Letter #10: Reunions-when did they become fun?!

Dear Kanakuk Staff Reunion,

When I was a kid, I hated any type of reunion. You had to dress up, remember people’s names and be on your best behavior. I can’t remember exactly what age, but there was a time when reunions transitioned from the dreaded event to a looked forward to event. It was probably when I realized that some of the best (and unfortunately worst) food you’d ever taste would be at them, and you got to hang out with some cool people. Let’s be honest, it was likely because I was most excited about the food.

I was really excited to fly to Dallas for you. Forget the food, your perk was definitely the people. Not many jobs in life do you get to fly from hanging out with your friends to hang out with more of your friends. There are people out there…specifically my dad…wondering, does she even work? I promise I really do work, but somehow part of my job is to hang out with really great people. You brought way fun people together for a night of fellowship, reminiscing and raffle giveaways and reminded me once again of how deep camp friendships run.

Upon arrival, I scoped out your table of goods being raffled off and found the sweetest orange shoes ever. Now, I would never buy these (we all know I’m way to cheap and practical for that), but getting these for free would be a clutch move. However, since I’m an employee I was ineligible to win them, but my sweet friend (this girl) ended up winning them (it wasn’t even rigged, it was fate) and gave them to me. Check out this awesome wardrobe addition…Go Pokes!

There was a point in time I learned to make the most of reunion opportunities, and I am grateful I learned to value you long ago. I’ll always enjoy the food and free stuff given away at events like this, but the reminiscing that gets to happen is priceless. Thanks for good times with great friends and for bringing me to Dallas early…my first ever Texas State Fair experience is happening today!

Appreciating reunions,

Proud owner of orange clown shoes

Letter #9: War **** Eagle!

Dear Auburn,

Man oh man, am I a fan of you?! I’ve been told for years you are similar to Stillwater and Oklahoma State, and I was not disappointed. Similar size. Similar looks. Similar people: friendly. I LOVE this place.

Your campus is beautiful. I enjoyed walking through it…especially because it reminds me so much of walking through OSU during my college days. One of your Student Recruiters is a good friend of mine. She took me to the top of Haley. From there I could see the entire campus (opening picture). My trip to visit you wouldn’t have been the same without this Eagle’s Nest experience.

I visited your famous Toomer’s corner and got the renowned lemonade…it was good, but a bit overpriced. I loved hearing the history of the corner. After an Auburn victory, everyone comes to toilet paper the entire corner. Apparently, it looks like it snowed. Fun fact: Auburn is the only city in AL (maybe the nation) to have toilet paper clean up built into their annual budget. Glad I got to experience the legendary corner, and now I’ll understand that Alabama didn’t toilet paper Auburn’s campus if I ever see the corner on TV.

Mamma Goldberg’s, Big Blue Bagel, Amsterdam’s and Chill all came highly recommended, and somehow I was able to eat at every single establishment (weight gain may be a bit of a concern on this journey?!). All were good; Big Blue was my fav…the tiger melt with bagel chips!

All the site-seeing and food tasting was great, but the highlight of my trip was definitely the company. You have some stellar students attending your campus by the way, and somehow I’ve been blessed to get to be friends with some of them. I hadn’t seen some of these girls in a year or two, and we were able to pick up right where we left off. This is simply evidence that friendships rooted in the Lord are genuine. Highlight of the trip: catching up and laughing with old friends. **P.S. Can you do me a favor? Let them get enrolled in the proper classes so they don’t have to take summer school and can come back to kamp. Thanks.**

I’d also like to point out that I’m two for two in my traveling goal challenge (check out my goal here). Never in a million years did I think I’d get to be a model, but this week I have become a college t-shirt model! I’m looking forward to shouting “War Eagle” at people when I wear my new shirt!

The only other anomaly was finally seeing these sorority dorms you people speak of all the time. I’m from Oklahoma where we have sorority houses, and this was and still is a foreign concept to me…so much so that I’m writing an entire letter to sorority dorms.

It’s still a bit surreal I experienced you and my friends in real life, but I enjoyed every second of it. Thanks for welcoming me with open arms, admitting my friends to your Alma mater when they were freshmen allowing us to be friends now and for having a cute mascot, Aubie, and an even cuter quarterback, Cam Newton!

I’ll miss ya,

WAR **** EAGLE’s newest fan

Letter #8: Truths of Traveling

Dear traveling,

You are WAY more tiring than I ever dreamed, but I think I like you even more than I thought I would. A normal day involves wake-ups between 6 or 7 a.m., interviewing for 5-6 hours, grabbing lunch with old staff, hitting the road for the next college, doing a show to tell another campus about camp, interviewing until about midnight, waking up and doing it all over again.**If I take a bit to get back to return a phone call, text or e-mail, this is why.** The schedule you’ve given me is taxing, but I truly have loved it thus far.

I love meeting and interviewing new people everyday. It’s amazing what can happen in a 30 minute conversation (ok, let’s be honest, I’m long-winded, and always go over). I have had the opportunity to challenge, care about, listen to and encourage college girls these past few days, but I’ve also been challenged and encouraged by them. Hearing people’s stories, struggles and joys is one of my favorite things to do, and you allow me to do it everyday.

I love seeing camp friends in real life. It baffles me daily that my job allows me to see and keep up with some of my favorite people in the world. The truth is, if it weren’t for your role in my life this year, I may never have seen some of these people again. Thanks for letting me catch up with old friends, have challenging conversations, sing camp songs at the top of our lungs, tell stories and laugh a ton!

I love getting to see new places on a daily basis (tune in tomorrow for my take on Auburn University). You are allowing me to see and experience places I would never see otherwise. I don’t think I could appreciate this opportunity more.

This is only the beginnings of our interactions this year. I look forward to many more adventures. I’d appreciate it if you could train my body to live like I’m in college again because that’s the lifestyle and sleep schedule I’m currently living.

Today, I’m experiencing the flight side of you. Dallas, here I come. I’ll be visiting the Kanakuk Staff Reunion, the Texas State Fair and Village Church.

Over and out,

Your biggest fan

Letter #7: Beeson, Bulldogs, Birmingham

Dear Samford,

You are the first school to fulfill my lofty traveling goal, and I have the pictures to prove it! Thanks to the K-West dream-maker, I’ll be reppin’ the Bulldogs!

For being such a small school, you sure do have a beautiful campus. I’m glad I got to meet the famous Mr. Beeson (above picture) and that you have been home to and produced some great friends over the years (see below).

I didn’t appreciate the traffic that Birmingham provided every time I drove through. However, I thoroughly enjoyed lunch at “The Caf,” and it really made me miss college food…really just food that is prepared for you. I never appreciated the convenience of that enough until I started having to feed myself.

You allowed my Kanakuk experience to come full circle. Yesterday, I interviewed my old camper from my very firstK-Westcabin. Wow. I always gave my friend and K-West legend, this girl, a hard time about her campers working at camp. Well, I’ve now reached that point. Still processing how I feel about this one.

Thanks for a good time, great interviews and friend reunions. I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again, but I wish you well.

Go Bulldogs!

Your newest fan

Letter #6: Writing a Biblical Author?!

Dear James,

I’m studying your letter this semester and our staff will study it this summer. Confession: I started studying it simply to prepare me to teach it well this summer, but little did I know that you and the Lord had different plans. I have learned lessons I never expected. I have been challenged beyond belief. The challenges are pushing me to life change. Thanks for writing your letter and for giving me a daily challenge.

I haven’t even made it through the first chapter, and I’m walking away with nuggets I’ll carry for life. James, I’d like to share two of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from your letter with you.

  • Lesson #1: Don’t talk about it, be about it (a phrase I’ll never forget from this girl)

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” James 1:22 In the words of my friends Rodney and Nasa from the Kanakuk Institute: CONVICTION. How often do I hear a sermon, a verse or sit down to get my “quiet time” in and never change my lifestyle or way of thinking? Too often. Thanks for calling me out.

  • Lesson #2: Be bold.

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6 I need to and want to pray boldly. Where do I seek wisdom? Often, it’s from my friends, family, Internet sources, etc. Why don’t I turn to the Lord? Bold prayers…that’s what I’m learning to pray this week.

Thanks for writing boldly. Thanks for living out your faith and calling us to a higher  standard. Thanks for preparing me now to face trials in the future. I look forward to reading more of your letter. Oh, and I really love a good laugh, so it’s kind of funny that as I read, my life experiences line up with what I’m learning about… God seems to have a sense of humor!

Until next time,

The girl who decided to write you a letter for once

Letter #5 – Project Runway: College Style

Dear college campuses I’ll be visiting this year,

I’ll bleed orange until the day I die for my Oklahoma State Cowboys, but my years at camp have enlightened me to the plethora of great colleges out there.

Our staff is typically comprised of several Auburn and Baylor students, many of which have become some of my dear friends.

My co-counselors, both of whom were awesome, from LONG ago were from Vanderbilt and Westmont College.

The love that many Kanakuk directors have for both the University of Kansas and Arkansas sparked interest in me for these schools.

The list could go on and on, but on football Saturdays, I often find myself pulling for schools I hadn’t even heard of five years ago. I check scores outside of the Big XII just to see if friends are excited about their alma mater’s win or upset because they lost. Camp has broadened my perspective on a ton of things in life, but college is one I never expected.

So, as I travel from campus to campus, I’ve set a goal. I hope to obtain a piece of paraphernalia (big word that just means shirts, shorts, sweats, etc.) from as many campuses I visit as possible without purchasing any of them.

This is a lofty goal and might be a complete flop, but Lord knows I had enough OSU stuff to outfit an army when I was in college. I would have helped someone fulfill a goal like this in a heartbeat. So, I thought, why not give it a shot?!

I’ll cheer for the Tennessee Vols because Kyle Bisese goes there (Peyton Manning doesn’t hurt either); I’ll even attempt to figure out how War Eagle connects with the Tigers of Auburn (still a mystery to me?!); I’m afraid to admit this, but I even like to see the Sooners win IF AND ONLY IF it’s not Bedlam; but how much more exciting would it be if I could root for your team while wearing your school colors?!

How can YOU help make this happen?!

Sincerely,

Your newest “model” you must outfit

Letter #4: Camp Coming to Real LIfe

Dear K-West Staff,

Wow. It’s Oct. 4th. You have been gone from the gates of K-West for two or three months now. It’s hard for me to fathom that camp’s been over that long. After five summers working at camp, this year has been a stranger transition than ever. For the first time, I went from working at camp in the summers to working at camp year round. I couldn’t be more excited about my job, and I really have loved the last month working in Branson during camp’s off season. However, working in the office will never compare to working in Lampe with all of you.

I have been sitting in the office, attending meetings to prep for next summer, writing you guys, brainstorming ideas to make camp better and coming up with ways to implement them, prepping for trail and learning how to interview and simply wishing I could walk TAPS through the cabins and chat with each of you. I haven’t been disconnected from camp and thrown back into sorority life, classes, campus involvement and friends like normal. I think I understand how special the three months of camp are more now that I’m on the other side of it (not that the other nine are bad, just different).

However, I get to begin traveling today and am going to get to see A LOT of you! All over the country we’re going to get to have a little bit of camp away from camp as Kanakuk shows up on your campus. Here’s where I’ll be the next couple weeks:

  • Oct. 4-5: Auburn University…..WAR EAGLE!
  • Oct. 5-6: Samford University
  • Oct. 6-8: Hanging out in Auburn!
  • Oct. 8: Kanakuk Reunion in Dallas
  • Oct. 9-11: Hanging out in Dallas and going to the Texas State Fair!
  • Oct. 11-12: Texas A&M…Whoop!
  • Oct. 13-14: Baylor University…Sic “Em!

Looking forward to the fun friends I’m going to see along this journey as well as the new friends I’ll make along the way.

*Not to mention, selfishly, I’m stoked about all the places I’m going to see that I’d never get to otherwise.*

Enjoy college like never before as Fall takes over your campus. This was always my favorite time of year at OSU: football season, Homecoming, pumpkin bars at the Kappa Delta house, changing leaves, long sleeves and cowboy boots weather and Aspen Coffee. However, while you’re enjoying it, don’t forget the memories and friendships you made at camp this summer.

Hopefully I’ll see you soon,

Your scheduler (Can’t believe I just admitted to enjoying TAPS)

Letter #3: Friends for Life

Dear friends and family from life not connected to camp,

As I have found my home in Branson and my next step with Kanakuk Kamps, our paths don’t cross daily. However, know I think of you often. I am grateful for the memories we have made over the years and the friendships that will continue in the future (even if it is from afar). I’ll never forget my tomboy days that wouldn’t have been the same without you to play with, my (BMOC days as this guy likes me to call them) athletic days that couldn’t have happened without my teammates, my college days of pomping and beach vacations that wouldn’t have been the same without fun friends who also reminded me to study!

There may be some things I write about in these letters that you don’t fully understand, but there will be plenty of things in here for you as well. You have played vital roles in the woman I am today. This blog is mainly for me, but I’d love for it to allow me to keep up with friends I don’t get to see and interact with daily as well. It may even help you answer some of the questions we all ask about one another: “Now, what is she doing these days? Is she dating anybody yet? Who does she work for? I wonder if she’s gained weight? Where does she live…maybe it’s a great vacation spot? (You know you’ve thought at least some of these!).”

I look forward to keeping up with you guys and pray for many more years of friendship. If this blogging thing helps in this process, then it will have served a much greater purpose than I could ever have imagined.

Grateful the Internet keeps us connected,

Your tomboy, (BMOC), academically distracted friend/family member

Letter #2: Goodbye Branson

Dear apartment, my office and Branson,

Well, it’s been nice knowing you.

On Monday, I go on trail. You have no idea what I’m talking about, so let me explain. Trail is short for Winter Trail, also known as Kanakuk Movie Tour. It’s part of what happens at Kanakuk Kamps in the off season. This is our opportunity to travel college campuses to inform students about Kanakuk and how they can be part of this ministry. Once they’re informed, we do interviews at 125+ campuses to make up our summer staff of 2,000+ employees. Trail is how we come up with, in my opinion and in many other’s opinions as well, Kanakuk’s greatest asset: our staff.

I’m not sure who thought it would be a good idea to let me be part of this process but somebody did, so I’ll be traveling for essentially the next two months. *Insert reason addressing this letter the way I did.*

My apartment and office (pictures to come) have been my primary dwelling places for the last month (hard to believe I’ve been employed for a month). However, I literally told the people I work with at the office goodbye on Friday for a couple months, and I will soon become a visitor to my own home.

Of course, it’s just my luck that the weekend before I leave worked best for my parents to come visit me in Shady B (endearing term for Branson). I’ve been piecing together furniture for my apartment, all of which was in Oklahoma, so they pulled a trailer to bring it. My apartment is (not completely empty anymore) furnished!! Things are slightly in order…just as I head out on the road.

Why come all the way to Branson just to be my personal moving service?! My parents made their travels a mini-vaca of sorts as well. So, we went for the epitome of the Branson experience: Dolly and the Dixie Stampede. “Pegs, pegs, we need more pegs” and Noah. And to see these guys (enough said). Three shows in a weekend…I don’t even go on the Strip three times a month. All three were a good time, and I had a blast with my parents and grandma. Thanks for a good run guys.

Branson, thank you for a great last weekend for awhile. I’m sure we’ll meet again soon.

Office, I’ll miss the people way more than I’ll miss sitting between your four white walls.

Apartment, thanks for being patient with me in the first month of our relationship. Take care of yourself in my absence and be clean when I drop in for a visit in the next couple months.

See ya when I see ya,

Your soon to be MIA tenant

Letter #1: Rookie Season

Dear friends, family, and anyone else who may care,

I write to you today with a heavy heart. Kidding, for some reason I’ve just always wanted to say that. I do write you today to tell you I will no longer be writing on the K-West blog. Many of you are holding your breath, hoping…praying I didn’t lose my job. Good news: I’m still employed. Bad news: I’m starting my own blog. It’s not really bad news, but it made the good news have a more dramatic ending.

You may ask yourself, why in the world would she want to start a blog? I’ve asked myself this same question. Here’s what I’ve come up with thus far:

  • to record my first year of real world for me
  • to track my travels (I’ll be traveling for at least 7 weeks to cities and campuses)
  • to deal with obstacles individually, then publicly allow others to benefit
  • to allow friends, family, Kamp family and strangers be part of my rookie season
  • to build relationships through being personal and REAL
  • most importantly, to make people laugh!!!

I’m not convinced any of these reasons are good enough to qualify me as a blogger, nevertheless, I stand before you proclaiming myself part of the blog world. I’ll begin documenting my rookie season of life now. Become a fan at your own risk. Goals: 1) Selfishly: to remember half the places and people I see in the next six months as well as lessons I learn and things the Lord teaches me. 2) Inclusively: to share insight into the ups and downs of the transition into real life while allowing anyone who cares to travel the country with me.

If you can’t figure out why I’ll be traveling, stay tuned…you’ll be enlightened soon enough.

So here I stand. It’s my rookie season in this thing called life. I don’t have a multi-year contract or a solid fan base like the veterans in the league do. I’m just working hard daily, hoping it pays off in the long run. Being as faithful in the little things as I can be. This blog can serve as my rookie season baseball card. Hopefully it will become more and more valuable to you, but mainly to me, with time. I look forward to this journey.

Signed,

The Self-Proclaimed Blogger