Monday, July 26, 2010

Life’s Lessons Learned at Summer Camp

Valerie Steimle

Having just returned from summer camp, I am encouraged and invigorated. Any time an organization puts youth together for a week out in nature, good things happen. Campers all learn to get along with each other as well as learn to appreciate nature; especially when they have to live without all the comforts of home. No television or video games. Even for the adult leaders, a bond is developed as we sit around the camp fire and talk.

Collecting firewood, keeping the campfire going, cooking over a fire, setting up tents, morning flag ceremony and hiking through the woods all contribute to lessons learned in life.

Collecting enough of the right kind of firewood and covering it with a tarp to keep dry helps us to think ahead in life and be more prepared for any emergency. Making goals for what we want to accomplish keeps us on target. If we forget to cover the firewood, dew or rain will wet the wood and you have a problem. Thinking ahead is always a smart way to go.

Keeping the fires going for a campfire can help you to understand the nurturing of a relationship. Staying in a long term relationship needs emotional support during the good and the bad and it teaches you patience. Just like being patient enough to stick around to keep the fire going at night, relationships will have the same benefit and it pays off in the end.

Cooking over a fire keeps you on your toes. You watch to make sure the fire doesn’t get too hot and not burn anything. It’s the way children are by the time they are teenagers. They certainly keep you on your toes.

Securing the tent stakes can remind us that we should keep ourselves grounded in life from the wicked ways of the world. It’s too easy to be swayed by what is popular. We can see the blessings of keeping ourselves unspotted against what comes along in life. Those stakes keep us anchored to one place just like we would keep our tent.

Having flag ceremony every morning reminds us that we should be thankful for our soldiers in arms from the first gun shot during the Revolutionary war to the bombs dropping on Baghdad. We are so blessed in this country for the many men who fought to keep us free and safe from the rest of the world.

Keeping on the path during the hike can remind us to focus on what is important in life. Stopping to smell the flowers and keeping on the straight and narrow even when the path is difficult are life lessons that stay with us. Some of those hills we climbed walking through the hot sun were brutal, but we kept going. We did not give up and go back. We did not stray from off the path we were to walk on.

Yes, living out in the wilderness has its insights and we can remember what we learned from our experiences at summer camp.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Remembering Our Freedom

Valerie J. Steimle

With our Independence Day landing on Sunday this year, there is some time to ponder the freedoms we have been allowed since the formation of our country. As it’s been a difficult year with all the political turmoil, we especially need a positive reminder of where it all came from and how it all started. We must never forget how our freedoms have been guarded all these years and who is responsible. Those courageous men and women should be given the credit of what freedoms we have today of which we should be eternally grateful. Here is a writing I was sent last week to share with others about our freedoms: (The author is unknown)

I watched the flag pass by one day, it fluttered in the breeze
A young Marine saluted it, and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform, so young, so tall, so proud, with hair cut square and eyes alert he'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil? How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.
I heard the sound of Taps one night, when everything was still,
I listened to the bugler play and felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times that Taps had meant 'Amen,'
When a flag had draped a coffin of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children, of the mothers and the wives, of fathers, sons and
husbands with interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard at the bottom of the sea, of unmarked graves in Arlington,
No, freedom isn't free.

A story I was told since a child was recorded by Constitution signer James McHenry in a diary entry: “Outside Independence Hall when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, a women by the name of Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin a question. “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Benjamin Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

If we can keep it!!!! Very profound and insightful. We all need to work towards keeping our country a republic. From every walk of life up to the White House, we should be guarding our freedoms to the very end. We are the greatest country in the world and all eyes are watching our nation to keep the free world free. So whether it’s voting for the right person representing our Constitution or writing a letter to Congress in standing up for our beliefs, we need to keep our freedoms and appreciate all those who helped us along the way.