Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cool Incidents and Things I've Come to Appreciate

I've done bits of thinking over the past few weeks, and I've realized that a lot of cool things have happened lately, and there are many experiences and opportunities that I've come to appreciate during my time here.

Just tonight, I was walking from the dining hall to the Grille and I suddenly noticed a deer walking across the path. It just moseyed its way across the path and into some trees, and didn't pay much attention to me. And just last night, when I was walking to the dining hall, between the dining hall and Silver Sage and Aspenbrook Lodges, there were two deer on the semi-grassy hillside, simply walking across the hillside like it wasn't a big deal. On top of these two incidents, there have been a few times when I've been driving on SMR property and deer have run across the road a ways up the road. Being from Michigan, I see deer every now and then, but they still get my full attention when I come across them, especially when they're only 30 feet--or less-- away.

Last week Sunday morning after the chapel service, I ran into a guest that I had struck up a conversation with on the previous day. He was a fine gentleman from Texas, here with his four-year-old daughter and one of his friends. We struck up another conversation, and he went so far as to offer to buy lunch at the Grille for Bradon and I. We ended up talking until 2 in the afternoon. It was some of the best time that I've spent this summer, and I hope that I can keep in contact with this gentleman. I sometimes forget that things like don't often happen, but I appreciate the few times that they do.

I say it often--and I mean it every time--I don't think I could ever get sick of this scenery. Every time I see the sunset make a mountain ridge across the valley glow red, every time I walk in a mountain meadow, every time I look out and see the beautiful world around me, I have to take a moment to pause and take it in. I hope that in my last 3 weeks here (I'm here for two weeks after the program ends), I never fail to follow some advice I got from my boss: "Take a moment every day to appreciate the mountains." I like that, and hope that I never forget to do so.

Something else that struck me again tonight was the stars. It's incredible how many stars you can see from SMR, even with so many outside lights on around the property. There's so many, and I had to pause and just look up for a while tonight. I think I should do that more often.

One of the things I've come to appreciate the most this summer whilst at SMR is the connections I've built with Calvin faculty and staff members. My laundry list of faculty and staff members to stay in contact with just keeps growing and growing as each week goes by. I'm more and more starting to value and understand the wisdom passed on to me from Glenn Triezenberg: "major in professors." For my last two years at Calvin, I fully intend to do so. With the bits of spare time in my schedule, I intend to take classes and connect with good professors, not because their classes are within my focused areas of study, but because I can learn from them how to live life. I've already noticed the value of this, and I can't wait to continue the practice.

And with that, I shall leave a few pictures:

Devil's Thumb, with Nicole Steiger for scale.

Possibly my favorite picture of the summer. The goofy stuff, gotta enjoy some goofy stuff. Photo credit: Cari Vos.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Storms and Stories

Before I left home for Colorado I would have never dreamed that I would go whitewater rafting, rock climbing, cliff jumping, tubing down a river, or pretty much any other adventure I have had this summer.  In fact, I thought that coming to Colorado would be a time of relaxation in the mountains without a care in the world.  Never the less, I have been blessed by many new adventures and many new friendships that I never expected.

One of the themes of the program this year has to do with learning people’s stories.  Most of our speakers have taken a moment to share their life stories.  They are all beautiful testaments of how God shapes and molds us through both the good and the bad.  In our small groups we are also each taking a turn to tell our own life story.  Most of all, I've enjoyed getting to hear bits and pieces of the stories of the people I work with in the programs department.  It is always interesting to hear a new perspective from different types of people.  The best thing about these stories is that the people telling them are honest.  They don’t leave out the struggles or the doubts or the disappointments.  The stories never end with despair.  They always end with glimmers of hope and healing. 

Today I had the privilege of hiking Devil’s Thumb with some friends.  It was a difficult hike but the views at the top were worth it.  We had a late start on the day, so when we saw storm clouds gathering we quickly began to make our way off the mountain.  Not long afterwards, we could hear the thunder in the distance.  Before we knew it, we were hiking down a muddy path being pelted by rain and hearing the echo of thunder off the mountain.  It was a cool experience until the hail started pelting our bare legs and exposed heads.  There was so much hail, that it was accumulating on the ground.  By the time we got to the car, we were wet from head to toe, covered in mud, and very hungry.  Nothing sounded better than a hot shower, a dry set of clothes, and a good meal.

I’m telling this story because I think it is a good metaphor for the life stories I've had the opportunity to hear.  Everyone goes through storms in their life and experience struggles that they never expected, kind of like the storm we got caught in today.  However, we have the comfort of knowing that, no matter how wet and cold we get, somewhere in the future there is a hot shower, a dry set of clothes, and a good meal waiting for us.  This doesn't always mean that things are going to be easier.  Even when you reach that point where you feel safe and secure again, you might walk outside and find yourself caught in the middle of a storm again, but you always know that God will provide a safe haven in the middle of your roughest storms.  My own life is shaped by storms, but I have the comfort of knowing that God will be with me and provide me with the comfort I need. 

 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mountain Meditations

In the valley of the shadow of death thy rod and thy staff comfort me.
For it is in this darkness you teach me, mold me, shape me
that I may emerge from the depths
to the peak of the mountain
to stand and witness the marvelous light of your glory,
with eyes wide

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Another Fine Week at SMR

Hello, my name is Matt Beukema. I'm a junior at Calvin College studying history, and I am spending my summer at Snow Mountain Ranch with the Calvin Leadership Challenge Institute. The program is already halfway over, which makes me slightly sad. So far, the program has been a pleasure and privilege to be a part of. I am grateful for this opportunity to spend a summer with great people making great memories.

This past week, our speaker for the program was Glenn Triezenberg, the director of Calvin's Career Development Office. As per usual, the students in the program got to have a one-on-one conversation with the speaker, and as per usual, I took advantage of this opportunity. During the conversation, Glenn pointed me in a couple of directions that I should consider with school and careers. I truly appreciated this, because for the past couple of years, I have been without much of a direction in life, going through school but not knowing where to go with it. But I now have hope that I'll find a direction eventually, and that the uncertainty is quite fine. I now can appreciate the words of J.R.R. Tolkien: "All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost." For now, this will be my motto, and I think I can live with that.

In my employment for the YMCA, I work in the bike shop. The Y has a fleet of mountain bikes that we rent out to guests, and I help with that, as well as maintaining the bikes themselves. Along with that, I work on the trails of Snow Mountain Ranch. Just this afternoon, one of my coworkers and I were out cutting a new trail. The process of making a new trail involves chainsaws, rakes, and a weed-whacker on steroids. All-in-all, a good time and a lot of hard work that ends with a beautiful trail through the woods.

And with that, I think I shall conclude with a few of my favorite pictures that I've taken so far this summer:

Me, my trusty Osprey pack, and the completely necessary addition of the Moosejaw flag.

Looking at mountains off in the distance over Monarch Lake.

Just before a sunrise, camping out on Nine Mile Mountain.

I couldn't pass up a few pictures of wildflowers.

From my favorite hammocking location: Columbine Point.
-Matt Beukema

Friday, July 5, 2013

Coyote Tooth

Hello! My name is Kayla Junga. I just graduated this May and what better way to start a new chapter than to spend the summer at Snow Mountain Ranch! So far I've enjoyed working here and the Leadership Program has really helped me to learn more about myself, others, and how our stories can make us who we are and can shape us as leaders. I look forward to the remaining weeks and spending more time here at the ranch. :)
A few days ago Nicole and I went on a hike to Coyote Tooth, which is a stone formation that kinda looks like a tooth. It is one of the many hikes on property so we took advantage of it. We also found a furry friend. Here are some pictures:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

We have almost reached the halfway point of our program here in beautiful Colorado and I think that most would agree that tremendous amounts of growth have already taken place.  For one, all of us have created new relationships with fellow Calvins (what they call us here) and people from other programs.  The largest contingent of staff is international workers from all over the world, such as: Colombia, Thailand, China, Turkey, and Ukraine, to name a few.  The vast majority of from these countries do not share the same beliefs that we do.   I work with many of these people in housekeeping; personally, they have caused much growth from me.  I have been put in a place where my beliefs are among the minority.  This can be intimidating at times, but also a great opportunity to be a witness to many who know very little about Christianity.  Along with several others, from Calvin or elsewhere, I have been able to have some good conversations with people of other religions about what they believe as well as what Christians believe.  In talking with my roommates over the past couple of weeks, I have found out that many of us from Calvin are taking advantage of the opportunity to share what we believe with others.

I also want to speak of the great beauty that we are experiencing here in the mountains.  Even from the middle of camp we are surrounded full circle by a panoramic view of the mountains.  On one side, is the continental divide with its snow capped and rocky peaks, and on the other are gentler, green-capped mountains.  We have been graced with moose, foxes, beavers, and I think there was a bear sighting.  All of this shows the wonderful picture that God has painted through creation.  We have experienced campfire worship as the wind blows through the trees and the mountains are silhouetted by the setting sun.  We have all seen incredible sights and I’m sure that more are to come!

Andre Otte

Monday, June 24, 2013

Greetings friends, family, and other loved ones!

I cannot wait to share my experiences with the program here with you. First, I'll share a bit about myself. My name is Cari Vos and I will be a Junior in the fall. At Calvin, I am studying Psychology and English-Linguistics. I have the honor of serving as an RA in the residence halls this coming school year (RVD will take down SE no matter what Emily says). Even more joyous in my life this summer is the chance to serve as a small group leader.

In the three weeks I have been here, I have been blessed immensely by the experiences and relationships that have already occurred. I find a great amount of joy and pride in Calvin because it has chosen to support and sustain a program such as this. I could not even begin to explain all the things that I have learned--and have yet to learn--about myself and my role as a leader.

In the first week, Chris Klein talked to us about the importance of intimacy in a relationship. This isn't just sexual intimacy, but also the deep both and relationship that is shared between two people through communication, confession, and living life together in fellowship. This is never a concept I paid much mind or attention to. It challenged me to focus more on learning to become vulnerable with people and allow them into my life through confession and conversation; in this I can produce and create more fruitful and meaningful relationships with those around me.

In the next week, Emily shared with us how she--in broad strokes--viewed leadership. Through this she shared her life story. In this, we were given the opportunity to embrace the importance of sharing life stories with each other. The idea of giving someone 20 minutes of undivided and intentional attention to speak freely about their life is an elusive concept these days. By allotting these precious minutes, it invites the rest of the group into the life of the speaker in a way that we are often incapable of doing in everyday life and conversation.

Finally, last week, Rick Baez came and shared with us his workshop on Leadership and Communication. The biggest thing I have to say about this is: boy, did I take notes. This workshop could not be more applicable to my life. Between being a small group leader, a future RA, an employee, a friend, and a human being, everything Rick said had some applicable place in my life. I relished in the opportunity to speak one on one with Rick; it was a chance to speak with him about I think things are going here at SMR (which is great!) and how I think his workshop personally affected me. The chance to speak with him about his life and how he came to be where he is was also a great blessing.

I wish I could say so much more to you all. I truly do. However, I can already tell this is going to be a long blog post (woops...). But I've learned that when you are passionate about something, you shouldn't hold it in. You should let it shine forth from you like sunbeams so the whole world can know what makes you joyful. For me, it is this opportunity, this chance, these experiences, and these relationships. And I cannot wait to keep sharing it with you all.

Thank you all for your support and love, we are most thankful and gracious for you all. I hope you enjoy reading about our adventures and seeing photographic evidence of our excellent encounters.

Cari Vos :)

"Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot." -David Herbert Lawrence 
Monarch Lake

My small group after the Monarch Lake hike

Camping trip Day 2: hiking Adams Falls

We've got an adventuresome bunch here

We spent a night at the Foundry to see Man of Steel and do some bowling!

My roommates and I at the Foundry (they are truly a blessing in my life, cheesy, I know)

We went to Winter Park for the, and I quote, "Chocolate Festival"--it was AWESOME

The village at Winter Park has a giant scrabble board!

Bradon, Joey, Andre, and Nicole participated in the pudding eating competition and all lost...

Chaco tans are our goals this summer. And they're coming along swell....