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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

There are things you can't hear until you find a place where there isn't any other sound

A couple of business items before I get down to the business of musing. As a compromise between accomodating those of you who've requested another "name that quote" game and those of you who've mocked me for using "name that quote" games as a way to duck having to actually write some sort of interesting content, for the remainder of my posts in 2005 (I've got 38 to go if I'm going to meet my once-a-week goal - yeep. I may have to Jason Fox my way through some of them) - or at least until I get tired of playing - the post title will be a lyric from either a Central Standard Time or a Storyhill or a Beatles song. You, oh Gentle Readers, get to play the name-the-lyric game with every post while still having something content-ful to read every month and a half or so! Exciting, exciting stuff; let it not be said we here at Meaningless Musings don't try to provide our readership with what it's asking for. Plus I just got to list CST with Storyhill and the Beatles, which I found immensely cool.

Also, you may notice there are a few new links over in the list-o-links to the right. Central Standard Time's music is finally available for purchase through a medium less cumbersome than printing out an order sheet, mailing it in with a check, and waiting for several weeks for us to remember to mail you your CD - Second Whisper and Folksinging are both available for sale through CD Baby. It remains to be seen, I guess, whether that'll actually translate into significantly more sales, but certainly it should simplify the process; I've bought a dozen or so CDs from CD Baby and been extremely impressed with how quick and easy to work with they are. If you'd be so kind, Matt and I would appreciate it much if you'd click on the links, check out the site (thus increasing our traffic, which CD Baby uses to help determine which of their albums are popular and therefore worth recommending), and write a brief review or two. And, you know, if you feel moved to actually buy a copy...

There's also a link to the new Central Standard Time discussion forum. I'm immensely curious to see how this turns out; I stumbled across it last night as I was looking through the administration page for our website to see what sorts of nerdly programming dealies (that's the technical term) the site supports with an eye towards putting a guestbook on the site. All that was required was to activate the forum page - it's part of the package deal we're paying for through the web hosting company. So stop on by and sign up for a username. It's very low-impact; they ask for an e-mail adress and your name and a username. I'm assured that none of it will ever come back to haunt you as spam, but if you're nervous there's no checkup system to assure that you're entering a valid e-mail adress or name. Let's see if we can't make it an interesting discussion forum. Any topic's free game, although I suppose Matt and I should probably reserve the right to censor anything egregiously offensive.

Thanks muchly. We now return you to your regularly scheduled post.

This is the first week after the end of summer camp up at EWALU (an aside here, just because this misspelling seems to be gaining credibility and if you can't rant about something like this on your own blog what's the point of blogging in the first place? Somehow the word "EWALU" has lost its identity as a cool acronym and is being widely misspelled "Ewalu." This is nothing short of wrong and should be fiercely mocked whenever you come across it. Thanks) and for the first time in seven years I feel a very strong, sharp sense of loss with the passing of the summer. I wasn't on staff this summer but I was around as much as possible. I spent a full week as a camp grandpa and another half-week after my whitewater(ish) rafting trip with Mark and a couple more isolated Wednesday nights, soaking up the experience of being back in the middle of a camp summer and trying to be helpful where I could. It was very weird for me to be at camp without a clearly defined role; I'm sure I ended up being in the way more often than I was actually helpful and I had to constantly ignore Rule 7 from The Introvert's Handbook ("Always assume people don't want you around") or I never would have interacted with anyone, since I didn't have any responsibilities that could provide initial interactions. It was painfully awkward and yet still completely worth the social discomfort. I'd forgotten how astoundingly, wonderfully, downright freaking awesome summer camp is. Being back out in the woods and singing the old songs again and watching the counselors with their kids and spending time with the kids myself and watching the magical social environment that a Christian community of college students creates was as energizing and recharging for me as it ever was. More so, even, since I wasn't coming to camp from a college environment that was almost as neat-o; I'm sure I drove the staff nuts talking about how much I'd missed being there.

This summer's was a very good staff, too. Extremely extremely good. Remarkably, they're also almost all first-year staff; a big crew of long-timers all finished their tours of duty last summer and turned things over to a bunch of rookies. Hopefully this group will end up being the next group of long-timers, because they're a really impressive bunch of Bible camp staffers.

And now the summer's over. If I go up to camp tonight I won't get to see the mime and hang out and watch Jesse play guitar with the summer staff at the Wednesday night all-camp campfire (Jesse had no problems with feeling awkward as a non-staffer being at camp - or at least he didn't let them stop him from jumping right in, if he did. I was immensely jealous of that) and sit around the remnants of the fire afterward talking until far too late. If I go up tomorrow there won't be a hoedown to play for. The staff is on their way back to college, and I don't even get to do that. Instead I'm back at work now, sitting in a clean, air-conditioned building with people who've all showered in the past 24 hours and who would look at me like I was crazy if I broke out into a song about what sorts of sounds a little green frog might or might not be expected to make. I'm also back in a world where what I do is more important than who I am and a world where the job is only done because of the money. The real world, I know, but it doesn't make me miss the one I was around any less. Greg's latest post describes the feeling very well, I think. And much more articulately.

On the other hand, though, I certainly didn't come away from my sort-of summer empty-handed. In just the few days I was there I made some new friends, learned a bunch of new camp songs (most of which I wouldn't replace any of the old catalog with if I was planning a worship service at camp (which I'll be doing in only a month and a half - yay and yay!), but a few of which were pretty catchy), got as close to a tan as my Norwegian heritage will allow - and re-learned a lot of things about myself that EWALU taught me once and I'd started to forget. Being an EWALU staffer is the one thing in my life that have no hesitation about saying I was good at. For four summers I was one of the leaders on staff and I got to go to bed at night knowing that I'd been part of making the campers' experience that much better. Even though there are only a few people around the place that remember those summers and even through the awkwardness of not really having a role it was still immensely good for me to be able to slip back into some of those old mental pathways. My attitude here at the hospital is much better (although I'm sure this place will grind me down again, given time), I've gone from thinking I'd probably resign as a youth director this fall to being extremely excited to try again to build the program and do some effective ministry in spite of the bureaucracy. I wake up smiling these days; I didn't do that back in May. If that's what a total of maybe a dozen days at camp as a non-staffer can do for me, I definitely need to figure out a way to log summer #7 on staff one of these soon-upcoming years. And maybe #8 and #9.

Smarmy, yes, but it's exciting stuff for me. I'll post more details of my vacation trips sometime later on (I have, after all, 38 more posts to post before Greg's birthday); this one I wanted to be more about the end of summer. If anyone from this summer staff is reading this, thank you for letting me be part of EWALU again. And I hope you're planning on being back in 2006.

Comments:
Lots of things to think about here and I would love to wax philosophical about a few of them. Unfortunately I am here at my job for the money too and as such need to get some things done. So I will offer only advice at this time and save my waxing for later.

Dude this post is long! If proliferation of posting is your goal then I suggest doing multi part series as often as possible. The Rude Pundit does this all the time. Though, I would caution against falling into the trap he does when he starts with a good idea and fleshes out his post with a few extra paragraphs of swearing. I digress. What you have written here could easily be broken up into at least three parts and dolled out episodically. Think about it.
 
I'm not sure I can agree that Ewalu is supposed to be entirely capitalized; it's been used as a word for years. And let's be honest, it's really not a proper acronym anyway.

As evidence: I have in my inbox many e-mails from such camp luminaries as Adrian Walter and Paul Frantsen, who by any standards are no spring chickens, camp-wise. They both spell it "Ewalu".

That said, if what you say is true, then I too have been guilty of this egregious sin and shall do penance immediately.

Mock away.
 
Egad! It's all caps! Any other spelling is flat out wrong. And while EWALU might be a non-traditional sort of acronym (one could argue that it should be written "EwaLu"), 'tis an acronym nonetheless. I've always seen the name of the camp not just as a convenient way to refer to it, but also as a description of where and what it is. Its name is more than just a name--it tells you a bit about the camp. The acronymity of the name is essential, in my opinion, to conveying that message. EWALU! EWALU! EWALU!

Nicely expressed thoughts, Charles. I, too, miss camp a great deal, and I think that if I were to go back and spend a week or another significant chunk of time there over the summer, it would make me miss it that much more...

I'm glad to hear your time there this summer has left you feeling refreshed and energized. Hopefully we can both build on that for youth group events.
 
Oh, and I know the song of origin for this post's title, but I won't give it away.
 
It's been used as a word (by which I assume you mean a not-all-capitals word) for a few years, Greg, but it was all caps for 40 years before that.

I find the fact that the camp website (i.e. Paul) misspells (or mis-capitalizes, anyway) the word particularly disturbing; Paul should know better. I've seen Adrian misspell his own name, so I'm not as convinced he's a reputable example.

I find your comment "...who by any standards are no spring chickens, camp-wise," interesting. You're right, I guess - Paul's been there for 13 years now - but since neither of them were working there when I started my summer staff career (much less my time as a camper) I tend to still think of them as fairly new. Denial, I suppose, of how it's been since that first summer. I'd be curious to know Paul Little's opinion on the matter, though.

I figured you'd peg the song the post title comes from, Hibby. I'd be curious to know if anyone else recognized it, though - I suppose it's still pretty obscure.
 
This is not really fair if you guys are going to write songs and then refuse to record them and then expect people to recognize the lyrics. I have only one word to say to you. Ewalu!
 
Hmm... I agree with Mark. Sure is a nice lyric, though. Put it on the new CD! Also, it's nice that Charlie has rejoined the world of the living. :-)
 
It's not that obscure (plus, you seem to have at least correctly guessed the band); you've both heard the song performed (you, Mark, probably half a dozen times). Hibbard figured it out...
 
I agree with the interestingness of the "spring chickens" line. I was thinking about it over the weekend, as I sanded the floor, and came to basically the same conclusion as you, Charlie.

Paul has been on the year-round staff a good long time now (I think it's 12 years; Charles was still in that position in '93), but yeah, he's still "new." Heck, he was raised at a different camp entirely, so even though he's worked there for many years, well, it's just not the same.

Adrian, as far as I know, never went to EWALU as a kid, and was on summer staff... two years? Three? Then he moved to Wisconsin, then took the Program Director position, which he held for three years, I believe. So that's only 5-6 years of EWALU history behind him.

I believe my first summer as a camper at EWALU was in 1983. My older siblings were campers there before then, so my family spent time there before I was first a camper. One of my older sisters was a SAINT (which became SITs, which became LTs) and then on summer staff, and I was on summer staff beginning in 1993 (before Adrian was even born!). I have a sierra cup with the year 1979 engraved on it (not that it was mine, but still, it's an old sierra cup).

Then there's Charlie... I don't know what year was his first as an EWALU camper. Six years on summer staff, beginning in 1993, plus countless retreats, etc. He's also a second generation EWALU staffer! His dad was on staff back in EWALU's infancy, in 196_ (help me out here, Charles). That's good stuff.

In conclusion, Adrian's chicken is definitely still sprung, and Paul F. is... oh, I'll give him mid- to late-summer chicken status, I suppose.

So, Mark and Jess can't name the song of post title origin, eh? Despite the fact that they've both heard it (repeatedly, in Mark's case), and despite the subject matter at hand? Hmm... Charlie, you shouldn't have given the song such an obscurely-referenced title!

This is a long comment... sorry.
 
Must be "Summer Camp."
 
Dad was junior staff (whatever they called it back then) in 1967 and then summer staff from '68-'70. And a camper before that, but I don't know what years.

Yeah, you're right - 12 years, not thirteen. Adrian was year-round staff for 5 years (three as retreat/volunteer coordinator, two as Program Director), not 3, though. So, you know, ha.

It should be noted that Greg has (tongue-in-cheek, I believe, but nonetheless) seen the error of his ways and changed all the references on his blog from "Ewalu" to "EWALU". No, Greg, I wasn't specifically directing my rant at you, but I will admit your blog often called the disturbingly-global misspelling to mind.

"Summer Camp" indeed. One point for Dad!
 
I could have named it, even before the "hint" from Dave... but only because of a pretty mighty hint from Charlie, and I didn't think that really counted. And do you seriously expect me to remember all the lyrics from all of the new songs that I heard only once whilst in a zombie-like jetlagged state? Pu-lease. :-)

However, now that I am officially in the know, I do heartily recommend that you record that song post-haste and throw a bone to all of us diehard fans, in the form of a new CD. You with me, Mark? It's about time, eh? :-)
 
Yeah, I'll cut you a little slack on not immediately placing the song, since you'd only heard it once.

We played that song (along with many others) for a group of EWALU folks just last night. It was a lot of fun.

Was Adrian really there five years? Wow... Those five years went by quickly. I must have been thinking it was shorter than that since he never really did anything (aside from washing dishes) in his first full-time position there.
 
Hey, nice concert last night, by the way.
 
Adrian did get the campers excited about biscuits and gravy though, I am told.
 
Certainly no one criticizes Adrian's skills as a counselor, coordinator, or Program Director - he's really really good at camp.

But he hasn't been there all that long and doesn't spell very well.
 
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