Visiting Camp This Summer

I went down to S-F Scout Ranch this past weekend.  I miss that place.  Tim, one of my friends who I used to work with, and I went down and stood with Paul in his cabin at Family Camp.  As I sat out on the porch each morning, I thought about how quiet, relaxing, and peaceful it can be there.

It was great to be back in camp, visiting with returning staff members, meeting new staff members, and offering assistance.  It was a Dad n Lad weekend.  I enjoy seeing how excited 8, 9, and 10 year olds can be – as well as their dads – to be down at camp, experiencing the outdoors and a lake for the first time.  Scouting has so much to offer.  I hope all of these kids have the opportunity to be a part of it.  I also hope that Scouting stays relevant and remains accessible.  There seems to be a lot that needs to be done.

Some things remain the same – the camp, the basics of the program, camp staff antics, etc.  But some things change.  Change can often be for good, but I still have some concerns for the camp (staff) this summer.  I hope that the staff has as great of a summer as I have had in the past and that the program remains as amazing, if it doesn’t become even better.

On another note, the weather down there always amazes me.  While it rained Saturday afternoon at Family Camp, we had hail and pretty bad storms at the Camp Famous Eagle water front.  It’s just down the lake, but the weather changes pretty dramatically.  Later Saturday night, there was some pretty cool lightning.  As it began to shift into a major storm though, we tried to leave Walmart in Farmington and head back to The Ranch.  A minute later, we could not see the road so we headed back to Walmart to wait out the storm.  It seemed like all of Farmington showed up to do the same thing!

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Two Updates

Two quick updates for today:

  1. Last night I was used as a pick up line.  Interesting, I know.  If you have question about how that works, ask.
  2. Yesterday it was 86 in Denver.  Last night was basically a wind storm.  Today it is snowing.  Good work Denver.

What A Beautiful Day (After Friday)

Denver is amazing today!  It is truly beautiful – sunny blue skies with a nice breeze.  Earlier, I saw that it was 86 degrees.  Yes, 86!  I finally broke out the shorts and sandals and man was it great!  Aylee, my roommate, and I went for a walk this afternoon around Washington Park and Cherry Creek.  It was the first time I’ve actually been to Washington Park.  Apparently, after being in Denver for almost five years that is a crime or something like that.  I’m glad I no longer have that to worry about.  It’s a really nice park and it was packed today.  We had a good walk and good conversation.

Now, I know today is Saturday, but apparently Friday is the day to be excited about.  I found that out from Rebecca Black, who if you did not know, is a 13 year old who has a music video on YouTube that has gone viral.   The song is not exactly what you would call good, but it is pretty amusing and, unfortunately, really catchy:

That video has almost 78 million views!  Now that you have watched the original video, you will need to watch a cover.  Try to follow this: Stephen Colbert auctioned off a portrait of himself and said that Jimmy Fallon would match the $26,000 donation to DonorsChoose.org.  That was pretty cool!  Except apparently Jimmy Fallon had never said that, so he told his audience that if they could raise $26,000 then Stephen Colbert would come on his show and sing Rebecca Black’s “Friday” song.  But Stephen Colbert never agreed.  However, since Jimmy Fallon got the money raised, Stephen Colbert went on the show and sang.  It is hilarious.  Check it out:

Blog Post for MASA/JAFI

As I have posted before, I studied abroad in Israel from the end of July to the end of December 2008.  The Ginsberg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering studying in Israel.  Be’er Sheva may not be the usual destination, but it is a great city and BGU is consistently ranked the top university by Israeli students.

The Overseas Student Program (OSP) is also sponsored by two quasi(?) governmental organizations, MASA and the Jewish Agency For Israel.  These groups encourage students to come to Israel and even give scholarships to do so.  I was recently contacted to write a blog post for them about my experience.  It will be posted in the near future and perhaps may also be printed in a Jewish newspaper.  Here is the article:

In 2005 I traveled to Poland and Israel with United Synagogue Youth (USY), one of two Jewish youth groups I was a part of, along with BBYO.  The five weeks I spent in Israel were some of the best of my life.  But it wasn’t enough.  I wanted more and I knew I would have to return.
I spent five months studying at Masa Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev from the end of July to the end of December 2008.  I attend the University of Denver where approximately 70% of the undergraduate students study abroad – so I knew I would be spending part of Junior Year in another country.  What country that would be was an easy choice.  I knew that I had to be in Israel.  The question was what school.  My options were pretty limited because of the University of Denver’s quarter schedule.  Nevertheless, I knew that there were ways to get around this.
I was trying to decide between Hebrew University in Jerusalem or Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva.  I wanted to have the opportunity to explore Judaism while experiencing the “real” Israel.  I wanted to learn Hebrew and I knew that English was pervasive in Jerusalem.  Much to the surprise of almost everyone I knew, I chose Ben-Gurion.  It ended up being a phenomenal choice.
I loved every minute of classes at Ben-Gurion.  Be’er Sheva is an amazing city, regardless of what anyone says.  The people are amazing.  Our first night there, about 30 lost Americans stood on the street corner trying to figure out where we were and how we could find someplace close by to eat.  A student came up and offered to make us pancakes.  We got to know him well over the next several months.
I kept a blog for the summer to share my experiences and stories with anyone who cared to read them.  I made the following observations in my first real post:
  • There are a lot of stray cats (and some dogs) in Be’er Sheva.
  • The Israeli students are actually finishing up their semester with the next few weeks being their final period. Their schedule got messed up with two different (one professor and one student) strikes this past year. Many of these students will be moving out of the dorms. Their new semester will not begin until mid-November.
  • The school week in Israel is Sunday – Thursday. It is going to take some getting used to.
These observations seem laughable now that I have spent time in Be’er Sheva and Israel for as long as I did.  There were so many meaningful things that happened.
At home now in St. Louis, Missouri for the summer, I have been experiencing an extremely hot and humid summer.  The heat is familiar from Be’er Sheva, the humidity, not so much.  St. Louis is missing the sand though (which really gives the city some character).  The other day I was working in a building looking out at the sun and blue skies.  Someone mentioned spending time at the pool over the weekend and I flashed back to the days of Ulpan, when we would spend the afternoons at the pool, across from Mayonot Gimel.  We would swim, tan, or play volleyball and matkot (Israeli paddleball) with the Israeli students.  We were always welcomed and we began to feel part of the Israeli society.
Back in Denver, I began to get involved in Israel advocacy and programming with student groups and formed relationships with StandWithUs and other organizations.  I took classes on the Israeli-Arab conflict and wrote my honors thesis on Israeli communities rising from discrimination to power.  As part of a liberal international studies program, I often found myself defending Israel, but I was always happy to do it.  I had immediately been a part of the controversy mix, returning to the United States just before my Israeli dorms were evacuated after being hit by a rocket from Gaza (don’t worry, there were no injuries).
I knew that I would not be able to see everything that I had wanted to see during my five months.  I knew I would want to go back.  What was surprising though was how much of Be’er Sheva I did not experience.  Sure, I traveled and explored, but I always figured, “Be’er Sheva only has 200,000 people.  How much can there be here to do?”  Apparently, a lot.  I always said I would return to visit those small museums, but never did.  Hard as I knew it would be, I wanted to get up early on a Thursday morning to go to the animal auction at the Bedouin Market.  I missed it.  That is my only regret.
My Masa Israel experience was amazing.  I would never have given it up for anything.  Now, I know that I need to return.  I hope to do so this December (when I can once again eat way too many sufganiyot! – jelly donuts).  Until then, I will think of Israel often.  See you soon!

As you can tell, they edited it. 🙂 Once it is posted to their blog, I’ll be sure to share the link.

Random Questions/Thoughts On My Mind

It is May.  Why is it in the 30s/40s in Denver?  Why is it snowing in Denver?  It should be the end of Spring/beginning of Summer!

Someone in my class just opened a can in class.  My professor said “I hope that was a beer.”  Was she serious?

My apartment building, Asbury Green, is new (as of this past fall).  My biggest frustration may be the lobby elevator.  It is super slow.  You can wait forever for the elevator to stop at your floor.  And because you have to wait the elevator often stops at every floor.  The cycle continues.  Because of this, I often walk down the stairs when leaving my third floor apartment.  It’s faster and I guess healthier.  The stairwell used to smell great – like clean, like new carpet, like fresh paint.  Now it smells gross.  Maybe moldy?  I think it smells like gross, dirty, wet, dogs.  And I love dogs.  What happened?

Quote #2

It was one of those March April days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

– Charles Dickens

I like the weather.  I am happy that it is finally getting warmer.  Unfortunately, my life outside of class and work involves the indoors – thesis, group meetings, homework, etc.