Yesterday was a good day.
Every couple of hours, one of my boys came back home.
First, Star made it back from his first solo Boy Scout camp. Let me tell you, there is no smell like the smell of a Boy Scout after a two-night camp. Have mercy.
It was a reality TV themed weekend, full of challenges for the teams to complete. Some examples:
Home Makeover: The teams chose objects from a pile provided by the leaders, then decorated their tents with the objects.
Top Chef: Each team had to make lunch for the leaders using ingredients given to them. Some of the ingredients Star's team had to use were Kraft mac and cheese, Vienna sausage, and pineapple.
Amazing Race: Each team had to choose which roadblock to complete. They could either light 10 matches with a magnifying glass or start and keep one fire lit for 10 minutes. All were surprised when the group that chose to light the matches finished in just a few minutes.
Survivor: After each challenge, there was meeting to vote on which team lost points. The winning team had an immunity necklace, but each of the other teams lost either 10, 20, 30, or 40 points.
It was the perfect camp for him to go to as his first one. Teams were assigned, so no awkward searching for a team. The weather was fantastic. Most of the troop went, so he really got to know a lot of the boys. He had a great time.
Hubby came home around noon to a round of cheers and hugs. (I think I cheered the loudest.) The little boys were thrilled with their souvenirs; the bags of peanuts and pretzels from the plane. He wasn't home long before I went and laid down for a rest.
Finally, at 5:00 Phoenix got home from his work weekend in southern Indiana. I am so very glad that he had the opportunity to go. Those kids worked their tails off, but had some fun along the way, too. Because the boys aren't 16 years old, they couldn't help in the buildings in town. They were assigned a farmer's field, which was approximately one square mile. They walked back and forth across that field, picking up all trash that they came across.
Phoenix was astounded at the things they discovered. Astounded by the force of the tornado that could send these things into the middle of a field. They found car keys, shingles from several different roofs, a Harley Davidson jacket, a license plate, a little boy's shirt. He said the thing that really struck him was when he found a coloring book. Some of the pages were obviously colored by a little hand. He was sad for that child and wondered where that little person was.
Volunteers were told that if they found any papers with a person's name on it, the paper needed to be turned in. Phoenix did find a bank statement to turn over.
It took 35 people 5 hours to clear that field, filling truck after truck with debris.
Along with field clearing, they helped organize the food pantry donations and clean up the yards in a neighborhood.
Sunday morning, they went to 8:00 Mass, then got back out there, tackling another farmer's field.
After the work for the day was done, Phoenix and a couple of other boys went to a nearby playground. There they met several families with small children. Those kids were enthralled with the big, stinky, filthy boys. And after that labor-intensive day, when most people would just want to drop and rest, Phoenix and his friends pushed those little kids round and round on the merry-go-round.
Here's a fact that I did not know.
When FEMA comes in to help with a disaster area, any money they hand out is actually just a loan. It must be paid back. However, volunteer labor is deducted from the total repayment amount. Phoenix had to keep track of his time, and the town was able to deduct $8 per hour from the total owed to FEMA.
There is still much, much more work to be done. It is predicted that it will take two years to get everything cleaned up and rebuilt. If you would like to help, one way is through Catholic Charities. They are setting up a schedule of workers to take trips down. They are also taking donations. You can go to www.archindy.org/cc/disaster for more information.
I am once again astounded and grateful for all of the people who work so hard to make other people's lives better.
Whether it is a few Boy Scout leaders who plan and present a weekend of fun for a group of boys or a sixteen year old boy who organizes a group of volunteers to help a town recover from tragedy, I am both humbled and inspired.
Keep praying for those in southern Indiana
Have a lovely day!