Des Moines – 0 Miles

July 18, 2010

Today was a day off the bike for us, but may well have turned into one of the busiest days of the trip for some of us. We started the day at the Easter Seals Camp Sunnyside here in Des Moines for Breakfast. This was a special stop for me in particular, because I spent the summer of 2003 working as a camp counselor at this camp, and actually met my wife Laura that summer. Laura is working here at camp again this summer, which of course made this a very special stop for me.

After breakfast, Clair LeCroy, the camp director took us on a tour of the facilities. I was so happy that the team had a chance to see what makes Camp Sunnyside such a special place. Unfortunately since it was still the weekend, there were no campers on site, so we didn’t get the chance to see the camp in action.

Our next stop was a sponsored lunch at Jason’s Deli thanks to the manager Scott Lukan. It was great to have such a tasty lunch, and many of us took advantage of the soft serve ice cream and soft drinks to create some root beer floats to go with our meals.

At this point, the team headed off to a visit of Camp Dodge, the headquarters of the Iowa National Guard. I however headed back to Camp Sunnyside because they were doing check-in today with 96 adult campers and can always use an extra hand. It gave me a chance to get to know some of the staff and as the campers came in I helped them get their bags unpacked, and talked to them about their favorite part of camp. Most of the campers told me that the best part of camp was the social interaction that they got there, and just chatting with them made me miss my time there.

Once we got all of the campers checked in, Laura and I caught back up with the team at a dinner at Dave and Emily Adickes house. Dave rode on the Journey of hope about a decade ago, and has always been a strong supporter of the team. We also had a chance to meet with some local running and biking enthusiasts that Dave had invited to mingle with us, and had a chance to share some stories with them.

While at Camp Sunnyside earlier in the day, I arranged to bring a few guys back in the evening to take part in the beginning of the week camp fire. Unfortunately a lot of the team had to get some Laundry done, bikes cleaned, and some were in need of some extra hours of sleep. At the end of dinner, I grabbed four other team members who could spare the time, both of the TJs, Marshal, and Zak, and headed back to camp. We arrived there just at the end of dinner, which gave these guys a chance to see some of the messiest aspects of camp. I told the guys to jump in and help wherever they could, and was very happy to see Marshal getting the chance to help a camper eat. Once we got the tables cleared up, we started walking with the campers out to the campfire. It was there that we sang some great camp songs, and kept the 96 campers entertained for about an hour and a half. Throughout the night, the camp counselor in me from 7 years ago was resurrected through song, and at toward the end, I led the camp in one of my favorites from when I was a kid, “the littlest worm”.

For me, this visit was something very special because of my past with this place, but I think I managed to make it something special for some of the other guys as well. Marshal made the comment to me after the campfire that it was the best friendship visit of the trip so far. I only wish the rest of the team could have taken part in it. At the end of the day, I wish I could have stayed a few more days to help out. We had so much fun that night that Laura and I are planning on returning to camp to next summer.

(I had such a good time I forgot to take any pictures today!)

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