Tuesday, August 25, 2015

West Is Where the Gold Is

Out of the adventures of my summer, going to Colorado was by far my favorite part. It's not very common for a girl from Ohio to end up in summer camp hundreds of miles away, so let me explain how I got there.

Since I was going into first grade I have been going to a summer camp in Van, TX called Sky Ranch. This fact is not out of the ordinary, I used to live in Dallas and love sleep away camp. As I got older I continued going and even when I moved to Ohio I flew down to Texas to go to camp. This past year, my 10th year at camp, I was finally old enough to work at Sky Ranch as a lifeguard- hence my earlier posts about camp. The camp in Texas is for kids ages 6-16ish (they do it by grade not age, so ages can vary). Once you are an older camper at Sky Ranch they have what they call leadership camp which is for kids who want to go deeper in their relationship with Christ and be pushed further versus some of the other kids who are just learning about Christ for the first time. For kids in 6th-8th grade it's called Morph, for kids 9th-10th grade it's called Quest, and for kids 11th-12th grade it's called Sigma. Morph and Quest are still held at the camp in Texas, although that may change soon and the kids in Quest may also be in Colorado, but for the most part only Sigma gets to go to Colorado and camp is two weeks instead of the typical one week. Sigma is kind of a big deal at Sky Ranch; you have to be invited and it is the center of what Sky Ranch aims to do which is create well prepared and devoted Christians. We all meet at camp in Van and then take busses to Sky Ranch Ute Trail which is in Powderhorn, Colorado. From there the adventure begins.

I must say that even getting to go to Sigma was basically a miracle for me. Like I said, I worked in Texas at Sky Ranch for six weeks, and at the beginning of the summer I was still on a wait list to get into Sigma. There were so many kids that wanted to go and because I didn't preregister early enough, all the spots were full. So going was pretty much out of the question. Camp itself is really expensive, then I have to get a plane ticket, figure out a bunch of logistics, yada yada yada, and I was on the wait list so it just wasn't going to happen. On top of this earlier in the year like in March/April I applied to go to precollege at NYU. It would be a six week program that started right when I got back from lifeguarding. I applied and was accepted! My parents told me that if I got in I could go, and I had gotten in, so let's go! But then the harsh reality set in that during the whole process of applying to precollege I had gotten my acceptance letters to boarding school and with that we also received the financial aid decisions as well. I didn't receive any financial aid to the school that I wanted to go to, so paying another $7,000 for precollege wasn't looking too good. So they nixed that. But four weeks into working in Texas, I got off the waitlist for Sigma. Without questioning it or anything they signed me up. Even though I still went to the Journalism Conference (which was expensive and I wasn't going to go to if I went to precollege) they signed me up for camp, meaning, it all probably cost only a little less than what precollege was going to cost in the first place. Anyway, long story short, it was totally the Lord wanting me to be at Sigma. I know there will be people who read this and think I'm crazy, but I know my Lord and He wanted me to grow in a community of amazing Christians like there are at Sigma. So it all worked out, much better than could ever have been expected.

Sigma is a tight knit group of people, they take about 70 kids and we spend two weeks with each other, ensuring that everyone truly knows everyone. Some of the amazing things we got to do included kayaking in lakes surrounded by mountains, zip lining, climbing a mountain and spending the night on the top, and just getting to be in a really cool and different place. Aside from the fun activities that ensued, the main purpose of this is for us to grow closer in our relationship with Christ. Sigma is the cream of the crop as you could say when it comes to Sky Ranch. Most of us have gone to camp since we were really young and plan on staying involved in Sky Ranch by working there or at least being a strong advocate of its ministry. Being in Sigma our mission verse is 2 Timothy 2:4-6

"No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor's crown without competing by the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive his share of the crops."

From this we learn that we are soldiers, athletes, and famers of Christ. We do not become corrupted by the world and what those around us say, we persevere like soldiers to please only the Lord. We are not unlawful in the way we live life, abiding by the rules put forth around us like athletes. And we are hardworking like farmers, cultivating a crop of fellow Christians, and we will be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

In Bible study we studied many more things than just this, but this is Sigma life verse you could say. Our daily Bible study was focused around learning the names of God, which at first could sound remedial to someone who goes to church and has been to a Christian school, but it was actually very interesting. We read a lot of scripture, there was never a moment where there wasn't scripture to confirm what our small group leader was teaching us, which was cool and also convicting because it isn't just some college student telling you these things, it is literally God screaming in your face with His word. Anyway, yeah, it was really great. I met so many amazing people and it was the perfect way to close the summer and leave Sky Ranch one last time before next year. As my usual blogging style goes, here are some pictures from camp. 

Made it to the TOP
At the top with my small group!
Hanging out at the lunch rest spot

5:00 A.M sunrise

Another moment at the top, during the sunrise

Our kayaking spot
A moment at the barn dance with my lifeguard coworker and amazing friend Victoria

Saturday, August 22, 2015


So, once again, it's been awhile.

This summer has been a marathon of eventfulness and every time I thought about writing it seemed more like a chore than something I get to do, which is by no means the mindset I want to have going into this. I feel like my blog is definitely more of a diary and the thought of having to dictionally recount my summer sounds insane because SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. So to remedy this I'm just going to put a quick hit list out here so that on a later date I may go into more detail about these topics. That might not have made sense but it will eventually. Another side note, yes, I lazily gave up on recounting WJMC. It was a short four days turnaround between coming back from Boston and then going back to Texas- recounting WJMC for the world was not my main concern, I had a double ear infection and a sinus infection and needed to get better before the next summer event.

Emma's Summer Event "Hit List"

1. Working at Sky Ranch as a Lifeguard
2. Finally coming home from Texas- family reunion, adventures with Andrea in Chicago, and lots of soccer conditioning
3. Washington Journalism and Media Conference in Washington D.C. in association with George Mason University
4. Boston, and Seacoast United soccer "tryouts"
5. HOMEEEEEEEEE, for four days
6. Back in Texas (briefly) at Sky Ranch, then going to camp at Sky Ranch Ute Trail for Sigma (Christian leadership camp!) in Colorado
7. HOME FOR GOOD-ish (aka three weeks until school starts)
8. Crap tons of soccer, hours of saxophone, ACT practice, Mad Men, more soccer, occasional basketball, writing, reading, reading, reading... mentally preparing for school

So yeah, as of now there are two more weeks of getting to do whatever the heck I want until I actually leave good ole' Westerville and head out to Exeter. In these next two weeks I may elaborate on some of these summer adventures. No promises. Maybe.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

WJMC Day 2

So I am kind of a fail at life. Blogging while at WJMC became an apparent struggle because of the lack of sleep. Any moment I had time to blog it was late at night and anything I wrote was not going to sound coherent or meaningful. In turn I decided to wait to blog and give a general synopsis of the week. Personally, my experience was documented in my student workbook so I do not feel a pressure to write down my experience so that I, personally, am able to remember what a remarkable week I had, but I will record it for reference and the select few that choose to read this diary of sorts. I understand that WJMC did not want us to write our blogs as if they are diaries, so I will try my best.

The Editor in Chief of National Geographic, Susan Goldberg, was our first speaker of the day giving insight into the world of National Geographic as well as the way a news company of their type is run. She put an extreme emphasis on the direction they are heading pertaining to social media, repeatedly enforcing that Nat Geo is the leading brand on the social media site Instagram. The specificity of Nat Geo's so called "Explorers" (the people who are hired to write and photograph stories) are unmatched in their field. There are photographers who explicitly photograph urban profiles or underwater mammals or aerial views. I was intrigued to learn how specific these Explorers are and that it is not at all random who is hired for each story. Nat Geo is mainly, if not all, produced (written and photographed) by free lance writers who come in to do a story here and there, allowing for much more specific and detailed articles. She also may or may not have given us the titles and topics for articles of the rest of 2015.

Tuesday afternoon was spent at the National Press Club where we heard from a politics panel of Jennifer Bendery (Huffington Post @jbendery) and Richard Wolf (USA Today @richardjwolf). Getting a closer look into the politics side of journalism was very informative. One of the most interesting things I took away from their panel is how the government and press interact. For example Congress will supply the press with information and conversation all day long where as the White House and Supreme Court will leak no information. Ever. It was also surprising to hear that all the stories we see in the news regarding big political decisions were all pre-written. What I mean by that is the reporters will write every possible verdict knowing that when the real one comes out they can add a few quotes and publish it within 20 seconds of the information being received. I did not know that was how it worked in today's age of technology, but I'm not really sure what else I expected. The point that was stressed the most was to continue to be curious. Always ask questions that you care about too. While, yes, there is a job at hand you are also doing this job because it is what matters to you, so don't be afraid to ask your own questions too. 

The last panel at the National Press Club was given by Sonya Ross (@sonyagal) who is the Race and Ethnicity Editor for the Associated Press. Her speech was extremely moving, giving me confidence in the ability to achieve one's passions and goals without coming from being given every opportunity to automatically succeed. The most moving part of her speech was her story of being with President Bush during the 9/11 attacks. I have heard all the stories, read the books, watched the films, but there is something different about hearing it face to face from a person who was right at the heart of it on the political side, physically WITH the president. It was heart wrenching and amazing. Her main tip of advice seems easy enough to follow: use common sense. She believes that there is an endless amount of information to be found if you navigate the world with common sense. 

The final panel of the day was a sports journalism panel. This was the least intriguing part of the day for me. I do not have an interest in sports journalism and tend to become annoyed by sports journalism as it is a game of facts and speculation. The questions asked were not very engaging although the high was to hear them discuss if college athletes should be paid. All of them said no and when I asked if they believed the NCAA should allow universities to give more scholarships to athletes. They, again, said no claiming that universities do not have any money to give more scholarships. I find this very hard to believe with the millions division I football teams bring in and the fact that tuition is outrageous. If they can't afford to give a few more kids more financial help for working extremely hard physically, then where is the money really going? That is my view anyway. 

So Tuesday was a long, interesting day. At first when I started this recap I thought I was going to summarize the whole thing in one post, but I quickly realized I could not do that. So I guess I'm going to write out a full post for each day. Hopefully this was a little informative!

Monday, July 13, 2015

WJMC Day 1.5

So this week I am at the Washington Journalism and Media Conference in Washington D.C. and because this is obviously about journalism and media I will be blogging about each day I'm here.

Sunday was arrival day. While I am numb to the excitement of meeting new people it was interesting to get to meet the people in my group. We are organized into groups of 25 and each assigned a color to designate our groups. I have the please of being on the Teal Team otherwise known as Teal Team 6. The fellow students in my color group are extremely pleasant and fun to be around. I am genuinely surprised at how quickly we have all gotten to know each other and feel comfortable around one another- and it is only the first day!

So, back to Sunday. In the evening we had our opening dinner with guest speaker Nicole Livas, WAVY 10 news anchor, who talked to us about what it means to be in broadcast journalism and the evolving industry. Today there are smaller staffs than every and staff members are constantly learning how to do more and multitask with the growing media outreach. Her presentation was extremely nice to listen to as well as informative, exceeding my expectations for it only being the first night. After dinner we broke into our color groups to talk about the week and also begin talking about personal branding. We spoke about what it means to create one's own brand and practiced our 15 second "elevator speeches" as well as firm handshakes. It was a long opening night but is to be followed by an even longer week. 

Today was a nice day in our nation's' capital. We spend the morning and early afternoon touring the Newseum, one of my favorite museums in the nation. There was nothing earth shattering from the experience purely because I have been to the museum many times in the past but I am always amazed by the level of detail, amazing architecture, and pure journalistic work that is put into the Newseum. After we went to a lecture/ Q&A with Mike Shear and .... Smith. The session was an in depth look at the relationship between journalists and press representatives of the White House and revealed many unseen problems that are developing in the industry while still being informative about how these relationships can and will continue changing. Later in the evening we went to tour some of D.C.'s most iconic monuments wrapping up the evening and heading back to George Mason. I am excited to continue the week, but right now it is time for me to get some sleep. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

And We're Off... Again

After 6 days of being back home in Ohio I depart again for the Washington Journalism and Media Conference. I admit that I have not been doing as much preparation for this week as I should have been, I mean I read nearly all the books on the reading list, but from a social internet perspective I have been extremely dormant. Give me a break, I have been at a summer camp where there is NO INTERNET!!!!! So I apologize, but sorry not sorry.

Why am I going to this conference? You have heard me over and over state that I want to be a screenwriter and producer, not a journalist. That is true. I do not want to be a journalist. I want to be a screenwriter, but I want to be a screenwriter for a news television show such as the Tonight Show. If you think that isn’t a type of journalism that you better take a closer look. Those writers, particularly the monologue writers, are constantly looking through news stories, finding one that is comedic or serious, then to concisely summarize and put in a digestible comedic monologue.  That is journalism at its finest. Every single day there is a new story and a new monologue. So, no, I do not want to be a traditional journalist but this conference will give me a feel for the industry. I will not be directly in this industry but being so close to it there is necessity in its understanding.

Another reason: this is an academic experience that I am able to do in a week. I was accepted to New York University Pre-College but was unable to attend because of cost and timing; it is a six week program. One of the major appeals for me to attend this conference was simply its timing. That sounds selfish but there were a lot of programs I was invited to and this one seemed to line up timing wise and interest wise the best. I mean, you can tell, my summer is pretty booked. Eight separate trips in only a few months is a lot of traveling. So, yes, I am a basic white girl that is getting to go to this conference. But I have a passion for writing. My life revolves around writing; I don’t have a better way of explaining it- I just love it. I could be locked up in a room, demanded to write for hours on end and still be satisfied. And when you get to the bottom of journalism it comes down to writing. A story isn’t a story unless the public can consume it. If it is not written in an efficient or captivating way then it becomes meaningless, eventually disappearing. The prestige of The New York Times is not there just because of a name. They hire the best because their ability to deliver the news through writing is unmatched by any other group of individuals in the world.

I am excited for this week. I am also extremely tired going into the week but I'm sure I will be able to power through. Oh, and FYI because this is a journalism conference I will be updating my blog every day this week, so be prepared. 

Friday, July 10, 2015


After 6 long weeks, I have arrived back in Ohio. Actually, I've been in Ohio for nearly a week now. Looking back at my posts I can see the exhaustion that began to seep in as camp continued. I am feeling much more coherent now than I was during my late night writing sprees at camp.

So, were my worries and fears worth worrying and fearing about? Not really, the Lord is freakn' awesome. I was able to start training with my high school soccer team the second day back home, I didn't loose any of my saxophone skills, and I have been reading like a maniac. I have even more of a drive to work after having time off to recover mentally. The best part of camp is that it is straight forward. There is rarely a moment when you have to decide what to do; you have a job that you need to do and when you are done there is really nothing more to do other than sleep, read your Bible, possibly work-out, or hang out in the staff lounge. Even then those options are only available for a small portion of you day, the rest of the time there is a specific task at hand that you need to complete. Cool, that sounds just about like every job on planet earth right? Yes and no. The beauty of camp is that there really isn't TV and there really isn't time to go out and be crazy. In fact it is the perfect balance of isolation without being locked away for the summer. What I'm getting to is that it gave my mind time to reset. Time to work without worrying about the next day because you know exactly how the next day is going to be. The predictability is soothing and gave myself a mental reset from the stress of the school year.

Now that I am back home I am better prepared to be away from home when I go to school, I feel better about who I am, excited that I actually can say I have worked at Sky Ranch, and basically ready to conquer the world. Again, this blog is exceedingly cliché but there isn't any other way I feel adequately describes what I am trying to say. There are still a lot of things circling in the abyss of my mind but for now that is all I have to say. So enjoy these photos from camp.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Camp Pt. 3

Today was a decent day of rest, well whatever constitutes as rest for being at camp. I woke up at 6:00 to get campers luggage all packed up and ready to go, then I made name tags for parents for about 3 hours, took a quick brake, and lifeguarded for a couple hours. That was the morning but as for my time off we went to Tyler for a little visit to civilization. I saw Jurassic World- I could write and entire post about that movie, I'm mixed about it but overall thought it was great- and it gave me time to think. Suddenly I wasn't in Texas. I wasn't in my strange home that is a weird camp. I'm sitting right here in the ROC distracted by Jesse blowing an airhorn at 11:00 on a Saturday, it is just weird. But all of a sudden I was taken away. For a short moment I could think about my world, not Sky Ranch. Before coming to camp I needed something to focus on (camp) but now after being separated from the "real world" for a month, escaping the humdrum buzz of camp life is a necessity. In watching the movie I could think about my life. Yes, I'm a teenager, "I thought about life." Seriously, my desire to be a writer explodes in the summer when I have time on my hands and no other school work to worry about. I have ideas that I want to make into a reality, I want to be caught up on my passion of film and television which is impossible at camp. I want to be in shape to play soccer, which is impossible at camp. I want to finish learning the Glazonov Concerto, but it is impossible at camp. I want to watch and write monologues for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon- also impossible at camp.

Clearly you may be wondering why I even accepted the job at camp because all of my posts are about me complaining how distant I feel from the world. That is the key. I feel distant from the world, but I am closer to the Lord and a community of supportive people. That is what I love about Sky; while work is hard and long I am serving the Lord and around an amazing body of people. I'm in this weird situation where I never want to leave but I'm yearning for my personal life. I don't know if any of this makes sense but it's all a mess of strange emotions.

I wish I could have written this when I was at Tyler instead of when I got back to the ROC, the vibes in the ROC aren't as good as my thoughts after seeing Jurassic World. I got to drive my friend's BMW on the way home. Man, I have never driven a car that nice. Accelerating is so smooth, I understand why people in nice cars speed now.

I love being myself and the downside of being at camp as a staff member instead of a camper is that I don't have a counselor to go to and vent about my life instead I have to slowly allow others to figure me out while I too am figuring them out simultaneously. Again, none of this may make sense- it is late, I'm tired, and I need to go to bed. Goodnight folks, that's all for now.