checking their email at the picnic table outside the library. They had begun a bicycle trip in Anchorage, had toured Denali, visited Fairbanks and were on their way through Tok and Canada to the Lower 48. Their plans are to travel through the US and South America to Terra del Fuego, a trip that will take them one and a half years. God Bless them and give them safty.

Friday we attended the wedding of Levi, the youth pastor of Delta's First Baptist Church, and Jessica of Fairbanks. Jessica's mother is Filipino and since there were quite a few Filipino guests the wedding was held in a pavillion at the Pioneer Park.
When told he could kiss the bride, Levi knelt down and kissed Jessica's foot! What a way to show his love.
As a resessional, the exuberant couple skipped down the aisle to "Hot diggity, dog diggity, oh what you do to me!"

Jessica and Levi had arranged for a Polynesian/Filipino dance troup to entertain us during the buffet reception.

Wonderful food, terrific dancers and a most blessed wedding, Alaskan style.
God Bless you both, Levi and Jessica.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Summer at last. Grades 3-4.

Summer has arrived in central Alaska. Our morning temps have been in the lower 50s and the highs in mid 80s with little or no breeze. Sunday, July 5, fires burning east and southwest of Fairbanks caused heavy smoky haze.

These new campers, 3rd and 4th graders are checking out each other and some of the cool games on their first afternoon

I helped the girls with crafts projects. In addition to making things for themselves, the campers are creating gift items to go in shoesboxes for the Christmas Child Project, part of Samaritan's Purse, an organization that sends Christmas boxes to children in poverty around the world.
Can't have all play and no work. Campers take turns cleaning the dining hall after meals.

Dale has a new toy for a few days. With this excavator, he dug a huge hole in which to bury tree stumps pulled out and limbs removed for an area to be develped into an archery range.

Although we spend 10-12 hours a day in the kitchen (with a few breaks), and feed the kids until they are stuffed, they still find room to visit the snack shack.

Check out some of our musicians.

The little fellow in the center is holding a yellow water ballon and aiming at the counselor in the cage.

Good Hit! Even with the warm sun the water is cold!

Mark presents a lesson at the campfire about the diamond willow.
There are more than 30 varieties of willow in Alaska. Most will develop scaring caused by a fungus that attacks the dead branches. The tree continues to grow around the scar creating beautiful red diamonds in the wood.
These diamonds cannot be seen until the bark is removed.
Mark relates the beauty created around the scars to the problems, sadness and hurts in the kids' lives that God can and will turn into something beautiful, if the person will let God lead them.

I am carving the bark from a diamond willow to reveal the diamonds. It takes a lot of work and patience to remove the rough covering bark and see the beauty.

Patience and faith are needed to get past our problems if we let God clean us up.

I'm teaching the girls the Boy Scout concept of a "blood circle". The girls have been carving diamond willow sticks and need to be reminded that knives must not be used if a person is within cutting distance. Thus each carver must make sure that no one is within her "blood circle".
On the Forth of July, we attended a celebration at the Sullivan Roadhouse Museum and farmer's market. The color guard is presented by soldiers from Fort Greely.

Book sales were good and we sold several birch bark baskets for scholorships. There were many visitors from Alaskan bus tours that stopped in. Several RVers from the Lower 48 stopped to compare travel adventures.

Sunday afternoon, after church and a nap, I helped Lynne lay out her collection of souvioneer T-shirts to cut and make into a quilt.

For once we didn't have to make the Fairbanks run for groceries.