Pi Kappa Phi

Kappa Iota - University of Idaho

Exceptional Leaders. Uncommon Opportunities.

7/23/15 - Camp Riley day 5

     (the last two camps have both had pretty spotty service, so my updates are definitely falling behind, but I have some service at least temporarily so I will be posting as much as I can here as quickly as possible. Sorry for the delay)

  

Since we got the horse run project completed so quickly, we had the whole day today to hang out with campers for what that call Challenge Day.  

at the beginning of the two week camp the campers all make goals that they want to complete before they leave camp. Since this week was all campers with some level of physical disability, many of the challenges included things like swimming laps in the pool, canoeing across the lake, or walking up the steep Access road into the camp called cardiac hill.  

 

I knew that it was going to be cool to see the campers complete their challenges on that final day of camp, but I had no idea just how inspirational it was going to be. 

Campers who were usually in wheelchairs were walking or sometimes even crawling on their hands and knees up the hill into camp. Campers who couldn't usually stand on their own were In the pool swimming or walking laps all by themselves. I couldn't help but tear up seeing all of the friends I had made doing such incredible things and working so hard to achieve them. Seeing a girl spend three hours climbing a hill on her hands and knees just to prove that she can do it on her own really shows that these challenges are so much more than just simple tasks. The work and dedication that these campers show is just so heartwarming and inspirational.

the crescendo moment was when we were at awards that night. With the help of one of our guys, a girl was able to slowly step out of her wheelchair and Walk to go accept her award.  it wasn't until she got it and got back into her chair that she mentioned that that was her first time walking, ever. the whole audience Was completely silent, And then erupted in the biggest cheers I've ever heard.

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i wish I could share more pictures, but due to some issues with camper media releases I can only use mostly pictures taken by our photographer Jesus Palma. As always, check out his albums for more pictures of the awesome work we've been up to this week.

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- Ryker Belnap

7/22/15 - Camp Riley day 4

Today was a very busy but very successful day. since the last two days went so well, we as a team decided to wake up early so that we could finish the horse run a day early. 

 

We spent the morning on ladders and fence posts setting rafters. 

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By breakfast we had set all the rafters and we're ready to begin siding and roofing. We spent the rest of the day adding siding, plywood, and tin roofing. We managed to work fast enough that we were completely done by 5:30. It was exciting to get such a big project done so fast. 

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In the evening we got to go play World Cup games with the campers. We played finger soccer, sang camp songs and soccer cheers, and made crafts. It was fun to play with the campers, and to help the councillors out with managing the craft stuff.  

 

tomorrow we have the day off since we finished early, so we will get the opportunity to help the campers with challenge day.  

 

the connection I personally have had with the campers in my cabin this week Has been especially close and meaningful. I'm really excited to see them blast through their challenges tomorrow.

 

til next time, 

-Ryker Belnap

7/21/15 - Camp Riley day 3

Today was another busy day working on the horse barn. We spent the morning putting up 2x4 boards between the now firm posts. I also personally spent a lot of time on a ladder cutting off post tops with a circular saw and a saws-all.  

Putting up the framing

Putting up the framing

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Staying busy cutting post tops

Staying busy cutting post tops

By the afternoon we had the rails up and were able to raise and secure the header boards along the front and back of the run. The boards were huge and took a lot of guys and a lot of patience, but by dinner we had them up, secure, and ready for rafters.  

 

Tonight we had a fundraising night so we didn't Hang out with the campers much after dinner, but we were definitely still productive. In fact, since I have already met my fundraising goal, I would like to mention my fraternity brother and now good friend Jeff Boyle's dundraising page. 

 

Jeff is a newer, very active member of his home chapter and attended a Pi Kappa Phi leadership conference in Charlotte, North Carolina this last June. that was where he first heard about Build America and what it is we do. He joined in a heartbeat only two weeks before our trip started, and has been working hard to meet his fundraising goal ever since. His support For our team and our cause has been incredible and his Relationships with campers has been inspiring. He still needs to raise about $1,500 In the next two weeks, and we're all trying to help him reach that goal. If anyone would like to support our team, the camps we visit, and Jeff personally, you can read more about him and donate at his website at BoyleBuilds.com .

 

 

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7/20/15 - Camp Riley day 2

Our time at camp Riley has been going so well so far. Since the 48 foot long horse run is our only project for the week, we have had our whole team focusing exclusively on just that.

 

even with so many guys we have been able to keep everyone busy and working. Today we went to the site for the first time and started setting the giant 6x6 posts in their holes. 

Flashbacks to hauling trex posts at Brooklyn's playground

Flashbacks to hauling trex posts at Brooklyn's playground

We spent the whole day getting the posts in, lined up, plumbed, squared, and cemented in place. It might not seem like a lot, but getting this all done right now is gonna make things so much easier over the next few days.

Teamwork at it's finest

Teamwork at it's finest

After we were done working we got to go back and hangout with the campers some more. My cabin has some of the most amazing young women I've ever met And it's a blast getting to play games and hang out with them.

The camp plays a game all week called moose, where you hold up antlers and say someone's name. If they look at you without holding up their hands, they have to roll on the floor. 

The camp plays a game all week called moose, where you hold up antlers and say someone's name. If they look at you without holding up their hands, they have to roll on the floor. 

I'm really excited to get to spend the rest of the week here with Elm Cabin, and I can't wait to see what games we get to play next. 

- Ryker Belnap

 

7/19/15 - Camp Riley day 1

Last night we stayed at camp little giant, a previous BAM stop on our way to camp Riley in Indiana. The cabins were great and the staff and campers were awesome to hang out with. Also, hanging out at the beach and swimming in the lake were both So nice and refreshing after such a hot, tiring week. 

 

This morning we woke up early to have breakfast and head out of the camp early to make it to camp Riley in time. The day was pretty uneventful with a good 6 or 7 hours of driving, but that made it even more exciting when we finally arrived.  

We pulled into the 2500 acre property that was donated to IU and used by the camp, and saw the awesome lodging we would have this week. We all get to stay in a giant, old house that is now set up more like a bed and breakfast or an old fancy fraternity house. The house is by far the nicest amenities we have had all trip, and the old style decor and architecture is pretty cool to check out in my free time. 

we also got to meet the campers for the first time tonight, and they are all so awesome. The focus this week is on kids with physical disabilities, so it's definitely been a change of pace from other weeks, but the kids are all just the coolest group of kids I've ever met. I can't wait to get to hang out with them all this week. 

 

Ill be be posting more frequently again to keep everybody updated, and I'm sure there will be extra pictures posted to Jesus Palma's Facebook photo albums of this week (week 4) 

 

til next time, 

  - Ryker Belnap

7/12-18/15 - Wonderland Camp

Sorry for the big delay in posts for so long. Our last camp had virtually no cell service for me, so I haven't been able to post for awhile. I'll try to condense this week's camp experience into a single post to let everyone know how awesome Wonderland Camp was for us. 

 

at six in the morning on the 12th, we woke up and saw the JoH guys off as they made their way for Milwaukee. Then we headed out for Rocky Mount Missouri.  

 

We stopped at the Missouri state capital on the way to stretch our legs and see a bit of Missouri history. Though my Mormon roots mean that my ancestral relationship with the state was rocky to say the least, it was still cool to see all the history and pride there.

 

An 8-piece senior citizen bluegrass band playing in a frozen yogurt/ tie-dye shop. Definitely one of the weirdest cool experiences I've had so far. 

An 8-piece senior citizen bluegrass band playing in a frozen yogurt/ tie-dye shop. Definitely one of the weirdest cool experiences I've had so far. 

When we got to the camp, we quickly became familiar with the Missouri summer heat and southern humidity. our cabin we got to stay in was by far some of the nicest amenities we've had the whole trip, and boy did we need it just to have a safe haven from the heat and moisture in the air.

 

our team worked on a few big projects this week, including a few cement slabs, a staircase, a big curved Retaining wall, and most importantly, two large sections of the famous wonderland trail that winds across and down the hillside from the camp to the lake to provide wheelchair access. 

 

Similar to what the slab site looked like before a few of us cleared it... 

Similar to what the slab site looked like before a few of us cleared it... 

...And after

...And after

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This week was by far the hottest, sweatiest, most grueling and physically intense work we have done so far, but the results were well worth it at the end of the week. 

 

Sloped hillside concrete slab  

Sloped hillside concrete slab  

Re-poured concrete floor slab

Re-poured concrete floor slab

Brand new curved, sloped retaining wall

Brand new curved, sloped retaining wall

I don't have any pictures of the steps or the finished 75 feet of raised walkways, but they should be on Facebook soon.  

 

Even more amazing than the projects this week though were the awesome campers we met. We had campers of all ages and all abilities, and spending time and playing games with them was an absolute blast. 

Dominique and Pamela, two of the campers I spent the most time with this week

Dominique and Pamela, two of the campers I spent the most time with this week

The most excited and enthusiastic camper I've ever met, and future arm wrestling world champion, Seth. 

The most excited and enthusiastic camper I've ever met, and future arm wrestling world champion, Seth. 

My date To the Thursday night dance, Bethany. She asked me on Wednesday if I would dance with her on Thursday, so I decided to surprise her by showing up at her cabin right before the dance started with flowers to pick her up and escort her to the dance. We had a blast dancing all night and I even got to walk her back to her cabin afterwords

My date To the Thursday night dance, Bethany. She asked me on Wednesday if I would dance with her on Thursday, so I decided to surprise her by showing up at her cabin right before the dance started with flowers to pick her up and escort her to the dance. We had a blast dancing all night and I even got to walk her back to her cabin afterwords

Our whole team had an awesome time doing some amazing work and meeting some incredible campers and councillors. Wonderland Camp has been such a great experience and Its hard to say goodbye, but it makes me even more excited to see what we get to do at Camp Riley this next week.

 

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- Ryker Belnap

7/11/15 - Milwaukee to Des Moines

This morning we woke up nice and early so that we could get to Des Moines as soon as possible. We met up with The Journey of Hope North route cycling team at lodging at Des Moines, and our plan was to beat them there so that we could welcome them when they arrived. unfortunately for us, the JoH team had the same idea, so they ended up beating us by just a few minutes, meaning neither of us was there in time to formally greet the other. 

 

meeting their cycling team and crew members was awesome, and it was cool to see how much work and organization goes into their day to day activities. It was also cool to see so many guys who are just as committed as we are to supporting people with disabilies and The Ability Experience.  

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The other awesome thing about meeting with the north route is that my fellow university of Idaho brother Jacob Hruska is on that route. if you've been reading his blog on the site as well, you know that he's been a crew member for JoH since late May and has been slowly making his way across the U.S. From San Francisco to D.C. Where we will meet with them again for arrival. 

 

it was kind of crazy to see Jacob since this whole trip seems like it's taken place in a different world. But it was great to get to talk to him about all the awesome stuff him and I are doing, and about how we can take what we've learned back to our chapter. Since we're roommates and best friends, it was also just awesome to get to see him and catch up. 

 

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7/10/15 - Camp Wawbeek day 6

This morning we headed out from camp Wawbeek. It's crazy to think that we were already there for six days. Between the work with the train and the activities with the campers it seems like the time just blew by. But as hard as it is to leave, it's nice getting to see how much we affected the camper's experience and how much they wanted to see us before we left. 

 

The group I spent the most time with - from left to right: Ian, Amanda (the counsiler), Tyler, and Maurice

The group I spent the most time with - from left to right: Ian, Amanda (the counsiler), Tyler, and Maurice

We left right after breakfast before the campers did, and got to snag a few more pictures with the train before we left  

Final team train picture

Final team train picture

Presenting our grant check to the camp

Presenting our grant check to the camp

A few more train pics

A few more train pics

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Once we left camp it was a nice drive to Milwaukee where we got to have lunch sponsored by two amazing Pi Kapps. One was a founding father from the Theta Xi Chapter at Arizona State, and the other is a three time Build America Member and a recipient of the Pi Kapp 30 under 30 award. It was super cool getting to meet these amazing guys and hear about the struggles and opportunities they had in their chapters and their summer teams.

 

after that, we drove to the church that was going to be our lodging for the evening. From there we got to go down the road where we had a sponsored meal by our Milwaukee representative who helped train us back in Concord. It was cool seeing some familiar faces, and the food was awesome.  

 

Later that night we got another fun surprise when a parent sponsor made a surprise visit to bring us all frozen custard, farm fresh strawberries, home-made shortbread, and Kringle or "Wisconsin Crack" as its called by locals. All of the food was incredible, and definitely put Wisconsin on my list of best states for food. 

Tomorrow morning we head to Des Moines to meet up with the JoH North route, and I'm pretty excited. More details and pictures to come for sure. 

 

- Ryker Belnap

7/9/15 - Camp Wawbeek day 5

Today was the big day for the train build. It was our last full day here at camp so we knew we had to be quick to get everything done in time. We finished the last of the wheel pieces this morning so I spent most of the day leading teams at the build site. 

 

It was stressful trying to get everything together and Trying to work out all the little kinks at the same time with 18 guys working on the train all at once, but by the time dinner came around everything came together and the train was finally finished. 

 

The site before the train, aaaaand..... 

The site before the train, aaaaand..... 

The finished product

The finished product

The camp carpenter still has to come through and put on the sealing and finishing coat, but the campers still had a blast playing on it for the first time ever tonight. 

Brent even climbed out of his wheelchair and onto the train just to take a turn as conductor. 

Brent even climbed out of his wheelchair and onto the train just to take a turn as conductor. 

The other project our team worked on this week was renovating two sensory rooms for the campers. I didn't have much involvement with this project, but I was amazed to see the work the guys did in such a short time. Their work is just as impressive as the train, even if it wasn't talked about as much. 

The first planning stages in the old sensory room

The first planning stages in the old sensory room

The repainted sensory room with new Paint, soft flooring, trim, wall decorations, and wall puzzles.

The repainted sensory room with new Paint, soft flooring, trim, wall decorations, and wall puzzles.

We also were lucky enough to get to go to both camp's dance parties tonight. As one of the biggest activities of the camp, the campers talk about the dance all week, so it was awesome to get to be a part of it After so much build up.  

 

I had dinner at the respite camp tonight where a young camper named Macy invited me over to her table to eat with her. After we talked for a bit she asked if I would dance with her at the dance tonight. I told her that I would love to, but that I might be a little late since I had a little bit more finish work on the train to do.

 

well the finish work took a little longer than I thought and I ended up only being able to sneak over to the dance for about the last half hour or so. But even after being so late, the second Macy saw me she ran over in her nice dancing dress, grabbed my hands, and started dancing with me. She didn't stop dancing or let go of my hands once the whole rest of the dance except to tap councillors on the shoulder to introduce them to her new best friend Ryker and ask all the female councillors if they were jealous. I had a fun time dancing, and I was glad I could make Macy's night So special as well.

Macy insisted we take a ton of photos to make sure everyone knew just how much fun we were having

Macy insisted we take a ton of photos to make sure everyone knew just how much fun we were having

Tomorrow morning we head out for Milwaukee, and I know how tough it's gonna be to say goodbye to all the new friends I've made here at camp. But I can't wait to see what the next few weeks have in store.  

 

- Ryker Belnap

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7/8/15 - Camp Wawbeek day 4

Today was probably the busiest day yet. Our group had to finish the rest of the cutting in the shop, assemble the platforms and frames for the train cars, and load and haul all of the pieces to the actual build site. 

cutting meant more than two hundred individual interconnecting pieces Jig-sawed out and sanded just for the wheels alone. Adding all the trim and decor meant hundreds of pieces carefully and slowly cut to make sure the train is fun, cool, and most importantly, safe. 

Making the last of the cut lists for the train project

Making the last of the cut lists for the train project

Assembly at the site was also very tough, since all of the pieces were measured and cut way back at the barn, and any problems or inconsistencies now meant  using a lot of thinking on our feet to get things to work.

The day's stress was well worth it though when we got to see the camp talent show this evening. A whole bunch of campers performed, many of them volunteering to sing on the spot after they saw how much applause and support we were giving all of them. It was so cool to see all of the campers dancing, singing, and expressing themselves on stage so confidently. The show was a blast, and even some of the Build America guys got together to perform a few things.  

I wish I had more pictures, but remember to follow my personal page or Jesus Palma's album BAM 2015 part two for more photos

-Ryker Belnap

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7/7/15 - camp Wawbeek day 3

Another busy day at camp Wawbeek. Our work continued on the train today, with even more hands on deck and people and things moving around. It's been tough making sure that everyone has a job and knows how to do it properly, but we've been making steady progress on the train cars still, so things are looking pretty good. The biggest pain has been the distance between the shop and the site, since the only way from one to the other is a ten minute drive by car.

Our daily circle-up before breakfast

Our daily circle-up before breakfast

 

on the plus side, the more we cut and measure things, the more guys on our team start to learn and use. People are really starting to shine with different tasks and tools. Overall, cuts are getting straighter, lines are getting more precise, and pieces are getting built faster. At this rate we'll have the train done in no time.

Me explaining to some of the guys how to build our frames

Me explaining to some of the guys how to build our frames

There just never seems to be enough cut lists Drawn out

There just never seems to be enough cut lists Drawn out

 

At my table during meals I've really started to get to know some of the campers well. At my table I sit with three guys; Ian, a very talkative, outgoing young man who loves meeting people and telling them about his day, Tyler, a super smart kid who loves books (particularly ones with movies made about them), and Maurice, a guy who is soft spoken, but loves High fives, hugs, and anything involving music.

 

I feel like I've found my niche here at camp Wawbeek and its already hard thinking about leaving on Friday. But at least I think I'll be able to leave knowing that I've done some good work and made some great friends this week.

- Ryker Belnap

7/6/15 - Camp Wawbeek day 2

Today we finally started work on the train. I have been lucky enough to be chosen as one of the build leads on the project, and I'm hoping that my experience from Brooklyn's Playground helps out here.

Giving initial instructions to the rest of the group

Giving initial instructions to the rest of the group

The plans we received are helpful, but are confusingly written and have a lot of tiny details. Not having an expert on the design has made things tougher, and I've spent a good portion of time figuring out what it is exactly the plans call for, but we've already made a lot of progress on the train and hope to keep things moving just as smoothly the rest of the week. 

I spend a lot of time sitting here at the plans, making new cut lists and watching over the shop. 

I spend a lot of time sitting here at the plans, making new cut lists and watching over the shop. 

The weather today was nothing but pouring rain, so we had to keep all of our work inside the tool shop, far from the actual site. It's a pain doing so much pre-fab without actually putting much together, but at least with all these complicated designs we're never short on things to do.  

 

I have personally spent most of my down time at camp Wawbeek hanging out with kids there. I have a regular group that I sit with now for just about every meal.  I've noticed that many of these kids with autism tend to take a little bit longer to warm up to new faces, so I've tried to really reinforce the connections I've started to make by setting a regular meal routine with them. 

The camp dining hall

The camp dining hall

I hope that this weather clears up so we can get to assembling at the site, and that the rest of the build goes smoothly. 

- Ryker Belnap

7/5/15 - Camp Wawbeek day 1

Today we finished our drive to camp Wawbeek. After three long days of driving, it was so nice to finally make it here. The camp is split up into two seperate camps, Camp Wawbeek and Camp Respite.

Camp Wawbeek is a larger camp that holds around a hundred campers, and focuses on a certain age or disability group each week. This week the group is comprised of boys and girls with high functioning autism.

The respite camp is smaller and only holds about 20-30 campers, and doesn't specify or group by disability. The respite camp tends to be for individuals that need more attention or specific care, and has 1 to 1 camper to counsiler ratios at all times.

A cool plaque I spotted when we got to camp

A cool plaque I spotted when we got to camp

Both camps are part of the oldest operating Easter seales camp in the nation, and have amazing facilities and land. At over 400 acres of land, the combined camps have plenty to do. Even staying in one of the oldest cabins in the camp, our team has our own bathrooms, showers, and even mattresses to sleep on, which is so awesome after using straight sleeping bags for so long. 

Tomorrow  we start work on the big wooden train play toy as well as a few of the sensory rooms that we will be painting, renovating, and installing stuff inside of. 

The future sight of the train  

The future sight of the train  

- Ryker Belnap

7/4/15 - Cleveland to Chicago

What a fun Fourth of July! We started our day nice and early heading out from Cleveland at about 4:30 to make sure we were in Chicago by lunch time. After a nice long drive we arrived at another Parent sponsor house where we were surprised with a delicious Fourth of July barbecue meal courtesy of the Straka family. Their son David was a BAM team member in 2014 and organized this stop. After that, we unloaded our gear and tools at their house, and drove into Chicago. 

Chicago skyline as we entered the city

Chicago skyline as we entered the city

Our second surprise was that the Straka family had scored us all tickets to see the Chicago White Sox play at U.S. cellular Stadium. 

The view from our center-field seats  

The view from our center-field seats  

We got to watch the stadium's Fourth of July celebration, stadium fireworks, the White Sox beating the Orioles by a single run, and even got to leave with some free souvenirs thanks to it being free bobble head day at the park.

Bobby Jenks - pitcher that helped the White Sox beat the Astros In 2005 and win Chicago their first World Series title since 1917

Bobby Jenks - pitcher that helped the White Sox beat the Astros In 2005 and win Chicago their first World Series title since 1917

After the game we took the green line into the heart of Chicago to check out the sights. As an architecture major, saying I was a little overwhelmed would be an understatement. The skyline alone was pretty incredible to see. 

Just one of the many skyline pictures I took downtown  

Just one of the many skyline pictures I took downtown  

I got a chance to visit the Chicago architecture center (really just more of a gift shop) but I didn't get to stay long since apparently not many other guys are interested in looking at flooring samples and architecture history books for a half hour. The coolest sight though had to be seeing all of the new work to renovate Millenium Park. With a big focus on universal design (the idea that all amenities should be equally Accessible to people with disabilities instead of just having separate handicapped ones) the park really has some incredible sights. 

Jay Pritzker pavilion and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.  

Jay Pritzker pavilion and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.  

Winding, serpentine path across the street that allows full ADA wheelchair compliance and a fun walk through the park

Winding, serpentine path across the street that allows full ADA wheelchair compliance and a fun walk through the park

The rock climbing structures as taken from the cement roller skating track that wraps around them

The rock climbing structures as taken from the cement roller skating track that wraps around them

The slide crater - part of the children's area with giant play structures located in a big sunken crater that's all covered in soft rubber play turf material with slides along the edges

The slide crater - part of the children's area with giant play structures located in a big sunken crater that's all covered in soft rubber play turf material with slides along the edges

The skyline after the fireworks show at the lakeside

The skyline after the fireworks show at the lakeside

Tomorrow we begin the last leg of our longest drive between camps to camp wawbeek, our second summer camp build location. 

 

- Ryker Belnap  

7/3/15 - Boston to Cleveland

Today was a crazy long day. After spending most of the night running loads of laundry through for the team, we woke up at 4:30 in the morning to head out for our lunch stop in Rochester, New York. It was a very long drive to get there, but we finally made it and got to eat a sponsored mea at Henrietta's hots, a Rochester staple known for its garbage plates - a styrofoam container loaded with your choice of meat and two sides that you cut up, mix together, close the lid, and shake til it looks like this.

 

It might not look the most appetizing. By this hamburger, potato, and baked bean garbage plate is definitely one of the best meals I've had all trip. 

It might not look the most appetizing. By this hamburger, potato, and baked bean garbage plate is definitely one of the best meals I've had all trip. 

After we were done eating, we got to take a bit of a detour up to Niagara Falls to take a few pictures. We're actually the first Pi Kapp summer crew for any of he three events to make it that far north, which was a pretty cool record to set. The pictures are being touched up and eorked on still so I don't have them to post, except for a few we took while we were there. 

 

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After Niagara, we had another three hours or so til Cleveland. When we got there we got a delicious dinner at an authentic little Italian restaurant. The feed was great, and to top it all off we got to stay In an empty dorm at Case Western which meant real beds, individual shower stalls, and even private sleeping rooms! You really start to appreciate that type of stuff once it stops becoming so commonplace for you. 

Hopefullymore pictures to come of our group and our pictures at Niagara, but follow @theabilityexp On Instagram or look at Jesus Palma's photo album on Facebook for the most up to date photos and videos.

 

thanks for reading, 

Ryker Belnap

7/2/15 - Camp Allen day 5

Today we had an especially busy morning. We got up extra early since we had to put the finishing touches on all of our projects as well as see all of the campers off. 

As we finished up our building work, it was amazing to look back and see the huge list of projects we were able to get done. We got more things done than we expected, even with the weather coatings us about a day and a half of work time. 

Gate hung and tightened

Gate hung and tightened

BBQ patio dug, poured, and cured

BBQ patio dug, poured, and cured

Deck framed, set, and deck boards laid

Deck framed, set, and deck boards laid

Office ramp rebuilt and steps added

Office ramp rebuilt and steps added

Main dining hall entrance completely replaced

Main dining hall entrance completely replaced

Kyle testing out the new ramp

Kyle testing out the new ramp

We also leveled, edged, and re graveled the trail through the sensory garden that the 2014 team made last year, but I didn't get any good pictures of it after it was done.  

 

Seeing the the campers off was a bittersweet experience. It was very clear that we had made a difference in their camp experience, And I think they made even more of an impact on us During our time there. When we were giving some of the campers hugs goodbye and they were saying how much they didn't want to leave camp or how they couldn't wait to see us next year, I'd be lying if I said I didn't tear up a little. 

Charlene and I snapping a quick selfie

Charlene and I snapping a quick selfie

Seeing how the few days we've gotten to spend here at camp Allen have made such a difference on us, the campers, the staff, and the camp itself, I'm more excited than ever to keep doing what we're doing over the next five weeks. Any doubts any of us had going into this trip have gone right out the window.  

 

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Tonight we are staying at Kelly and Sue Stacy's home just outside of Boston. Their son did the Journey of Hope a few years ago, and they were so amazed by the event and the guys doing it that they actually worked to create the parent support crew role for the organization just so that they could continue to be a big part of our program. Needless to say they have spoiled us with delicious food, excellent lodging, and laundry facilities (truly a godsend). Our team couldn't be more thankful for their support and love for us, and we can't wait to see them again at arrival in DC. We're now all refreshed and ready to begin our journey to Wisconsin tomorrow.

- Ryker Belnap

7/1/15 - Camp Allen day 4

 

Today me and my crew spent the day continuing to work on the deck project. The first half of the day it rained like crazy and we had some close lightning, so all of the groups had to do all of their measuring and cutting in the tiny garage at the edge of the camp.

It made it pretty tough to get everything lined up, flushed, and level, but after we finally got the pieces out to the site in the afternoon we were able to tweak And trim until we made it work. Now we have a super sturdy deck frame readily to have the deck boards run in the morning.

Tonight was also the awards night for the campers. We started outside under the giant outdoor tent, but then the rain started coming sown so hard that everything was flooding and we had to bring it inside. In the thirty seconds it took to run from the tent to the mess hall every piece of my clothing was soaked. Then we had to run across the camp to clean up our sites and pick up our tools out of the rain. By the time we made it to the awards celebration, our whole group was soaked to the bone.  

It was worth it though. Awards were super fun and even our BAM crew got a lot of applause and congratulations, (as well as a few free t-shirts). The campers loved getting awards, and afterwords we had a big dance where I got to dance with all the lovely ladies of my Favorite camp Allen cabin Seabee.

Unfortunately I couldn't spend long at the dance, as my crew decided to go out to finish the deck framing tonight before bed. But we'll still be up and at it early tomorrow so we can get done before the campers leave at 9AM. I already know it's gonna be hard to say goodbye to all the amazing people I've met here, but it's exciting to think that we get to go to a new camp and do this all again here in just a few short days.  

 

Once again ill upload the pictures as soon as our photographer Gets them posted tomorrow, so intil then thanks for reading

 

- Ryker Belnap

Packed tight in the garage

Packed tight in the garage

Using space efficiently

Using space efficiently

We even had to share sawhorses

We even had to share sawhorses

The first wheelchair ramp deck almost completed (they added the front steps right after this picture)

The first wheelchair ramp deck almost completed (they added the front steps right after this picture)

Turns out cement is hard to dry in the rain

Turns out cement is hard to dry in the rain

The outdoor portion of the award ceremony

The outdoor portion of the award ceremony

Susie clapping and cheering as she got her award at the ceremony

Susie clapping and cheering as she got her award at the ceremony

Patty was very excited to get hers as well

Patty was very excited to get hers as well

6/30/15 - Camp Allen day 3

Today was another busy day. I was put in charge of the large deck building project, so I spent the entire work day working on that. After the late night the night before doing inventory, the work was extra exhausting. I spent the morning digging out two big trees and a few lilac bushes to prep the site for the new deck. Me and another brother then spent the rest of the day installing posts, plumbing and bracing them, and ripping out the (very firmly installed) current deck. it didn't help that the clouds parted and we had 95 degree sun the whole day either. 

Once we packed in for the day, we spent the evening with the campers playing games for Disney night. We watched skits, played trivia, and sang kareoke with all of the ecstatic campers and staff. Team Seabee and I rocked trivia and took third place, and I must say I was very impressed with my Own Disney knowledge. 

 

 

I'll post pictures on here tomorrow when our photographer uploads the shots to our page, but until then thanks for reading! 

- Ryker Belnap

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6/29/15 - Camp Allen Day 2

Our second day at camp was definitely busier than the first as we start into our projects for the week. We've begun working on leveling the path and maintaining the sensory garden that the 2014 BAM team built, pouring a concrete slab outside of one of the craft cabins, rebuilding a couple of the ramp decks in front of the community cabins, mounting a gate On the back access road to the camp, and constructing a 14'x8' deck about three feet up on the front of the master house overlooking the camp. 

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Grabbing our tools and making plans for the day

Grabbing our tools and making plans for the day

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I was given the gate mounting project with another brother Kevin Lindgren. We we got up to the gate we realized that it was going to be much more work than we originally thought. We spent the whole work day blocking, measuring, and cartiage Bolting the very heavy gate to its post. Unfortunately we weren't able to finish since as we were tightening the tension cable, an eye bolt snapped out of the post and shot down the trail, taking the cable with it.  

 

Kevin and I post-gate fiasco

Kevin and I post-gate fiasco

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The first ramp replacement project

The first ramp replacement project

Repairing tons of broken screens

Repairing tons of broken screens

We finished off the day with the camp Olympics. I was on team Seabee with a group of older women and we did awesome in all of the events throughout the competition. 

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6/28/15 - Camp Allen Day 1

Sorry for the late posting. The first night here I was having service troubles, but I'm now on the camp wifi so I should be good to go. The second night our inventory crew had to take our first tool inventory of the trip and ended up cataloging tools to super late, so I didn't have time to post. 

 

Our first day at camp Allen had been amazing. The weather has been rainy and cold so we haven't been able to do much construction work today, but that's just given us more time to spend with the campers.  

We left boston at 8 this morning in pouring rain and packed everything in the vans super tight under, on, and around people to get it to all fit for our drive to New Hampshire. 

An hour later we arrived at camp Allen, got the tour, and got to hang out with the campers. I can't tell you how amazing it was to meet people so excited to be here and to see us.  

 

We had a movie night with the campers and got to see them in the videos they had filmed with their cabins. Of course this was after we all had a giant paint and glitter fight in the mess hall. I wish I had taken more pictures, but luckily our amazing team photographer Jesus Palma was able to snag a few of me and the team with the campers.

 

 

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