Monday, October 21, 2013

Bentonville and Rogers Ozones step up to the plate with Miracle League

Have you ever felt intense joy cheering on the first base line of your favorite team? What about when a beloved athlete scores big? On September 27th, our students had the chance to serve in a joyful environment with Miracle League, a baseball league for children and young adults with disabilities, and experienced all those stirring moments and more.
Among the host of opportunities we afford our students, serving the community is one of our favorites. It gives students and staff the chance to think outside themselves for a while, focusing more on the needs and fulfillment of others instead. Last year, Rogers Summit students assisted Miracle League and had a fantastic time. Creating a new tradition, we loaded up two vans and traveled south to Springdale for an evening of three consecutive Miracle League games.
While nerves and uncertainty started the evening, with students thinking “what exactly do I do?” and “what if I make a mistake?” the night quickly turned into a fun and nerve free way to serve. Students were matched with members of Miracle League teams, assisting them in running bases, hitting the ball and fielding. Others took turns as cheerleaders. At one point, four Bentonville High School students ran out to the stands to start “the wave” and a series of elaborate cheers. As they ran back to the first base line, a “victory tunnel” was formed for each batter to run to as they approached the base. They genuinely enjoyed strategically adding to the environment of the game. It was fantastic to see our 8th-12th graders step out of a comfort zone to aid in building laughter filled hours at the ballpark.
Courtney, an 8th grader from Pea Ridge who was matched with a young boy in a wheelchair during the first game, absolutely adored the chance to serve in this way. “The kid I got to help in a wheelchair, seeing him do it, it touched me. I want to do it again… Helping the kids who may not be able to do [baseball] without us is the best. Try it. Just Try it.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Year, New Mentoring Matches!

The Camp War Eagle Mentoring Program is so excited to have 19 new matches this year! Twenty children were matched, including 10 elementary school kids, 6 middle school kids, and 4 high school kids. Mentors, mentees, and parents are ecstatic about the program and the endless opportunities it provides for students to be connected to a role model in their life.

Ann Marie Gonzales was recently matched with Allie Rohrbach. Eddie Gonzales, father of Ann Marie Gonzales, is “thrilled to for my daughter to have a female role model in her life.” One cool story about Allie and Ann Marie’s match is that Ann Marie rolled her eyes about college when they were first met. After only two weeks, Allie said Ann Marie began to say “so when I am in college…” Allie is so excited to continue to talk to Ann Marie about college through their meetings each week!

Another sweet story is the match between Raegan Loughridge and Molly McGehee. Both Raegan and Molly have Turner’s syndrome, a rare disease for girls. This common bond they share has brought them even closer. Molly loves hanging out with Raegan, whom she describes as a “little sweetheart.” Molly is excited to get to spend time with Raegan, and for the opportunity to pour into her life! 
Molly and Raegan

Another match to highlight is Jose Caballero and James Musick. Jose and James met this summer at Camp War Eagle’s Day Camp while James served as his counselor for two weeks. Now Jose and James get to spend time together each week! It is so cool to see how friendships from summer can continue to flourish throughout the year. 
Jose and James

Sydra Stanley and Suzanne Rinks also were matched this fall as well. They love playing basketball together. Sydra says “Suzanne isn’t super coordinated which is why it is so funny to play basketball together because Suzanne is so funny to watch.” The fun times they share have made for a great match! 
Sydra and Suzanne
Matthew Kressen, a future mentee of Enoch Graham, is also excited to be matched! Sylvia Kressen says: “I feel blessed. My goal is that Matthew would grow up to be a man of God, always putting God first in his life. Matthew needs a male to confide in that will teach him and help him make it through stages of life.” Sylvia loves the Camp War Eagle program and the great support it provides for campers like her son.

This years matches have been off to a great start! The CWE 365 Mentoring Program is thrilled for to see these mentor-mentee relationships deepen and the great memories that will be made each week as they hang out together.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bentonville Ozone Hosts 4th Annual Camp at Club

“What tribe are you?”
Maybe this question makes little sense to you. “Tribe? What tribe? Does this have to do with a Garth Brooks song?” However, for thousands of kids and college students every summer, there is no more important question than this. Tribal loyalty is one of the deep, rich traditions that knit campers, counselors and other staff into the long lasting friendship tapestry of Camp War Eagle. Even though the summer camp experience is a short few weeks for most, the traditions campers fall in love with on that beloved camp ground echo in their minds for months and months to follow.
Our love of camp traditions is what drove us to once again plan Camp at Club for Bentonville Ozone’s Primetime and Summit students this fall. Camp at Club is a full and exciting camp day, crushed into a neat hour and a half package. Campers (and former counselors who join us weekly as leaders) live out much missed camp moments. Wearing camp uniforms, shirts and headbands emblazoned with camp crests and tribal logos, students arrived bursting with enthusiasm for what the night could hold.
Several regular Primetime students used Camp at Club as an opportunity to introduce school friends to their cherished camp traditions. Others in attendance were campers who hadn’t gotten the chance to attend Ozone yet and saw Camp at Club as the perfect start.
The evening started the same way all perfect camp days do: an energetic Morning Show at the amphitheater, complete with mimicked cheers, traditional chants and a thrilling look forward at what the day (or night) would hold. From there, the deep bass echo from a drum signaled CWE faithful that it was time for Tribal Initiation, a sacred ceremony sorting all into their respective teams, the Caddo and the Osage. After a retelling of the classically thrilling tribal tale of White Dove, Running Bear and their ferocious families, tribal competition began. In CWE tradition, campers spent each moment cheering on their teammates, encouraging one another relentlessly. From the Caddo victory at tribal competition, campers transitioned to Instructionals, a time of learning something fresh and new! An inspirational video and challenge was the vehicle for knowledge before campers were ushered into daily “Rest Period.” However, only a few moments of heads on pillows were permitted, because it was time for everyone’s favorite time of the day, Mish Mash! Every day at 3pm in the summer, camp is filled with the sounds of one glorious song. The song signals a time of freedom and fun for each camper. When the music played during our rest period, everyone knew exactly what would come next… or did they? What they didn’t expect was a surprise game of Mission Impossible, a favorite event that pops up surprisingly at some point during each session. A frenzy of excitement and surprise built as campers were split into cabins to complete impossible missions. Each student donned glow bracelets as they entered a dark room, altered to make for the perfect mission impossible battleground. In creatively named teams, they sought out flag pieces specific to their group. Celebration resumed as teams claimed prizes for their victorious completion of the quest!
The night had been packed full of fun tradition and excitement. It was time for Lifeline, the part of the day where everyone at camp focuses on learning about who God is and his love for us. A classic camp tune, “Pharoah Pharaoh,” ushered campers into Lifeline, where a shortened version of skits and Eagle Tales brought back fabulous memories to campers and taught important lessons.
At the close of Lifeline, campers knew exactly what was coming next. Every day of every session’s big program closes similarly. 
It was time for a special event. Music pumped through speakers and campers rose from their feet, joyful beats pulsing as arms wiggled, heads bobbed and dancing reigned supreme.
This year, Fayetteville Ozone decided to begin the grand tradition of traditions as well, with their own week of Camp at Club. The night began with the Morning Show, Tribal Initiation, and Tribal Competition. Everyone huddled up afterwards and listened to their chief give his closing speech. Students enjoyed a 2 minute rest period, followed by canteen. During canteen, students met with their “cabins” or small groups for items from the store and relationship building time. They then traveled to Lifeline, where they sang camp songs and watched a well-known camp skit called Sin Box. The night ended with Planet Eagle, a huge dance party! The students enjoyed reliving many of their camp experiences and sharing those with their Ozone family.
“This was the best thing ever! I’m coming back next week for sure!” Said one Bentonville Primetime student, who had never attended club before, as he left the building, still a little sweaty from dancing. We agree. It really was the best thing ever. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Beaver Lake Clean Up 2013

Every year, thousands of campers converge on the shores of Beaver Lake for one of the highlights of their year – a one to two week stay at the amazing Camp War Eagle. Cabins are filled with students from all over Northwest Arkansas. Campers from Farmington meet campers from Bentonville, Springdale kids become friends with other kids even as far away as Eureka Springs. The bonds they form are inseparable and unexplainable to those who have never been to camp. Cabins share traditions, such as the quest to become a “Superduck” or claiming identity as the “Mystery Cabin.” Several times a year, Ozone hosts all-city events, in which campers can reconnect with camp friends from other cities and relive their favorite camp memories. Some of these events also allow students to earn community service hours, thereby helping fulfill requirements to attend camp the following year. What better place to serve together and reconnect than the very lake where Camp War Eagle is located – Beaver Lake.

In partnership with the Corps of Engineers, Ozone brings together all four major cities in Northwest Arkansas for the event Beaver Lake Cleanup. Beaver Lake Cleanup is family-wide, allowing all CWE students from every city to help clean the shores of the lake with their families by their sides. Fayetteville sophomore Ashley Wilson enjoyed the camaraderie of her camp friends: “I LOVED seeing all of my friends. Not only were there my friends from Fayetteville Ozone, but the other cities were also there! We could also bring our friends, which I did!”

Ashley and her friends also appreciated the chance to clean the lake and preserve its beauty. “Nature is beautiful,” Ashley said, “and let’s keep God’s creation that way!” During the event, groups of students, parents, and leaders cleaned various portions of the lake, ranging from Monte Ne in the North to the 412 Bridge in the South. Although the groups had cleaned these sites last year, they were again full of trash. Students made quick work of the mess, stuffing trash into bags and scouring the area for any other loose items. In the end, several sites were left spotless, allowing others to truly appreciate the natural beauty of the lake.

Following the cleanup, the groups enjoyed lunch and games together. Campers further developed their relationships with one another, families became immersed in the year-round program, and leaders spent quality time with students from their small group. The event proved successful on many different levels, and students and parents alike enjoyed the experience. Says Ashley, “It was a blast!”