Monday, January 27, 2014

Broadway on Ice

The name more or less speaks for itself. It’s Broadway, on ice. However, when one begins to think about how this feat could be accomplished within a theater, that’s when things really begin to get interesting. And it surely was an interesting, and quite thrilling, afternoon when CWE365 took over 65 students and leaders to Walton Arts Center’s Broadway on Ice, thanks to the Take a Seat program.

When a chance to see “Broadway on Ice” was presented to our students, they all had similar reactions. Firstly, the excitement hit. Thanks to the Walton Arts Center’s generosity, we’ve treated hundreds of students to free performances of incredible shows. Because of their past fun experiences associated with the theater, kids are always looking forward to any show! Then, the questions came. “Wait. How exactly are they going to ice skate… at the Walton Arts Center?” Directors sat on the same question as well. How would something so brilliant be accomplished? Our answers were, needless to say, not satisfactory. “Maybe, there’s… ice?” We scraped the bottom of the barrel to try and explain how the show would work. We all had the same question and the same growing excitement. Anticipation built throughout the week, as more students signed up and made hypothesis after hypothesis of how the promise of an ice skating show could possibly happen within the theater’s walls.

It wasn’t until students filed into the dimly lit balcony that the truth of Broadway on Ice was revealed. A large, square skating rink had replaced the stage, and costumed skaters weaved and floated gracefully to jazzy music. A wave of awe washed over students and leaders as packs of skaters danced across the ice in tight formation. It wasn’t long before the audience was thrilled by the high-risk acrobatics of skaters. With every surprising backflip, collective gasps echoed. “It’s just so sparkly,” one Bentonville 6th grader stated in the midst of a female skater balancing above the head of her skate partner. Students would later recount the thrill of a spinning skater as she wind-milled through the air (her head dangerously close to the ice), held by the feet, “It was terrifying, and awesome!”

We left the theater a few hours later feeling a happy sort of warmth. The stunning show was a thrill and a treat!
Bentonville Primetime Girls at the Walton Arts Center

Monday, January 20, 2014

Christmas Lifeline 2013!

No matter where you go in the world, the Christmas season is steeped with traditions. In the United States, trees, presents and cookies are king. At least, this is the enjoyable and sugary norm that many of our Lifeline elementary students have grown accustomed to in their 9 years of life. For our Christmas lifeline this year in all four chapters, students were granted a chance to experience firsthand the glorious holiday outside of their usual perceptions of Christmas.

Upon arriving to Lifeline on December 21st, students were gifted with their very own “passport” of sorts. Four stations held promise of four countries to be visited, four new cultures to experience and learn from. Students buzzed with the anticipation only something as sweet and magical as Christmas can create. Set to rotate in small groups from station to station, the tiny travelers took flight!

England was the first locale for some. While in “England” students were regaled with a Christmas traditions of plum pudding, Boxing Day and Frumenty. Leaders taught about the English tradition of “mummering,” where people will dress up in disguise and go door-to-door, similar to carolers. If invited inside, they’ll dramatically tell stories of Christmas to their neighbors (as well as perform dances or jokes) who aim to guess the identities of their entertainers before offering a holiday treat. The students then engaged in “mummering” themselves by acting, through a fun and engaging improvisational game, the roles, both animate and inanimate, from the classic poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Who wouldn’t want to pretend to be a “bowl full of jelly”?

One of the next countries on the journey was Congo. Students were met by a leader with a guitar and song, and learned of the traditions of this African country. Singing was a huge part of the traditions from Congo. Here, everyone became a caroler. Joyful songs of Christmas, and the love of Christ to come to earth as a baby, were sung at the top of tiny lungs.

In Mexico, a charming traditional tale of the Mexican history of the poinsettia was told. The story recounts that the poinsettia holds a sort of special significance as the beautiful result of a humble sacrifice to Christ by a young girl named Pepita. By following instructions from a leader, folded sheets of vibrant red paper became a striking origami poinsettia!

France was definitely a favorite for all, as so much of France’s Christmas tradition is steeped in sweet and delicious celebrations! The tradition of the Yule log, a tasty cake decorated with icing and sweets to look like a real log was observed with no reluctance whatsoever! While savoring their bit of decorated cake, facts were shared about Père Noël, or France’s Santa Claus, and more French Christmas cuisine!

As is the best part of possessing a passport, each country signed the passport with a drawn mark to represent its owner’s moments in its culture: from England, a drawing of an actor’s dramatic face; Congo, music notes for the joyous carols; Mexico, a blooming flower representative of a beautiful gift to Christ; and France, a delicious sweet treat!

It was a joy to share the beauty of varied culture and tradition with students! Even more beautiful was the reminder of Christ humbling himself to be born as an infant and live a life to set us free from our sins. This truth was the core of our Christmas Lifeline!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why I Volunteer, Part 1

Camp War Eagle 365 would not be able to exist without volunteers. Truly, all our greatest moments are made possible by the energy and devotion of leaders who consistently attend meeting after meeting, year after year, for the good of Northwest Arkansas’s young people. Volunteers range from the college freshman who themselves were recently being served by the organization as campers and ozone students, to the college senior, who’s worked the past 2 or 3 summers at camp, to the professionals, people who graduated college a few years ago but still have a very large place in their hearts for CWE kids after allowing camp to sink deeply into them when they were counselors 5 years ago.

Every leader has various reasons for wanting to volunteer their time and gas money, but the underlying theme is the same. They love our kids and have a desire for each one to individually succeed and experience joy and life.

Recently three leaders who are newer to the volunteer team shared the joy of their personal experience volunteering with CWE365’s clubs. We will hear from more leaders throughout the semester.

Erin Suchy, Springdale

How long have you been involved with CWE365, and in what capacity?
This fall is the first time I have been involved with CWE365, because this summer was my first time as a counselor at Camp War Eagle. I am an Ozone Primetime leader in Springdale, where I help out as a small group leader to sixth and seventh graders. I volunteer at the SOAR after school program, where I come every Wednesday to meet with Seidy to read and help her with homework. I also am planning to get matched in the mentoring program at the beginning of next semester, and I am really hoping it will work out for me to mentor one of my campers from day camp!

What led you to become involved in the year round program?
I fell in love with the heart and mission of Camp War Eagle this summer, and the opportunity to keep impacting and being in kids lives all year was a dream come true for me! I talked with other volunteers who volunteered through Ozone in previous years, and I really got to know Erin Wiltse well, which made me want to be involved in Springdale Ozone. Everyone that I talked to had such a positive experience with CWE365, and now I can see how much deeper my relationships with the kids have become since I am able to see them each week, instead of just one week out of the year.

What has been your favorite part of volunteering with CWE365?
I love being in the lives of the kids I volunteer with, week after week, and the relationships I am able to build with the kids. I am able to see them grow as people as they grow in character and knowledge of the bible each time I see them. I know what is going on in their lives, and I am able to walk with them through that while being a reliable older figure in their lives that they can count on and trust to be there for them. I also love that I get to be goofy and have lots of fun with them too, so its like I'm back at Camp War Eagle each Tuesday night!

If you could teach the students in your ozone chapter one thing, what would it be?
If I could teach the students one thing, I would teach my girls about the power in their identity as women in God's eyes. At the primetime age, I have noticed my small group girls are very interested in and distracted by boys. I would want to encourage them and let them see their unique character as women of God, and help them realize that they shouldn't find their identity in the attention they get or do not get from boys.

What would your dream ozone event look like?
My dream ozone event would be a weekend retreat back at camp with all the cities! I would love to be able to get back to camp, worship, learn, and have tons of fun with all my ozone girls!

Share a favorite ozone moment or story!
One of my favorite ozone memories is Great Pretenders! It was so much fun to get all the cities together to have a night of fun, dancing, and games! The kids felt like celebrities when they walked down the red carpet and we pampered them with fun accessories, nail painting, and fake tattoos. My girls had so much fun! I really liked the extra time to hang out with them, and I was able to meet and talk with some of their families that came, so it was a really special, fun night!

Rachel Ford

How long have you been involved with CWE365, and in what capacity?
Since August 2013. I volunteer with Rogers Summit every Thursday evening.

What led you to become involved in the year round program?
I worked at camp this summer and fell in love with the program so I got involved to stay connected with campers and staff.

What has been your favorite part of volunteering with CWE365?
The fun and high energy at every club!

If you could teach the students in your ozone chapter one thing, what would it be?
I love talking about all the cool people in the Bible and how God has awesome adventures in store for every one of these students.

What would your dream ozone event look like?
A huge, Planet Eagle style dance party complete with crazy costumes and fun music.

Share a favorite ozone moment or story!
Grossest club ever when we played zombie apocalypse ball with a cow tongue. Now that's a story worth telling!

Name: Brad Mitchell

How long have you been involved with CWE365, and in what capacity?
I have been volunteering with Springdale Summit Ozone for the past semester.

What led you to become involved in the year round program?
I loved spending time and investing in the kids at camp and the thought of continuing that year round seemed awesome. 

What has been your favorite part of volunteering with CWE365?
My favorite part has been getting to know all of the guys that come to summit and hearing about there lives. It is seriously just as much of a joy for me as it is for them. It is awesome to see the Lord work in their lives throughout the year.

If you could teach the students in your ozone chapter one thing, what would it be?
If I could teach them one thing it would probably be how a college student lives for Christ. I think it would be so cool for them to see real college students living out their faith in their lives. I think it would make the gospel seem more real to them and make them realize that it is a real thing that matters to us and effects our lives. It would also show them that every thing we teach them or say to them isn't just empty advice, but real truth that has effected our lives.

What would your dream ozone event look like?
Giant laser tag event in the whole Jones Center.

Share a favorite ozone moment or story!
One of my favorite moments was seeing one of our guys slide across the stage during our performance at great pretenders. That action was so much bigger than just what it seemed. The guy who did it just recently joined our summit. He came to us a really shy guy that didn't know much about the gospel and had no friends. He is still pretty quiet and shy but the smile he had sliding across the stage was so cool to see. He showed a joy that he never would have had if he hadn't come to ozone. Now he loves coming to ozone because we are basically his only friends. I love seeing him light up every time he comes and sees us. I can tell the Lord is working on his heart and that is incredible to see.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Community Christmas Dinner 2013

Imagine with me for a minute: you are hosting a Christmas party for some of your closest and dearest friends. You want to show your friends how much you love them while emphasizing the true meaning of Christmas. As you think about the event, you begin to make plans. Where will the celebration take place? What food will you serve? Will there be any entertainment? What will the decorations look like? Will guests leave with gifts?

Well, here at camp, we decided to do just that! And, we figured who better to join us than our wonderful Camp War Eagle families?!  So with nearly 600?? families scheduled to come, we had some serious planning to do.

Several weeks beforehand, Ozone and program staff met out at camp to wrap the hundreds and hundreds of gifts that would be distributed. The planning continued, as we booked the Metroplex, a large event center in Rogers, Arkansas, created table decorations, packed food bags, distributed information to families, gathered volunteers to serve food, and of course, arranged for Santa to attend.

That morning, all of our cars journeyed through layers of snow and ice, remains of the recent snowpocalypse, and finally pulled into the parking lot of the Metroplex. After several hours of setting up tables and chairs, preparing areas for food, transporting gifts, and creating a game room, we were ready for our guests to arrive!

Our giant Christmas party was ready to begin! As families arrived, we greeted them warmly and led them to their seats. From that point, we invited them to take a photo with Santa, visit our game room, or interact with their server. Once all of our guests were seated, we served them a plate full of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and a roll – a complete Christmas meal! The kids eyes lit up when we brought a whole plate of Christmas cookies to each table. Throughout the night, we provided entertainment through music, Christmas carols, and a telling of the Christmas story. Families heard about Jesus’ birth, celebrating with us the coming of our Lord. And just as God gave us the greatest gift of all, His Son Jesus Christ, we brought presents out to every single child in attendance. Once everyone received a gift, shouts of joy filled the air as they opened their presents. We also provided every family with at least one food bag, providing staple ingredients to help sustain them during the winter months.

In the days afterward, we were filled with happiness, thinking of the great Christmas party that we’re privileged to orchestrate. We love our CWE families and enjoy celebrating the holidays with them. We are blessed to do so.

I suppose we’ll put our clipboards down for right now, though I’m sure more planning will soon begin. With year-round events such as our worship night, spring break retreat, and canned food drive in the works, we look forward to seeing you again soon!