Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hillbilly Mud Run

This blog was written by Bentonville Ozone Director, Ellie Chase.

High School student and Leader participants
It’s not every weekend I find myself scrambling, on hands and knees, through the squashy, rich mud of an animal enclosure in Mulberry, Arkansas. And you better believe I don’t typically make a habit of stomping great distances through pastures, drenched in pond water and mud, my shoes creating a cacophony of water logged sounds at each step. But on April 27th, these moments fit perfectly together in one common occasion.  The Hillbilly Pork-Chop Round Up 5k Mud Run set the stage for a day of muddy, messy, dripping, daring, hilarious fun for Ozone leaders and students.

As an Ozone staff, we love the chance to give students new challenges, fun experiences and opportunities to stretch themselves. A 3-mile run with muddy obstacles seemed like a fit for all three, I thought as I signed up high school students from Fayetteville, Rogers and Bentonville, as well as a few other leaders who were up for an adventure. The website promised a day of fun and excitement, yielding a face and feet full of the finest mud water could make and more. I was sold. Students were pumped. We could only imagine what was in store.

On the morning of the 27th, we loaded our 15 passenger vans, dressed in old clothes just waiting mud, and headed south towards the small town of Mulberry and our soggy, smelly destiny. Hillbilly Trail Running, the organization behind the race, sets out to spread their brand of family fun around the region through several running events each year. For this race in particular, we came to discover they’d planned on hoisting us over rope net walls, barreling us down a slip and slide, through pigpens and into a barn filled with hay bales to climb, amongst other obstacles. Between the individual obstacles, there was running. Sometimes in creeks, other times in fields.

While running any distance is often perceived as a serious challenge, students took the opportunity to enjoy completely the race ahead of them. Messiness didn’t wait for the run to begin, as students jumped right in (quite literally) to the mud-fest. Baylea of Fayetteville, who was almost completely covered in mud before the race even began, made certain all her pals embraced the mud essence as well, “Just tackling people in the mud was a lot of fun. There was no point, no purpose to that really, just to have fun and be with one another, getting dirty… AWESOME.”

Running in races, on roads or trails, is a tradition that was passed to me by older members of my family, a tradition that has been carried out throughout the years, and one I have deeply enjoyed passing to Ozone students. There’s a goal to push oneself towards, and that is a wonderful place to teach young people from. Gia, of Fayetteville, was the youngest student to join us on the run, accomplished much during our event, “I’ve never run a 5k before, so that’s probably the longest I’ve ever run. It was cold and wet… but eventually I will do a race again.” Elyssa, of Bentonville, finished the race with excellence and expressed her growth from pushing herself throughout the event, “I was challenged because I’ve never run a 5k. I kept going even when I was tired and I felt like my legs could fall off. I kept going because at the end of it I knew there’d be the reward of having finished a 5k. I’m more eager to do races like this because I know I have that accomplishment of having finished.” 

We've got pictures!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Introducing Camp War Eagle at the Jones Center!

The inaugural summer of the AMAZING Camp War Eagle at The Jones Center will begin in one short month!!

We are so excited about expanding the Camp War Eagle program to include more kids in Northwest Arkansas!  Not only will more kids experience camp this summer than ever before, some may even get to be part of a longer camp experience by attending the Day Camp as well!

Camp War Eagle at The Jones Center is a day camp program for 7-11 year olds in Northwest Arkansas.  The Jones Center for Families is located at 922 E. Emma Ave. in Springdale.

Each one week Day Camp session is going to be action-packed with fun-filled Camp War Eagle activities like Tribal Competition, Lifeline and Special Events.  Other activities, making the most of the Jones Center’s great facilities, will include swimming, ice-skating, crafts, outdoor education, initiative games and MANY more!

Many families have already signed up and are getting their kids prepared to come to Camp War Eagle at The Jones Center!  If you’d like any more information regarding the Day Camp, please contact our office at 479-750-2006.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Primetime Student Blogs: Sharlotte, Springdale

Sharlotte, right, with other girls on the way to Ozone
Sharlotte has been a faithful participate of Springdale Primetime for a couple of years.  Her quiet yet energetic spirit brings much fun and wisdom to our club nights.  She is willing to share her thoughts and answer questions when posed to the group, allowing her peers to see a what it looks like to be teachable and confident. She participates in any & all the activities we host because she loves CWE so much! Sharlotte, a 7th grader at Sonora Middle School, recently shared more about her love for Ozone.

I started coming to Ozone because I started hearing all these great things about it. My friend told me that I should start coming to Ozone so I did one night, and then every week. I’ve been coming to Ozone for two years. It has changed other parts of my life, like doing better in school and at home. In the future I will remember the fun and friends I have made at Ozone. I will remember my small group and the strong vibe and connection we have with each other and with the Lord. I’ll remember all the helpful things we did around our community, like Beaver Lake Clean Up!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Spring Break '13: Primetime Service Retreat

CWE365 is an urban extension of our secluded summer camp. Though students spend their summer camp terms in a unique and natural setting – a place on Beaver lake, a place with blobs, a place with a chow hall – the other months in which they interact with War Eagle are usually spent indoors. Gyms, classrooms, office space – these become Camp War Eagle, if only once a week, through the CWE365 program.
This past Spring Break we had a chance to integrate our year-round program with the facility that our students know and love. Camp War Eagle itself is a character in the testimony of our students, as much as any director or counselor, and our students seized the opportunity to reunite.
For only a weekend, we transported over a hundred middle school students back to camp, just under two-and-a-half months before the first summer session. Despite the unseasonal sunshine and warm weather, they came not just to play but to work.

We marked our second annual community service spring break with these middle school students, and they exceeded expectations. These students worked seven hours on a Saturday with different organizations and within Camp itself. Students renovated picnic sites at Hobbs State Park. Others built nature trails with Ozark Off-Road cyclists. Many cleared campsites, “I found a Coke can from 1993!” said one student, others recalling that working on the camp sites was “Awesome-sauce!” Others spread mulch and executed more jobs inside Camp boundaries. Their work was superb.
It wasn’t all work. Students were reunited with their old counselors, stayed in their old cabins and were put through the War Eagle ringer of camp competitions, including a Dodgeball tournament, a photo scavenger hunt, and the classic camp night game, Mission Impossible! “Mission Impossible is the best thing at camp and the best thing at Spring Break!” said Julie of Rogers. Sonia, also of Rogers, echoed the statement, “It was fun to sneak around in the dark… fun because I’ve known my cabin mates for a long time and that makes what they do funny.”
An even deeper aspect was stated in the theme of the weekend, “Recharge.” Throughout the retreat students had the chance to “recharge,” and refocus on Christ. “It was a great experience. I enjoyed learning about God and being able to enjoy camp again. The community service was a great way to bond and help the environment,” said Angel, of Springdale, who started attending Primetime consistently after coming to the Spring Break retreat. Sonia recounted one of her favorite memories of the weekend was “learning how to get back on track and continuing to learn about God.”
As a pre-teen or even teenager, community service can be abstract concept, disconnected from their daily lives. But for the students in the CWE365 program, their community is Camp. The kids that attend, the counselors that work and the place itself. And in this weekend, community service became a solid concept and necessary piece of life for students. Their dedication to serve others, apparent in  motivated effort, speaks volumes on their greater desire to meet the needs of Northwest Arkansas. In a time of rare freedom, our students chose to serve their community and work for the benefit of others.