Monday, April 30, 2012

Serving and Playing: Primetime Spring Break

Give any group of middle school students minimal direction to an activity and you will end up with either: a) confusion, b) creative ideas, c) mass chaos or d) all of the above.  I know the go-to choice for an unknown answer is usually B, but in this case the answer was D.

Who: Rogers and Bentonville Primetime (6th-8th grade)
When: Spring Break 2012
Where: Center for Non-Profits at St. Mary's
Mission: Sort over 200 bags of food, collected from various neighborhoods around Rogers and Bentonville, into distinct categories.

After being divided into two groups, our directions to the students were to sort the food. That’s it—Sort the food. After about a minute of confused looks and questions that we refused to answer, the students were charged to take action. For the minimal direction given, the students did a great job at creating a system for sorting the food.  However, in lieu of our time constraint and tight schedule, we had to intervene and give a bit more direction.  Our direction was proposed in the form of this question:

When you go to Wal-Mart looking for pasta, where do you go? Do you go to the box aisle? Or do you go to the pasta aisle?

Light bulb.

The students immediately began moving different varieties of food out of their already designated spots into new rooms and areas. Pasta was moved out of the “Box” room and into the “Pasta”  room.  Vegetables were moved from the “Cans” room to the “Vegetable” room, away from the other canned foods (pasta sauce, soups, fruits, meat, etc.). Signs designating different foods to specific locations helped with overall organization, as well as great leadership from various students. 

By the end of the service portion of the day, the students were extremely encouraging and spent a few minutes reflecting on their accomplishment.  Julia complimented Jorge on his leadership skills. Willians took control of organizing a few rooms and offering task ideas to students who didn’t have specific duties. Willians also mentioned a couple of Bentonville girls were superb at stacking the food in an organized manner and putting a nice "finishing touch" on the task! It was a blessing to see how encouraging the students were with each other, and how they worked together to accomplish their goal!

Springdale primetime students sorted food at the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) then took it to Bread of Life, FUMC’s food pantry.  Fayetteville students sorted their collected food and stocked the shelves at LifeSource. Both groups of students sorted and stocked local food pantries!

Once the service component of the day was complete, all students were bussed to FUMC for lunch! At the Table, a non-profit organization that provides meals to underserved families, served over 70 students, leaders, and staff. After filling our tummies with chicken fingers, fries, fruit and cake, we headed out to camp!

Our goal for Spring Break activities was to get the students excited about taking action in serving the community as well as provide them a fun activity for them to hang out. The two hours at camp were just what these cooped-up-kids needed during a full week of rain.  Activities offered were two inflatables (Crash Course and Wrecking Ball),  air hockey, washers, carpet ball, games on the Kinect, Wii, DDR, and of course... lots of dancing.

Overall, the spring break experience for our middle school students was a success.  Ozone helped the community by sorting and distributing food to different food pantries around NWA, had a delectable meal from At The Table, and enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon at Camp War Eagle!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oklahoma State Welcomes Ozone Students

by Ricky Shade, Fayetteville Ozone Director

Ozone was built to maintain relationships between Camp War Eagle and its campers once summers came to an end. Holding club meetings each week to keep in touch with students and continue living life in the camp atmosphere. But as both campers and Camp War Eagle grow older, Ozone has become a tool to prepare campers for life after camp.
This February, fellow Ozone director Erin Wiltse and I took a van of eleven high school students to Oklahoma State University, three hours and six bathroom breaks away.
OSU has the second largest counselor population at War Eagle behind the University of Arkansas. As we rolled into Stillwater, we were greeted by familiar, friendly faces of alumni counselors.
For most of our students, this was the first major university they’d seen, so we made the most of it. We had a chance to tour the basketball team’s locker room in Gallagher Iba arena and walk the stands of Boone Pickens Stadium. We had a first-hand look at dorm life. And we ate lunch in the nation’s largest student union.
More importantly, our Ozone students, some of whom hadn’t given college much thought, were able to meet with academic advisers from Business Administration, Veterinary Science, Education and Psychology degree programs. A few of us even got to attend an anatomy class with Taylor Craft, one of the many past counselors who helped make the trip a huge success. The students could see exactly what to expect in the classroom from a real life professor. We later went to Hideaway Pizza, a campus favorite. We got to experience a lot of campus favorites: Aspen Coffee, “The Don” from Mom’s Diner and Eskimo Joe’s. The counselors even took the kids to the campus ministry Overflow where they all had a blast!
One of the best parts of the trip was the chance to spend a weekend with our students. Host homes not only put us up for a night but also held Q&A’s on university life. And relationships were continued. Ozone is for Christ-centered relationships, building and reinforcing friendships between students and staff. At the same time, Ozone creates and expands on community, integrating camp culture and love into a high school society. Driving home from Stillwater in February, I was reminded that I love my job for this very reason: I’m helping to facilitate personal growth in current students, future adults and future staff of Camp War Eagle. This purposeful trip proved to me that we’re maturing students into well rounded, young adults who will be able to positively contribute to their community in the years to come.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break 2012: Lifeline

What do you get when you put together kids, a farm, rocks, pizza, thunderstorms, cookies, and cabbage? No, not a cabbage cookie pizza sandwich being eaten by kids on a farm full of thunderstorms. It's the CWE 365’s Lifeline Spring Break event!

Monday of Spring Break week brought a lot of adventure, blessing and fun as elementary students traveled to either a local farm in Fayetteville or The Rogers Activity Center (RAC) to serve.  

The students of Bentonville and Rogers served by picking up trash and cleaning around The RAC, an organization that partners with us often. The students of Springdale and Fayetteville served by picking up rocks that keep the workers at the Farm from being able to work and plant the land.  After serving (and competing) in groups, the students each received a head of cabbage in appreciation to take home to their families.  The students were encouraged and challenged to use the cabbage to cook up a recipe and eat all of the cabbage, whether they like or not, because food is a gift and many families are often in need of it.  

As the storms headed our way, the first week of bad weather all semester, we headed inside where we were able to share lunch, watch some fun videos, have a bible lesson and play an assortment of games for the afternoon.  

The whole day was a gift.  The students were able to engage their community and truly help meet needs that exist. Helping The Farm provides families across NWA with food and blessing one of our partner organizations which meets many of our needs each week.  Students were given the opportunity to serve and as a group we were able to recognize how each of us has been served by our King.  Jesus came to serve, so we pray whether it's Spring Break or the rest of the year, students take on the example of their Great King.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Boulder Dodging and Cloud Jumping: Friday Night Live!

I jumped onto a raft next to Matt, a junior at Rogers High School, and we were off—scaling down a white water river, dodging rocks, trying not to capsize the fragile raft we occupied. Occasionally our tiny boat would catapult off a large boulder and we’d go flying into the sky with our hands in the air, land on skinny bridge, slide down a cloud and return to the crashing waves of the river. We were soaked. We looked at each other thinking, “Why did we wear our normal clothes to this thing?” As we wipe the sweat from our brow we share a laugh at some pictures we took along the way. Stepping out of the boat we welcome its new occupants: Jackie and Leslie. As they step in we chuckle, boast about how well we tackled those waves and challenge them to attempt to match us.
            You may be thinking, “What Ozone event did I miss out on? How come I didn’t hear about this white water adventure? Camp War Eagle 365 is really stepping it up this year with their program!” Now I’m not saying that we don’t have our own incredible events throughout the year, like Great Pretenders, Beaver Lake Clean-up, and Spring Break Retreats, but Ozone can’t take credit for this one. Springdale First United Methodist (FUMC), a great church Ozone has partnered with often is the brain behind this fantastic event.
            Friday Night Live (FNL) happens once a month at FUMC. “So, I can go boulder dodging and cloud jumping every time,” you may ask? Yes. It’s just one of the many activities offered at its Friday Night Live (FNL) event. Along with the white water adventure that we played on the Kinect, there are also Xboxes, a Nintendo 64, and a Wii, two pool tables, two Ping-Pong tables, and a foosball table.  Not only does FNL have all these sweet games, but they also have dodge-ball tournaments, laser tag, ultimate Frisbee, raffles, crafts, movies and free snacks. This partnership between Ozone and FUMC has been a huge blessing. Not only do they let us host our large events there, but they also invite us to be involved in their events, like FNL.
            Friday Night Live is a fun and free evening for students from 8th to 12th grade, designated Friday nights from 7pm-10pm. I’ve had the privilege of taking a van full of Rogers students to every FNL and they love it!  It’s a place where new friendships are made between Ozone students from different cities and FUMC students.  The next Friday Night Live will be on April 13th. I hope that more Ozone families will be eager to jump on board and attend so they can experience all the fun that we have at FNL!