Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Taking It Apart: John 17:21 Emblem

With the great history in mind and ministry outreach focus, lets take a look at how the YMCA emblem represents this organization’s history and purpose. Few organizations have as meaningful and rich an emblem as the YMCA. These are all of the parts:

THE DOUBLE CIRCLE: One circle symbolizes the completeness and unity of the total of life and God’s created order. The other symbolizes a wedding ring, friendship and love without end, among individuals. Within these circles or rings, the rest of the emblem is placed.

THE GREEK LETTERS CHI & RHO (XP): The first two letters of the word Christos - meaning Christ - and in themselves the emblem of early Christianity.

THE TWO TRIANGLES: One standing for the trinity within the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The other, the trinity within man, that of the spirit, the mind and the body.

THE BIBLE: It is opened to Jesus’ intercessory prayer for his followers in the Gospel of John, chapter 17, verse 21. This text was set forth as the foundation of the YMCA:

“That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me
and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world
may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:21

The context of this passage was emphasizing that the followers of Christ should have such love and care for one another and for those around them that the rest of the world would believe, because of this genuine love.

Therefore the complete assembly of all these component parts gives this great organization the emblem.

In the Spirit of Camp,

The above information was found at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Easter Story

The Story of Easter

By Linda Sue Pochodzay Edwards

What an awfully sad day it had been for the friends of Jesus! They had stood watching sorrowfully, as Jesus hung on the cross dying. They didn't fully understand why it had to happen.

They believed that Jesus was the Son of God, and they remembered how He had healed the sick and made blind people see. They remembered how He had fed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread and fish. They even remembered how He had caused dead people to come back to life. He was such a good, kind man; why did He have to die?

Jesus on the cross

Just before the sun was beginning to sink into the west, Joseph, one of Jesus' friends, noticed that Jesus was no longer breathing. He hurriedly went to ask Pilate if he could have the body of Jesus so he could bury Him. When Pilate agreed, Joseph and Nicodemus (another friend) carefully wrapped Jesus' body in clean cloths. Then they took Him to a tomb to bury Him.

The next day, the Pharisees started thinking about Jesus. They were the people that had wanted to kill Jesus. They remembered how He had taught them, saying that He would rise again after three days. They were worried that it might be true! They also thought that Jesus' disciples would remember and might try to steal the body from the tomb just so they could say that Jesus rose again. They went to Pilate, suggesting that the tomb be closed up with a huge stone and that guards be placed all around the tomb.

Jesus is alive

Just before daylight the next day, the most amazing thing happened! There was a GREAT EARTHQUAKE! An ANGEL from the Lord came down from heaven, moved the gigantic stone away from the door of the tomb and sat on it. The guards began to shake with fear! They fell down to the ground as if they were dead!

spring flowers

Mary and some other women had decided to get up very early in the morning and go to visit the tomb where Jesus was placed. While walking down the road, they were discussing how they were going to get inside the tomb. They had brought along some spices and perfume that they wanted to place on Jesus' body. They knew the huge stone had been placed in the doorway and they had no idea how they were going to move it.

What a SURPRISE they found when they reached the tomb! The stone had already been moved! And . . . there was an ANGEL sitting on the stone! The women were quite afraid, but the angel spoke gently to them:

women at the tomb

"Don't be afraid. I know that you have come to see Jesus. He is not here; for he is risen just as he said. Come inside and see the place where he lay."

The women went inside the tomb and found it empty, just as the angel had told them.

The angel spoke to the women one more time:

"Go quickly and tell the other disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead; and he is going into Galilee where you will see him."

spring flowers

The women did just as the angel had told them. They ran quickly from the tomb, with fear and great joy, to tell the good news to the other disciples. But . . . when the women found Peter and their other friends and tried to tell them the good news, . . . no one believed them!

When the women persisted, Peter decided that he needed to find out for himself.

He ran all the way to the tomb.

He went inside.

He saw the cloths that had been wrapped around Jesus, but the body was not there.

He wondered if it could possibly be true. Did Jesus really raise from the dead? Was Jesus really alive?

spring flowers

Two of Jesus' other friends were going on a journey to a village called Emmaus. As they walked and talked, they discussed all the things that had happened over the past few days. A man came along and joined the group. He walked along with them and wanted to join their discussion. Cleopas began telling the man about how Jesus was crucified on the cross. They talked about how the women found the empty tomb.

As they continued their journey, they invited the man to come in with them and have dinner. When they sat down to eat their meal, the man picked up a loaf of bread and broke it in pieces. Then he prayed for the meal and gave the bread to the men. At that very moment they realized that the man was JESUS! They had been talking to Jesus the whole time and didn't even know it!

Jesus at a meal with his friends

Then . . . ANOTHER strange thing happened. As soon as they realized who it really was that sat at the table with them . . . Jesus disappeared! They talked about the wonderful time they had talking with Jesus down the road, and they just couldn't help talking about his strange disappearance. They got up from their meal and returned to Jerusalem where they told all the other disciples the good news that Jesus REALLY DID raise from the dead and had talked with them.

As they were talking, Jesus again appeared to them. They were afraid and thought they were seeing a ghost, but Jesus told them not to be afraid. He showed them His hands and feet where He had been nailed to the cross, so they would believe that it was really Him.

When they saw the nail holes in His hands and feet, they finally believed that Jesus had risen from the dead, just like He said He would. They were soooo happy and joyful to have their friend with them again. They were soooo excited that they had to tell EVERYBODY the good news that JESUS IS ALIVE!

Christ is risen


Why were Jesus' friends so sad?
Why were guards placed around the tomb?
What caused the huge stone to be moved?
Who was the first to look inside the tomb?
Why was Jesus' body not in the tomb?
What did the angel say to Mary and the women with her?


"He is not here, but is risen" (Luke 24:6).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Trivia and Facts

  • According to widespread belief, Easter owes its name to "Eastre", the Anglo-Saxon goddess symbolizing hare and egg. Another theory suggests that it comes from the early German word "eostarun", meaning dawn and white.
  • Easter is a "moveable feast" as it does not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars. The full moon determines the date of Easter.
  • Easter always falls between March 22 and April 25.
  • Easter has been named after Eastre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess. The symbols of the goddess were the hare and the egg.
  • Apart from English and German, the name of 'Easter' has been derived from Pesach, the Hebrew name of Passover festival.
  • Right from ancient times, egg has been regarded as a symbol of rebirth in most of the cultures.
  • Easter is known by different names across the world. Some of them are: English - Easter, French - Paques, Spanish - Pascua, Italian - Pasqua, Albanian - Pashke, German - Ostern, Greek - Pascha, Norway - Paaske, Holland - Pasen and Swedish - Pask.
  • Egg, bonfires & candles, lily, cross, palm, bunny and lamb are the most popular symbols of Easter.
  • Egyptians were initially the ones who exchanged eggs to symbolize the resurrection of Christ. It was later that the tradition was passed down to early Christians.
  • For Americans, Easter is the second most important candy-eating occasion of the year, after Halloween.
  • In the mid-20th century, it used to take as much as 27 hours to make a marshmallow peep. Today, the time has been reduced to six minutes.
  • Hot cross buns, made by European monks, are counted amongst the earliest Easter treats. They were given to the poor people, during the month of Lent.
  • Ninety million chocolate Easter bunnies and 16 billion jelly beans are produced each year before the commencement of the Easter festivities. As a holiday, Easter comes only second to Halloween in terms of the annual sale confectionery items.
  • 76 percent of people eat the ears on chocolate bunnies first.

Easter in the United States
From the Holiday Spot

Today, with all its joyous customs, Easter is indeed a major popular festival across the United States.

A festival that has become more of secular in spirit, though it has religious background.

However, this was not the case all along the history of United States.

Easter did not enjoy the status of a popular festival among the early settlers in America. Because most of them were Puritans or members of Protestant Churches who had little use for the ceremonies of any religious festivals. Even the Puritans in Massachusetts tried their best to play down the celebration of Easter as far as possible. While various rites are said to be associated with the celebration of Easter, most of them have come as part of the ancient spring rites in the Northern hemisphere.

Not until the period of the Civil War did the message and meaning of Easter begin to be expressed as it had been in Europe. It was the initiative of the Presbyterians. The scars of death and destruction which led people back to the Easter season. They found the story of resurrection as a great source of inspiration and renewed hope.

Since then, of course, its joyous customs delight children and adults alike.

Why have rabbits and eggs become linked with Easter?
From The Independent

Eggs, of course, are ancient symbols of fertility, for very obvious reasons, while the Seder meal incorporates a hard boiled egg as a symbol of new life. The ancient Persians also painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration falling on the spring equinox. An egg has also been seen to be associated with the rebirth or resurrection of Christ. The custom of eating them also derives from the fact that they were forbidden during Lent. There are a great many rituals associated with eggs, mainly dating from Medieval times in Europe, usually involving decorating, throwing, rolling or hiding eggs for children to find them.

The Easter bunny or rabbit comes from the hare, another ancient, pre-Christian symbol of fertility associated with spring. But it gets even more complicated than that. Anglo-Saxon mythology says Eostara changed her pet bird into a rabbit to entertain a group of children, and the rabbit laid brightly colored eggs for them.

The chocolate bunny, like the chocolate Easter egg, is a much more recent idea, stemming from 18th and 19th-century middle European confectionery traditions, many of which were adopted in Britain.

Hope you enjoyed this little bit of trivia!

In the Spirit of Camp,


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


With the recent and current wildfires ravaging more than 77,0000 Texas acres to date, I thought I would take a moment to write about reflection, loss, memories and call to action. While West Texas burned, I read post and listened to friends as they shared their sadness for loss of the land they loved, destruction of farms and animals. But it didn't effect me in a way that had me raring to do something to help. Then, this week, my camp "home" is threatened by fire. As the area around Possum Kingdom Lake burns wildly, YMCA Camp Grady Spruce (CGS) is threatened to burn. I got my camping start at CGS, met some of my best, lifelong friends, formed my relationship with God and discovered myself.

While CGS is never far from my heart and mind, memories have come flooding back. Like the beauty of each sunrise, cool morning skiing on the lake, peaceful nights on Raggers Point, memorial service for my dear friend in his passing, and all the friendships created on that small patch of earth we call Frontier Camp, Main Camp and Ray Bean Camp. I have not been able to sleep as I worry about the families displaced, my friend who is fighting the fire and the YMCA. I feel the need to go and do, but am torn as I have a family and responsibilities here. This really calls one to reflect on prioritizes.

Why did it take something directly linked to me to cause me to want to help?

How is possible that I was able to block out things like wild fires in West Texas just because I hadn't been there to create the memories?

How would I feel if CGS was burned to the ground? Would the memories be as strong with out the place to go to?

What can I do as 1 person to make a difference?

Honestly, I am not sure what I can do yet beside pray and send donations. Mostly I am ashamed that it took something directly linked to my heart to spur me into action. As a Ragger, I feel I should be more proactive and should have looked sooner to help, not when I was directly effected.

What do you think? What does it take to get your attention?

What if it was your camp that was burning? Your school? Your neighborhood? Your house? How would you feel? What would you feel compelled to do to help? How can you help now?

And why would it take a threat to your home, neighborhood, school to get you going? What can you do today to make a difference?

Just some food for thought. Do a rain dance every chance you get. Texas needs rain.

In the Spirit of Camp,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CFA FAQ Files: What's the deal with Clubs?

Hello, blog friends!

In searching for new topics to blog about, we snagged an idea from that suggested taking a look at some of the most frequently asked questions from parents, and delving deeper into those subjects to thoroughly provide an answer and explain why CFA functions the way it does.

One question we all field quite often deals with the the various Clubs at summer camp. Are Clubs different than activities? Can campers do both? If a camper isn't signed up for a particular club, like River Rats or Saddle Club, will they not get a chance to swim or canoe or ride a horse?

FAQ— What's the deal with Clubs at CFA?

Each traditional camper (not Rookie Campers, not LITs or CITs) has the opportunity to choose a Club to attend for their week of camp. Clubs happen in the morning, after breakfast, generally before the most intense heat of the day. They last approximately an hour and a half, and are lead by the same two to three counselors, who normally have an interest or passion relating to the subject matter of the Club. Campers attend the same club every single morning for a week. If a camper comes for multiple weeks, she or he may pick a different club for each week.

There are eight Clubs for Summer 2011:
  1. Bull's Eye Club, focusing on the target sports of archery and BB guns.
  2. Carabiner Club, featuring ropes safety, belaying, and our high ropes challenge course.
  3. Crafter's Club, where campers spend time creating artwork and crafts. Pottery is a favorite.
  4. Guadalupe River Rats Club, putting campers in the river via the rope swing, canoeing and kayaking, and water slide.
  5. O.W.L.S., or Outdoor Wellness and Living Skills, for the hiker, camper, outdoor chef, and survivalist-minded camper.
  6. Pan-Handlers, our newest club in 2011, teaching cooking skills that run from the very basics to pasta and sushi making.
  7. Saddle Club, full of daily riding and horsemanship skills, for the aspiring cowboy, cowgirl, or equestrian.
  8. Varsity Club, specially created for the athlete or camper who wants to learn and play a wide variety of sports.

Varsity Sports campers learn the art and skill of GaGa, a sport originating in Isarel.

How much prior experience does a camper need to succeed?

Each of these Clubs is designed to enforce our five Core Values— Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, and Faith. With that in mind, Clubs serve a wide variety of experience levels: not everyone who signs up for Saddle Club has taken professional riding lessons, for example— some have never really ridden a horse before in their life! Our staff are trained and able to handle all levels of competency and the only criteria for selecting a Club is that the camper should have an interest in learning more about the featured activities. Fun is part of the package, and everything we do at YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow follows strict safety guidelines enforced by both the American Camp Association and the YMCA.

The Pan-Handlers Club will give campers a taste of Chef Allison's skills and more exciting recipes.

My camper isn't signed up for (as an example) Bull's Eye Club— will they not get to do archery?

All traditional campers, teens and younger folks (called "Pioneers") alike, have the opportunity to try other camp activities during the rest of their day at camp. Pioneers rotate with their cabin every day and experience all of the basic camp activities during their week-long stay. Teens are now divided into smaller "Quest Groups," a group of boys and girls who meet daily to decide what activity to do as a unit and spend the week working together to create friendships and community spirit. So yes, each camper has a chance to try everything else at camp. Their Club is simply their main activity focus, and where they are likely to develop the most practical skills.

Carabiner Club challenges campers to experience the thrill of high ropes, instilling faith in themselves.

My child is an experienced horseback rider. Is it worth their time to be involved in the Saddle Club?

In the case of Saddle Club, we make it a policy to staff highly skilled wranglers who not only know horsemanship, but have specialized skills they are qualified to teach. For example, this summer, our Head Wrangler can teach basic roping skills and also competes in Competitive Trail Rides— she is expanding our obstacle course and games repertoire. The other full time Wrangler has been jumping for years, and we now have the equipment to teach introductory jumping to our advanced Saddle Club students. Since last year, we have worked to make an Advanced Class available to Saddle Club participants at least two days out of the week, if there is enough interest.

One advanced Saddle Club camper takes his skills to the next level— instructing!

In closing..

Clubs give CFA campers a chance to delve into a subject that they may love with a passion or just be curious about. In everything we do here at YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow, the five Core Values and our mission stand out above all else. Keeping those things and safety (always of utmost importance) close to the hearts and minds of the counselors and leadership staff who run the Club program creates an opportunity for practice, growth, and learning that is unique to summer camp and to CFA.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Challenge Yourself

When is the last time you challenged yourself to something? If you don't remember, then think of a challenge for yourself right now. It can be wildly out there or something very simple. Hopefully it will make you a healthier person in spirit, mind and body.

I will hopefully be finishing up a challenge for myself that is actually a life goal of mine this weekend. On Saturday I will be running in my first marathon. As the race inches closer the more nervous/excited I get. I have spent serval months training for this race and have cleared several road blocks that were in my path. I have overcome them to get to the point where I am happy even if I don't finish the marathon. It isn't about the end result it about the path that got you there. I feel like this whole marathon training journey has made me into a better person and that is what is all about. I can't lie though, it is going to be awesome to see that finish line on Saturday.

Where is your finish line and how will you get there?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Renew Your Spirit

Working for the YMCA has afforded me many things in my life. One of the best is the YMCA Spirit. As you might recall, I traveled to San Diego for the Christian Leadership conference this past weekend. I was given the opportinuty to learn, to grow, to share my story with other YMCA employees and to renew my spirit throguh worship, Raggers, leadership classes and just by being in the presence of the Lord. Here is a snap shot of what I learned:

You can't fake an impure heart. Make sure your heart is clean and pure and your thoughts will follow.

"Perfect" in biblical terms = complete. That is what is meant when, as a Christian, you have a perfect heart or perfect understanding of Christ.

You must spend time reflecting on yourself so you can know yourself, learn what to change and possibly see how others see you.

According to Doug Luffborough (, there are 3 chairs in life:
  1. The Chair of The Quitter: someone who is depressed, stuck, broken down by others and just not going anywhere
  2. The Chair of the Camper: Someone who allows the current become their lifestyle. They don't work to challenge themselves further. They found a comfy spot and are just camping out.
  3. The Chair of the Climber: This is someone who is not content to just be at status quo or do just enough. This is the person that is always reaching for more, looking to grow greater and climb higher.
You may have to fight the battle more than once to succeed. Don't quit the first time you get knock down, off course or told you can't do it.

Be like the moon and reflect the SON.

And last, I was given the privilege to counselor a new friend as he obtained his blue Rag. Marlon (pictured), is a San Diego YMCA employee. After spending time in reflection with him, I found him to be a wonderful young man just on the cusp of his YCMA career. Having him ask me to counsel him for his Blue Rag, I was all at once set forth on a path of humbleness and greatness. Humbled that he saw in me something that caused him to reach deeper. Greatness as we now journey down this road called life, forever bound by this piece of cloth. As we get ready to enter summer, take time to reflect on your Rag journey and remember the goals set forth when you had that piece of cloth tied around your neck.

In the Spirit of Camp,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Because of Camp

Here is a good video to watch that has celebrities talking about how camp made a difference in their lives:

So here is my because of camp:

Because of Camp I learn to Love others and to become a person who wants to positively impact the world.

What is your because of camp?

Remember to live, laugh, Love and look up!