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.

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Homeschool on the Road

Sofija BurtonIn March, we sat down with Homeschool mom and “Teach Where You Live” blogger, Sofija Burton and she asked us a few questions about Homeschooling on the road.

SB:  Tell us a little about your family. Who lives with you?

JH: We are The Hollands! A nomadic family of merrymakers. We are four, Jana- Mother, Craig-Father, Graciana-Sister, Banjo- Brother. We are folk musicians and observers of humanity, encouragers of community.

SB: How did you come to live on a bus?

JH: We came to a cross roads in life where our family life was fragmented, our gifts stifled and a longing crept up for a more holistic way of life.  And so, we began to dialog and dream of a simpler way. The nomadic life came as a result. It was apparent that a drastic change in lifestyle was necessary and the idea of giving away all we owned and traveling seemed a reasonable option.

The Hollands! BusSB: What are the challenges of living on a bus and traveling?

JH: We bought the bus off of Craig’s List in 2010. It was the Casper WY Trooper Drum and Bugle Corp Bus. It’s a 1984 MCI model. We had to strip it clean and build it out from scratch. The most challenging aspects have been building the electrical and plumbing systems, then the fact that we aren’t dealing with straight lines have added to the construction difficulties. However, Craig is a learner and these challenges suite him. As for the rest of us, living in a half built bus has been a struggle at times. However, we are much more comfortable now than when we left in the bus. We have electricity and now that my kitchen is built I can offer some pretty delicious meals. We have a working toilet and cold running water but look forward to the day we have hot water, a shower and air conditioning.

SB: What are the perks?

JH: Mobility would be the greatest perk. It’s very comfortable to travel. It’s home. Another perk would be the opportunity to share in life with neighbors across the US. You are our 32nd neighbor in the last year and a half. It is a real joy to have the¬†opportunity to observe, learn and work out life with so many kinfolk.

SB: How do you home-school while traveling? Describe a typical day.

JH: We currently use the K-12 for our 6th grade son and E-Achive for our 10th grade daughter, both are on-line schools out of our home state of Wisconsin. Each program is slightly different and offers separate perks and challenges. Our days fluctuate depending on the community we are engaging with. Some days are more focused on the curriculum and others we are fully engaged with community around us. Homeschool

SB: What are challenges of home-schooling on the road?

JH: Because of the nature of our travels, the ebb and flow of virtual school can be a challenge and sometimes feels disjointed. Although the programs in and of themselves are quite good, we are beginning to explore other options for schooling that will bring the kids learning in line with our lifestyle and offer them more opportunity to really experience “live” learning.¬†There is such pressure from the world system to “keep up with the jones” and when this concept seeps into our learning environments it stifles real growth. It takes us hostage and¬†invokes¬†a deep fear of failing. Instead of learning we grow up regurgitating. We are tired of watching our children regurgitate. We long to see them really learn.

SB: What would you like your kids to learn from this experience?

JH: We would like to give them an opportunity to take “ownership”¬†their¬†learning, to find freedom and joy in observing and fully participating in the environments we travel in.¬†Homeschooling is a real gift and we are excited to begin to think out side of the box and explore ways to facilitate this.

Black Hawk Folk Festival

Black Hawk Folk FestivalThe 26th annual Black Hawk Folk Festival took place at on a pleasant, sunny day, mid-July. Nestled next to Lake Morris in Mt. Morris Town Park, the Black Hawk Folk Festival is a little gem of a festival. We were honored to perform along side Greg Boerner, Ken Lonnquist, Dave Adler, Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys, Andrea Stader, and Bill & Kate Isles. The festival sponsors and hosts were quite welcoming and the stage and sound was fantastic. It was so fun to see our dear friends Bill and Kate and one of our favorite moments was when MC and percussionist Bill Kehl invited our son up to join him for a segment.

It’s folks like those involved in the Black Hawk Folk Society that keep the grass-roots music movement alive and we are forever grateful for their commitment. We look forward to connecting with the kinfolk at the Black Hawk Folk Society down the line.

Healthcare on the Road

IMG_1060It’s been an interesting process to navigate the waters of healthcare while traveling. Thank the Lord, most of our aliments have been minor and we have found homeopathic resources to take care of our needs. However, when our frames don’t cooperate, we have to seek the guidance of professionals and generally pay cash out-of-pocket.

There are free clinics in most cities but we have found that unless you are a resident of those communities the access to those clinics is not available. Then there are the walk in clinics at Walmart and Target that work well for minor issues that need a little extra support. But, our lifeline really comes from a handful of generous and compassionate care givers across the country, from Nurses, Physical Therapists, Massage Therapist, and Chiropractic Doctors who have graciously given of their time and talents to help keep us healthy and on our way.

IMG_1059We are especially grateful for kinfolk like Dr. Randal Arnold and his son, Dr. Levi Arnold at Peninsula Chiropractic for joining us in our missional call and gifting us with excellent care while we were in Wisconsin. It is because of God’s faithfulness through folks like the Arnold family that we keep rolling on, health in our bodies and our faith grows a little stronger.

Door County Days

DoorCounty.jpgDoor County Wisconsin means lazy beach days in Egg Harbor, visits to the local library, the FARM, Door County Candy and Ice Cream Shop, Java on Jefferson, The Whitegull Inn and the Used Book Store. Besides all of the fun little small town things to do, Door County really is one of the most beautiful places on this planet, with cliff side beaches, winding roads and fantastic hikes up and down the peninsula.

BrummelCottage.jpgEvery summer we make our pilgrimage back to this area to enjoy the beach, friends and to perform. This year is no exception. We arrived Thursday evening for a weekend of welcome from family and friends. Our first stop was the Brummel Cottage, where we enjoyed the respite of the water at this uniquely designed home. We also had time to take in a concert at Woodwalk Gallery, where we saw our friends Buddy Mondlock, Katie Dahl and Jeanne Kuhns perform. Followed by a lovely evening of conversation over drinks.

We are looking forward to performing in the county over the next two weeks. For all our local Kinfolk you can The Hollands! at:

July 3 – 3-5PM Sister Bay Concert in the Park

July 8- 6-8PM Ephraim Concert in the Park

July 12- 5-7PM Bailey’s Harbor Concert in the Park

July 14 – The Gordon Lodge

Summer isn’t really summer until we’ve seen our Door County Days.

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Welcome Home Weekend

20130501-170532.jpgIn April, we made our way from New Orleans, LA up to Green Bay, WI. Our trip north coincided with a booking that we were offered to open for Ruth Moody and our CD release party for “Over Land and Leas”. The morning of our arrival we were welcomed by a snowy northern spring and dear friends that we had spent 2006-2011 with. These were the friends that listened to our dreams and desires, that shared our woes and joys. They are the friends that helped us build our bus, pack up our home, and encouraged us on our way. And so, it was with great anticipation and excitement that we pulled into this most recent home town of ours.

Three hours after our arrival we connected with our host family, The Walls, then went to the Brummel home for welcoming hugs and drinks. For dinner, we went to our favorite, El Sarape Mexican restaurant where the Gokey’s meet us. Followed with more friends joining us for a wild Wisconsin night of cosmic bowling. The next morning, all of us girls went to the Y for Zumba and coffee at the Jitterbean. And for lunch we had a visit on our bus from Team Thomas and the VanFossen’s.

Whew! Shortly after lunch we loaded up our gear and went over to the Cup o Joy Music Venue to prepare for our CD release concert that evening. Having played there over the course of the last five years, there was a comfortability and familiarity as Mark, our sound guy, met us at the door and welcomed us back. We had a quick sound check, and went to the green room for dinner. Paula brought us pasta and salads, and Jan O brought us dessert. Yosemite showed up on time and brought their joyful presence with them. A young reporter from UWGB, the local university, arrived to do an interview with our family. My brother and his family arrived a little early to say “hi” and then the Blumreich’s came back to welcome us. Excitement was building and we were ready to roll.

Yosemite, (Greg and Kevin) gave a wonderful offering of music and quirky stories of studying abroad, girls, etc… They delight us every time and eased us into the night perfectly. After a short intermission, we took the stage. It was the first time we performed our new songs in their entirety and in any other setting, nerves would have been high. But here we were on a fantastic stage, in capable hands, with our kind listening ears and bright smiles cheering us on. The exchange was simple and spiritual.

Our son, Banjo, who is going through quite a transformation, blooming from adolescence and into manhood, but not quite yet, was the darling of the night. There is a greater demand on a percussionist, their tone and tempo can make or break a song, such a big responsibility for an 11 yr old but he was spot on! And, Graciana, who is branching out even fuller, came into her own and surprised a few, I’m sure. As parents, it is an honor to perform alongside our children, this was a proud moment and one we will cherish well after this is all said and done.

The next day we found our way to the Neenah Public Library for a lovely afternoon performance and then made our way up to Sturgeon Bay for a couple of nights with family. My brother, sister-in-law and 5 precious darlings, live there. Memories came flooding back of our time living just down the street from them in 2001-2006. It was fun to be back in our old neck of the woods and of course, Pizza night at the Arnold’s was the highlight of our Door County run.

Although our time was filled with community gatherings with more friends, homeschool and family time, by the middle of the week we were coming down with a cold. The weather didn’t help matters as the snow and freezing rain continued to pound Northeast Wisconsin. It was dark and gloomy and we were all longing for our time in Louisiana, where it was warm and sunny. Honestly, if it wouldn’t have been for the obligation to perform that weekend we would have probably started to drive south.

We’re glad we stayed however. The performance opening for Ruth Moody at Luxemburg High School Auditorium was sheer delight. We didn’t know much about Ruth before hand, only that she was in another group called the “Wailin Jennys” which we didn’t know much about either, but found out that they were on Prairie Home Companion, which is a dream of ours. So, then it all made sense. She was a darling young lady and her band was very impressive. Even with a terrible head cold and Craig breaking a string two songs in, our performance went fantastic. We shared a half hour set of Holland tunes, including a few from our new album as well at Old Man’s Town and Morning Star. We invited the stoic crowd to sing and clap along and by the end of our set we all felt like old friends.

Our last night in town was my very favorite. Girls night out, Sushi and Sauna. One of our favorite foods is sushi and believe it or not, Green Bay, WI has one of the best sushi restaurants called Koko’s. The “A” club”, well it’s not really a club, it just how it all worked out, Kara, Tara, Sara, and Paula met Graciana and myself (Jana) at Koko’s. (Get it? All of our names end in “A”) Anyway, we had a feast and after dinner we went down the street to the Downtown YMCA for a sauna.

We couldn’t have asked for a more fantastic welcome home. Life is rich and we don’t take it for granted. We are grateful for those who love us and allow us to love them back. See you in July Wisco!

Camp Tekawitha

Summer Camp! Craig and I both have great memories of camp during our childhood and teen years. Including; canoeing, swimming, horse back riding (well, not so much for Craig), arts & crafts, friendship bracelets, theater, archery, songs, stories, campfires, etc‚Ķ So, when Camp Director and friend, Eric Blumreich, expressed a desire to have us at Camp Tekawitha in Shawano, WI, we said, ‚ÄúYES!‚ÄĚ

Camp Tekawitha is open year round for all sorts of retreats and groups but in the summer it caters to K-8th and a CIT (Counselor In Training) program for 9th-12th grade. It is located on a small manageable lake called Lake Loon. We’ve served at Camp over the past two summers but this year we were able to bring out our bus and come for two weeks of fun. Our kids each experienced life as a camper and Grace was able to participate in the CIT program. Meanwhile we shared musically throughout the week, playing a few Hollands! set, fun camp songs and leading a sound scape exercise where the kids broke into groups and created a sound track to the creation story. Also, Craig took some time to help build a storage unit for the sails/sailboats.

Volunteering at Camp Tekawitha offered an opportunity for us to plug in and use the gifts and talents that we long to share and gave us a much needed rest from the fast track of touring that we had been on. It also gave each of our children a chance to spend quality time with other young people, many of them friends from their days at St. Matthews School in Green Bay, WI. These are the moments that we cherish and as we continue down the line, we look forward to opportunities to serve in these ways.

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