Saturday, July 29, 2006


Over 350 photos of SPECTACULAR are currently (July 2006) posted in several albums at ImageEvent.com/JimDoty. These albums will be online for several months. If you are reading this after SPEC is over, scroll down the ImageEvent page to the July 2006 SPEC albums. The photos on this blog are pulled from those albums. If you don't see any photos here, the ImageEvent site is having temporary server problems.

Friday, July 28, 2006

SPEC NEWS - July 29

Good Morning Readers SPECtacular,

We've almost made it through another one; Friday was the last full day of SPEC, All's that's left is the packing, delegation worship and closing ceremony, and a very long drive home. It started out like a Snoopy novel, "it was a dark and foggy morning...." But the fog lifted fairly quickly.

I kid a little about the food, but I have to say that to feed close to a thousand of us warm, nutritious food they do a pretty good job. Hat's off to the SPEC chef and assistants. Breakfast was link sausage, eggs, pancakes, and fruit again. The fresh fruit all week has been absolutely awesome. I ate lots of it.

We had morning celebration/worship on the lawn of the library where we'd just left a few hours before. Definitely a dejavu experience. On the last morning SPEC hands out all the scholarship money that has been set aside for SPEC participants. New this year is twenty one thousand dollar scholarships just for applying at SPEC (10 for juniors and 10 for seniors). Then there is the Vision Scholarships and finally the Wallace B. Smith Scholarships. These are all renewable for four years. All totaled this year Graceland gave away over a quarter million dollars in scholarships.

Jim Mulhulland spoke to us one last time, addressing the theme Have Love for who we are. And he used one of the SPEC kids to discuss the importance of the we being Community of Christ, but also we being the larger Christian Community of which we are only a part. Jim, by the way is a Quaker. It's important to be us and have special things that make us, us. But it's also very important to sense and feel out connection and similarity to the larger we as well.

The look at the theme continued in our first period leadership class. Our instructors had the kids take a label and write one word on it that described themselves and stick it on them. Then they were to stand and mix and find all others who had the same or very similar label. Athletic was a large group. Black was a group as were cute/sexy, loyal, bright, tall, short, funny, hippie, smart, and many others. Each group was then charged to answer three questions about themselves. 1) Who are we? 2) What do we have in common? And 3) What makes us special? Both the labels and the answers to the three questions was a fascinating character study.

Campers rushed off to their elective classes to finish projects or try something new for the day. This reporter used the time catch up on things.

Lunch was chicken patties, mac-n-cheese, potatoes, mixed veggies, and of course the burrito and also salad bars. I made a very large chicken salad by cutting up the chicken patties and toping the salad with them. It was good.

Competition started a little early because of all the games and matches that had to be played. The Rockies played for medals in two volleyball matches and a softball game. One volleyball team won Gold and the softball team won Gold. The other volleyball team won Silver. But mostly the teams had fun. A couple of our kids were drafted out to other teams because we didn't have a team for them. One of our girls won Gold on her basketball team, and we may have won a medal in golf.

After supper the all camp activity was the musical performance of "You're a good man Charlie Brown." The Rockies had a couple of performers.

To end the evening the youth have the annual dance. This year the same company who put on the movie also used the large screen and sound system to show music videos and play dance music. You may be able to hear it if you listen. Getting the young lovers into the dorms on the last night is always a huge task.

Well SPEC readers, it has been another great week. This reporter very much appreciates the loyal following and interested readers. I enjoy putting together this newsletter to keep you informed about what I believe to be the very best we have to offer to our youth. I am filled with God's Spirit anytime I spend time with our (your) youth.

They are creative, gifted, strong, caring, loyal, sharp, giving and the world and the church is in good hands. I look forward to their vision and the implementation of the vision. I look forward to their leadership. I look forward to their world.

As you contemplate Having Love for who we are, remember that part of we that is the youth in your congregations. They want desperately to be involved in meaningful and rewarding service and activities. They want very much to be accepted, listened to, as well as guided and molded. Ask them questions, engage them in discussion, listen to what they have to say.

And may God bless us all, as the small we, the carefully guarded and scripted and defined we, become the unconditional, unlabeled, accepting, loving WE that Jesus called us to be. And may God add his blessing to our trying.

Until World Conference and SPEC 2007 this reporter is signing off. Pray for safe travel for all the SPEC participants until they are securely home. And pray that the effects of this week will be felt far and wide for a long time to come.

That's a wrap!

Seventy Bob

SPEC photo albums are here.

SPEC NEWS - July 28

A SPECtacular morning to you good readers,

Welcome to another great day here in Lamoni, Iowa. Thursday was the second sleep in day, for those that can do it. The built in alarm clock in this reporter takes no holiday. Life is too short to spend it sleeping. But my roommates and the campers appreciated it.

Breakfast looks like summer TV with re-runs the order of the day. Scrambled eggs, waffles, ham, fruit and milk filled this reporter's plate.

Since it was sleep in day the first activity was the leadership theme class where we discussed today's variation on a theme; Have Love from my God. The question was put to about a hundred campers, "What do you have to do for God to love you?" Answers varied with a few like "love others", "obey the golden rule", "be nice", "love God and love yourself", etc. Many campers got it right though. Did you? Of course the correct answer is ......? That's right, NOTHING!

God created you, God loves you. And that's all you need to know. Scripture tells us that nothing can separate you from the Love of God. That's good to know if you've messed up pretty bad lately.

The instructors used several kids in a fractures fairy tale of sorts to illustrate the theme. Some kids were a vineyard. Some wore pig noses - they were the la-bores (a little SPEC humor) and then there was the wealthy lady land owner. Some la-bores were hired first thing in the morning to work in the vineyard for a certain wage. The wealthy lady land owner went into town several times later in the day to hire more la-bores who were very bored. (ha ha) At the end of the day she started with the last hired and paid them all the same wage. The la-bores hired early were upset they didn't get more for their long hard day. While this parable isn't about justice - it is used to show God's love for all and God's generous nature.

The kids then headed off to their elective classes. This reporter wandered around with Jim Doty and captured images of watercolor painting, book making, banner making, and leaded glass to name a few. I'm sure by now there are pictures at ImageEvent.com/JimDoty.

This was about the time it started to rain. SPEC in the rain can be a slippery and often muddy mess. I was given a special treat at lunch yesterday.

A new feature at SPEC is optional steak lunch Thursday. Anyone can pay a few dollars and have a steak lunch with a wonderful grilled steak, baked potato, bread stick, and a cookie or scoop of ice cream.

The grill is set up right outside the Swarm In. As far as I know they have never offered that before. Jared Doty, who's the son of Jim, and for several years has been the Gunsolly Hall Director here at Graceland, bought lunch for Jim and I.

Sports events started right after lunch, and yesterday was the start of tournament play. A little rain doesn't stop the fun here at SPEC (although lightning will curtail outside events). So soccer, and softball were played in the rain.

By the time the Rockies played softball the rain had stopped and the sun came out about half way through. Because of the heat we played a slightly shortened roster of all sports. I'm only slightly biased, but it was exciting yesterday to watch all three of the Rockies teams (2 volleyball and 1 softball) win their matches. Today they will compete for "championship of the world" in their bracket.

The evening activity was the Extravaganza. It's one of the elective classes and the week is filled with practice, staging, etc. On Thursday night it is presented to the camp. It's a sort of musical/talent show kind of thing.

Some years it's an abbreviated musical like Grease, or Disney. Other years it takes the form of unrelated acts of talent like singing, playing, dance, or creative comedy or drama. This year was more like the latter.

Thursday night is the second all camp worship of the week. We gathered in front of the library on the lawn for a time of music, speaking, and sharing. Jim Mulhulland talked with us about mixed messages we give as parents and also that the church and scripture often give. And he talked a little about how hard it often is to sort that all out. And how confusing. But his point that he started from and ended with is that there is nothing you can ever do to make God love you more than he does right now. And there is nothing you can ever do to make God love you any less than he does right now. That is a hard concept for us. Because we so often see love attached to, and hinged from behavior. It is easier for us to love when the other is acting properly. Evidences of love are often held back when we don't perform well. So a God who loves us when we're bad is sometimes hard to wrap our arms around.

In previous years this service has been a communion service. This year it was more of an Agape meal. Bread was shared from one person to the next with a small sentence of blessing. President of the Church, Steve Veazey, shared thoughts that prepared us to receive the bread and the blessing it symbolized.

Speaking of wrapping your arms around something, getting the kids in the dorms is harder as the week goes on because of blossoming romance. Young lovers don't want to be apart and parting is, after all, such sweet sorrow. There is much hand holding and hugging going on. Jilted lovers and unrequited love make for an interesting time also.

Well, this seems really long today, so I will close with just this reminder. You are loved by God and there's nothing you can do about it. So just relish it, languish in it, bask in it, frolic in it, play in it, breathe it in, and then, just like breath, breathe it out again - share it with others. For God loves them too!!

Seventy Bob

Thursday, July 27, 2006

SPEC NEWS - July 27

A SPECtacular morning to you good reader,

Rain came during the night and refreshed the earth. The smell and colors are so intensified after a refreshing rain. It is truly a blessing. It was indeed another wonderful day at SPEC, and another great breakfast. This time patty sausage, eggs, French toast, fruit and milk, Oh and fresh donuts. And you thought it couldn’t get any better.

Wednesday we looked at the theme from the perspective of Have Love for my neighbor. And we looked at a slightly different perspective. During morning celebration/worship we talked about the age old question, “Who is my neighbor?”

And we looked at Jesus’ response that when we do it to any of his children it’s like doing it for and to him. Hurting or healing, chiding, or cheering, inviting or ignoring, greeting or grating, when we do either, we do it to him.

A new activity was added yesterday. Similar to one a long time ago except better. SPEC used to offer as one of the elective classes a service project. A house, business, park etc was pre-selected and any campers and staff that chose that class would spend the morning in service to a neighbor. This reporter was always a participant and even used to bring tools to SPEC to use. Yesterday there were no morning classes; instead we participated in an expanded all camp activity of service to our neighbors in Lamoni. I’m not sure how many places and people were ministered to yesterday morning, but there were close to a thousand ministers.

The Rockies spent the morning at the elderly care facility in Lamoni. We made beds, cleaned windows, raked, weeded, and cleaned flower beds outside, and visited with a number of elderly residents of the facility. We had a great time. On the walk back to the Graceland Campus we stopped at the medical facility, which wasn’t on the list, and weeded their large flower bed in the front, and cleaned and weeded the beds on one side of the facility. I think people of Lamoni felt like neighbors to SPEC yesterday.

Lunch was sandwiches, chips cookies and drinks, or the usual salad bar which this reporter often frequents. Along with the cookies and drinks of course.

After lunch we started the day of sports events. The Rockies weren’t scheduled for soft ball yesterday, but we had two volleyball matches and several individual events like tennis, and table tennis. One of the events was a sort of Iron Chef competition. The Rockies team won the event impressing the panel of judges with their culinary creations. Good job Rockies.

I mentioned the rain during the night, and as you all have experienced, night showers bring humid days. The heat and humidity was pretty oppressive yesterday, and it was bad enough that outside sports (soccer, softball and golf) were suspended in the afternoon. Even the volleyball and basketball were cut to half hour matches instead of 45 minutes.

A Rockies tradition is to have a Pizza party one night, usually Wednesday. So last night the Pizza Shack delivered several pizzas including two Jacket Specials to the large tent in the center of campus. It was an hour of food, singing and relaxing fellowship, except for the rowdy kids who ran and wrestled and put ice down each others clothes and just generally had a great and raucous time.

We bribed world famous photographer Jim Doty with a few pieces of Pizza and a cold drink, and he took our Rockies team picture at the bell just outside the large tent. Check out ImageEvent.com/JimDoty to see your favorite Rockies player or staff person. That will also link you back to this column.

The evening for the Rockies included basketball and another volleyball match. Afterward there was a large outdoor sort of drive in theater (for you old folks) type screen set up just outside the commons and the camp watched the movie “Rent”.

Another tradition has been to do devotions one evening combined with another delegation. We shared again with the Oklahoma delegation in a time of singing, testimony and prayer. It was a good devotion. Apostle Rick Maupin, Apostle to the Oklahoma delegation shared a slightly different perspective on neighbor. He talked about the persons who are outcasts, who have no neighbor, and how part of Jesus’ ministry and healing is bringing such persons back into fellowship. Afterward many of the Oakies and several Rockies asked for and received the Sacrament of Administration.

This reporter feels like we, as a Community, still have a ways to go until there are no outcasts and every person feels like neighbor.

But as I work with and watch this generation of SPEC campers, I feel like the chances are better of that happening. One of the powerful aspects of SPEC, shared by almost every camper, is the acceptance they feel here.

It is my prayer that as you go out today into your communities, you seek out and make a neighbor of any who feel like outcasts. May God give you vision and courage for the task.

Seventy Bob

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

SPEC NEWS - July 26

Good SPECtacular morning readers,

It's always a wonderful day that starts with sausage, fresh pineapple, and cinnamon rolls all in the same morning. God Is Good!! Oh yeah there was eggs, hash browns and other fruit.

Our theme development for the day was Have Love for my world. It was sleep in day. The youth always look forward to the two sleep in days, Tuesday and Thursday. They get an extra hour of sleep and we don't have worship/celebration. So the day starts with the leadership class. In class we talked about the fast pace of our society. Go, go, go. What's missing in this sequence? The "d". Changing go-go-go to God-God-God brings things back into perspective. Making the conscious choice to slow down helps us reconnect with others and also notice this amazing world God has created for us.

This reporter, along with Jim Doty, visited many classes in which the Rockies participated. Pygrography (wood burning), cooking, card making, and band were just a few.

There's also classes in painting, ceramics, book making, quilting, self defense, and many others. Pictures are available at imageevent.com/jimdoty.

Sorry no lunch menu is available. I ate in the Swarm In with Jim to catch up.

We are still in what's called pool play for sports. Each delegation picks a level of competition to put their teams in, with gold the highest, then red, green and blue. Each team then plays for the first several days at that level to place them in brackets of similar skilled teams. Your win/loss record will put you at the top or bottom of your color group, or may move you up or down if needed. Then tournament play begins and you play usually the same teams again, this time for coveted medals and ribbons. Gold medals of course assure the team of big bucks in endorsements and often a cover on Sports Illustrated.

The Rockies didn't have any volleyball scheduled yesterday. We must have moved though the pool play in our bracket and will pick up play again when the tournament starts. We did have quiz bowl (similar to the old College Bowl for you older readers) and we also played and won softball. We loaned out a couple players to the other team so they could compete.

After a fine dining experience of fish cakes and macaroni and cheese for supper we had the first all camp worship at the football stadium. There was music, dance, and President of the Community of Christ, Steve Veazy spoke.

Many of you may remember that last year at SPEC the youth and staff were challenged to raise funds for a roof for a church in Africa and a bridge over a river in the Philippines. This year we were challenged to raise funds for a well in Nicaragua. This is all through the community service arm of the church called Outreach International. I will let you know how we did. Worship concluded with an amazing fireworks display that lit up the Lamoni sky with fire and noise. It was, well SPECtacular!!

After worship they youth competed in the track and field events, with running, hurdles, shot-put, long jump, triple jump, soccer and probably others this reporter missed. The sports field resembled an ant hill with both participants and spectators scurrying around from one event to the next. This was all done under the lights of the sports fields.

The day concluded with dorm devotions as we discussed the theme and looked at "my world" and how we have love for it. How we impact our world for good or bad even when we don't do it consciously. And a challenge to look anew at our world and make the choice to bring our best to it.

As you go through the day, may you also have love for your world, your family, work, neighborhood, and community and may you make the decision to act lovingly in your dealings with others. God Bless!

Seventy Bob

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?