Well I'm pretty much back from last weekend. We had a great time on our retreat. We left Friday morning with 4 boys, 7 girls, Nathan, Eric M., Dianne, and myself. We drove up to Baraboo, Wisconsin on Friday and had lunch at Culver's before connecting with our guides from Expeditions Unlimited (www.expeditionsunlimited.com). With them we drove over to Devil's Lake State Park and hiked up into the hills for our rock climbing. Devil's Lake is a really pretty area and a great place to climb. The EU staff had set up four climbs for us. I tried the easiest and gave up about half way. Mostly I spent my time encouraging the kids while they climbed. They seemed to really enjoy it. It turned out that David and Matt were real rock monkeys who could fly up some of the climbs. From there we went back to the EU campground for supper and worship. Eric was our special guest speaker for the weekend focusing on Colossians 1:15-22 and Nathan led worship. After our worship time we played a fun game of Ghosts-in-the-graveyard out in the field before going to sleep in our tents.
Saturday morning after breakfast and more worship we did a low ropes challenge course with the kids. They did a good job of working together and cooperating while trying to balance all 11 on a big teeter-totter, swing across a pit, and climb a wall. It was too bad we didn't have more time for that but we had to get on the river. We got on the Wisconsin River around 2:30 just outside Arena, Wisconsin, and paddled downstream for about 6-7 miles before coming to rest on a sandbar. The EU staff set up the camp, including our "pooper," a milk crate with a hole cut on the top with a toilet seat set on it over a hole in the sand and surrounded by tarps. While they worked we played in the river and threw the frisbee around. After supper we played a fun game of ultimate frisbee in the sand and then had a fantastic worship time and made smores around the campfire. It was neat watching the kids worship and press Nathan for more after the first few songs he'd planned were done, especially when they requested "In Christ Alone" which is a long song with a lot of words. They were really into it. The weather that night was partly cloudy with a bright moon so most of the kids elected to sleep on tarps outside instead of in the tents. At about 4:30 a.m. Nathan woke me up in the tent and asked me to move over so kids could come in since it had started raining. We had a thunderstorm for a few hours then.
Sunday morning we got up and huddled under the EZ-Up for breakfast while the rain continued to pour around us. We struck camp and got back on the river around 9:30. We paddled downstream in the rain for about an hour. Just before we reached our destination it stopped raining, naturally. We eventually got back on the road and headed home around 1:00. Dianne and I road together in the car on the way back while everybody else was in the van. We took a wrong turn near Madison and got to take a more scenic route home through Lake Geneva and Antioch than the van crowd who were stuck on the Interstate. It was a good time.
Sunday night I joined a big group of friends at Ravinia for a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Yo Yo Ma. It was a beautiful night back in Chicago-land and there was some good music. The concert consisted of two movements from The Three-Cornered Hat, Azul by Osvaldo Golijov, and Ravel's Bolero. I walked up to the pavillion and watched the last few minutes of Azul. It was a very interesting modern piece especially as it has a very gradual and quiet denoument and many people on the lawn kept trying to applaud when the piece wasn't quite over yet. Anyway, good music and a good time hanging out with friends while we waited for the crowd to disperse after the concert.
The rest of the week has been an effort to get some rest before our Youth Ministry Leaders Retreat this weekend and my trip to Miami next week. I've had a cough for a couple of weeks now that I'm trying to buck. It wasn't helped by a weekend with no cough medicine and canoing in the rain. At work we're pushing to get done with the books that were sent up here from the Florida campus for cataloging. We really want to be done with that project when we leave there next week. LifeGroup was good as Aaron led us in a study of Jonah and 3-D parents' night was a lot of fun on Tuesday, especially the reenactment of the story of Ehud from Judges 3. Last night was a fun and overfilling time at B.D.'s Mongolian Barbeque with Cindee followed a by waste of time watching America's Got Talent and a pleasant phone conversation. Tonight we'll have a pizza and hangout time with our college group to celebrate the end of the summer as they prepare to head back to school for the fall and we start to gear up for the students coming back to Trinity and Lake Forest.
So that's been my week.