I Do an Udder-ly Awesome Mud Run, Played Piano and Say Some Stuff, and Slow Dance

15 Jun

**LONG POST ALERT**

You’re welcome.

Well, I’m home from FFA-FCCLA Summer Leadership Camp, and, wow, what a week it was! First off, let me say I, the-one-who-has-a-general-dislike-for-showers-and-effort-in-appearances, had never been so happy to take a shower, sleep with two pillows, and wake up after the sun had risen as I was when I got home from camp. Seriously, guys. Just putting it out here: I haven’t unpacked my bag yet, and I haven’t done anything productive since I got home on Friday. So, obviously there was a little bit of growing that was done over the week I was gone. And let me tell you, it was a learning experience for everyone. I don’t really know how to accurately describe it to you, but here goes:

 

Day 1: I Lack Arm Muscle, God Rewards People Who Help Unload Luggage, and Also I Am Bad at Ping-Pong

So we get there, pack up our bags that had (for the most part) been stuffed full the night before we left, and hit the road all before like 9:00 AM on a summer Monday morning. It was great. My buddy Katie Darwin and I seat-buddied **I am making “seat-buddied” a word** (Sorry, A-A-Ron, we couldn’t be our usual Baptist selves). We sat, for the record, very near to the front of the bus and watched Blimey Cow videos using Katie’s earphones even though she **Warning: intentionally bad grammar ahead**be afeared of ‘dem earwax germs. Much appreciated, my marginally germaphobic **Also making this a word** friend.

Corner, top bunk with a window = one happy Sarah

Corner, top bunk with a window = one happy Sarah

When we arrived, we squinted into the nearly noonday sun and took a group picture. Then some staffers got on our bus, we screamed, they screamed back, we screamed some more things, and then we headed on into camp. Woot-woot! So totally stoked for this– waiting game. That’s right. Sitting on the bus for half an hour while waiting for our advisers (who are awesome) to register everyone. It was very hot. But that was okay. Not long after, we rode to our nice little cabin on Pebble Hill which was literally down a hill of pebbles and found out our team name: Phoenix. Oh, and we got t-shirts! They are awesome and say “Hero Within” on them. Because the theme of the camp was superheroes. It was great.

Now, I helped unloading luggage and did okay at it. Granted, I realized (not for the first time) that I have terribly weak arm muscles, but that was okay because I was doing the leader things and helping out because helping! This also meant I was one of the last girls into the cabin. Which mean that I, all of my almost 5’11” self, had pretty much been guaranteed a bottom bunk. Nope. A little bit of bargaining and I landed myself a top, corner bunk with a window. My reaction was complete with a big smile up at the ceiling toward my heavenly Father above because from what I understand about top bunks (my knowledge is limited to Parent Trap and It Takes Two and this one time I went to a Christian leadership camp in Tennessee with people from Alabama) are hard to come by, much less a corner bunk with a really nice window. So, all this being said, I unpacked my bed sheets and Winnie the Pooh pillow and went to town.

Not long after, we went to a pretty dawg-gone delicious lunch and a few assemblies. I embarrassed myself playing ping-pong.

Team Phoenix at FFA-FCCLA Summer Leadership Camp 2014

Team Phoenix at FFA-FCCLA Summer Leadership Camp 2014

Literally, you guys would be rolling if I had taken a video. Rolling. Like the ping-pong ball I kept accidentally slamming into other people standing within an about 6 foot radius of the table. So, realizing I was mostly terrible at ping-pong, I kept myself occupied by picking up trash and, while doing so, also surveying the surroundings because having a good knowledge of things going on it like really handy and very important. I didn’t make the mistake of wasting money on candy (yay for saving money!). Which is good. Because I usually am not good at that… heh.

Anyway, the rest of the night passed. We had a team meeting, and I signed up for a lot of stuff. Archery, horseshoes, essay, and the one mile relay. Later on, I practiced horseshoes (while dodging the dance because that’s what smart kids do instead of spending time before food to get ready and look nice) and realized I was a lot more terrible than I realized. So I played some games of checkers, won 2 out of 3 games against the brilliantly talented Katie Darwin (thanks for going easy on a beginner, my friend), and then switched with her. And good thing too. I would’ve killed someone with those horseshoes. For sure. We had another assembly, a reflection with a pretty explosive conclusion, and then we went back to go to bed. Well, have a team meeting, have a bedtime story, and then go to bed.

Needless to say, it was about 12:00 AM by the time we were all asleep.

And, let me tell you, o’ six-hundred hours came early the next morning.

 

Day 2: I Go To Devotions and Pray Out Loud, Stop for Directions Twice, Run Up a Really Big Hill, Compete in Things, and Make a Guy Cry

Devotions were at 7:00 AM. Which meant I had to be up and out of the bed by, like, 6:30 AM. Well, that was me on a normal day when it hadn’t been below zero while I was trying to sleep and I was the only one around. Everyone else, consequently, decided to be up by 5:00 to shower and get dressed by 7:45 AM. Granted, the cabin did have to be cleaned and for some reason girls strew their stuff everywhere. Literally. Fortunately, I was able to avoid that. I got dressed, cleaned up my area, put on my ball-cap, grabbed my backpack and high tailed it to morning devotion.

It was good. Nice and simple and the camp staff lead it. I said the closing prayer and then we went to flag raising and lunch. Then there were volleyball games and sun-screening times to be had. We screamed loudly and did cheering things and then, after finding out there was a piano available to be used, we went to lunch to we could go to auditions for the talent show so we could go to a training session for archery so we could compete on the following day. Yeah. Talk about a crammed schedule. Regardless, I was able to charge through lunch and then go and audition, playing my composition “For the King,” which for those of you who might not know about it was a song that I have been perfecting for a few months and performed at my church and before that at my annual piano recital.

I was late finishing, so I had to stop for directions to Walton Hall and then run up this really stupidly steep hill. I made it in just in time to hear the archery things and then leave once again to run up yet another hill to do this thing called the Udder Mun Run. For those of you who may have heard of the Tough Mudder, it’s like the Tough Mudder’s younger, slightly less daunting cousin. The Udder Mud Run was, in summary, 3.8 miles of hills, mud obstacles, and pretty-much-cut-right-out-of-a-medieval-adventure-movie territory. I’d like to say that I, even with my physically induced asthma, took it on like a boss, but that’s not completely accurate. I did feel like Leyrl from Kingsblade while I was going through it though. Seriously. It was awesome. If you guys are in the area on August 9th, you should totally come and participate in the run. I won’t be able to, but they’re raising money for really awesome people, so do the thing. And get muddy.

 

Showers came after. I threw away shoes. And two pairs of socks. And a t-shirt. Literally, folks, it was that intense. Gotta love that Georgia red clay. So, it was during this chaos that I found out I had been one of five girls chosen out of everyone that auditioned for the talent show to perform in front of some 600-odd people that night at assembly. Well, obviously I couldn’t really think about much outside of that because, well, performing literally scares the bejeebers out of me. But I did it anyway.

Really big storm, flickering lights, and this really terrifying-exhilarating dash to the dining hall, and dinner all happened. So did selfies. And texting. And a little glaring because girls and unnecessary drama. But that was okay. It distracted me. And then it was time to perform. We got special seats, waited through a few little skits and then it began. I was the second person to perform. The introduction for my piece was literally awesome. The two talent show gurus opened it like a skit. There were a few words exchanged, and let me tell you, when a bigger African American guy with awesome hair does crazy things you have everyone’s attention. But it essentially ended with, “I’m not weird, I’m original” and then this beautiful segue into the fact that I had written the piece I was about to play on piano. I had never done anything quite like this, but I was loving it. Well, loving it and hating it because performing! But, y’know, even though my heart was racing, the way they just invited me to stage and the way that piano say there, in all its grandeur, I wasn’t so afraid.

Now, I finished playing, and, despite a few hiccups and falters, I thought I had done well. And, I had played for Jesus. Not expecting

Sarah performing on stage at SLC for the girl's talent show

Sarah performing on stage at SLC for the girl’s talent show

much, I stood up after finishing and gave a little flourished bow, looking up to a standing ovation and screams of support and love from my chapter. The staff was standing, the judges were smiling, and I was grinning like a fool. This had actually happened at church the week before when I had played, but I figured that it was out of respect. Or kindness. But here it was again. I felt tears climb into my eyes, but I pushed them back and high-fived the African American guy who had helped introduce my act on the way down and sank into my seat, feeling my stomach swim with pure joy and pride. Not that cocky kind of pride, but the kind you get when you’re so humbled and happy and thankful that people actually liked that thing that you just did and it was overwhelming. So I thanked God, listened to the next few performances, and then another skit that was great. And then, it was time for announcements.

And, as I listened, I was imagining it would be one of the girls that had sang a song the rest of the crowd sang along too or my friend Kaylee, who had clogged! With blisters! Because she’s just that awesome. And then, as the hosts turned and smiled at our little row, I heard the last thing I expected:

“Sarah.”

Screams and a bolt of shock and joy. I was standing up, making my way to the stage. I attempted a jump up, but pretty much face-planted because, heck, I was in a state of I don’t even know how to describe it. Not discouraged, I just kind of did a little thumbs up thing and a small bow before they asked what team I was from and there was more cheering and smiles, they handed me a gift card to Walmart, but that wasn’t really what mattered.

Going back to my seat, I was still grinning like an idiot and it was great.

Checkers tournament at SLC

Checkers tournament at SLC

After assembly, I ducked down into the Cantina for a little quiet and to get ready for the checkers tournament. I played, had fun, and was showed with congratulations and praise. I couldn’t really think of much more to say other than “I’m so glad you enjoyed it” and “Thank you!” while we kept playing. I placed 4th in the tournament, met some awesome people(not to mention Mr. Malone who is awesome even if he is from Franklin County) I would end up seeing a lot for the rest of the week, and wandered over to a hug and congratulations from my friend Aaron– who had been playing ping-pong– and a fist bump with Mr. White. Later on, a pair of the staffers came and told me that the staff rarely showed preference in talent shows, asked how old I was, and one of them said that a very manly tear might have happened down his cheek while I was playing. More fuzzies. I hadn’t thought it was possible, but it was.

Reflections. Team Meeting. And then bed. This time, I had a blanket from the wonderfully amazing Jordan Collins and a fulfilling Jesus-joy in my heart. Needless to say, after our bedtime story from the incredible Ms. Bell, I slept very well. Even if it was 12:00 AM before were asleep, and I had to be up and out by 7:15 AM again. Honestly, though, in that moment I was falling asleep, I didn’t really mind at all.

 

Day 3: I Discover Running Is Not My Calling, Find Out I Am Not the Worst at Archery, Meet Some Cool People, and Shoot a Gun for the First Time

Running the relay was running the relay. We were around the middle of the pack when it got to me, and I ran the easiest of the legs– leg 2– and didn’t lose much of our standing. Which was good because I almost threw up when I finished. Asthma– I have it. And it is not fun having to concentrate on breathing. That being said, I was able to push myself to my limits and that was what I wanted to be able to do. Also, runners got to eat breakfast. It was a good thing. I might not have made it otherwise.

Sarah and Katie during some down time after dinner one night

Sarah and Katie during some down time after dinner one night

The rest of the day was filled with archery practice (and shoot a 22– pretty cool. I’m not terrible. Not great either, mind you),

bruises, archery competitions (I shot 53/100. I didn’t win, but, hey, I found some great people to put on my zombie apocalypse team, for real), essay writing (I’ll be typing up my essay and sharing it soon!), and more running. We literally got our essays in at 4:59. 500 word limits are nasty little buggers, just let me tell you. So then we flopped down on the stairs for dinner and waited for them to open the doors so we could eat food.

When they did, I was able to sharpen my wit and have some fun joking with the guys. Then, another assembly, another dance dodged, and a little more drama, but that was alright because exhaustion and camp.

So when we returned to the cabin, we had a short meeting, another story told by Ms. Bell, and drifted off into sleep only to wake up once again at 6:00 AM to prepare for another day.

 

Day 4: I Pray Again at Devotion, Do Some More Screaming, Make a Little Heart, Have a Come-to-Jesus Meeting about Relationships, and Get Suckered into a Slow Dance

Devotion was at 7:00 again. So I cleaned up, got ready, and then headed out to the amphitheater where it was held each morning. We sang, had an awesome devotion, and then I closed us out in prayer again. After that, we ate food, played volleyball and softball, and then moved out for lunch. Seriously, this day went by in a blur. We went to the mud course to scream-on our guys and girls during the course. The girls were awesome, and so were the guys, even if they had a rocky start. I hope to be able to do the thing next year.

I painted a little heart for Merry, my little sister. There were sentimental feelings and indecisive feelings. Sentimental because my dad always got me a little stone heart when I was little and he went on business trips, and I found myself making a little heart for Merry just like he found me hearts. I have quite a few still in my special box. Maybe one day I’ll post pictures of them. Because my dad is awesome. And chivalrous. And totally gave me really unrealistic expectations of guys. Indecisive because I wanted it to be perfect and not bad. Merry is an artist with lines. I am an artist with notes and words. Not lines. Sorry if it was terrible, Merry! I really tried. I promise.

After cheering, we had an assembly, then I had the opportunity that I had been praying for several weeks. God moves, guys. And He moves in big ways. My Come-to-Jesus meeting was not scripted or planned. I was able to talk about the greatest love story I know– ours’ and Jesus’s– and was finally able to get out my entire speech about love and romance and platonic love. There might have been one or two tears involved, a hug-out session, and some divine intervention, because I’m pretty sure that God was giving me words as I spoke. Yes, I carried my Bible around the whole time we were at camp, and if you are curious, the passage that I started off reading was Isaiah 9:2-7. So my sweet friend, who will remained anonymous so she doesn’t get any ideas about being embarrassed or anything. But it was good, and I was overjoyed and thankful when we were finally able to get everything out on the playing field. And that she got it. Be a mentor, folks. Those of you called to lead, lead and lead while following God because that’s the only way you’ll ever get anywhere. Note that it was only when I began by opening my Bible and reading it out loud that the words came and God sat there right beside us. Seriously, I could feel Him– and that isn’t a feeling I would trade for anything in the world.

Then there was another dance, which I managed to avoid until it, of course, actually mattered. One of my archery friends dragged me into a line dance that required a well-established knowledge of left and right (which I, for the record, do not have because dyslexia). It was still fun even if I made a fool out of myself in the process. Then, my match-making friend, Bailey Seabolt, suckered Aaron and I into the last half of a slow dance. My extremely introverted don’t-do-the-dancing-things side nearly died, but we made the most of it while Bailey looked on, grinning like an idiot. As you have probably guessed, I don’t really know the first thing about dancing. Seriously. I’m that kid who curls up in her Loofa (a wonderful noun penned by the awesome Quincey Pinkston, which describes my arm-chair that is nearly the size of a love-seat and that is inherently awesome and good for reading) on Friday nights and avoids all formal school dances. That being said, it was fun (dismissing just a little awkward), and I am sure we will laugh about it eventually. Brenna, when I texted her afterward, nearly died of laughter. Thanks for your unending support, Brenna. [Insert bemused, sarcastic scowl here.]

The dance ended and we plopped down for awards. I didn’t win the essay, which was okay (I actually found out later that I had placed as the runner-up). But what we did win was Leadership Team of the Week– the thing that all of the Phoenixes had been aiming for all week. Leadership Team of the Week, for certain superior to Team of the Week, was voted on by all the other campers, and needless to say we were ecstatic, screaming and all that as one of our advisers, Ms. Bell, went to get the plaque.

Team Phoenix after winning Leadership Team of the Week

Team Phoenix after winning Leadership Team of the Week

 

Sleep was quick in coming, and I ended the night feeling exhausted, but ready and smiling.

 

Day 5: I Was Exhausted

Seriously, guys. There’s not a lot to say about this day. We packed, we cleaned, and I helped out in whatever ways I could. Then, we waited for a while, got on the bus, and shipped out for the last time. Nostalgic feelings for real, y’all. I was ready to be home, but I will never forget all the memories I made at my first SLC camp ever.

Also, country music all the way home. You know you live in the South when…

 

But what I really learned this week was that words matter. Guys, as writers, musicians, and people in general, we have authority over others. Now, not like staff and scepter power, but the authority to make those words powerful– and not only powerful, but powerful enough to build someone up or powerful enough to drag someone down. It made such a big difference having so many people come up to me and compliment me on my piano playing  and encourage me to continue doing so. And not only that, but the mere actions of others– giving me a standing ovation, telling me that they cried. That’s so powerful. And those actions spoke volumes. As a team, we encouraged and built others up, kept smiling and laughing. When others said discouraging things to me or other campers or were unsporting and unbelieving in us, it hurts and cut deeply. Your words and your actions matter so much, no matter if you are giving a lecture, simply going out of your way to say “thank you” or “good job,” or screaming encouragement to your teammates. Satan knows that he’s already lost, and he’s working day and night to ensure that none of the Lost of our world ever find their way to Christ. You’ve got a chance to save someone. You’ve got a chance to be a hero! So use your superpower wisely! That’s what we, here on the King’s Road, are all about! Use the hero within you as a leader and a spokesman of Christ to spread the Light of an Almighty, Everlasting and Ever-loving God to every corner of the earth because what you do makes a difference.

It’s up to you to choose if that difference is a positive one or a negative one.

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5 Responses to “I Do an Udder-ly Awesome Mud Run, Played Piano and Say Some Stuff, and Slow Dance”

  1. Katie Darwin June 15, 2014 at 6:55 PM #

    I LOVE IT!!!

    • Sarah Spradlin June 15, 2014 at 6:56 PM #

      LOL, Katie. Had so much fun with you this week!! 🙂 Keep growing in grace, girly 😉 You’re gonna do AMAZING things!! 😀

      • Katie Darwin June 15, 2014 at 10:21 PM #

        Thank ya!:)

  2. Katie Darwin June 15, 2014 at 6:56 PM #

    And it was a totally awesome week!!!

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