August 15, 2014

Take Me to the Tundra!

I went back to Alaska.

It's a somewhat insane world in which one can experience so many different places on a volleyball ticket. 

But I'll take it.

For the price of working two weeks of All-American Volleyball Camps, I was able to return to so many rad Alaskan friends from my NBC Camps days. That would have been reason enough to go - so everything else ended up as a bonus!

The AAVCs in Alaska are really nice because they are invitation-only camps. Besides my perfect camps at Redding Christian in June, these are probably the easiest camps I've ever coached. The fun part was seeing familiar camper faces from 3+ years back, and even getting to do a home stay with two of my former campers!

We stayed in Anchorage for 10 days, then made the beautiful drive down to the Kenai Peninsula, where we were so generously hosted by another family for 4 more days. 

In Anchorage, I got to spend time with Gly at Virgin Creek Falls, with Krehg, Mary, and Alice catching up on old and new stores, and with Kaitlin in every spare moment. 

The other coaches at camp were a ton of fun to hang out with as well, and my "road hike" with Becky stands out as the highlight. You can't beat gorgeous views, a moose on the loose, a cat stalker, and jumping photos. You just can't.

In the Kenai area, I ended up coaching the Soldotna High School girls team in my own gym. I looked forward to every water break when the group would huddle together and yell out, "SO-HI!" I don't care if that's the school's nickname, it's SO-Hilarious. 

I had two awesome times while on the peninsula. The first was going fishing for the first time. I don't think I'll ever go again because I was told that only in Alaska is it possible to have so much happen in one trip! All three of us coaches who went caught at least three rainbow trout each, and every catch was a thrill!

The best part of being in Kenai is the fact that it's a stone's throw from Nikiski, home of KJ, one of my two favorite Alaskan campers ever, who turned into an epic NBC Camps coach, who turned into one of my Simpson players! (Kaitlin is the other one.) I had the chance to have dinner with KJ's family in their classic Alaskan cabin-on-a-lake home, and to hear firsthand from KJ about her incredible missions trip to Haiti and her transferred life at Northwest Nazarene University on the track team. 

(After counting KJ, this summer I was able to see 5 of my former Simpson players (Jenny, Kelly, Lauren, Kaitlin, & KJ)! Considering I only ever had maybe 22 in the two seasons combined, that's a good number of them. It is such a blessing to see where each of them are in their lives now, and they have become great friends of mine!)

On our way out of Kenai, we stopped at the bakery The Moose is Loose and we ate some very delicious [unhealthy] donuts the rest of the day.

Our last stop before heading to the airport included one final surprise. While finishing everyone's souvenir shopping, I recognized the cashier. I've been "recognizing" a lot of people the past few years, though, so I didn't confirm it really was one more of my former Alaska volleyball campers until I read her name tag, "Alyssa." Perfect!

I'm so thankful I was able to come back to my favorite tundra world and really spend time doing more Alaskan things aside from just coaching volleyball. And it's always a good time when I get to bring my tundra jokes out!

Thanks also to my fellow coaches for all the fun!