Summer Camp

Camp TekakwithaCamp Tekakwitha

Bus ConversionEvery summer, for the past few years, we’ve volunteered for one week at Camp Tek in Shawano, WI.  Our friend and fellow bandmate, Eric Blumreich is the director at the camp. We met Eric and his family while our kids attended St. Matthews Catholic School in Green Bay, WI. We became fast friends with our love of music, laughter and over all good vibes. Eric recorded bass on our 2011 album Ashes to Beauty and over the years we have camped together, celebrated the 4th of July, and enjoyed countless meals together. So, volunteering for a week, was really sweetened as the idea of spending a week with the Blumreich clan was always a welcomed experience.

Last summer, during our week at camp we felt an inkling that next summer we’d like to explore what it would look like for us to volunteer all nine weeks. The conversations about that possibility were lively and exciting as the idea tapped into everyone’s desires to be in one spot for a longer stay. A desire for a place that would allow time to try our hands at new things including craftsmanship, mentoring, and of course, time to rest before our next tour.

As the year progressed, we solidified our plans and after a four-month tour in Australia and a trek across the US we began moving in the general directions of Wisconsin. We purposely booked only 6 premier shows for the summer so that we could really focus on our time at the camp. However, as we came closer to our visit, we were a little apprehensive about our plan to volunteer all summer, giving up our main source of income. We were anxious and we wondered how our daily needs would be cared for. And then, a few months before we arrived, Eric offered me a part-time position as a cook in the kitchen, which was our first sign that God was working things out.  We also had a few unexpected gifts via our Modern Day Missions fund and of course, the six shows offered enough to get us through. One day at a time, just what we need, when we need it. That has been a consistent theme for almost three years. Not sure why we seem to always forget but as we approach other unknown season, we will hopefully look back and remember and in doing so be an encouragement to others.

Camp TekakwithaOne young counselor asked me what I personally learned by being at Camp all summer. I had to think about it for a minute, the leading of song, connecting with staff, campers and overall support was familiar but being on staff part-time in the kitchen was a curious experience for me. I haven’t been in a roll where what I had to say or how I felt wasn’t necessarily an important part of conversation, rather my role was as a cook, preparing food, cleaning, organizing, and making sure things ran smoothly in the kitchen so that the campers had a good time at camp. Although my bosses were quality, it was a humbling experience the first few weeks, re-learning what finding harmony in an environment even when things were out of my control meant. I learned that harmony is squelched when we aren’t willing to see the impact we have on others. And, that harmony only comes when we lay down our pride and lift others up. It would be easy to spout off ideals and beliefs about building community and reconciliation as we travel and be disconnected from the realities of the daily grind. But, being at camp in that kitchen brought me down to earth and thrust me into a situation that I probably wouldn’t have chosen had I known the lackluster of it all. It’s through these uncomfortable experiences that our true colors come out and we find out if we practice what we preach. For me, this nine weeks was a blessing. It was filled with moments of deep observation, quietness and most of all the people who worked alongside me will forever be precious in my mind.

As for an overall picture, what did nine weeks at Camp Tek look like for the rest of team Holland? It looked like our teenagers engaging on a daily basis with peers, working out attitudes, faith and beliefs. Camp provided Graciana with her first consistent paycheck, as she worked full-time in the kitchen as an aid.  It was a summer of making camp friends, managing time and responsibilities, learning lessons about money and time management, and finishing up her finals towards high school graduation. For Banjo, it was pure bliss. He was engaged daily with the campers, whether he was an official camper or not, he was fully into every week, playing hard and making friends.

Camp TekakwithaCraig volunteered all of his time and talents at Camp and used his hands and creative building skills to enhance the grounds. He remodeled and organized the maintenance workshop, building storage sheds, walking paths, and team building games on the grounds. He was often seen rolling around on the lawn mower and eventually became Lawn Mower Man. One a side note, he used this summer to grow out his hair, needless to say not much sprouted and thus ensued the mourning process of an age gone by. Although, he did really try to rock that side hair. Who knows, maybe he’ll keep it and start a new wave of fashion.

Summer Camp was nine weeks of beautiful weather, getting to some of our unfinished projects, re-evaluating our families vision and desires, connecting with young people, mentoring and building up the body through worship, it was a time of reflection on all that has transpired over the past year. It was beautiful sunsets on Loon lake, camp fires, silly camp songs, swimming, Ga-ga Ball, cooking for hundreds of kids, participating as a team in the kitchen and sharing quality time with the Blumreich’s and the Saladars. It looked exactly how it was meant to look. Summer of 2014 we be one we all will remember.

Oli-Bo-Bolly

Want to share a little love? Check out our friend Olivea Borden’s – Oli-Bo-Bolly, Buy a doll, Give a doll project.

Oli-Bo-Bolly Olivia is the eldest daughter of our dear friends, The Bordens. Now 15, Olivea as been sewing since she was 8 yrs old. She is a Colorado State Champion Seamstress and had her designs modeled in the Sustainable Living Fair’s fashion show in 2012 and 2013. Most recently, Olivea won the prestigious Global Leader Young Entrepreneur Competition.

Olivea has a gentle and creative spirit and during our December visit with them we really took note of her amazing work and humanitarian heart.

In 2013 the Bordens (all 7 of them) traveled to Nicaragua to volunteer and serve alongside other ministries for six months. It was a life changing experience for the family and especially Olivea who experience the poverty of a foreign country for the first time. She made note of the children’s lack of toys and dolls. As she met and got to know the children, her desire to be able to give them each a doll grew. In Nicaragua, the average family income is $2.00 a day and the purchase of a toy is rarely a priority. And so, when Olivea returned to the states she set out to do something about it.

The timing was right, as years before Olivea started Oli-Bo-Bolly, at the age of 11. Originally a project using recycled clothing to make new and creative wear and then just before the family trip to Nicaragua, Olivea made a doll for her art class. Little did she know that her first Oli-Bo-Bolly dollie would launch her into a whole new fantastic mission. She began to explore ways to facilitate the need she saw in Nicaragua and using the TOMS shoes model she began to share an opportunity for people to give. She asks for a modest $25 and for every doll ordered and she will make a second dolly for the children in Nicaragua. Her hope is that the gift of a doll will communicate to these children that they are loved, that they have value, and that someone knows they exist.

Her current connection is the Ameya Covenant Church and hopes to return to Nicaragua in May to hand delivering the first batch of dolls. She will also host a training for the women who currently participate in the sewing class at the vocational school, as well as others in the community who already have some sewing skills, and may be interested in making dolls too. Her mom, Diane will assist her on the journey.

Olivea’s motto is “Make art, not trash.” Knowing that over 90% of all clothing in our landfills is still wearable, she is committed to using as many recycled textiles as possible in the one of a kind dollies. Scientific studies have proven over time that natural textiles such as cotton, bamboo, & wool compost much quicker than synthetics like polyester, & so she will use as many natural materials as possible in the craftsmanship of the Oli-Bo-Bolly Dollies.

Olivea is currently taking orders and folks interested in participating in this fantastic project can e-mail Olivea directly at olibobolly@gmail.com 

You’ll be able to choose your clothing color template, hair color, and skin tone.

Olivea says, “the dolls themselves are the What. And I, with your help, am endeavoring to be the How.”

Please consider supporting this grass-roots global local cause.

Hope in Transit

20130222-111103.jpgWe met David and Lisa Sprinkle at the last ever Cornerstone Festival this past summer. Lisa introduced herself to us after our performance, sharing her journey and deep felt connection to Craig’s previous band, Ballydowse. She was inspired by their radical message to really care for the widow, orphan and poor. Just prior, her husband Dave was inspired by an idea that Rich Mullins presented to start a traveling music school. And so, the couple began to explore that idea and eventually founded Hope in Transit. Hope In Transit’s primary program is a traveling music school that travels in a weekly cycle to work with Navajo and White Mountain Apache students. They teach bass, drums, keyboard, and guitar at each location, in both individual and group lessons. The Traveling Music School seeks to provide a healthy pastime to young people who are often in a position to choose between dangerous and self-destructive or healthy and productive behavioral patterns.

The Sprinkles invited us to come visit them in the White Mountains of Arizona and we accepted their invitation. Our time together was so inspiring and educational. They shared their story and many cultural insights about the population that they participate in community with. Our first experience was with the Apache children and we learned how to make Cigar Box Guitars. Craig assisted with the power tools, I helped with the art and design and our children were invited to make their own instruments. Below are photos from the Cigar Box Guitar Workshop.

Later that week we visted at the Red Sands Navajo School. We were invited to share our Australian Folklore Workshop as well as teach some of the individual lessons through out the day. The coolest moment was watching Graciana teach a young student Uke/Bass and Banjo share his knowledge of Cajun with fellow percussionist. As much as we are happy to serve and share our gifts and talents, it’s these moments that we are truly blessed by the opportunities to learn from others.

How to Donate

If you are looking for a way to lend a helping hand, we highly recommend donating to Hope in Transit. They are a federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit.

You can donate through PAYPAL, or by sending a check to:
Hope in Transit
PO Box 2096
Lakeside, AZ 85929