Thursday, September 27, 2012

CWE365 Mentoring Program Experiences the Eureka Springs Passion Play

On September 8th, the Camp War Eagle 365 Mentoring Program had the supreme privilege of attending the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs! This is now the third year that CWE365 Mentoring has had the opportunity to provide this theatrical experience to mentors, campers and their families. Twenty-eight campers, their family members and mentors were in attendance for the play. The bus trip out to Eureka Springs was a great time for mentees and mentors to play bus games and spend quality time discussing life together. 
Upon arriving at the location of the Great Passion Play, the group was given a special tour of the set, beautifully crafted with multiple stages and decor everywhere depicting the differing environment of each scene. The tour was led by Bill and Brenda Christenson, who are not only participants in the play but also long time mentors with the CWE 365 Mentoring Program.
After the in depth tour, mentors and mentees ate some delicious pizza, hung out and even started a mini dance party! Before the outdoor show began, mentees and mentors grabbed hot chocolate, popcorn and blankets. The Great Passion Play was incredible to say the least. It depicted the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in a very real, experiential way. Mentees and mentors truly enjoyed the show and hearing the story of the Gospel in such and exciting way! Mentee Olivia Carter said of her experience, “I loved the Passion Play. I like to act and now I know I can use my acting for Jesus by acting in this play someday.” Overall, the Passion Play was an amazing experience for everyone who attended! CWE365 Mentoring is grateful for the chance to share fantastic opportunities like this one with Camp War Eagle families on a consistent basis. Tune in next year for the 4th annual Passion Play extravaganza! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Summit Student Leaps Towards College Education

Written by high school Sophomore and Bentonville Summit Student, Elyssa Henry. Elyssa has attended Camp War Eagle for four summers and actively participates in Ozone! She has fantastic basketball and guitar skills, along with a friendly and warm personality!

Elyssa on campus.
This summer CWE 365 high school students had the chance to participate in a college preparation class through Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) at the Jones Center. The class gave us a look into what college looks like, how to apply and some expectations to have. I can't say I had planned on looking into NWACC for college, I have always considered going to College of the Ozarks in Branson, MO. When I first heard about the opportunity to learn about college, I didn’t know much about what to expect, so I thought it would be good to go and check it out. The first couple of meetings we talked about how to figure out what we might be interested in majoring in and how to pursue a career plan. I decided I'd like to consider majoring in Digital Media. Then came the fun and unexpected announcement: We were going to go to NWACC for a tour! We visited the Communication Arts classes, the Student Center, the EMI and Nursing Building and other neat places! Then Jamie, the NWACC representative, gave us some information on what NWACC had to offer students and how to apply if we were interested.
I got home that afternoon I decided to check out NWACC’s website out of curiosity. I was shocked to see how many opportunities they offer for a Concurrent student (a student who is in High-school, but wants to earn college credit). I saw three classes I was interested in. I talked to my parents about it and  signed up to take the COMPASS college entrance test three days later, scoring well enough to start classes! I signed up for English Comp 1, a class every college student must take, and Music Appreciation. By taking these I will earn 6 college credits and be on campus Monday-Friday mornings!
I started class on August 20th and can honestly say this has started a journey that will shape my future. I definitely enjoy every minute of the classes! I am still hoping to go to College of the Ozarks someday and dive further into my degree, but by taking English comp 1 now, I won’t have to take it at College of the Ozarks, and Music Appreciation counts as a Fine Arts credit. The tour and college prep class really opened a door to begin my college career right here and now. I am truly blessed to get this amazing educational opportunity through the partnership of CWE365 and Northwest Arkansas Community College!

Monday, September 17, 2012

CWE365 & Youth Strategies Journey to Colorado (part 3)

This is the third installment of a three part series written by Springdale Ozone Director, Erin Wiltse. Follow the links to read parts one and two.

Third and lastly, the Bible study we spent our time in was the book of Exodus.  

Each day we explored a section of the text where we were able to see the nature and character of God, as well as the nature and character of the Israelites during their time in exile and as they were brought out of slavery in Egypt.  Throughout the story we were able to see how God was interacting with His people and working for their good even when they couldn’t see that He was doing so.  Not a lot has changed in our day, huh?  God is bigger, greater, wiser than we will ever be and is constantly working out His wonderfully purposed story that we are invited into by Christ.  The climax of our study and the challenge they left us with on the last night as we traveled up the mountain came from Exodus 20:18-21:

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”  Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”   The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
After seeing all that the Lord had done for the Israelites as we studied through the week, how He had rescued, led them, and provided for all of their needs, we now see them standing “far off” as He reveals Himself. Today, we tend to look at the Israelites and say things to the effect of “how could they be so silly? God was doing crazy, miraculous things. He parted the Red Sea right in front of them and they still worship idols and don’t understand. He rescued them from thousands of pursuing soldiers and they didn’t realize His love?” Yet, our lives so often mimic theirs.  Christ came to the earth to walk and talk as a man, although still fully God.  Christ never sinned and chose to die on a cross.  Christ raised Himself from the dead because He has the power to overcome sin and death.  Christ’s resurrection proves His unconditional love and pursuit of His people. But still we often choose to stand far off.  So for each one of our students the question became, “why do you choose to be at a distance from God?”  I believe each of us can ask ourselves the same question.  In Christ, God drew near to each of us so we “might feel our way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:27).  Where do you find yourself standing today?

RHS Student, Pia.
Rogers High School Student Pia reflected on her trip, "I really enjoyed bonding and getting to know everyone a lot better.  Spending time with the Lord while we were in the mountains was awesome!  I loved that we figured things out as a group through various activities, that it wasn't up to you as a individual but rather the group worked together.  Horse-back riding was so fun because growing up I had experience with horses and it was nice to do that again!  Overall, I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to go and experience such beauty with our group!"

My prayer for our students in Colorado was that they would be drawn into greater dependence and submission to their Great Creator and Loving Savior as they witnessed the vastness of all He has done.  The picture of creation that we were able to see each morning points directly to Him. But even more, the story of redemption that the Israelites experienced is also available to us through Jesus Christ.  And it’s not just a one-time, get into heaven free card, but rather a day-by-day, moment-by-moment, clinging to the Lifeline that defines us, guides us and loves us enough to redeem.  May my prayer reach your life and heart as you see the Lord through our time in Colorado.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CWE365 & Youth Strategies Journey to Colorado (part 2)

The following is part two of a three part series written by Sprindale Ozone Director, Erin Wiltse. Click here to read part one.

Breakfast began at 8 AM, but nothing could have prepared us for the amount of awesomeness that would define our first breakfast, as well as the rest of our meals.  Mamma Teresa of Fish & Cross Ranch has a special gift, a gift from God if you will, for making ASTONISHING meals.  Eating was by no means a trying experience during our stay.

As the week began we became accustomed to how days were put together. The average schedule looked something like this:  Breakfast, Bible study, team exercise or horseback riding, lunch, more exercises, riding or free time, dinner and more group time/Bible study. The days were full and so wonderfully orchestrated to grant us a complete experience.  
There are three things I must explain more deeply in order to do our Colorado expedition any possible justice.  First off, allow me to comment on the horses.  An experience I personally had never been part of before (a Michigan girl such as myself doesn’t get out into the country often) allowed for some funny moments. I was given the “momma” horse, named Gloria, who really disliked the rest of the horses, tooted along the trail a lot (like a lot a lot) and usually left me at the end of the horse caravan as we toured the ranch.  Each day our students were able to ride horses through the mountains; an activity that doesn’t happen regularly in NWA and was such a blessing!  The final day of riding, the ranchers decided to allow us to participate in a small rodeo.  Lassoing, wrangling bulls, bulldogging and an obstacle course served to provide a very entertaining afternoon.  Learning and understanding a new set of skills with a new set of (animal) friends was definitely appreciated and it was an experience that marked the trip with joy and gratitude.
Secondly, I’ll comment on another unique opportunity we were given each day. This came in the form of team building exercises.  Perhaps your mind goes to thinking this is not that exciting or unique, but trust me when I say it was AWESOME!  Being in the mountains, staring into miles of clouds, skies and sunshine really makes anything usual uncommonly beautiful.  That being the case, as we ventured out each day to participate in an exercise, it was very clear that the Lord had created our days there to teach us not only about Himself, but also one another.  
An example of one exercise consisted of the ranchers taking us into the woods and leading us to sit on a log while blindfolded.  They asked us to be silent the entire time and to think on “that which we value the most in life.”  One by one they led us into the woods and handed us two things: an egg (symbolizing things we value) and a rope (symbolizing our “lifeline”).  They explained that we had to find our way out and we would know when we got there.  So blindfolded, with an egg in one hand and a rope in the other, each individual set out to find their way out of the maze.  And although it’s hard to articulate all that went on in the next hour or so, I can say that when we sat down at the end to process how it applied to our lives. Jesus was glorified and his message was understood.  Although we place value and importance on the things in our lives, at the end of the day the only thing that leads us to our destination is the “lifeline” that guides our steps.  If, as Christians, heaven is our destination, then Christ Himself can’t be our egg (something that can break or be stolen), He must be the lifeline.  Things of earthly value are temporary, but Christ is who we must remain allegiant to at every turn, every uncertainty, every moment, “for we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  I left the experience challenged and yet affirmed in a new and wonderful way.  My prayer is for our students to have eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind to understand all God communicated to them personally through the exercise.

Stay tuned for part three!

Monday, September 10, 2012

CWE365 & Youth Strategies Journey to Colorado (part 1)

The following was written by Springdale Ozone Director, Erin Wiltse.

Bulldogging: to wrestle a steer to the ground by holding its horns and twisting its neck.How did I get to a place where I took part in an activity known as “bulldogging?” Let me tell you where all this began: the Jones Center parking lot at 3:30am on a Monday morning, ready to board for our van journey to Yampa, Colorado.  Yampa. Where’s that?  The same thought kept running through my mind as I wondered what exactly I had gotten myself into.  Traveling with 7 high school students on a 16 hour trek across multiple states can be an overwhelming experience when you have little expectation.  What I learned is that at times no expectation is the best expectation to have.

These Camp War Eagle students work together for the organization Youth Strategies (to learn more about the vision of Youth Strategies, please check out their website).  Having worked hard since the beginning of April, the trip to Fish & Cross Ranch was a reward planned to build the students both as a team and in their personal relationships with Jesus Christ.  

And so it began...

Lots of singing, eating, talking, reading, game playing and sleeping defined the road trip, and it was great!  The trip became increasingly intimidating as we entered the mountains during the last five hours of our journey.  Signs stating things like, “Falling Rocks,” “Avalanches Possible,” and “If your brakes fail, keep going until exit is available” can be stressful as you take the wheel (trust me on that one).  As the Lord’s faithful hand guided us safely though, we made it to our destination.  Greeted by cows, horses, dogs and a bunch of friendly faces with dinner ready on the table, we knew we hit the proverbial jackpot of great places in the United States.  That first night we sat around a fire and were asked to throw in a log.  Before we could make the blaze erupt with the addition of our logs, we had to explain what the log represented. It had to be something in our lives, something we wanted to leave behind or be rid of.  Whether it was a lie we believe but shouldn’t, a temptation that easily leads us to sin, an unnecessary attitude, a relationship problem, or something else. We shared openly with one another as our hosts helped bring the goal of the week into focus. The goal was simple: allowing Christ to bring us freedom as only He can.

Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 of the CWE365 & Youth Strategies Adventure!