My last year of team camp was exciting for many reasons! For one, it's my last year, which is a relief, but a little sad, too. However, I'm glad I finished it this way with this team. This was the most fun and challenging camp of all 4 years. Each year the team has gotten better, physically and friendly (if that makes sense), but this year is just something special.
Also a big thank you to Jeni, Mary, and all the other adults who spent their week helping us survive! Jeni can also take credit for the majority of these pictures.
This comic is a dream come true of a nightmare I had a couple years ago. Farmer and I still joke about it. If you haven't experienced his bus driving...well, just imagine.
The number of team campers we had this year exceeded that of any previous year, as well as the maximum capacity of sweaty runners for the cabins! We moved venues to the Clyde-Austin 4H Camp in Greeneville (yes, I went back-to-back camps from Greenville to Greeneville). It was a great move, in my opinion! We had so much more room, better and closer runs, and more fun opportunities.
Picture while we still had energy
Creative Grace made us all collages and handed them out before we loaded the bus.
The picture doesn't do this morning view any justice. You should've seen this beautiful sunrise. It was thundering, too, so it made it seem even more beautiful. Although I hate getting up so early at camp (around 5:40), little things like this "shed some light on the subject."
This is an awesome picture of us doing one of our morning runs.
The first night, we did something new and actually kinda relaxing. We watched the Prefontaine movie!
The camp has a cat that basically lives there. We saw it every day!
Every year we make a circle of hands that surrounds the things we want to include in our team and excludes the things we want to keep out.
Morning circuit days weren't originally planned to be around the lodge, but a morning storm forced us to set it up that way. It ended up working out so well, that's how we did it the next time, too. Some stations were inside, one on the stairs, some outside upstairs, and some outside downstairs, but it all worked out it a nice loop.
Breakfast time! We had the whole camp reserved for the week, so we had tons of space. No worries about seating here in the cafeteria.
Why Farmer made us "hide" while he set up one of our games, we don't know. We started out in the bathroom, but the elevator seemed like more fun. And who needs elevator music when you have us? We made our own.
We didn't get to run Mount LeConte this year, but we did one much worse. Welcome to Viking Mountain. I have never done a run so difficult in my life. Imagine running up a mountain for almost 9.5 miles with no breaks, all uphill. I am not going to lie; there was a point that I almost cried, but I sucked up those tears and told myself that I was going to make it to the end and tell Coach Farmer that that was the worst thing he ever made me do. And that is just what I did. He laughed.
After I finished, Farmer and I took an adventure. We'll leave the details at that.
If you look closely, you can see the bus down there.
"It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights." Psalm 18:32-33
It may have taken us over an hour to find the right one, but the view from the fire tower was beautiful.
"Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet, and be steadfast in all your ways." Proverbs 4:25-26
Although it was the toughest run, I am glad I did it. Talk about a feeling of accomplishment...or death, whichever way you want to look at it. Physically, it was like death, but mentally it was accomplishment. I am thankful for all the new challenges that we encountered this year at camp.
The pictures from this experience also gave me new opportunities to look up corresponding verses! I really like the new ones from above that I found and plan to keep them on my mind throughout this season. Gotta stay focused!
"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31
The camp also has a lake where we got to canoe and kayak one afternoon!
Game time! The three of us on that tiny little box had to stand that way for most of two hours. Yes, it was painful and very tediuos balancing.
Throughout the week, we write enocuraging notes to each other to take home and read. All our decorated paper bags lined the window of the conference room. The girls get pretty decorative with designing and drawing our names!
The rocket competition is another activity we do each year, and Coach Farmer made sure that it didn't get left out this year. The big open fields actually made it way better for launching here than the cul de sacs in the cabin areas. Emma and I made the Lemon & Lime rocket, which did not fly very far at all, but it got 2nd in the design contest! We also enjoyed hanging out in our pajamas.
After launching rockets, we headed back up to the lodge and started a campfire and roasted smores! This would've never happened at the old location. It's hard to beat a campfire and toasted marshmallows.
Please take a moment to look at these faces. None of this was staged; these were their actual reactions.
The one on the left here has to be the best! Icker and Blaine are in total amazement, while Emily and Caroline literally look like they're about to barf.
One day all of our activities were on the obstacle course! We felt goofy wearing these helmets, so we were making those odd faces on purpose. The obstacle course sure gave us lots of laughs!
This was a simple, yet exciting challenge on the obstacle course! It was probably my favorite. From the start, I actually doubted that we could do it, but we did on the first try! We all had to rope swing from one box to the other, but once we were on the second box, we couldn't get off; everyone had to fit! All the activities we do make us strategize, so for this, we did the sturdy people first to support the back, and the people with the smallest impact went last so they wouldn't hit too hard and knock everyone off. I went last. By that time, there was literally nowhere for me to go, but somehow they got me in! I just loved it! They made one small corner for me to rest my foot, held open thier arms, and off I swung! The few arms engulfed me, and I held tight to them, and we did it!
Here I am doing a couple more obstacle course challenges.
One of the new activities we got to try at the camp was archery!
Danny has become my new runner partner for this year, and we are having a blast! He is the closest on the team to my speed, but most of the time, he can go more than I can. This picture was after an awesome road run that started along the Nolachucky River at the Hot Springs, NC border and back towards Greeneville. It was a little over 9 miles, but they flew by! We had a great time talking and running. It was one of those #RunHappy runs where you just keep rolling and don't really feel any pain. Not only did we have an awesome run, it was Danny's birthday!
I am so thankful to have him here with me leading the pack this season! There have been many runs where he has pushed me faster than I would've gone on my own, especially up hills. I need that peer motivation to push me further, harder, and faster! Sometimes it's also really nice just to have someone to talk to and enjoy the run with.
I'm pumped to see where we end up this season!
This is Blaine! He moved here from Michigan last track season, so this is his first full year with us. I'd never really talked to him until this week, but he is so cool and such a good kid! He's a hard worker, too. I eat a lot, and I eat slow, so I'm usually the last one out of the dining hall. A couple times, though, Ryan and Blaine kept going back for seconds and thirds, so we shut the place down together!
On the last full day, we were done. I can't sleep during the day usually, but this time, even I fell asleep on the bus ride. These 4 were out for sure. Farmer thought it would be funny to jump in the van and yell and be crazy to wake them up, but they didn't think it was so funny.
The calm before the storm...or the swarm I should say. Shortly after this picture, we ran right through a Japanese hornets' nest, and needless to say, they did not like it.
On the last night, we always do some kind of competition, whether it's a talent show, boys vs. girls game night, or this totally new one--water olympics. I wasn't too excited about it at first, but it was really fun! We drew blue or green colored paper to split up on two teams then chose people to represent for different competitions. As we found out that morning during the post-circuit pool workout, I am the champion breath-holder, so I anchored my team on the breath-holding relay. There was also a water-running race, biggest splash, fastest trip down the slide, pool stick finding, and another one or two events. For the final event, everyone participated. We linded up (above) and used a pool noodle for the classic over-under relay.
Total point tally: my team, green team, came out on top!
Another thing that always takes place on the last night is the officers' meeting with both guys and girls and coaches. I am so thankful to have been chosen captain this year. I really want to use my position to further make the most of all the blessings that God has given me. I feel that this year is going to be really special.
Another picture that could be captioned like the first, "while we still had energy," but we really didn't have that much energy. For the final and longest run of camp, the annual time-prediction, no-watch run, we drove to Johnson City to run out and back on the Tweetsie Trail.
And we're off!
Farmer biked it so he could GPS the route since none of us had ever been there before. The Tweetsie Trail is a beautiful, scenic, fine gravel trail that goes out and back 6 miles, for a total 12. There are slight hills, but they are so long and gradual, you don't really notice until your legs start burning (going up) or speeding up (going down).
This is the halfway point (actually the start, but we started in the middle becasue of the picnic area), where a couple moms waited to mark the turn-around.
This sight about halfway through the second half made me so happy. You just don't understand. A family of goats was running on the trail, too! They were so cute! They trotted along next to me for a minute and made their cute little "baaa" noises. If I had my phone, I would've sacrificed time to stop and take a picture with them, but I didn't (coach Haas took this as he ran by later), so I kept the pace rolling.
It was so hot and humid all week. After our last run, the 12-mile Tweetsie Trail, I was literally salty.
Once we were done, this is how we felt. Camp was over, and we were dead. All we wanted to do was eat and go home! After one "hill" (or mountain) of a week, it was finally that time.
Finishing my last run of my last year of cross country camp was a great feeling. I enjoyed the week so much, but I was exhausted, and relieved to be done. Thank you to all the people who helped make my last camp the best one to remember.
One last part of camp each year: morning-after yoga. It has changed locations every year, but we find somewhere to do it. I was more dead this morning than the day before, but sometimes that's just how it goes!