Monday, June 10, 2013

Camp Miscellany

This week finds me back at Village Creek Bible Camp, in the midst of the Mississippi river valley in northeastern Iowa.  I usually find myself here 2-4 times each summer, and then probably a couple other times throughout the other seasons.  Needless to say, it's become a pretty familiar place to me.

This week I'm here with four of our church's junior high girls, attending the "Young Teen" camp.  Although we've only been here for one full day now, it's been a full day, and so I thought I'd write about a few things, in no particular order.

Sunday School saves the day.
I was able to fill in on a somewhat last-minute basis for this morning's chapel session.  I usually end up being one of the camp pastors at least one week each summer at camp, but declined the invitation this summer, citing an extra work-load due to the church's lack of a youth minister.  Be that as it may, the opportunity presented itself for me to stand in the gap this morning, and I was happy to do so.  Thankfully I had some old Sunday School lessons that I could draw from with which to fill the chapel session.

Is there a camp for introverts?
I think I've finally discovered why I was never much of a camp person as a kid, and why it still doesn't appeal to me now even as an adult.  As an introvert, being around people for extended periods of time wears me down.  But at camp, there is no escaping the people.  They are everywhere.  Campers are sectioned off into cabins, so you're always with those folks.  And when you're not hanging out with those people, you're with the larger group.  People.  Everywhere.

There's nothing wrong with this, per say, but it's hard on those of us who not only like to be alone, but need to be alone - at least for a time.  As a kid I remember a lot of people trying to talk to me and be my friend and get me to socialize when I was at camp.  But all I wanted was to be left alone.  It's not that I didn't (don't) like people - it's just that too many people for too long of periods of time overtaxes my system.

The camp environment is definitely geared toward extroverts - people who get energized by being around and socializing with others.  This is not me, however, and probably explains why I always feel so drained when I get back from a week at camp.

First world problems
I've never been much for sleeping bags, so any time I visit camp I make sure to pack bedding: sheets and blankets.  The beds at camp are, shall we say, less than desirable, both in aesthetic appearance and physical comfort.  If nothing else, a week at camp will help you count your blessings of having a nice, comfortable bed.  

The Mrs. packed my bedding for me this time, and unbeknownst to me, she packed a sheet for a twin sized bed.  Well, the room I'm staying in has a full size bed.  And try as I might, a twin sized sheet does not fit on a full sized bed, which means I get to sleep on a bear mattress.  Yay.  But even then, I can count my blessings, as there are undoubtedly millions of people around the world laying their heads on bear ground.  Thank God for mattresses.

Camp Cramps
For the past several months I've been trying to incorporate physical exercise into my regular routine.  This started out with some "core" exercises earlier in the year, which were going along swimmingly until I somehow injured my knee.  I had to put my exercises on hold for a while, whilst my body healed up.

From there I discovered the Kettlebell, a very fun to use and challenging piece of exercise equipment.  I started using that on a regular basis, and was making quite a bit of headway with it, until my shoulder started hurting me.  So again, I was sidelined by injury.

After those two injuries, I decided to go back to the basics, i.e. walking and running.  We do own a treadmill, after all, so I took to it.  I started out by doing a few weeks worth of faster-than-normal walking, gradually increasing the pace.  After I was confident that my stamina had increased sufficiently, I purchased a "Couch to 5K" app for my phone.  This is a nifty little app that trains you to be able to run - all the way up to 3.2 miles at a time (or whatever 5 kilometers is).  I completed the first week of this training with flying colors, and was excited by the progress I was making.

The second week came, and during the middle of the week of my running training, I began to feel some pain on the inside portion of both of my knees.  I didn't think much of it at first, but the next time I got on the treadmill that week, the pain was enough to make me stop my exercises.  A couple days later, and I could barely climb a flight of stairs, my knees hurt so bad.  So again, I was sidelined by injury.

It should be noted that before I took on any of these exercise regimens I made sure that I was doing the necessary stretching and pre-workout warmups so as to prevent injury.  But alas, it was not to be.

Anyway, after about a month off now, I feel ready to get back on the horse, so to speak.  I thought that my time at camp would be a great way for me to get back in the swing of things, at least as far as walking was concerned.  So this afternoon I made a point of taking a walk down the long gravel road that leads out of the camp.  I determined to gauge the length of my walk by time, and not by distance.  In other words, by noting the time when I left, I would know when I needed to turn back in order to be back at the camp for any relevant activities.

I took off at about 1:40 in the afternoon and just started walking.  Every once in a while I would stop to pick up an agate off the road, or look at some interesting wildlife (such as a huge caterpillar I found, and a fearless butterfly that would not move an inch out of my way, and even some guinea hens that a local farmer was raising).  At about 2:35 I figured it was time to turn around, as I needed to be back at the camp in plenty of time for supper (priorities, right?).

About half the way back, I noticed that my left foot was just a little soar, but I didn't think much of it.  After all, I was walking on a gravel road that was rather uneven, so my feet were coming down on the ground at different heights.  To correct for the discomfort, I moved to the other side of the road so that my right foot would bear most of the burden of the extended reach required to walk the road.

But this didn't help much.  As I kept going, the pain got worse, and worse, until I finally got back to camp.  When I did so, I hopped in my car and retraced my steps in my vehicle in order to determine just how long my walk was.  By the time I had driven to the point where I stopped walking, I had gone 2.4 miles.  This meant that my entire walk was 4.8 miles.  I was quite pleased with myself.  But my foot still hurt.

It felt good to be sitting down in my car after such a long walk, so I decided to sneak back to my room and take a short nap before supper, which I did.  By the time I woke from the nap and put my feet on the ground to go to the dining hall, my left foot was screaming in pain.  From just below my ankle all the way to my pinky tow, the pain on the side of my foot was excruciating - bad enough to cause me to limp as I walked.  I thought about it, and couldn't figure out what could be causing such discomfort.  I didn't twist my foot or walk in an peculiar way that would cause this kind of pain.  And my shoes were the ones that I have worn time and again without any discomfort.  What was causing this?  Even now, as I lay in bed typing this post at 10:00 at night, the pain still lingers and I haven't the slightest clue as to why my foot hurts.

Oh well.  Such is life when you're at camp!

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