This Town, This Night, This Crowd

I’m writing this on a plane again. This time I’m flying from Denver to New Orleans. I spent this past weekend in Denver catching up with friends and generally having a good time. No real reason for this particular weekend, though I was asked that a lot, but I wanted to see some great people. As seems to always happen with these trips, I started reminiscing about my time at DU/in Denver and that got me thinking about life, as I know it.

I am incredibly fortunate to be in the position in which I find myself. I have a good job (that I enjoy) with a growing company in an expanding industry. I have a loving and caring family who I enjoy spending time with. I have the best friends for which one could ask. And I have had some amazing experiences and a great education. I am appreciative of everyone who is a part of all of these pieces of my life.

Every time I go back to Denver I have a great time. With luck, that will continue to happen. I saw such great people and had a lot of fun. We are able to take advantage of what the city has to offer and I really do miss Denver. That said, this visit was the first time when I did not feel like I should be on campus. By that I mean that I did not have that bugging feeling about being in Denver, but not being a student. I guess that means I am moving on (it has been almost a year since graduation!).

Things are always changing. People are leaving Denver and I have found some who are returning. I realize that it is no longer the same, but Denver will always have a special place in my heart. I think I made the right decision to leave, to go back home, and to move beyond college (though I can still act like I’m in college if the situation is right). That said, I would like to end up back in Denver at some point. It is filled with potential. And I do want to keep learning and growing, while surrounded by fantastic people.

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This Fall I Am Not Going Back to School

Well, this is weird.  All over people are going back to school.  I even have friends who have been in school for almost a month already.  The University of Denver begins its Autumn Quarter the first Monday after Labor Day.  That would be today – i.e. since 2006, I’ve been back in college today.  But not this year.

Apparently, when you graduate you know longer go to school.  Who knew?  Just kidding – but it really is a strange feeling.  I thought in May/June that graduation would really hit me today.  I’m not sure if it has.  I guess I’ve understood for some time that I would not be returning to DU. Searching for a job for months probably drove that home.

Today does feel strange though.  As I write this, I am on a plane flying to New Orleans.  When I post this I will be in a hotel in Baton Rouge.  Last year at this time I was in classes at the Daniels College of Business or working at the Center for Multicultural Excellence.  I’ve moved on. I’ve grown up.  For the first time since I started school (a.k.a. before I can remember) this fall I do not go to school.

I guess it is time to apply what I’ve been learning all these years.  Maybe it is fitting then that this afternoon, I have a big meeting with a provider.  Maybe it is fitting that I spent Saturday giving advice to Scouts and being told how old I am (more on these last two comments in a later post).

I certainly will not take for granted all that I have learned and experienced throughout my years of education.  I am so fortunate to have had the opportunities I have had.  My time at the University of Denver, specifically, and the people I met there was more than I ever could have asked for.  Hopefully I am working now to be able to give others the same experiences – and I know my education is far from complete.

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.

The Banner Ranch

Part of me would love to live in some rural area.  I find an appeal in the middle of nowhere lifestyle that I can’t really describe.  So many times I hear rural/country/”hick” lifestyles demeaned, but as I thought about it this weekend, I do not think I would know how to live in many different situations.

I spent a good part of the weekend at my friend’s ranch/land/farm in the middle of nowhere Missouri.  My friend Justin and his family have some land off of Indian Trail State Forest (there is basically no information on that place online).  There nearest town that we drove through on the way there was Cherryville, which from what we could tell as one main store and three churches.

A picture of the cabin at the Baner Ranch from an earlier high school trip.

Since I first joined Troop 310 in 1999, we would go out there and shoot guns, make fires, play poker, hang out, etc.  When we got older, they got ATVs and we would start riding those.  It got harder to get people together once we all went to college, but we have been back a few times.  It was great going back this weekend.  I really love that land and the openness and freedom it represents.

We watched an amazing heat lightning storm on Friday night from the back of a pickup (with a tractor tire in the bed haha), rode ATVs (on roads, on trails, and in the middle of the forest), shot guns (.22 rifle, .308 rifle, .50 blackpowder pistol – 1700s era), picked blackberries, saw the Banner’s new vineyard, and reminisced about old times.  We had a dutch oven roast and a dutch oven cobbler.  It’s been a while since I have been able to say that.

It was certainly strange though not having our whole old group there.  It was also weird to not to have any parents there.  When we used to go out there, we always had a parent come with us. for extra supervision with the guns and whatnot (we were younger) and so they could enjoy it as well.  Mr. Banner (Justin’s dad) would also help get stuff ready for us and help with clean up – even in later years.  This time though we had to take care of everything ourselves.  Apparently that’s what happens when you grow up.

I hope to go back out there soon.  Spending time with people I have been friends with since 5th grade has definitely been a highlight of this summer.  As we all go different places, I hope we can continue to come back together.

Visiting Camp

Again, this should have been posted a while ago.  I’m trying to catch up now.  Because of that, this post is shorter and perhaps more of an overarching view as opposed to the details I had originally planned on posting.

I visited camp last weekend, June 11-13, and this past Thursday, June 17, night for the Order of the Arrow Call Out Ceremony.  S-F Scout Ranch is truly an amazing place.  I have had so many memories there with so many amazing people (including many of my best friends) that not spending the summer there is definitely a major life change.

It is strange to be at camp and not be in charge of things.  I have worked for the past four summers as the Business Manager at Camp Famous Eagle and one earlier summer as a Nature/Troop Counselor at Camp Gamble (teaching Soil & Water Conservation Merit Badge, among other things).  As Business Manager, I learned the inner workings of the camp and over the years, amassed more knowledge and more responsibility than typically associated with the position.  As such, I have been having nightly conversations with people at camp to both find out how camp is going and offer thoughts/suggestions.  I have spent a lot of time teaching this year’s Business Manager how to do his job, along with referring him to his supervisors for more detail.

It is strange to return to camp without any obligations or responsibility.  I do like the freedom that comes with it.  I even went to Huck’s Cove, the private Scout “water park” on Nims Lake without my cell phone for the first time in four years.  I did not have to be available for any issues – how strange!  Nevertheless, I felt an obligation to help out and a sort of longing to belong and be a part of it all again.  I have certainly been welcomed and have enjoyed spending time with my friends and getting to know the new staff members.

We (can I still say that?  I think so…) have a great staff and I do like many of the first year staffers.  Hopefully, I can impart some of my knowledge upon them and help them in their experiences.  I have helped/trained the staff with check-in and assisted with behind the scene details for the Order of the Arrow ceremony.  I am glad to be a part of the camp, even in a minor way.  It is definitely an internal struggle though to refer issues/questions to other people who should deal with them – especially when I know the right response and they may not yet know.  It is part of the learning/growing process though.

I’ve enjoyed my visits thus far.  I plan to visit again this weekend and then, hopefully, another two weekends throughout the summer.  It is a great “escape” from the city life for me, a chance to visit friends, an opportunity to return “home”.  I do need to balance spending time with friends and family in St. Louis with my time at camp.  I hope that I do this successfully.  Spending time at camp off and on throughout the summer is definitely something I look forward to.  I am excited to see how the summer at Boy Scout camp progresses – and what my friendships look like at the end of the summer.

Summer Thus Far

I should have written this post (or perhaps several posts) a while ago.  My idea of having free time this summer seems not to be working out.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean to complain – this summer has gone amazingly well so far.  It is just a change from the past.

I have recognized the need to move on to a “professional” summer job with an internship at Build-A-Bear Workshop that I like a lot.  I think the internship itself has been less of a fundamental change than everything that goes with it.  As opposed to walking to work at DU or living where I work at camp, I am driving through traffic to and from work.   I have to dress up, wake u pearly, look professional (at least to some extent) – all of those “grown up” things.  It’s actually kind of cool, but I do miss living with my friends and working with some of my favorite people.  I reflected during the first week on the way home one day that I felt like my dad! 🙂

The days are crazy busy.  I have been waking up between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning to shower, shave , and get to work early, before 8:30 a.m. (I seem to have been tired all summer so far.)  I work until 5:00 p.m. and have not been getting home until 5:45 p.m. or later.  By the time dinner happens and I catch up on life (email, phone calls from the day, etc.) , there is not much time for hanging out, going outside, or generally doing non-work summer things.  It’s probably a good – and important – experiential shift.

I have seen some friends and I have done some exciting things – like go the Cardinals game today where I sat in the Centene suite with my friend who is interning there.  I have learned a lot this summer and met some great people.  I hope that experience continues – along with the opportunity to spend time with friends and family and visit camp.

Quote #12 – Advice from Build-A-Bear

Corey, the International Marketing Intern, and I have had meetings with a lot of people at Build-A-Bear Workshop over the past two weeks (I cannot believe my internship is now 20% over!) in an effort to learn more about who works at the company, how Build-A-Bear operates, how the international team fits together, our own career paths, etc.  It’s really a great opportunity.  One of the questions we have asked is for advice or wisdom, based on personal experience or working at Build-A-Bear.  Today, the following quote was offered, which I found particularly meaningful as I struggle with letting go of my past summers and moving forward – a.k.a. “growing up”.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
– Soren Kierkegaard

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish Philosopher and Theologian, generally recognized as the first existentialist philosopher.  He lived 1813-1855.

Of course, general advice has also consisted of find your passion, don’t just work for money – actually enjoy what you do and who you work with, etc.  The standard “work smart” and “work hard” that I got through Boy Scout experiences has continued at Build-A-Bear as well.

My internship has been great so far and I love the work that I am doing.  Unlike the stereotypical stories of interns filing papers all day, I believe that the projects I am working on are actually affecting the operations of the company.  Build-A-Bear really does believe in its people as key to the company’s success and I have been amazed at how much they seek to develop the interns.  I could not be luckier this summer.