Sunday, November 01, 2009

RETREAT Conclusion: Gators, Songwriting, & Coming Home

Friday we journeyed back to the wilderness, to survey the foliage under the transact lines. Unlike the first retreat, we didn’t handle snakes or alligators…fine by me. Upon arrival, Mr. D had Mr. Mason, Mr. Vollenweider, and me scout the area, to make sure the coast was clear. Mr. V called us over to see some interesting “bicycle” tracks. Not exactly a place you’d ride a bike, unless you’re Jeff Pipe. I noticed smaller tracks to each side of the “tire” track…GATOR! Great.

Michael had me stationed at the 0.0 mark with Will and Caleb, which was precisely where the gator had exited the water. From my vantage point I could see the launch pads behind the boys, but unfortunately they didn’t show up in my photographs. Russ reported how much nicer the weather was than the scorching first retreat…a gentle breeze was keeping us cool.

The Servant Leaders did a great job all week. With fewer and smaller groups, the pressure was greater and the job tougher. The other upperclassmen also ministered to those around them, making sure everyone was included, as much as possible.

Mrs. Howell was back in action, wandering around with her camera. When it was time to pack up, we saw her, Mrs. Taylor, Mr. Mason, and Mrs. Hanson emerge from the scrub brush a hundred yards away. As they got closer, it was apparent Mrs. Hanson’s leg was bleeding. What happened?

Her story: Feeling something rough on her leg, she screamed “What’s that…a gator?” Mr. Mason, realizing others must be warned, pushed her out of the way, and broke out in a run. Summoning the strength God gives frail mothers in times of distress, Mrs. Hanson, without looking, reached down and snatched away the offending beast. Once in the clear calmer heads prevailed, and she realized the tiny scratch had been inflicted by a small scrub.

Again Mrs. Ellis saved the day, applying a small band-aid.

After sandwiches at the Shetler Shelter, chap ladies Arps and Martin finally got what was coming to them for not wearing matching shirts: Patricia saw two lizards scattering about in her minivan. A detailed search could not smoke out the beasts. That night they were sure to wear the same outfit, and I was the first to notice.

We finally got over to Haulover Canal to watch the manatees. The sunny conditions made for great viewing. Mr. Landrum cast out his net, and several students took their turn. Back at the hotel there was time for swimming and whiffleball. JT and Conner did some amazing flips into the pool. I took got some great shots of the whiffleball arguments…many with the water, VAB, & launch pads in the background. More manatees were observed, right next to the hotel.

After dinner Alyssa & Christy finally got to debut the new Who What Where song. Wednesday night as I was frantically preparing for the chap skit, Alyssa interrupts, needing a new song written immediately (not knowing that genius takes time!). We were able to crank out a few lines, and luckily didn’t have to sing it until I was able to add a few finishing touches. Still, Alyssa was hesitant to sing it without me. This seemed odd to me, since she’s such a ham. I later discovered it was the Spiderman Song tune she wasn’t familiar with. Ever time she’d sing one line, then look at me…cracking me up. Hopefully we entertained.

Who What Where, Who What Where.
Friendly neighborhood Who What Where.
Instant Skit! Who needs props?
Mrs. Switzer, you’re the tops!

Who What Where? We’ll show you.
Capes and wigs, to name a few

To us, retreats are a real fun journey.
Forget the tennis tourney,
‘Cause we’ve got your Who What Where!

Singing, we had to compete against the Elvis impersonator down the hall. In the back, Mrs. Howell took particular delight in photographing her husband holding little Daniel, reminding her of the days not too long ago when Marshall was that size. Kara cracked up when Kyle was asked his college course of study…he has it narrowed down to six wide-ranging topics.

The parent’s encouraging letters were passed out and read…a sweet time that set the tone for the final night. It was just was special for the parents sitting back observing, knowing each student and their family. The Redeemer skit added to the evening. It’s fun to see God work through whoever’s in it. Matthew’s youth was perfect for his “man” role. Woodard’s penetrating eyes captured the essence of evil (thank goodness he was only acting). Kyle was quite expressive as Christ.

At breakfast Saturday Mona glanced at her watch with a satisfied look on her face. She boasts: “Ha! Eight o’clock, and I’ve already got one kid in trouble. It’s going to be a good day!” In the lobby, Mr. D spots an elderly man checking out. It’s yesterday’s astronaut of the day, Jerry Carr. BTW, Carr spent over 2-1/2 straight MONTHS in space on the last SkyLab mission in 1973-74. We should’ve hit him up for FREE autographs!

When roomates Caleb, Michael T, & Josh emerged with styled hair, Caleb said "We're like the three little bears." Haha, he had his stories mixed up. Charles Norman quote: "I'm not into boundaries, Holt, but I think you crossed the line."

My return car: Will, Matt Ellis, JT, Chase, Holt, and Gerald (shotgun). Gerald and I had to chuckle at the other’s singing, actually making up the lyrics as they went. Should I write an Expedition Skit/Musical, I know who’s helping me score. When not napping, Gerald reported on the cool cars we passed…a subject he’s expert in. The boys appreciate my “help” with chemistry (no, it’s MONOXIDE!).

At our Valdosta stop, Mrs. Taylor’s mother passed out homemade pecan pies. Gerald ate FIVE gorditas at the Zebulon Taco Bell, while others opted for Chick-fil-A. Mona’s car required a couple of unscheduled whether stops, so Group B was able to arrive back at the property first, welcomed by a large host of family and friends. Good times.

Anyone still reading? If you made it all the way, you get a merit badge! Thanks.

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