Wednesday, June 29, 2005

mad adventures.

These days seem to go more quickly as we progress through the summer.  While all of us in the program seem to be adapting to our work environments with ease, we still find time to have fun on our days off.  In addition, the Colorado weather is finally warming up!  The weather decided to take a sudden turn for the best about two weeks ago.  I remember dodging through a hailstorm only two weeks ago—now it’s 75 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny almost every day.  With this enjoyable weather, we anticipated the day when we could go whitewater rafting.  Taking initiative, our amazing student leaders for the Leadership Challenge Institute, Kyle and Lydia, planned two trips to raft on Clear Creek.  One trip took place on June 22, and the majority of the Calvin group went on this date.  The other group, which I was a part of, went yesterday, June 28.  The rafting guides informed us that the rapids we were about to challenge consisted of class III and class IV’s.

After slipping into wetsuits and foot booties, life jackets, and splash-guards, we crammed into an 18 passenger van and drove a short distance to the creek.  Before departing, I was slightly confused as to why they called it Clear CREEK.  However, when we stood at the side of the creek, we quickly understood why.  It stood about as wide as four lanes of traffic at its widest part, and the water flowed fairly quickly.  Hearing a fair share of preliminary safety instructions, we headed down the chilly 38 degree water.  Through periods of intense rapids, our guide Paul shouted paddling commands.  He explained the unique names of each section of rapids:Cheerleader Rock, Big Horn drop, Mine Shaft.  As we battled the rapids, a huge grin never left any of our faces.  I had rafted a few times in the past, but these rapids blew all of those experiences out of the water.  Within two hours, our two boats ended the 12 mile section of Clear Creak, and we headed back to the main building of the rafting company.  I think that most of us would do it again in a heartbeat.  There is nothing quite like whitewater rafting class III and IV rapids, especially with a group like LCI. 

Posted by Jeremy V. on 06/29 at 06:15 PM
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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

mosh pit polka.

Last week our speaker, Mike VanDenend, invited us all to attend a concert in Fraser, a small town down the road from SMR. It sounded fun enough—then Mike went on to tell us that this was a “world beat/polka” band, which, to say the least, isn’t the genre in heavy rotation for most college students. But after doing a bit of research, I found that this band, Brave Combo, had won the 2005 Grammy for Best Polka Album. Even if polka wasn’t our style, we knew it had to at least be good polka. So a bunch of us went along to the Brave Combo show in the heart of “the Ice Box of the Nation,” aka, a playground in Fraser. All it took was a few minutes of fun-infused polka for us to be grooving on the dance floor. Between the Chicken Dance, an abnormally long Conga line, swing dancing, and so much more, the night turned out to be a blast. I mean, how many times can you say that you danced the Salsa to a Grammy-winning Polka band with a rainbow streaming over the Rocky Mountains in the background? Probably not too many ;) Fraser didn’t know what had hit them—and I guess we didn’t either.

Posted by Jill D. on 06/21 at 10:14 AM
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

work AND play

It’s officially been two weeks since I have arrived at Snow Mountain Ranch.  My mom asked me on the phone the other day if I am glad that I chose to come here.  All I could answer with was a definite “yes!”

After traveling with five friends from Calvin all the way from Grand Rapids, we made it to the beautiful state of Colorado.  Following the road trip, I was confident that the summer was going to be a wonderful experience—after all, I had only spent a few days with a few friends and had a great time.  I had the whole summer ahead of me (and still do)!

Looking back at these two weeks that I’ve been here, it has been packed with amazing experiences.  Through small groups, leadership seminars, campfires, and hikes, basketball games, and even time at work, my time here continues to be a very rewarding experience.

I have to admit that one of my favorite things to do at Snow Mountain is hike.  There are many trails of varying difficulty and scenery.  My friend just told me today that he went snowshowing on a nearby trail!  On Monday, a few friends and I had the day off of work, so we decided to hike Five Peaks.  The trail is a steep climb up Snow Mountain, which overlooks the whole ranch and the surrounding area.  It took us five hours to complete the hike, but we enjoyed every minute of it.  The view was incredible.  Despite the view, I was not quite prepared for the weather.  When we started hiking, it was around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  At the five peaks, it got colder and colder, and we ended up wearing sweatshirts and coats in the 40 degree weather. 

Although everyone on the Calvin program savors their free time here, it is a WORK-study program.  No one would complain about hiking and relaxing all day, but we do have to earn some money to pay for Calvin tuition!  Each member of the Leadership Challenge Institute program works 40 + hours a week in various departments throughout the camp.  The various departments include, but are not limited to, outdoor programs, housekeeping, building and grounds, maintenance, food minstrel, child care, day camp, chaplain’s assistant, wedding’s assistant, and food service.  I work in food service at the Buckboard Grille, which is the restaurant at Snow Mountain Ranch.  While it may be a “normal” job in many ways, I don’t dread coming to work whatsoever.  I work with a few people from Calvin, but there are many international students who work here as well.  On and off work, I’ve had so much fun getting to know these amazing students and spending time with them.

Yesterday many of us in the LCI program moved to Blue Ridge, the permanent staff housing at the ranch. It has three floors full of staff that work here during the summer, but the first floor was not completed until yesterday.  Some staff, myself included, stayed temporarily at Pinewood Lodge while they finished renovations on the first floor of Blue Ridge.  Yesterday was move-in day!  It’s great to have a permanent place to stay although packing and unpacking may not be the most fun thing to do.

While I don’t hike and spend time with friends all day long, it’s the experience as a whole that continues to make this summer one that I won’t soon forget.  Mike Van Denend, Executive Director of the Alumni Association of Calvin, mentioned in the last leadership seminar that experiences like these are the ones that strengthen character, deepen understanding, and nurture faith.  I couldn’t agree with him more.

Posted by Jeremy V. on 06/15 at 12:48 PM
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