Thursday, November 3, 2011

Green Call: KLF 196, Everglades National Park: This is Mark

There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less. - Kurt Hahn (creator of Outward Bound)
I can remember age 13
My memories of 12 are faded
14 is is in the back of my mind
and my penta- life crisis, 15 is not forgotten

It really only took moments for me to grasp the simple fact that at these ages I felt helpless, I felt insecure, I needed assurance but I felt like I had failed in this life. I needed motivation but I had no goals, I needed to choose to live this life, but I choose to dwell in self-pity. I remember feeling like I would never live up to what was expected of me and I was merely surviving, meeting my basic needs to just get through the day.

The Four Basic Survival Needs:
- Power
- Love and Belonging
- Fun
- Freedom
All combine to meet your Survival Need

Even if it meant meeting these needs negatively, I found ways to do so. Even if it meant sacrificing relations with loved ones, I found ways to do so. Even if it meant denying progress in life and becoming complacent with mediocracy, I found ways to do so.

Around age 20, I decided to stop this cycle and reroute. I knew there was much more to life and I knew I could challenge myself to seek it out and take me farther than my comfort zone/ my green zone. I'm reminded of this quote as I have just landed back in Key Largo after what I believe to be the wildest 20 day period of my life.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
We started our adventure in the Everglades on October 14th with 9 kids from the Miami area and 4 instructors. These 9 were considered for our FINS (Families in Needs of Services) program for the following behaviors: truancy, violent/ aggressive behavior, anger management difficulty, drug use, poor decision making skills, troubles with the law and an overall pre-contemplative idea that nothing in their lives needed to change. None of these kids wanted to be on course, nor did they think it would be beneficial. Most blamed their parents or relatives for putting them here.

For me, it was weird to be in this position as an instructor. Realizing, that my kids were 13, 14, and 15 and knowing that at their age I probably should have been placed in the same program. I was preparing to counsel myself for the next 20 days. Nothing was more crazy in my mind than 9 young Mark McCoy's paddling around the Everglades. It's a shocking image really! To be completely honest there was nothing really that could have prepared me for what happened to us all, and what happened to me as a person. If i could explain in simple terms and short sentences I would but I don't know how. I'll give it a shot, a little glimpse of 1 day out of 20, i'll tell you a story......

It's 3:30am and i'm looking at the brown, tired eyes of my course director. His face is soaked, his breathing is rapid and body fatigued. This was the 6th day straight of monsoon, torrential down pour. Not once in these days had we been dry, nor had we seen the sun. Our kids were entering their red zones fighting on the rafts and denying all personal responsibility. We all had just finished battling mother natures cruel, devilish fury as we paddled our canoe raft out of some of the strongest tidal, stormy waters i'd ever seen. Our anchors had been lifted up and we were swept into the middle of the everglades, sitting ducks for the big storm up ahead. Our minds went into survival mode, as we paddled to the Mangrove towards safer water and re anchored our raft....... We had to figure something out, but then it seemed to fade....
This eye of the storm was over, the wind had died, the rain had mellowed, and all of us instructors stood in a circle around the weather radio. My course director phil flipped the switch, as static rang out of the speaker chills took over my feverish body, it was a presence I wasn't sure what to make of. Was it from the fact that I had a steady 100 degree temp for several days, bumps that looked similar to staff down my arms or the little sleep and food us instructors had? It could just be nervousness I thought.... what could Phil need us to hear that was worse than the storm we just went through. Phil gave me a hug and told us that he wanted us to hear something, to hear it for ourselves. As we listened to the weather report it became real, a tornado was forecasted to hit the area where we were rafted in a matter of hours. We were too far for rescue, our emergency boat and the coast guard could not reach us in time. "This is a true moment, a true Outward Bound Moment, you ARE badass Outward Bound Instructors and this is what you do." said phil after he switched the radio off and placed it down on our boards. Silence overwhelmed the circle, we all knew what needed to happen. We spent the next hour tightening up our tarp lines and adjusting our raft for optimal safety. 4:30 am, I laid in my Healy Hammock for about an hour that night trying to think, trying to pray protection on us... the sky went green....

Around 6:30 am huge winds, lightning and rain hit our location sending our kids into chaos, the tornado was here. We jumped up and made sure all our kids had rain gear on and were out of their Healy hammocks. Our back three boats began sinking and Eric and I bailed the boats out for what seemed like hours. The sky was dark and we were soaking wet, the screams of our kids shocked me as I kept bailing the far right corner. Little to nothing other than survival went through my head. We needed to keep our kids safe, we needed to act quickly. Eric pulled in our anchor and casted it back farther into the Mangrove as we gathered the kids in the middle of the still floating front 3 boats. Liz told a story about Kurt Hahn and survival to the kids who were kneeling in the fetal position. This lasted for about an hour as the tornado's storm seemed to die rapidly around us. I couldn't help but pray to myself,

" Dear God, is this what you had planned for me, is this the kind of discomfort you want me to feel in this life, so I will never doubt you again."
"A sailboat is safe in the harbor, but that's not what it was built for."
I'm the type of person who consistently pushes limits. I enjoy the moments that stretch me, I feel thats where growth and learning are most prevalent. I want to say that my experience in these 20 days was enjoyable, but in honesty it was the worst 20 days of my life. I was beaten down and loosing my mind, repeating my own name in my head in moments to regain consciousness of who I was and who God made me. I danced on the line where I no longer could help meet my basic needs but needed the Lord to provide sustainability for me. AND HE DID, AND HE ALWAYS WILL!

I count my experience as a blessing, I believe the Lord calls us out of our comfort zone and invites us to truly see who he is.
Thank you for all your prayers as I was out on course, it truly kept me and my kids and co instructors alive.

I am still alive today

As it's said amongst Outward Bound Leaders, "The Outward Bound God gives you the exact weather, the exact storm and kids that you needed for a successful course."

As it's said by the Lord:

Romans 5: 1-11

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Short Story- Adam Rosendahl

A short story capturing a glimpse @ what NST 85 in Alabama looked like for the 9 students and 3 trainers.

New Staff Training, Outward Bound At-Risk
Jezzamine Bayou, Southern Alabama
11 September 2011 (10 years after 9/11)
Adam Rosendahl

“Gunnel Up!” they screamed. It was getting late as we drifted down the Tensaw River, we pulled our 6 canoes into a tight cluster. All 9 of us, the fresh Outward Bound At-Risk interns from 7 different states, squirming and struggling to throw our loose arms, legs, and paddles over the sides of the neighboring boats as they began drifting away in the strong current. I wrestled off my life jacket, holding one canoe with my left hand and one on with my right. A girl on my left began excitedly peeing off the side of her canoe screaming "DANGER," our signal to look away when someone is indecent. Boys have the option of a "Captain Jack Sparrow" triumphantly peeing off the bow of the boat standing upright, or if you are daring, a "Superman," crawling onto your stomach and peeing between two canoes with one leg balanced on each (Josh fell in while attempting a superman with his pants down at his ankles). The sun was setting quickly and cast an orange glow over our tired faces. We’d been paddling all day. I looked at the crumpled wet map with squinted eyes, looking for a narrow tributary on the left side of the river called the “Jezzamine Bayou.” “I think we passed it,” I said quietly.

The entrance to Jezzamine Bayou was hidden. Even under the buttery light of the full moon all we could see were shadows. We passed by once before having to turn around, paddle another mile against the current, and eventually found our way inside. Our 6 canoes in a straight-line convoy, silently cutting through the black water. It was dark inside the passageway, muffled sounds of bats and birds nesting in the wooded foliage above our heads. The branches and vines of cypress trees were low and scraped our faces as we paddled eagerly into the dark swamp. All lights were turned off. Every time a headlamp flicked on someone would scream “TURN IT OFF! You’re killing my night vision!” We hardly had to paddle, carried by the soft current. Long periods of silence allowed me to take in our surroundings; a full moon hiding behind thick braided vines, fist-sized yellow banana spiders crawling up trees and dangling in thick webs at face level, signs marking “HUNTING AREA-ALABAMA GUN CLUB” began to appear on old wooden signs, nailed to the trees. Terrifying. I saw a splash and the boat in front of us stopped abruptly.

“I think I just hit an alligator with my paddle!” Kacy shouted, her voice shaking. Then silence. A flash of white water shifted our canoes as the alligator swam to shore. I could feel my heart beating faster in my chest. Sam, the navigator in the stern of the lead canoe murmured under his breath “I hate these fucking spiders,” rifling his hands through his short hair and jerking his head around. There really was no avoiding the spiders. They were EVERYWHERE, thick sticky webs lying low to the water, enveloping our faces as we floated through. Screaming thrashing arms and fingers. “Fuck fuck fuck,” Matt shouted, moving around violently in the back of our canoe, threatening to tip us over. He dunked his head into the black water and soaked his arms and shoulders shuddering. I looked up to see a tarantula the size of my hand crawling up the vine beside my face, try not to look. We agreed that this felt like some sort of twisted haunted house ride. The adrenaline building in my system had me breathing quickly, excited. I looked up at the moon and smiled. Is this really going to be my job?

We got to our camp around midnight, eating dinner close to 1am. We all sat around a glowing red-lit water jug, “Can you imagine doing that shit with 11 at-risk kids? This job is going to be crazy!” and Off we go.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Follow You- Leeland

You live among the least of these
the weary and the weak
and it would be a tragedy for me to turn away
All my needs you have supplied
when I was dead, you gave me life

How could I not give it away so freely.

...It's amazing to stop and think of where life has you at this moment...
I know for me, it's been a crazy roller coaster of decision and indecision with motivation and apathy all garnished with a little stress and passion. At this very moment, right here right now, I'm sitting in what some would call a tree house in a moderately comfortable swivel chair staring out the window as the wind blows slowly, the humidity settles, the sun sets and all of us Outward Bound Key Largo staff take a deep breathe to relax and slow down our worlds before KLF 195 leaves the harbor tomorrow morning with 8 at-risk youth for a 30 day wilderness adventure. Could I have ever predicted this coming?

It wasn't too long ago that I found myself in a completely different place in life, not just physically but wholly.

And I'll follow you into the homes that are broken.
Follow you into the world.
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God.
Follow you into the World
I got home this summer inspired. My eyes were opened in a new way. Opportunity lined up and the moment was right to grab on for the joy ride. Who could I aspire to become? What new ways could I challenge myself to seek that out? How can I plan to live differently, to live efficiently, to live passionately? I spent the month of August at home scavenging all my resources asking questions, sharing ideas and exploring.

My thoughts brought me freedom: to give more freely.

(Watch this for info on Outward Bound)

Throughout my training this month, I have been pushed and pulled to overcome my own self. This battle against self has renewed and refined me by challenging my positions. I arrived in Alabama on the 6th of September and entered into a world with 12 new faces traveling deep within the Alabama Delta. We managed to canoe over 120 miles and cash in 120 hours of policy, procedure and application. In this effort we studied choice theory, reality therapy and hundreds of development tools. Choice theory is an amazing empowerment tool that allows our students to grasp onto each decision and choice they are making in their lives and see the positive and negative consequences of each.
All we do is behave- William Glasser

Imagine if you woke up one morning and everyone around you had changed. In fact, they had changed so much that they had completely lost themselves. They transformed back into a more youthful version with a devilish twist of behavior complexes. The way in which you were living was no longer relevant, the relationships you had built were useless and the language in which you spoke no longer made sense. That was my world during instructor blocks on course. My team of Sam, Hannah and I were put in an 8 hour live action drama. We woke up at 6:30am as instructors and the characters of our 9 other friends did not let up until we had properly managed each behavior and made it through our daily flow properly. These behaviors ranged from excessive truancy, disrespect, leading a revolution against us, swearing in our face, shoe piracy, sexual & inappropriate joking to depression, anger, jealousy and gang/ drug related dependence.

I made it out alive.

One thing I constantly am realizing. I AM ALWAYS LEARNING. no matter what that looks like or entails in my life, I will continue to grow.

Use my hands, use my feet
To make your kingdom come
Through the corners of the earth
Until your work is done
'Cause Faith without works is dead
And on the cross your blood was she'd
So how could I not give it away so freely?
I give all myself.
I give all myself
I give all myself... to you

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Upslope Craft Lager- Boulder Colorado

I don't have a song in my mind right now so to put lyrics up that aren't equating to the mood of my writing, or my mind would just be outright wrong. Not saying that i couldn't or wouldn't, just fully saying that this time around i'll stick to what i know best.

Stories... from the undeserving... from the grateful... living in action.

I just got back from a great experience with 4 random people that i just met no more than 2 weeks ago. At the end of staff training I and these 4 others had an 8 day break before we began the intensive regimen of what ARCC refers to as "prep days", also referred to as a tornado of information, an exit of any comfort zones and a realization that YOU will be in a crazy different country in charge of 18 kids in a matter of days. But before all this was a glorious road of adventure, Yosemite and Big Sur (pics up on FB).

We traveled to Yosemite first and began a 30 mile loop around Hetch Hetchy and the surrounding water fall trails. Every time I experience a wilderness venture not only do I learn more about the world we live in, but I gain more insight on who I am and the character I have become. One of my new friends Quinn was traveling with us here in Yosemite and a few hours into the trip began pouring out a wealth of knowledge relating to experiences he has had during his life growing up. It was amazing to me, and also quite hilarious how he exposed them.

Quinn's life motos:
1. Never Bail
2. Dibs
3. Roll Deep

These may seem like a joke yet at the heart of it, they teach valuable lessons in every way. I watched as no matter what crappy situation we entered, including a chest high river crossing in freezing water, Quinn never bailed, but in fact uplifted the group in leadership. Even when Scott left his water bottle at the trail head 30 min into the hike, Quinn hiked back to get it only to come up empty handed an hour later. This type of characteristic I find very rarely in a person. In fact, I find the opposite more often then not, where people will only go out of there own way for others if it directly benefits themselves, rather than taking up a role to be there for someone when they need it most.

Dibs on the other hand became a huge joke on our trip and created an insane amount of laughter. At one time the moto dibs enabled a back car seat made for three, packed with 3 people 4 packs, 3 bear canisters and box of food and virtually every form of gear we packed. The moto of dibs of course is vocalizing or calling dibs on the worst situations rather than calling shotgun, or any situation that betters yourself. It is of course hard to explain and better acted out but i will try. In this way Quinn before anyone could realize it would always call the middle seat, gather up the bear canisters and relieve others of a potentially bad 4 hour ride to Yosemite. It allowed for an enjoyable event in weird hard situations. Isn't that a wild thing? Imagine if all of us chose to put ourselves into harder situations to alleviate the stress of others. What would our world look like? A little better i would hope.

Roll Deep of course tags along with the top two motos and just emphasizes community and the importance of doing things together no matter what. Without questioning the convenience of controlling your own circumstance i saw a sense of freedom in his eyes as he rolled deep with all of us not just in Yosemite but also in Big Sur.

I wanted to share this mainly because of the rarity of this type of character. I struggle with showing this in my own life and i deeply struggle surviving in surroundings where this type of community is not prevalent. I have taken this as a lesson to be learned.

.....stories from a confessing sinner.....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Californication- Red Hot Chili Peppers

It's the edge of the World
And all of western civilization
The sun may rise in the east
At least it settles in a final location
It's understood that hollywood
Sells Californication

WFR Course-
I'm here in Petaluma California, home of Lagunitas IPA. In fact, i may be enjoying one of these while i write...

I arrived here on the 31st of May excited to start the next chapter in life, this of course being the beginnings of life after undergrad University. If anything, i guess a plane ride to California not knowing anyone on the other end, with an adventure ahead of me, sounds like a great way to begin.

We are staying at the KOA in Petaluma, CA. There are about 30 of us first year trip guides, which means a ridiculous collection of mountaineering, backpacking and all weather tents spread aimlessly across these camp grounds, mixed in with slack lines, frisbee and hammocks... feels like home. Our mission here is a 10 day intensive study WFR (Wilderness First Responder) course. This includes CPR certification and a heavy load of practical skills that will become highly needed for the trips we are all leading. Yesterday, we had a scenario that involved 5 people hanging from a jungle gym made of ropes with fake blood everywhere. The scenario described to us was that a gondola from a french ski resort had fallen a large distance down and there were 5 victims. The 25 of us were expected to organize ourselves and give emergency care to 5 victims who didn't speak english and had several specific and unique things wrong such as a broken femur, clavicle, ribs, brain damage and in my victims case a skewer threw his arm, spinal and severe shock. HA it was crazy. I'm looking forward to tomorrow nights adventure. Our instructors are having us do a night scenario, where the directions to the location will be given at dinner and we have been told to expect at least a 30 min drive. I can't imagine what this episode will look like.

The team here is bonding really well. I can't wait for staff training after the weekend. I can't wait for Thailand after staff training.

Dream of Californication

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ten Thousand Words- The Avett Brothers

Ten thousand words swarm around my head
Ten million more in books written beneath my bed
I wrote or read them all when searchin’ in the swarms

Just got back from the trip of a lifetime... I never thought that this trip would carry so much impact on me. Some say that with each time travelling you learn more about yourself, who you are and what your capable of. With the lessons this trip my mind was shaped and i hope to have grown stronger.
And says I’m too caught up
They say young is good and old is fine
And truth is cool but all that matters
Is that you have your good times

Travelling with a group of 18 others to a foreign country with an academic, spiritual and social goal in mind seems a bit of a stretch. In fact, i believed it to be nearly impossible, thinking i would most likely be sacrificing one if not two of the three goals in mind. Of coarse if i were to choose which ones, i would have been left with purely social/ entertaining, but the Lord had something different and way more real planned out for our lives during this trip. I look forward to documenting pieces of this trip for the readers: bit by bit.

I had spent my time on the plane reading Rob Bell's new book "Love Wins." I do admit the controversy surrounding this book influenced my decision to read it heavily. Yet, within the first 40 pages i resonated with his questions, his tone and his agenda more than any other book i have read in the last couple months. There are 2 billion Christians... what happens to the 4 billion others? Is the God we serve willing to punish the majority of the earth's people? I began a wrestling match with these kind of topics (unanswerable questions) during my first trip to Kenya. Here my eyes were opened to a hurt and pain that i had never seen before, past national geographic or television programs. It became real when i made real friends who were facing unimaginable hardships.

And here i am.....

Why am i so lucky? Why was i born into freedom of religion, freedom of speech and wealth? Why has life been so easy for me?
But their good times come with prices
And I can’t believe it when I hear the jokes they make
At anyone’s expense except their own
Would they laugh if they knew who paid?

The hard thing is i can't answer those questions and neither can any scholar or professional out there. In fact, my life is nothing more than a faith based travel, something that looks similar to the lives of the early christians, to Paul. We studied Paul intensely on this trip. The opportunities to visit such places as Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Miletus, Laodecia and more continued to focus my mind on Paul as a real human who had an amazing faith.

Impact moment: I was sitting on the stairs of the Great Theatre in Ephesus. Here is the city where Paul was beaten, torn up but remained strong in preaching the gospel. Here is where the first of the early churches were started amongst "house churches", which can be described as 10 people meeting in a home to worship and we had the opportunity to see and touch these ruins. Here is where 25,000 people rioted in the streets against Paul's message, and Here is where it became real to me.

I was looking out towards the theatre street, which in its time led straight to the Sea. The street was clear and images of the ancient Ephesians kept coming to my head. What would i be like if i were alive during this time? Would i accept Paul's message or would i be stuck in my own polytheistic ways?
Ain’t it like most people? I’m no different
We love to talk on things we don’t know about

To slow your life down and know that God has placed you in the exact moment, with the knowledge, friendships, character, passion and experience that you have is a life changing practice. When i get worked up with compassionate questions that i can not answer, these moments where God sits me down, simply allowing me to know that he is real, Paul was real, the Ephesians were real and my struggles and victories are real, now can not be erased in my mind!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Through this pain I refine
Tearing me from within
Screaming to be released but held fast by Your love
Hold me here
Break me until my face breathes upon this ground
Outstretched with my head to the floor
Spent of all my strength
Relying on Yours

Most people would reflect on this song either as a call of depression or a confused metal lover, but i pose a different side to either these judgements...

I hear this song as a reflection of Saint Paul. As i am here currently in Corinth, Greece having visited Athens and eager to see Turkey in the next few days i am reminded daily of the pain and outcry that the early church was involved with. Paul was a not an immortal man with no fear, but when he stepped into Corinth after being alone in Athens he was AFRAID.

The Lord says "Do not fear, for i am with you." 1 corinthians 16:13