Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bountiful Temple

While I was in Utah, I went to the Bountiful Temple one afternoon. It was Sunday, so we went to take photos, not to enter the temple (for non LDS readers: the Temple is different than Church; we got to Church every Sunday and anyone can go; the Temple we are encouraged to go to once a month, or more if possible, and we can go any day but Sunday or Monday, and only worthy LDS members can go). The grounds were lovely and so was the view. I couldn't believe how high it was.

Wouldn't it be incredible to live right across the street from the Temple? The blessings found in the Temple of God are amazing. I pray that everyone that hopes to be able to enter House of God will either set their life straight or keep it that way so that they can receive the blessings found there.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Summer

So, I know that there are people that keep up their blog as things happen. I am clearly not one of those people. But at least I try. Unfortunately, I don't really have a lot of photos from the summer. If you want to see more, look me up on facebook. There are a lot there.

After our adventures at Disneyland, Sea World, and everywhere else all over southern California, we headed to camp for a weeks worth of staff training. When you've been there three years, training can be kinda boring, but I suppose I learn new things anyways.

In the dining hall:

Dolphins we saw the morning of our staff overnighter:

Whale "playing:"

Me looking strange as usual:

We started the session off with buddy camp. Sorry, no pictures. Buddy camp is actually for our sighted kids who come during the sessions with the blind kids. In theory, Buddy camp is supposed to teach them how to help the blind campers, as we teach them proper sighted-guide techniques and have them do all the activities blind-folded. The buddies who did well were invited back to another session with the "campers" (for our purposes, "campers" are only the blind or visually impaired kids/adults- everyone else is a "buddy" or "family").
Next was Family Camp #1. Again, no pics. Family camps are always interesting because it is hard to figure out what our place, as staff is, in the dynamics of the family. But, I almost always learn the most during family camp. That is where I really figure out how to modify activities and make things more interesting for the blind campers.
Adult camp was next. It is always a very short session. I'm not gonna lie. That's a good thing. But the campers enjoy themselves and we survive. Hopefully, for their sakes, they get some more of their friends to come in future years.
Following Adult, we had Elementary camp. It was SOOO much fun. We just had a great session. The kids were amazing. This was the first year we had a buddy camp and we felt that being able to invite back specific kids after having worked with them for a week already made our other sessions go so much better. The buddies were amazing. And we always love the campers.
During Elementary, we had "The Reptile Family" come into camp. They are a family that keeps reptiles- many of them- and then uses them in educational shows in the LA area. Only "reptile Mom" came to Bloomfield, but man, did she know her stuff. It was really interesting (in fact, they were so so good that we actually asked them to come back for junior camp).

We also went to a Dodger game. I didn't realize how much I knew about baseball until I had to explain the game and everything that was happening to group of blind kids. The game was an incredible amount of fun.

No pictures of it, but one night we also celebrated "Christmas in July," complete with carols, candy canes, presents, and a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by yours truly.
After Elementary camp, a group of 14 of us went up to San Francisco. The original plan was to go up there to see Wicked, but in the end only three of us went. Of course I did! Our seats were way better. And I bought Wicked stuff this time. I simply can't get over how fantastic it is. The day after Wicked, almost all of us went to Alcatraz. That was really interesting. Only problem was, by the time you're done with the cellhouse tour, you're so tired that you don't feel like doing any of the other cool stuff there is. The views of the city were gorgeous.

When we got back to camp, we had multi-disabled camps. MD is always one of my favorites because the campers are so much fun and so funny. Unfortunately, their aides can be difficult, but the campers make up for it. We did some really great arts and crafts projects that session.
Following multi was Junior camp. That's a hard age, but again, thanks to our fabulous buddies and CITS, the session turned out really well. I have absolutely no complaints, but it still wasn't quite as much fun as Elementary session. We didn't have any "all camp" field trips, but rather two smaller ones that some of us got to go on. I went deep sea fishing (for the third year) and finally caught a fish after three years of trying. The Halloween dance was fun too. Someone had a brilliant idea to hold it outside on the slab rather than in the hot dining hall. That really improved things. I dressed up like a dalmation- but I was liver dalmation, as were the originals in the novel, The 100 and One Dalmations, though I only actually did that because I didn't have black pants. Elphie, Marley, and Fullerton dressed up as dalmations too. Ivy was Cruella de Vil.
In between Junior and Teen Camps, I took the GRE again. I improved both my verbal and quantitative scores drastically, but I actually scored .5 point lower on the written section. How lame is that? But, I'm happier with it this time around. Now I just got to hope it's enough to get me into graduate school.
Teen camp has always been my most favorite session, and it was a lot of fun again this year, but was definitely rivaled by elementary camp. We had a lot of good activities and I really, really thought our arts and crafts projects worked out great.
My sister came the last day of teen camp. Mule and I picked her up at the airport and then later that day, Ivy, Penguin, Koala, Lilo (that's my sister- she has a camp name because she worked at camp last year), and I went to spend the break at Penguin's house. At least, that's what we told my sister. We really did sleep at Penguin's, but we were going to Disneyland. We got two day park-hoppers off of ebay. We had a blast. I had never been to California Adventure before, despite going to Disneyland at least two times since Ca opened. I really enjoyed it, but anyone who knows me shouldn't be at all surprised. I'm addicted to all things Disney. Truly.

Our last session of camp was Family Camp #2. It's pretty much like the first except even more laid back. Our arts and crafts activities were a combination of my favorites from the summer and what we had left over. The last day, the wall people,
Elphie and Hercules left the burma bridge open for me to try. When I got there and saw how high I had to climb just to get up (really, only about 8-10 feet), I almost wimped out. Then I did wimp out while I was climbing. And then Elph and Herc made me feel guilty because they had waited for me. So I did it again and got on the bridge this time. I didn't make it very far- it WAS SOOOO SCARY! But I'm glad I got to try it. My favorite part- when I was walking backwards to get back (because I was afraid that if I turned around I would fall off- not that I'm afraid of falling off- I'm afraid of trying to get back on if I fall) and screaming: "WHY DO THE KIDS LIKE THIS?!?!?!!"
Afterwards, I was really tired. It was exhausting physically and mentally.

Camp ended a little differently this year. In the past we only had a few hours after the families left the last day to be out ourselves. This year, however, we had till the next day which gave us plenty of time to clean and organize our areas really well. That night we were free to go to dinner together. And then the next day we had our staff bbq. One of the families makes lunch for us and the food is the best I have all year.
And then we leave. Overall, it was my favorite summer at camp. I loved the other staff and the dynamics made being there so easy. On the other hand, I'm excited for new opportunities next summer. I'm anxious to see what I'll do.

San Francisco, Wicked, Disneyland, Sea World, Four Temples, & Camp, Among Other Things

I predict this post will take me at least two hours to write. Should be fun.

I mentioned on my blog forever ago that Memorial Day weekend I was going to San Francisco for the APS (Association of Psychological Science) conference. Well I did and it was fun. It was a great experience to be there with so many good scientists. There's an
article on the school newspaper site that kind of explains what I did while there.

Of course, while I was there, I saw Wicked. I was so excited. I had never seen it before but was addicted to the music anyways. Now I'm part of the Wicked cult. I have plans to see it two more times in the next two months! It was simply amazing. So good- I could not believe it. We had horrible seats, but I'm gonna have better ones next time.

We also got to go to the Oakland Temple while we were there. It was the first time in two years I had been to any Temple besides the Laie Temple. I forgot how different and how much larger the more modern temples are from Laie! And since the Laie Temple has been closed since December, I hadn't been in awhile anyways, so it was nice.
The weekend after that I went to the Kona Temple. It was my first time on a different island. We didn't really do anything, after the temple, which was a little disappointing, but only a little because I was so tired. The temple was great and has beautiful grounds.

My last week and a half at school were uber stressful. I was sick to my stomach the whole time but I managed to pull off my "almost 4.o" again- just one A-! So lame. Classes ended on June 3 and I flew to Utah to meet Lindsey on the 4th, got there on the 5th. We hung out Friday and on Saturday packed the car and waited until her roommate, Lacy, got off work, then drove to Lindsey's parent's house. Lindsey went to a friend's wedding reception and then we went on a nice walk around the neighborhood. Lindsey knows every single freakin' person in her neighborhood and what they do in church.

Sunday we left for California. We survived the drive and stayed with Melissa, who is partnered with Lindsey's second (?) puppy, Anya. On Monday we went to Disneyland. We got to go to the front of every line so we had done the whole park by five. We had dinner reservations at the Blue Bayou and after that we did a little shopping and then left at nine. It was actually quite nice to be done so early because I was tired! Just before our dinner reservations we decided to take the train around the park. We overheard one of the employees talking to another guest about the caboose car and how you had to have reservations to ride in it. We started talking amongst ourselves and she overheard us and came over and started answering our questions. She then went and talked to the employee in the car and came back and told us that the people with reservations hadn't shown up and there was room for us. So we went. Apparently it's a car that Walt Disney had built for his wife, Lily. It hadn't been used in a long time and when they put it back in service, it used just for VIPs. Now it's open at other times to other people too- and we were lucky enough to get on!

The next day we went to the Los Angeles Temple. It is gorgeous. It is old and therefore throughout the temple ceremony you travel to different rooms for the different presentations. The murals on the walls are gorgeous!

After the temple we headed to San Diego and stayed with a friend from camp at her aunt's house. On Wednesday we went to Sea World. It was loads of fun. We watched the Shamu show twice and sat only about four rows from the front the first time and in the very front row the second time. It was amazing. I found it incredible when I learned about the swimming requirement for most of their positions. You must swim like 250 feet, 1/2 of it underwater, retrieve a weight from 27 feet deep, and then get out, do push-ups, and then speak in to a microphone to test voice clarity after all that exercise. If you pass that, they might invite you back for an interview. Anyhow, it was a good time.

On Thursday, we got up and went straight to the San Diego Temple. While the temple architecture is amazing, I actually think that overall, the LA Temple is more beautiful, because really, it's the inside that matters.

From the temple, we headed back up to LA and picked up Shamy, another camp staff who had been in Santa Monica with the organization that arranges her stuff so she can work at camp (she is international- from Ireland). She had been there re-certifying to be a lifeguard and was done so she hung out with us that afternoon. We all got pedicures and manicures. Dangerous stuff! Now I'm addicted.
That night we stayed in Santa Monica because Shamy wanted to spend the last night with the people she had met at her training. The next morning we headed to camp. While on the way, Blue Jae (assistant director) called to ask where we were (She knew that we were coming early). We were just about 45 minutes from camp. She said "Good, I'm going on the airport run [to pick up international staff that were flying in from their orientation in New York - Shamy is the only one that went to LA]. I was supposed to leave already but I'll wait so you can go with me." We got to camp and left immediately. Two of the international staff had already arrived so they came too. And that was about the end of the week before staff training. That post and the summer are up soon.
One more thing. Remember how at the beginning of this post I predicted it would take me at least two hours to write? Yeah, that was in June. I don't know why but I could never get blogger to work for me over the summer. I know the internet at camp is terrible, but other people had some success. Oh well. So I'm writing this now at Lindsey's (Tonks) house, two weeks after camp ended. Go me. Tata for now.