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Hi there! Patricia here, Westview's Interim Retreat Ministries Director. This past weekend I led our Confirm Your Faith middle school Confirmation retreat. Confirmation is a class that most United Methodist youth go through to confirm they are into this “believing in God and living out their faith” thing for the long haul. It's a pretty big deal! The on-going joke for Confirmation Retreats is to ask the youth, “Raise your hands if this is your first confirmation!” Get it? Because you only get confirmed one time... okay, I guess the joke's not funny if you have to explain it.

I can say that I'm glad I've been to 8 confirmation retreats as a spiritual leader and counselor for as long as I've been at Westview, (and now leading them! and here's why: every retreat, no matter the curriculum or session I was leading, I learned something new that helped me confirm my faith in God. And you thought confirmation retreat was just for the kiddos!

CREDO has been a great curriculum to use and we really dig the...

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This is a fancy term in college to describe something that covers a bunch of different topics or subjects. As a senior at my Alma matter, everyone must take a Capstone class that has an ‘interdisciplinary approach,’ where you look at your field of study from the perspective of a different discipline. In this class different ways of looking at the world, and the problems in it that we are all working to solve, all come together. When I think of the college aged staff at Westview, I can say much the same thing.

These young adults are studying to be part of a wide variety of fields. There are some majors you would probably expect to see: early, middle, and late childhood education, religious studies, music education, health education, environmental science, outdoor recreation, and social work. But when I think back to the many staff members I have worked with, many others come to mind. I can think of staff that studied chemistry, marine biology, history, mathematics, business, marketing, accounting, kinesiology,...

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Quite literally! For those of you that have been to the dining hall in recent years, you know our front deck has a lot of… character. As it turns out, water and decking materials do not go well together! Unfortunately, the wonderful Goochland soil has its fair share of red clay, which holds that water like a sponge. Now there’s a lot of complicated science behind it, but basically I’ve been told this is what has produced our beach-inspired wave effect on our front deck.

Since most of us land lubbers aren’t used to this, we’ve decided to fix it. So we’re pulling it all up and putting in some drainage underneath, to get rid of that pesky water, and changing the spacing when we put it back down.

Luckily, the deck boards are made of this new fangled decking material, and we actually are able to recycle it. Even though the boards are buckled and warped, we can lay them out in the sun, and they flatten back out. How cool is that?!

Everyone on staff has been doing their part, and even some church...

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You really do feel closer to God when you pause and take time to give thanks outdoors. Last night's worship was held in lake field just at the start of dusk with a gentle breeze blowing. The campfire not only provided some light but also that great wood smoke smell.  Prayer, song and the message shared take on a whole new meaning in this type of setting. The tree frogs,cicadas and other insects lifted their voices in praise too.  Joanna Dietz; Minister of Music of Sterling UMC and J.D. Daniely; VCU Campus Minister shared song and message. Camp provides many opportunities for learning and affirmation. Last night was a great way to start off our last week of summer camp for 2012. I am really glad the campers attending this week got to experience this time of praise.

We often get the question, What do you do at camp when it rains? It all depends on the time of day. During daylight hours if the rain is light, we continues with regular camp activities. We encourage "Duck Hikes" and embrace the rain. Go ahead and jump in a puddle, it's only water. If the rain is heavier and accompanied by thunder and lightning, we keep activities inside. Bible, Crafts, Nature all have indoor spaces. Other outdoor activities may move to the shelter for skits, songs and games. Camp staff are very creative. If the rain is going to be around for awhile we will continue to run camp activities as much as possible and may add a movie in the afternoon to enjoy some downtime before we rev up for something else camp style. This evening the rain hit camp just as we got inside the Dining Hall for Dinner. A good soaking rain with lots of thunder and lightning -which continued...

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Camp counselors are usually fun-loving, caring, compassionate individuals with a flair for the weird and a little bit unusual. Oftentimes, camp changes counselors in ways they don't expect and don't even realize until after they have "retired" to the "real" world. Recently, a Westview Alum, Andrew "Ducky" Ray, realized how much he misses camp and he shared these words on Facebook. (Thanks, Ducky!) To All of the Westview Counselors: DON'T YOU EVER LEAVE. I will be happy to list the reasons for you: 1. Summer weather is actually terrible, if you can't get in the water 3 hours out of the day. 2. At camp, customer service is helping out a homesick child. In the real world, customer service is apologizing when a customer keeps hitting you with a stick. 3. Believe me, Westview food is even better when you have to pay for your own groceries. 4. Trying to do a group activity with random adults isn't nearly as easy as with kids. 5. At camp, you are constantly surrounded by 30 of your best friends and they all love...

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The theme this summer at camp is "Secrets of the Kingdom"-The Parables of Jesus.  One of the parables we are learning about is the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin in Luke 15:1-10.  Our Ministers in Residence this week for the 7-11 year olds; Sandy & Matt Morin introduced our campers to Baa...bby the lost sheep.  During camp this week Baa...bby will be placed in different parts of camp and will need to be found.  Once found the Day Group can hide little Baa...bby somewhere else for another group to find.  Campers will be reminded that God cares for us no matter what we do and always looks for us because every one of us is precious to God.  Camp is a great place to learn this lesson and see and feel this through the love and care of counselors, lifeguards, food staff, store and maintenace staff.

     Taking group photos is a great reason to leave my desk behind and travel all around camp taking fun photos of camplife.  A few of the silly photos are on todays photo gallery. 

     A hearty breakfast of oatmeal, cinnamon toast, sausage and fried apples had the campers stoked for a full day of camp activities.  As I made my rounds around camp this morning, campers were busy at Water Trampoline, Canoeing, Bible, Hiking, Challenge Course, High Ropes and Mt. Biking. This afternoon the pool was the place to be as the heat began to rise.  The camp store was also a good place to cool off.  

    It is a good start to what I expect to be another great summer at Westview.  Thank you for sharing your children and grandchildren with us. 

     SonRise Circle is a great way to start the day at camp.  The Birdie Song remains my favorite and I got the chance to help lead it this morning - ssh! Don't WAKE the Birds.  A Hearty Breakfast of French Toast Sticks and Bacon, lots of Bacon at my table and then campers were off to get ready for there morning activities.  A light rain fell, but that did not stop archery, nature,swim lessons and work at the Shalom Farm.    

     The afternoon brought sunshine and warmer temperatures making the pool a great place to be. Waterfront staff and Leadership staff got the Water Trampoline ready for its first day of camp on Tuesday-Blob On campers!  Evening activities, showers and then Hogan vespers-the campers and staff will sleep good tonight.

     It's been a good week. The staff have worked hard learning the "How to's of Camp Life" at Westview and putting it into practice during training. Certifications have been completed and verified, Songs & Skits practiced, First-Aid & CPR completed and passed. The What if's have been covered and our staff know their jobs.
     The best part has been the blending of new staff with our veteran staff to create this year's summer camp family. They have prayed together, worshiped together, cooked meals together and put sweat and effort into getting camp ready for the children and youth excited about camp. (I sure hope they all take a good long shower when they get home and please wash your clothes).
     All of us look forward to sharing camp;Westview style, with your children and having them part of our camp family.