“Staffers” aka Crazy People

This summer I once again have the privilege of serving at a Boy Scout Camp here in the midwest. Of course, as the staff gathers we only have a vague idea of what the summer holds for us. And yet we cast ourselves headlong knowing that in less than two weeks our camp will be fully alive with activity.

We’re staff. We’ve given up our summers, time with our friends, and good paying jobs. We’ll push ourselves to the breaking point and then carry each other over the edge. We do it all for the camp we love. And facilitating a great program is never easy; we’ll be working in less than ideal conditions, and by the end the stress will break each of us in some way. But when we fall we always catch each other. Because as staffers, we’re so much more than coworkers, we’re family. And that’s why I know it’s going to be a great summer.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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embracing uncertainty

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news flash. I don’t know what comes next. I know what I’d like to happen, and I know what direction I’m heading. But I really couldn’t tell you where I’ll end up. I am a dreamer lost in my mind. I’m a traveler on foot, I’ll get there even if it takes me awhile. Where I go from here is enticingly undecided. And if I’m being honest, I’m absolutely okay with that. my goal is to simply keep going. I will live adventurously embracing the uncertainty that is thrown my way.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Personality and Shoes

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As Forrest Gump said, “you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes.” Well these are my shoes, and they sure don’t hide much. I got these as something to wear instead of my hiking shoes. Though the other night during my commute I pulled into this local Conservation area to check out the river. Of course now they’re dirty. I guess as much as I try to fill the role of a typical university student, I can’t hide that I’m really an outdoors junky at heart. That I belong somewhere else. And I suppose I’m okay with that.
Peace, Love, and Happiness…
–Joe

Living in the moment

I woke up this morning trying to finish up a post for today. Then decided against it. Instead I type this on the mobile app as I get ready to head to the woods. You see today is my only free day during my spring break, and I’ve decided to make the most of it.

I’ll leave you with this list from the book How to be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith

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Anywho, enjoy your day. And don’t forget to be adventurous, even within your routine.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…
–Joe

On being Wonderous

“Our faith is not an idea but an encounter with the living God who is our Father. Who in his Son Jesus Christ has assumed human nature, who unites us to the Holy Spirit and who in all this, remains the one and only God.” –Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Conformity plagues our world, and pulls us down. We are so concerned with appearances and trying to match our lives to that of modern society that we become oblivious. This happens far too often, and I suggest that by trying to be relevant we are seeking to fill the wrong emptiness in ourselves. You see, what we describe as modern society is nothing more than an ever-changing speck of time. Perhaps instead what we should question is whether or not something or someone helps us to become an absolutely authentic version of ourselves? Does it help us encounter the living God? You see, we don’t need relevant people. No, what we need is real people. People who love life, who see beauty everywhere, and who seek the truth in all aspects of life.

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I have a friend who was studying abroad in Europe. After two weeks or so she had taken the opportunity to explore the city where she was living. Awestruck she struggled to find the right words to describe the city to me. Though there was something she said that really stays with me. Her narration was that “the streets wind everywhere, and all the doors are so colourful. It’s kinda wonderful.” A beautifully poetic view of one’s surroundings, but it hit me for another reason. She was seeing the city through wondrous eyes, through the eyes of a child. In those moments it didn’t matter that she could get lost, it didn’t matter that she wasn’t fluent in the language, and it certainly didn’t matter what people thought of her amusement at the colour of doors. Rather she found beauty, and in it joy. She was in love with life in that moment. Not pretending to be someone else or to be relevant for others. Entirely herself. She was more than a token piece of society.


Similarly, neither is our faith a social concept. It is not relevant to modern society. Much like a “real” person, the authenticity of our faith elevates it above the shallowness of this world. It is more than an idea that can be declared outdated, irrelevant, or non-feasible. It is a living, breathing relationship. “An encounter with the living God” as Pope Benny so aptly wrote. The only relevance worthy of note is that which strengthens our communion with God our Father. To be who we really are we must focus on that. So don’t take yourself so seriously. Be like a child. Remain wondrous at His presence, and find joy in everything that draws you towards Him.


Peace, Love, and Happiness…
–Joe

 

Somewhere else

Author’s note: this is another addition to my ongoing micro fiction series,

…there it is. A comforting rythm to the jostling of the train. She sat there pretending to sleep, trying to avoid wearisome conversation with her fellow passengers. To her this was another pointless journey, and again she was a foreigner. It really was a joy to travel, though some days she could not help but ache for someplace to call home.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

free writing for better writing pt 1

Authors note: this is the first part of a series of free writing pieces I’ve been working on to improve my articulation and hopefully be able to create fictional characters infused with my personality. All of these posts will be typed using first draft, including possible poor punctuation and random capitalization. It’s a process.

I dream of being a senior park ranger at a remote national park outpost. To get there I need a bachelor’s degree, Federal agent training, and an EMT license. And above all, experience. I strive to build a resume that will stand out above the rest. Everything comes at a cost though. First of all it costs home I will not find my dream job here in missouri. And pursuing my dream will most likely require moving regularly. It will also cost time. no one attains my dream position straight out of college, it often takes 8-10 yrs to be hired as a senior ranger. It costs money and energy. I have to earn my degree while simultaneously attaining several certificates and balancing a part-time job and volunteer work (again resume building). This all takes energy that I cant use for leisure, friends family. I will lose contact with some of those friends, through my neglect. The lack of Leisure time may very well cost my sanity. These costs must be weighed to determine the appropriateness of my ambitions. and these ambitions may change I’m young and this life is an adventure im taking. It’ll be fun

Wanderlust to Reality

9c058d3d1d11877fb0a3bc6d6fc0fdadWhere is the line between wanderlust and reality? I simply love a good travel guide. To be able to see and read about far away places makes for a wonderful afternoon (made even better if done while in a hammock). I have a long list of places where I would like to go. Top three cities would be: Paris, France; Munich, Germany; and Rome, Italy. Top three natural places would be: Denali, the Matterhorn, and the slot canyons of Australia. All of these in addition to the hundreds of sights (large and small) to be seen right here in the continental U.S. of A. But I have not seen any of these places nor do I have the means to do so now. And that is where dreams must meet reality.

In reality I am a nineteen year old guy living in the rural heartland of America nowhere even near a mountain. I’m a college student (with very low debt, thank God and parents), without much more than a car and a bare minimum paying job. So how can I possibly turn my dreams into reality?

The answer is careful planning. I will have to save money in order to travel. So a decent job would help. If I’m going to get a better job I need skills and/or knowledge. So I’m going to school, which detracts from saving. Hmm… So I have to prioritize. I do believe that higher education is a worthwhile investment, regardless of what I do with my life. So I will continue with that. Another factor to look at, I am not in the proper physical shape to climb the Matterhorn, I would probably die. Fortunately I can work on that while pursuing my degree and/or working to save money. Finally (*DISCLAIMER* this is not an all encompassing list), I don’t know enough about the places I want to go to. Sure, some things I won’t learn until after I have been there, but other things I can learn now. For instance, Paris, what streets should I avoid, where is the best open air market, how about someplace for a non-touristy traveler to stay? I’ll hit the books, I’ll find those answers.

All of these factors could help me paint a big plan kind of picture. But what about day-to-day life in the present? Well I can use facets of it. Put away what little money I can, study hard in my classes, eat healthier, et cetera. And as in all things in life, we must pray for guidance and choose our path. In the end they’re not dreams, they’re plans.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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Backpacking Equipment

enjoying the view of the St Francois mountains

Enjoying the view of the St Francois mountains.

As promised, I will also be including bits of my outdoor adventures here. This is my current summer backpacking gear list. Very similar to what I packed earlier this summer when I went hiking on the Ozark Trail in southern Missouri (I’ll tell that story at some point).


3-Day Summer Backpacking List

  • Shelter and sleeping          =4lbs2.15oz
  • +Hammock                             =13.5oz
    +Rain fly                                 =13.75oz
    +4 Stakes                               =2.9oz
    +30*F Sleeping bag               =2lb 4oz
  • Water and food gear           =1lb 6.65oz
    +20oz Water bottle (empty)    =.85oz
    +2L Water bladder (empty)    =6.7oz
    +Cook kit (3cup pot, bandana, stove, lighter, stuff sack) =10.65oz
    +16oz Fuel bottle (empty)      =.35oz
    +Sawyer squeeze water filter =3.15oz
    +Medium dry-sack                  =.95oz
  • Clothing (packed)           =1lb 14.05oz
    +T-shirt                              =8oz
    +2pair Poly ankle socks    =2.7oz
    +Bandana                          =.95oz
    +Gym shorts                      =8.45oz
    +2pairs Compression shorts =8oz
    +Knee Brace                      =.85oz
    +Large dry-sack                 =1.1oz
  • Other gear                        =3lbs 10.25oz
    +Penlight                            =2.1oz
    +Map                                  =.75oz
    +Notepad & Pencil              =2.55oz
    +Compass                          =1.65oz
    +Carabiner                         =1.6oz
    +First aid/repair kit              =3.8oz
    +Rain jacket w/stuff sack    =6.6oz
    +20ft Paracord                    =1.3oz
    +REI Flash 45 Backpack     =2lbs 4oz
    +Sunglasses                       =.75oz
    +Penknife                            =1.15oz

Total base weight =11lbs 1.1oz

  • Clothing (worn) =4lbs 1.2oz
    +Zip-off Hiking Pants =14.15oz
    +T-shirt =8oz
    +Compression shorts =4oz
    +Poly Ankle socks =1.35oz
    +Adidas Trail Runners =2lbs 5.7oz
  • Consumables
    +2.5L Water (on average) =5lbs 8oz
    +Food (1lb/day) =3lbs
    +Fuel (usually) =1lb

Summary
Base weight =11lbs 1.1oz
Consumables =9lbs 8oz
Pack weight =20lbs 9.1oz
Clothing worn =4lbs 1.2oz


So yeah, very happy with what my kit has evolved into; with a base weight under 12 pounds it is unarguably a lightweight load out. This allows for the potential of me cranking out major miles (though not necessarily). As in all things, there are many equally important factors to backpacking, the gear is just one small part. Nothing can replace being adequately prepared.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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