When day two started our guests were feeling pretty pumped about being here! Any reservations they had were gone - especially once they saw the itinerary. The only thing I heard complaints about was the fact that they had to wake up SO EARLY (and yes, we took note for future camps)! Breakfast started at 8AM each morning. I would like all the campers to know they are not the only ones that had a hard time getting up! After the last session each evening we (the staff) would head back to the staff house where we would prepare for the next day, relive the day we just finished, giggle and laugh until our abs & cheeks hurt so bad that we couldn't laugh or giggle anymore! Then we would be so pumped we couldn't go sleep! It was so motivating for me to be around such a great group of individuals that gave, gave and then gave some more. It was truly inspiring! Most of the volunteers were just 'normal' NON-MILITARY folks that want to say "thank you, we have your back and we salute you". Every single person that was volunteering at the camp was there because they WANTED to be there, including my teenage son. It made my heart swell with pride when Boy 1 ASK if he could come and volunteer with the youth program. We had four teens volunteering in the youth program and they are all amazing individuals each with something unique they brought into the group.
The highlight of Day 2 for our adult guest was DATE NIGHT!!!!!!! The ladies were pampered while the Dads took the kids our for a little bonding time.
Date night was AMAZING! Our guest had NO IDEA what was in store for them! I can't tell you everything that happend on date night, but I can tell you that the city of Waco HUGE in helping CBA pull off a phenomenal date night!
Day 3: As the staff is getting more giddy by the hour, our guest continue to have more and more surprises thrown at them.
Each evening we ended with a hayride. The only problem - none of the guest really cared too much for my singing...HUMPH! :)
And my FAVORITE hayride picture of all time:
Day 1 - Guest arrive. We have 11 military families 9 from Fort Hood and 2 from National Guard. The families had no idea what to expect other than what I had told them on the phone; and at this point I am just another voice on the other end of the phone line promising something that most are skeptical of, something that is too good to be true, something that is sure to disappoint. Some are hesitant to be here, others are excited. Some are here by choice, some not so much. As the families drove off the beaten path to get here I am sure they had a few mixed emotions - I can only imagine what was going through their minds: way out in the boonies, everything is pretty run down, what is up with all these shacks and piles of junk all over the place - some of them were probably cursing that perky voice on the other end of the phone line. Once the guest arrived I think their fears were put to rest a little as they realized they were in for a treat and the person on the other end of that phone like just got a little more credible. Here are a few (OK, a BUNCH!) photos of Moon River Ranch:
As our guest checked in we took them to their rooms. Some were a little worried....no locks on the doors? What is up with that? But most were impressed! The rooms were beautiful and a gift basket awaited them. We had a welcome dinner and a brief orientation where we gave them their daily schedules. After dinner the kids went on a hay ride and the adults headed to the back porch for a little ‘get to know you’ time. Day 1 was a success.
Camp Better America - what is it? Well, since you ask.....
Camp Better America is a 501(c)3 that focuses on the reconnection process for military families after the service member in the family returns from war by having them attend a multiday retreat that is led by a group of professionals. Military families come to resort-like locations where the atmosphere is family oriented and filled with fun. It is an opportunity for the service member and his/her family to relax, let their walls down and reconnect with each other but same time, they will be exposed to leading experts. CBA offers marriage counselors, a financial expert, a leading expert on PTSD, Dr. Frank Lawlis, spiritual advisors, motivational speakers; Dan Clark and Krish Dhanam, as well as Texas State Senator and 911 Pentagon survivor - Brian Birdwell.
Country singer Randy Travis attended the latest CBA (31 July-4 Aug) where he took a few of the guest out horseback riding, performed a private concert in the lodge and helped cook breakfast for the soldiers and their families. CBA also offers extended services to children with their military child life program. The goal is to maintain a relationship with all of the families that come to their camps and continue to offer support, tools and opportunities to these families as they move forward in life.
Camp Better America caught the attention of Admiral Mullen’s office and has recently been named as an Innovate Example by the Department of Defense!
OH, and did I mention that Kimberly & Kathleen (founders of CBA) are my good friend? I met Kimberly a long freaking time ago (don't ask how many years...that is RUDE!) and then she introduced me to Kathleen just a couple of years ago.
I have had the pleasure of working with this dynamic duo and their endeavors with Camp Better America for a couple of years now.
Here are just a few things that go on behind the scenes. (Besides the obvious, planning, planning, planning, OH AND MORE PLANNING!!)
Camp day - getting ready....... (Click on each picture to read the caption..)
To learn more about Camp Better America, register to attend a camp or to donate LOTS and LOTS OF MONEY (OK, we will take any amount - even $1!) go to www.campbetteramerica.org and we will hook you up!!
Now sit back and enjoy the ride.....
Hot summer days...that has been the theme this summer in Central Texas. Thank goodness we have many ways to keep cool, and the Jolly-Trolly Sno-Cone Lady has been one of those ways! You can rent her & her truck by the hour and then eat sno-cones until you eaten so many you are afraid you might be sick. On this day we were hanging out on the front lawn of our Village Mayor's house trying to stay cool...
I'm not sure if you guys have been keeping up with this crazy Texas weather or not, but let me be one to tell you - it is HOT here: and I mean DANG HOT! As of today we are in on our 72nd day of temps over 100 degrees with NO relief in sight! There is no better way to cool off than to go to the pool right? Wrong. The pool even feels like a warm bath tub at this point, but that doesn't stop us from having a little fun!
Boy 2 was having SERIOUS cookie withdrawal. Normally we bake cookies once a week but this summer the cookies kind of took a back seat to everything ~ we had not bake homemade cookies in WEEKS, maybe a month (the shame!). I gave Boy 2 our 'favorite' cookbook (the one we made with all our favorite recipes in it) and told him to pick out the cookies he wanted to make. He chose Chocolate Lava cookies - and what a good choice it was! The last time we had Chocolate Lava cookies was over a year ago!!
Chocolate Lava Cookies
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ TBL butter
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup flour
¼ tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chips and butter in microwave, heat 30 seconds, stir, heat 30 more seconds, stir, repeat till melted. Set aside.
Beat egg & sugar about 3 minutes or till light and fluffy, beat in salt and vanilla. Gradually add melted chocolate & mix until well combined. Add flour, baking soda, slowly. Batter will not be stiff enough to use at this point. Chill batter in fridge for about 30 minutes.
******Chill the batter 30 MINUTES?!?! WHAT?!?! Boy 2 didn't see that in the directions before he started...he wasn't thrilled with this part!
Spoon batter by rounded tablespoonfuls and make 8 equally sized cookies.
Bake for 12 minutes, cool on cookie sheet for about 3 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. Eat warm with milk!
IF you have cookies left over - reheat them by placing in the microwave for 10 seconds.
Ahhh... school has started! The kids all have the teacher they were hoping for and we are slowly getting back on schedule. These past 3 weeks have been busier than usual! I have wanted to come here and share the intimate details of my life with you, but I've had so much going on that every night I just plop down in bed, pick up the Kindle and read about - oh - 1 paragraph before I'm out. It has taken me 2 months to read ONE book...and I'm still not finished! I'm at 92%! Maybe I will finish it tonight - only time will tell.
What has been keeping me so busy you ask?
~ Kids being home for the summer
~ Board games
~ Cooking with the kids
~ More meetings than I cared to go to
~ Attending neighborhood events - snow cone day & pool party
~ More cooking – tried my hand at making Pho. I will not post that recipe until it is perfected. It was OK, but not great.
~ Camp Better America – Helped plan for and then spent 5 days volunteering at camp (with Boy 1!)
~ Hangin’ out with Randy Travis (Yeah, you read that right!)
~ Picked my mom up the day camp ended and brought her back to stay with me for a week
~ Attended a memorial service for someone this world lost too early
~ Organized and attended Battalion Round Rock Express Game
~ Tried keeping my flowers and yard alive in this 100+ degree weather that has pounded Central Texas for over 60 days (I'm starting to fail!)
~ Sent multiple packages to Afghanistan
~ Ordered, sorted and shipped ‘Walk to Afghanistan’ t-shirts
~ High school '2 a days'
~ Multiple doctors’ appointments
~ Necessary wine or whine parties on the porch
~ Battalion back to school bash
~ School shopping
~ Continued with decluttering adventure
~ Our 2nd Annual Water Balloon and Popsicle back to school bash
~ Back to school
~ Back to the gym
And these are only the things I can remember!
I hope to catch up on this blog over the next few days - you know - in between meetings, writing thank you notes (I only have about 30 to write), catching up on email, going to football games.....I could go on, but you get the idea.
I love my crazy life. ♥