Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coffeehouse Chat and the Start of Camps

On Saturday I woke up for the last time at my hostel, ate a breakfast of nutella/almond butter/trail mix burritos and kissed the resident pugs goodbye.  I decided to explore the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, which proved to be much less exciting than I had planned and took up much less time, so I ended up camping out at a nearby coffee house until my internet stopped working. 

While debating buying some lavendar mate', a baristo named Ryan started chatting me up and gave me a free lavendar white chocolate mate' latte.  SWEET!  It was so good.  I finished my drink and decided it was a good time to start walknig to the airport before the sun went down.  As I was paying for my mate' (and sweet Argentinian straw!) one of Ryan's friends walked in and offered to give me a ride to the airport.  He seemed normal enough, so I agreed. (Sorry family.  I know, not entirely on-par to stranger-danger, but the potential ride was still 6 hours off and I had plenty of time to bail if any red flags went up.)  I ended up chatting with the friend (Jace) for the next 5ish hours at the coffee shop.  He works on "the slope" for "the devil" aka for BP.  We talked a lot about life and I was able to share my art journal and Bible with him.  It was sweet because he kept writing down things that I said and I think we both learned a lot from the conversation.

Anyway, around 9pm I got to the airport to wait for Kristen (my co-worker) to land so we could drive to our air base.  Our hotel is pretty standard for airbases and I  enjoyed the stale butter mints on my pillow that I got so used to this summer.

Sunday was tricky.  Usually we get in contact with out Point of Contact early on Sunday morning to prepare our materials and see our camp facilities, but our POC wasn't returning any of our calls or emails.  It wasn't until 5pm that we were informed that our POC was in Japan.  That explains a lot.  We finally got to see our facilities, but learned that half of our camp materials were never mail from DIHQ.  Good thing we are good at improvisation!

Monday started without a hitch, and Kristen and I were set up for camp 15 minutes before the kids were to show up.  Ironically, this was the exact time that our new POC told us that we could no longer use the two rooms were had been allocated for camp.  Whoops.  We ended up moving to the gym and finished set up just in time for the arrival of the first campers.

Camp Day 1 went great after that, and Kristen and I finished our day by going to the World Ice Art Sculpture Garden.  It was incredible!!!!  We went after dark, so all of the ice sculptures were lit up with different colors and palced through out winding wooded paths.  There will be pictures to come soon!
Today was camp Day 2, and it started out BRILLIANTLY.  The kids were really on the ball, well behaved and coming up with wonderful solutions to the challenges.  After lunch was a different story.  It appeared as if the appeal of video games and snow cones won out in the minds of our campers, and their focus was definitely elsewhere.

I worked out the issues of the day at the air base rock wall, and although it was only 20 feet tall, entirely plastic and I looked like an idiot wearing a helmet, it really helped me ground myself and prepare for work tomorrow.

So, that's where I am.  Over half way through my trip to Alaska, slightly exhausted, but gaining all kinds of new experiences and loving it.

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