Tales of Two Dogs

Build-A-Bear Workshop is quite the place.  At the World BearQuarters, people can bring their dogs to work with them. It’s great being able to walk around the office and pet dogs.  They even come to meetings.  I’m sure this is part of the reason Build-A-Bear Workshop is on the 100 Best Companies To Work For list.  Here are two stories from this past week:

Tale #1: A Birthday Party

One day earlier this week I heard rumblings from nearby in HR about a birthday party.  Naturally, my interest was piqued.  I always enjoy celebrating a good birthday… and the cake isn’t so bad either :-).  I did want to intrude though so I went to take something over to another person’s desk and she was going to the party, as was someone else nearby.  I figured since one of them wasn’t  “officially” invited, but was still going, that I could go as well.  That was when I found out that the party was for Jose.

Jose is a dog.  A fun dog – and apparently a very lucky dog.  Jose had a party.  His dog friends and their owners were invited.  We went into Bear U (yes, that is what Build-A-Bear calls their large meeting room/auditorium) and had cake made with honey and peanut butter for the dogs.  Let me clarify – the dogs had cake.  I might have been jealous…

As the dogs played with each other and ate, I thought that these dogs have a pretty good life.  Especially Jose, he even got gifts.

Tale #2: The Missing Pup

Today I got to work and heard comments about some beagle going around the building.  Shortly thereafter, Laurie sent an email out to the BearQuarters with the subject line of “Did you lose a very cute beagle?” and the body of “If so, you can find your pup in Operations…s/he has been contained :-)”.  Soon after I found out that the beagle did not belong to anyone at Build-A-Bear.  Someone saw the dog outside the office door, thought he belonged to someone who worked there, and let him in!

This beagle was pretty lucky (like Jose).  Note to dogs: if you are lost, make your way to Build-A-Bear Workshop.  Of all of the places to end up, this was it.  Several people went up and down nearby streets to see if anyone had lost the dogs.  Others called area vets and shelters to see if anyone reported him.  No one had.  In the meantime, notices about the lost dog were posted on Fido Finder and Craig’s List.  One person responded to the posts, but for the wrong gender dog.

As all of this was going on, the lost beagle was given plenty of attention (he was pretty well behaved).  The beagle, whose name we do not know, was given food, treats, and toys to play with.  He even got to play with other dogs.  Eventually though, he seemed to realize he was in the wrong place and got sad.  Nevertheless, this beagle was not taken to the pound.  Rather, one of the BearQuarters employees took him home for the weekend and will continue to try to find the owner.  Perhaps he has a chip?

This beagle ended up at the right place.  One intelligent pup.

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Build-A-Bear at Camp

Some said it could not be done, but earlier this summer I brought a Build-A-Bear (named Feagle Bear, after Camp Famous Eagle) down to camp for the staff to enjoy.  He was to live in the staff lounge.  When I went back down to camp he was still there!  In one piece even!  I was happily surprised.

As in the picture below, Feagle Bear has apparently been joining the staff for meals.

Feagle Bear joining a few camp staff members for an informal breakfast on Sunday morning.

A Bit More On Camp (+ Pictures & Video)

Where has the summer gone?  The last week of campers leaves on Saturday and the staff will be out on Sunday (baring craziness).

We spend all year talking about and getting ready for camp and then it is over just like that.  I did not even work on staff this year and yet this feeling is still real.  So much of the time I spend with my camp friends is spent talking about the upcoming year and reminiscing about the past.  It is amazing how time flies.  I wonder what this next year will bring with so many people discussing not returning to camp…

When I was at camp last weekend, I took a decent amount of pictures. S-F is the home of many memories and friendships.  I’ve got some pretty good pictures of camp, as well as several from Lambert’s.

When I was stepping into a skit during the closing campfire last friday, I asked my friend Ray to take some pictures and he ended up taking a video of part of the Knob Lick Knickerbockers skit, a spoof on the Knob Lick Knockers skit that we do every opening campfire.  S-F Scout Ranch is in Knob Lick, Missouri.  Knob Lick Knockers is a skit about a “model patrol” and how to set up your campsite for a good week of camp.  The Knickerbockers have Jeeves.  Check it out:

There are quite a few things that may be changing for next summer.  I hope they all change for the best.  I look forward to the future.  2010 is the 100th Anniversary of Scouting.  Hopefully it will be here for another 100 years.  I look forward to doing my part to ensure its continuation as boys need to understand the value of citizenship, leadership, service, and the outdoors.

Eating lunch outside of Astronaut's Hall.

Troop 310 Reunion

This past weekend, our core group of Troop 310 got together for a reunion. It was a great time and I really enjoyed seeing everyone and reminiscing about old times and great experiences.  It is strange to think that these are the people with whom I basically grew up.  What a great group!

I didn’t realize until we were all (well, almost all of us) there that we have not been together for a long, long time – especially with parents and Scouts.  Mr. Davis told me that he doesn’t think he has seen me since my Eagle Court of Honor – that was in 2003!

I have great friends and because of my involvement with Troop 310 have met some of my best friends and have had amazing opportunities that have opened doors to experiences I could never have expected.  Our stories and inside jokes made me think of how lucky I am to be part of such a group.  As people get married and move away (How weird!  When did we become old enough for that?) I am happy to reflect on our past and know that we will all continue to be friends.

Chris, Kyle, and I trying to unswamp our rowboat during Rowing Merit Badge at summer camp (Camp Famous Eagle) in 2001 (My earliest digital pictures).

Justin, Chris, Evan, and I at our July 2010 Reunion

Josh and Stuart are Chris and my brothers. They were in our troop as well.

More pictures here.

DonorsChoose.org

Thanks to Build-A-Bear Workshop, I just gave my first contribution to DonorsChoose.org.  I’ve never really visited the site before, but I definitely encourage you to.  It seems to be a great way to increase education and help people who truly need it – and who will be our future leaders.

Here is information on the project I supported:

Summer Learnin’…Having a Blast!

Classroom project requested by Ms. M. on Apr 9, 2010

My Students: The long, hot, lazy days lounging during summer. No more papers, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks! But when August comes around again, students stare blankly at the simplest problems on the board, unsure of how to proceed because of three months of no practice!

I teach in a low-income school, where students are classified as “high risk” and “struggling”. Over the course of this school year, my kids have worked incredibly hard to overcome barriers and obstacles to close that achievement gap. However, with the arrival of summer comes the possibility of all our hard work being lost to the rays of sunshine and endless television programs. My students need to extra practice over the summer to keep their skills sharp for next year. For every school break, students receive a packet of homework to complete, which helps them practice essential skills when they’re not in school.

My Project: I am lucky enough to be able to loop with my class next year, meaning that I will have the opportunity to teach the same group of kids that I did this year. In this way, I will have one more year to catch them up to their more affluent peers. However, in order to ensure that we don’t lose more ground, I want to give them a packet of work to hone their skills over the summer. The kids enjoy these packets and always ask me for more. However, I don’t have a way of compiling the packets without binders and reproducible pages for the packets! This is where you can come in and help us! I will reuse the binders as long as they hold up during the school year and the reproducible activities will keep them busy throughout the school year, starting with this summer break all the way through the 2010-2011 school year!

With your extremely generous donation, I will be able to make homework packets for my students for the summer and every school holiday. They will be able to practice reading, writing, math, science and spelling in an organized and manageable way. You will be helping us close the achievement gap and get in the extra practice we need to succeed!

My students need binders for their various school break homework packets and reproducible literacy, math, and science curricula.

Quote #14

This quote is very true and applicable in so many situations – for better or for worse.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou

Hopefully, I have used my time to better the world and those around me.  I hope that everyone takes this saying to heart.

My Last Visit To Camp This Summer

I spent this past weekend at S-F Scout Ranch again.  Once again, it was an amazing weekend.  Every time I go down there it gets harder and harder to leave.  It makes me sad to think that I will not be back there this year.  What’s more, it is unlikely that I will ever be at S-F again with all of my close friends during the summer/on staff at the same time.  We have had so many good times and I do not want that to end.  Nevertheless, life goes on and I must remember the good times fondly while preparing for the future and maintaining those relationships.

This weekend I went down to camp with Tim Weaver and Ray Kreienkamp again.  The three of us stayed with Paul in his cabin at Family Camp, which has been a good time each weekend we have been at The Ranch.  We helped out with the closing campfire before going to Applebee’s for a bit in Farmington (they had good specials and half price appetizers).

Saturday, I helped as a check-out commissioner and actually “closed” Wenzel campsite for the summer – a.k.a. in addition to making sure the site was clean, ALL equipment had to be off the site, signs down, garbax bag holder removed, etc.  It’s more of a lengthy process but it was a good troop that already had all equipment down when I arrived on the site and they were in a pretty good mood.

After the site was closed, Ed Nahlik (one of the most amusing of my favorite people) came down to drive Famous Eagle’s truck run and asked me to join.  I wasn’t sure, but Ray did and so I figured I may as well.  Ed tapped a tree and backed into the loading dock to make me happy (don’t worry, no damage to the truck).  It’s not a real truck run unless you hit something, like a picnic table.  Let’s just say that Ed did not drive slowly.  It was a lot of fun and when I was standing up in the back of the truck at one point (which of course I should not have been doing), I almost flew over the front of the truck.  Luckily there was no problem.  We did move a good amount of equipment during an extremely hot day and got quite dirty – while listening to music: Ed had his iPod in a milk crate tied with rope to the back of the cab.  Awesome.  I like truck runs.

After lunch, the truck run continued but I went with some other people to Huck’s Cove for the afternoon and then went tubing.  I don’t think that I actually went tubing last year at camp so this was probably my first time in two years.  Both Huck’s Cove and tubing were a lot of fun.  It was really hot and a great day to be on the lake.

Saturday evening, we went to Lambert’s Cafe: Home of Throwed Rolls.  It’s a 1.5-2 hour drive from S-F, but definitely worth it.  Our drive down to Fredericktown and then along Highway 72 to I-55 was certainly an adventure (I was reminded of our English friend Jack Caine getting lost on Highway Z (“Zed”) last year).  There were certainly some sites to see in rural Southern Missouri.  I drove with David and we had some good conversations.  We had a hour and forty five minute wait to eat once we got to Lambert’s, but it is most definitely worth it.  They have amazing food and way too much of it.  I ate maybe 1/3 of my meal.  They are a fantastic place for country/Southern cooking.  I think I have gone to Lambert’s every year I worked on staff, beginning in 2004.

This morning, Ray, Tim, and I went back over to staff row to hang out with people before lunch.  After lunch we sang the pony song and helped with a few odd jobs, before relaxing on row again for a bit.  I had to leave earlier this time to get back in time for a Troop 310 reunion this afternoon (more on that in a future post).  I really wanted to stay longer.

Even with the drama of this summer, it is still possible to see the staff come together and have a good time.  I hope that visits in the future will be just as enjoyable.  Perhaps that 1% likelihood of my return to camp will happen.  While it would be different and strange in many regards (and I’m sure I would be disappointed in other ways because of changes), I know I would still love being at S-F and being a part of the staff one last time before meeting the “real” world.

Many conversations occurred this weekend about who would and who would not be returning to staff next year.  People always say things at the end of the summer, but when decision time comes around, the reality is often different.  I am interested to see what next year’s staff will look like.  I’m sure these will be conversations I will be hearing/joining for a while to come.

I did take pictures at camp this weekend.  I’m too tired to post those now, but expect them online soon and I will link to them from the blog.  I have no pictures of the lake though since I was trying not to destroy my camera. 🙂

Today and Tomorrow

A few thoughts that may not necessarily be in any logical order:

Today I met with John Haugh, President Marketing and Merchandising Bear at Build-A-Bear Workshop. From our meeting, it is clear that John is an intelligent, interesting, capable (and funny) leader.  Sophia, another intern, and I met with him for a little over half an hour.  He was interested in our stories and our experiences with the company as well as how we think they can improve the business.  I asked him questions related to future growth (including international specific) and how he got to such a high position so quickly (he is only 45!).  John had very interesting ideas and plans.  I tried to observe how he progressed from idea to idea and how his thoughts progressed.  He is definitely taking the company in a good direction.

I went to Oberweis tonight with my friend Emily where we caught up and played chess (I got progressively better, which shouldn’t have been hard from where I started).  I got Brownie Fudge Twirl ice cream.  I usually get Chocolate Peanut Butter there.  Both are quite good.

I had expected this week to be a bit slower at work with Tim, my primary supervisor, being out of the office for most of the week.  Instead, it has been quite busy and I have not gotten everything done that I thought I would.  I have helped determine if merchandise is available in the US and UK warehouses for a potential store opening and assist in a merchandise review for another country, among other projects.

Tomorrow is the Huggable Hereos luncheon at Build-A-Bear where kids who do pretty amazing things are being recognized by the company.  Check out their stories.  I’ve heard great things and am pretty excited.

Tomorrow I am heading down to S-F to visit camp.  This should be my last visit this summer.  I’m actually rather sad about this and hoping that the weekend goes well.  Who knows what the future holds for my time at camp.  Regardless, it is likely that this could be the last time I will be at the S-F Scout Ranch with so many of my good friends.

More Discrimination Protection in Missouri State Goverment

The following is an article by Virginia Young from STLtoday.com:

JEFFERSON CITY — A group representing gays and lesbians is celebrating a declaration by Gov. Jay Nixon that says state government shouldn’t discriminate against its employees based on their sexual orientation.

Though the statement has no force of law, it establishes a clear policy for the executive branch and is a “major stepping stone to achieving a statewide” anti-discrimination law, said A.J. Bockelman, executive director of the gay rights group known as PROMO.

Nixon buried the nugget of news in an executive order he issued earlier this month at a convention of the NAACP.

State law already bars employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age, and disability. Nixon’s order added sexual orientation and veteran status to the list of protected categories for state workers.

The order called for the state to treat its employees equally in regard to hiring, recruiting, training, benefits, promotions, transfers, layoffs, demotions, terminations, rate of compensation, and recalls from layoffs.

Equal treatment also should apply in the way state services and facilities operate, the order says.

Scott Holste, a spokesman for Nixon, said the move “was not aimed at any particular group. It sends a message that Missouri will not discriminate in any of these categories.”

Nixon hasn’t always drawn praise from gays and lesbians. Some were irked in 2008 when, as Missouri’s attorney general, he urged delay of a California court ruling allowing same-sex marriages.

Masada 2003

Tonight I heard the song Farmhouse by Phish for the first time in who knows how long.  That songs reminds me of my last summer at Camp Sabra as a part of the Masada Unit in 2003.  We were a fantastic group of people and I still think of many of them often.  I wish I was more in touch with many of those friends who I have not seen or spoken to in years.  Nevertheless, I know that because of our experiences together, we will still be good friends the next time we meet.

Here is the song we wrote to commemorate our summer as Masada 2003:

The Masada 2003 Song

(Songs in succession: Farmhouse by Phish, If I Had a Million Dollars by Barenaked Ladies, & Surrounding Me by Jeff Kanterman)

Welcome this is Masada
We have bugs and flies alas
And our final year has passed
We are so very sorry
There is plenty we can do
But we’re lazy
We didn’t stay in Colorado enough
The 2 weeks got kind of tough
But when it was time to go
We all wanted to just say no

CHORUS: (x2)
Never ever seen a mountain so high
Never ever seen the time fly by
(so fast)
Never ever seen the stars so bright
In Colorado things will be alright

Every night the lightening did flash
We watched our fires burn down to ash
On each trail we had to trust
Or we’d get left in the dust

CHORUS (x2)

If I had a million dollars
“ ”
I would buy a time machine
“ ”
(And) If I had a million dollars
“ ”
I’d go back to the 90’s
And spend more time with you & me
If I had a million dollars
“ ”
I’d buy you a bus
But not a working bus, that’s cruel
If I had a million dollars
I’d buy more time…

CHORUS (x2)

Lookin about the years
Thinkin of me & you
Wipin away the tears
Always remember you
Masada’s in our hearts
Never want to part
Ooh the magic of Camp Sabra…

Jeff was one of our counselors at Camp Sabra who wrote his own songs.  He is actually pretty good.  Here is a music video for one of his other songs:

My five years at Camp Sabra were fantastic.  It’s a beautiful camp on the Lake of the Ozarks.  I’d like to go back.

Masada 2003 on the steps of the dining hall porch at Camp Sabra

Camp Sabra has its own blog here.