Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The End? Not quite!

Well we've all returned home and successfully completed the first day back to classes, but I know that all of us are wishing we could be back with the kids at Wesley Rankin right now. Throughout the entire experience, I believe we all changed and all were influenced in some way by the kiddos. The first day of camp was tough. We all came home to C2K exhausted. The kids challenged us, and I'm glad they did. The night before we made a list of expectations of the day, and many of us were shocked that we hadn't thought of several things. The second day we started getting a glimpse of who these great people were and what their personalities were like. We bonded with them through science experiments, crafts, and games in the gym. By the third day, 3:30 rolled around too quickly, and we were giving our goodbye hugs and wishing the kids the best. We spent our last day of service working with C2K helping doing several repairs to the property as a thank you to the great hospitality they had shown us. And now we are all back in Springfield, working through the last several weeks of school, but I'm guessing several people are thinking this was the end of our trip.

But it doesn't stop here.

As many of us anticipated that we were going to change a child's life, the opposite was true. We talked with the head coordinator of Wesley Rankin, Shellie, before we left, and we will be writing letters to Wesley Rankin, and hopefully receiving some in return. Our group will be having an upcoming "reunion" of playing games from the trip and creating a scrapbook we can send to the community center and keep for ourselves. And, what I found even more extraordinary is how some of us are planning to go back this summer. The community center always needs volunteers, and C2K houses the summer volunteers. And being able to stay at C2K where they have the best home-cooked food that will give your mom's cooking a run for it's money, provide an overly comfy mattress, and give you the keys to the city (well not really, but it's still a really beautiful campus) - you can't really get better than that. Not even Panama City Beach could beat this trip. It's not just our group that wants to go back either. I know from people I've talked to, or who've seen pictures, or heard about some of the activities we did with the kids, they are interested in coming down with us. This was a most definite bigger experience than the one I had last year, and I relished every moment of the trip to Dallas last year where we worked with a different organization.

So now for the participants? Blogs may not always call attention to the specific contributions of people, but they really should, and maybe by doing so show how amazing of a group we had while in Dallas.

Amanda: Oh man, we wouldn't have had any pictures or adventures if it wasn't for her. To driving The Black Stallion minivan all over Dallas, to keeping the most positive and go-with-flow attitude, she really was the glue that held our trip together and helped us bond. She also did an amazing job at making us think outside of the box during reflection and challenged us while doing activities with the kids.
Mandy Squires: She was the one who found the amazing location of C2K, she also drove (not quite as cool as The Black Stallion) but another minivan all around Dallas, and created amazing reflection activities for all of us so we could really tie into why we were there and why it mattered.
Mandy Spurlock: (yeah, we had three Amanda's on the trip). She had some truly amazing ideas for activities. One of the days activities was to create a chia pet and pot for it, and the way the older kids lit up and took on a science aspect of plants, was incredible. It was a side of them we didn't see until this activity, and it was because of her planning that we were able to get a glimpse of it.
Shawna: She was the go-lucky and smiling one. I don't think I ever saw her without a smile on the entire trip. Additionally, she was great at improvising and making up games for the kids like 'Pass the Can' where she improvised with using an empty box.
Abi: Without Abi, our trip may have been boring in the evenings. From explaining how different temperatures have different smells to finding the "moon" (which was actually a building), she was the comic-relief we all needed after a hard day. She went out of her way to help the entire trip always asking if she could pitch in some way.
Kristen: I have never seen so many kids want someone to be their best friend like they did with her. She has a genuine caring personality that all the kiddos sense, and she connected to all the kids in her own way. Whether it was teaching about dental health, finger painting, or playing one-on-one basketball with a really talented 5th grader, she engaged with the children so easily and readily.
Adam: This guy, he should be a teacher. Two of his activities were giant hits. He created a class-sized obstacle course that the kids adored, and then on another day created exploding chalk and the mentos and coke experiment which wowed all the kids. He was great at answering any questions, and it was evident he really challenged the way some of the kids thought.
Dalton: I have never seen so many piggyback rides given in one hour. Dalton was amazing at interacting with the children on a personal level and making them feel welcomed and important. He also had several nifty experiments such as self-inflating balloons and making goop -- and what kid doesn't like goop?
Ellis: Oh Ellis, he was a comedian all right. He was the realistic part of the group that challenged the way we thought about certain things, and he was a great team player. Additionally, if you ever play the game Headbands, make sure to include him on your team.

So while we may not be in Dallas right now, our trip hasn't seen its conclusion quite yet.

Thank you for reading,

Katie Jones - Trip Leader

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