Posts Tagged ‘MO’

Freshman Orientation, A Parental POV

Last Friday, I went with our son to his Freshman Orientation at Truman State University, in Kirksville, MO.  Living in Rolla, MO population 19,000 give or take a few, and now facing life in Kirksville, population 17,000 give or take a few, wasn’t much of a shock for our son.  We have heard of students at Truman coming in from St. Louis and its environs having trouble getting used to life in a smaller community, so I was glad to realize our son wouldn’t have that hurdle to contend with as he settles in at school.

Truman State Univ.

It’s a 3 hour drive from Rolla to Kirksville, pretty much due north, driving up highway 63.  The  Ozark  hills are in our area of Missouri, but once we got past Columbia, the Ozark hills and crags gave way to flatter  lands with gently rolling hills.  We saw plenty of fields with corn “Knee high by the fourth of July” and soybeans.  My dad would be pleased to see such well-growing crops.

Truman State University has undergone changes over it’s almost 150 year history.  In 1867, it was known as North Missouri Normal School and Commercial College.  A couple years later, the Missouri  legislature made it into  the First District Normal School for the  training of teachers.  In 1919, the school was renamed Northeast Missouri Teachers College.  1967, a new name was chosen to reflect the expanded course and degrees now being offered: Northeast Missouri State College and then in 1972, the word college was changed to university.  1996,  the school became known as Truman State University, named after Missouri’s only native son to be elected President of the U.S., Harry S. Truman.  (In fact, for the incoming Freshman, they have to read a book about a road trip/vacation Harry and Bess Truman took after his presidency.  Many of the orientation activities will be borrowed from the book: Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure by Matthew Ageo.)

Harry Truman's Excellent

 

We found the campus easily and the University had taken several of the parking lots closest to the student union, our meeting site, and made them for visitors parking.  I thought it a smart marketing idea that the University’s bookstore had employees out front and center handing each student a drawstring bag in the school’s main color of purple, with a coupon in each bag for  a percentage off of books purchased that day.  With our 3 older kids having either graduated or almost being done with college, we know that a lot of textbooks are purchased online, even rented online(they have to be returned) and that those methods of obtaining textbooks have hurt college bookstores, but hey! That’s supply and demand, entrepreneurship, and capitalism at work.  Later, when we did make some purchases at the University’s bookstore, he was shocked at the bill.  Welcome to the world of a college bookstore!

   College major textbooks costs

After a welcome from the employee in charge of that day’s orientation, and one from the University’s President, the “kids” were sent away to get their photo id’s taken, and to pick out their first semester classes.  We parents were sent  to listen to 3 different presentations: Career Center and what is it’s purpose in your college student’s life, Counseling Center on facing that empty nest, Rules and Regulations the University has about drugs, alchohol, etc. and the consequences that will happen if bad decisions are made by your student.  My only quibble with the Empty Nest video, is that it sort of assumed that this was either the first child you’ve ever sent off to college, or that it was your last or only child, and you’d be going home to an empty house.  Ha!  I laughed at that, as I still have 3 at home to finish raising when August 17th rolls around and it’s moving the Freshmen into their dorms day at Truman.  I did raise my hand when the gentleman leading this session asked if any of us had advice, and I mentioned that if this child is leaving siblings behind, you may have to also deal with the siblings’ sadness at the older sibling being gone from the home.  The gentleman did thank me for bringing that up and reiterated what I pointed out-be ready to deal with sad little brothers and/or sisters.

Lunch was nice, even though the kids had lunch somewhere else on campus, away from us parents.  We witnessed a fun presentation from the Academic Team, who were helping the freshmen  choose the right classes for their first semesters.  After lunch, it was off to  3 more presentations: What a liberal arts education encompasses at Truman, Accepting your student if they come home with different beliefs, etc., and lastly, the on campus health clinic nurses gave us all the pertinent info we needed as to how they treat sick students, getting those vaccinations updated, sending in the requested medical forms, etc.  All three of the presentations were well done, but the middle one, I’ll be praying that our son stays true to how he was raised and to his faith as he studies to reach his career goal.

As I emerged from the lecture hall after the nurses’ presentation, there was my son.  He’s so tall now!  He had planned his outfit for the day, looking bright and eager and a bit nervous, just like all the students I saw on this day, walking the campus with parents in tow.  Since my first day at Rolla Jr. High is the same day our son moves into his dorm at Truman, hubby and I decided we’d do this go round as a tag team: I’d accompany son on Freshmen Orientation Day, and hubby would take son to the move in the dorm day for Freshmen.

Son wanted to visit his dorm, to see a double room sample, and then walk from the dorm to the buildings where his classes will be held.  His schedule, no classes until 10:30am M-F, I told him don’t be surprised if that’s the only semester where he will be able to sleep in.  Then we went to the bookstore, made some purchases, drove to a local Chinese restaurant for dinner, and then we drove  to Rolla and home.

Summing up, Truman State had a well-planned  orientation event.  My son got to do what he had to do in getting started with his college coursework, I got to hear more about a liberal arts education.  I also was reminded that a lot of Truman students are smart, usually ones who didn’t have to study much in high school and when they get that first bad grade at Truman on a test or quiz, be ready to talk sensibly to them, reassure them, and remind them that now they know how hard they’ll have to work to get the grades they want to achieve.  My son left with a good feeling about what he’ll be experiencing at going to this college, and I did too.  Truman State, I give you two thumbs up!

Lessons Learned on the Current

With our 4th child’s high school graduation looming on May 27th, hubby wanted our family of 9 to go on an outing, or on an adventure, if you will, as we were all gathering that week for the big event on Friday.  Since child #3 recently began his chef career, and only has Mondays off,  hubby chose Monday, May 23rd as the day for our family to canoe and kayak down part of the Current River.   Ozark National Scenic Riverways

We live in South-Central Missouri, at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.  The Ozarks are filled with a lot of spring-fed rivers and streams, which are popular for canoe, kayak, and float trips; a float trip is just that, normally done in the height of a hot, humid Missouri summer, one gets into a large inner tube, and just floats down a river. The Current River, which we traveled on, is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, part of the National Park Service.

I awoke early that Monday morning, getting up at 5:00 am, and as I do when worried about something, I prayed that morning,  that we’d be able to successfully do this activity, that no one would drown, that we would all have great memories from this event.  With our older kids approaching their mid -20s, and our youngest 13, who knows how many vacations we can actually all gather together for in the future?

We left at 8:00 am and got to the canoe/kayak rental business-Jadwins-by 8:40.  Soon, we were all fitted with life jackets, handed our paddles, and climbed into our watercraft,  Hubby and I in a canoe, each of our 7 kids in their own kayaks.  When I say kayak, I don’t mean the traditional type where there is a “lid” or cover over one’s legs.  These kayaks were made of a heavy plastic, and our kids sat down in their kayaks, with a preformed chair back that they could rest their backs against.  We left the shore of the Current River at 9:00 am.  By 9:05, the first of many capsizes happened.   Current River rapids

We had brought a Rubbermaid tote box and lid with us, and it held the picnic lunch, and some other items we didn’t want to get wet.  We also brought another waterproof backpack to hold sunscreens, and a package of bottled waters.  Luckily we were always able to save these items whenever the capsizes happened.  The water that day was ice cold-it took my breath away and I couldn’t speak!  Our trip soon took on a pattern.  We’d be paddling along fine where the river was deep, with calm waters, and a gently curving channel.  However, when the rapids appeared, with shallower, clear waters, and lots of logs jutting part way into the channel, or large brush piles, one of us would get stuck, in these water “hazards” and then capsize.  We’d all work together and grab gear as it was being swept downriver, help the capsized person(s), get to a sandbank, and rest for a few minutes.  Then we’d get set up again, and off we’d go.

We did manage to eat the picnic lunch around noon on another sandbank.  At this point, I let out a few tears and complained to my hubby how this event was stressing me out tremendously and not at all fun and relaxing like I thought it would be.  Watching one’s kids capsize, get trapped by logs and brush, is not a fun sight to see.  We were all getting very tired, and realized that some of the kids belongings did manage to get swept away to never be seen again by us: an extra t-shirt, a water bottle, various slip-on sandals, and hubby’s prescription sunglasses.  I recalled that the canoe rental worker who had driven our family to our launch site had said that as we approached a bridge downriver, to get out at that area, 4oo ft. from this bridge, as there were culverts closer to the bridge and one didn’t want to get sucked into one.  I began a mental mantra,”Get me to that bridge!”  I think some of our kids began the same mantra.  After we got back on the river,  the paddling did go better, the river seemed to lose some of it’s hazards, and by 2:30, we saw the bridge.  A “Hurrah!” broke from our ranks as we saw the bridge and we made a beeline to the shore.  There were some picnic tables at that spot on the shore, and we could see a wide path that had been made in the surrounding woods to a roadway.   We had been advised by Jadwins to portage our equipment near the bridge in order to get to the other side of the river.  With only hubby wanting to go on, the rest of us informed him that we were tired and ready to stop for the day.  We agreed that if none of us could get a cell signal and call Jadwins to pick us up at the point where we were, then we’d go on down the river.  Luckily, oldest daughter was able to get a signal, and we were picked up 20 minutes later, after portaging our equipment to the roadway and the awaiting Jadwins bus and trailer.

After hearing about our troubles on the river, the canoe rental employee did mention that the river was 6 in. higher than normal due to all of the recent rains.  He also added that it’s not for the faint of heart or novice canoers/kayakers.  After we got back to civilization-aka Salem, MO, we went to the local Wal Mart for new slip-on sandals.  Then we went to the Pizza Hut for dinner-sitting in that restaurant and eating that pizza had never been so appreciated by me, before!  We then went to my hubby’s co-worker’s hunting cabin that we had signed up for to spend the night at.  With a thunderstorm ushering in the night, we all turned in.

Looking back now at our adventure, I can say I am proud of my family.  During our time on the river, whenever someone paddled into difficulties, the rest gathered round and helped.  No one yelled at anyone, or belittled those who kept having troubles manuevering.  Many hugs were given and at the restaurant, all agreed that memories had been made this day.  Psalms 127: 3-4 mentions what a blessing children are to a family.  From the NIV translation: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”  Re-reading that verse and with how our children reacted to one another and to their parents during our Current River trip cheered me as to our family’s love and loyalty for one another.  Looking back, a stressful day for me, yielded a wonderful view of my family in action.

Boy Scout Camp 2015 at Arrowhead and Fishing Spiders!

A few weeks back I blogged that I would be out of town due to attending Boy Scout Camp, and I posted some of Norman Rockwell’s wonderful portraits he painted of Boy Scouts through the years, doing scouting activities.  What follows is my account of surviving 3 and 1/2 days of roughing it, well, sort of roughing it, and experiencing what just is boy scout camp.

Camp ArrowheadCamp ARrowhead pic 2

June 7th arrived and  the 12 year old and I drove away in our giant van to meet the other boy scouts with Troop 81 in order to head to Camp Arrowhead, which is in Marshfield, MO; 4o minutes east of Springfield.  We had our gear in Rubbermaid tote boxes, a tip from some of the more experienced scouts in the troop-your stuff stays dry in case you are in a leaky tent, the bugs and critters are kept out of your stuff, too.  We had our sleeping bags, pillows, an extra sheet in case the weather was hot and humid-then the sleeping bag could be lain on top of and the sheet could be the blanket.  We had our cots, flashlights, water bottles, and being a mom, I brought along bug spray, sunscreen, aloe vera gel, bandaids, a broom(which proved to be very useful at the campsite!), extra batteries, a book to read, my son’s handbook,  my cell phone, rain ponchos,  trash bags, and camp chairs.

After the scouts loaded stuff into my van and the scoutmaster’s pick up truck  and the boys were settled in the two vehicles, we were off.  Heading west on I-44, hills and curves ahead(though pretty  smooth compared to a trip I took to Emminence, MO 2 years ago!!!!  Upset stomachs hit some of my kids on that trip!!! The Ozark Mountains aren’t to be ignored!)

We arrived at Camp Arrowhead around noon, and the boys ate their sack lunches while their scoutmaster had to wait in line at the Camp’s office to check in.  After watching the boys try to flip one another’s ball hats off of their heads numerous times, and me having the foresight to have our two scouts check in their medications with the Camp Nurse, it was off to the camp site.

We drove over to campsite Choctaw(I noticed that most of the campsites are named after Native American Tribes).  We also met two more troops who would be sharing Choctaw with us, one troop from West Plains, MO(they liked to tell Arkansas jokes) and the other troop was from Baxter Springs, KS.  (They explained that they were located in the far SE corner of Kansas and could see Oklahoma from their front door!)

lake at ARrohead

We all claimed a camping platform.   At each campsite there are platforms rising from the ground, made of wood or concrete.  The platforms were probably 6″-8″ high and fastened to each platform was a canvas tent, that could sleep two people.  My son and another scout agreed to bunk in one tent and I had a tent to myself.  One of our scouts, I soon learned, was very afraid of bugs so he brought his own nylon tent which he could zip up tightly and keep all potential bug visitors outside.   I tried to help him a set up his tent, and ended up watching.  I had never set up a tent before so I thought I’d better learn.  Then as a troop, we all worked to set up a nice canopy that covered our picnic tables area.  Scouts asked politely if they could borrow my broom to sweep the leaves off of their platforms.  We also picked up spare pieces of limbs and sticks lying around to place on our wood pile near the campsite’s designated campfire ring, and filled water into the required fire bucket.

Meals at Camp Arrowhead were all served in the lodge or Mess Hall.  Boys had to take turns being the server for their troop.  This meant an early rise for the scout assigned to breakfast duty.  The camp was awakened promptly each morning with Reveille sounding off at 6:00 am and lights out at 10:00 pm with the playing of Taps.  Since each campsite had a flagpole, our troop had a daily flag raising ceremony, which was good practice for my son and another of the younger scouts.

Mon.-Fri., except for Wednesday, which was Free Day, scouts had classes to attend to help them with earning  merit badges.  I went along with my son’s on Monday, which was an overview of First Aid.  It was a large group of Tenderfoot Scouts, moving up to the next level, Second Class, and I had to help remind them to stop talking and to listen to their scout instructors, who were high schoolers or college aged scouts.  I was so glad that I had on my poncho, a new product that the Rolla Scout Shop sells, Frog Toggs ponchos.  Several scoutmasters and assistants asked me where did I get that great poncho from?  I was pleased to tell them to give the Scout Shop a plug and I reminded them that if they didn’t live near Rolla, that the Scout Shop in Springfield carried Frog Toggs too!

Critters at camp are to be expected.  At night, I could hear an owl hooting after Taps had been played. One night I swear that owl was right in our campsite hooting!!  Another night, I had to get up and use the restroom (there were latrines nearer but I made the trek to the pool and the proper bathrooms) and I saw a deer running through the camp.  Butterflies liked to alight on our camp gear that we left scattered around on the picnic tables.  A box turtle was discovered another day.  The worst critter by far, though, that we encountered was the Fishing Spider.  Not that it ever caused us any harm but it was very large, and made us uncomfortable with it’s presence in some of our tents!

Tuesday morning, two of our scouts awoke and quickly came out of their tent, to tell us that a huge spider was in their tent, up in the top corner, near one of the tent’s posts.  We all had to take a look and sure enough, there was a huge, black spider in that tent corner.  Now I’ve seen pictures of big spiders in books but I had never seen such a large one with my own eyes, up close and in person!  With the aid of my broom(a camping essential I tell you!), the boys and scoutmaster successfully brushed the spider onto the ground, and with the emptied fire bucket(my suggestion) over the spider, the boys ran to get the Nature Lodge folks, who were located near our camp site.  One of the Nature Lodge workers came back with a smaller, plastic container and the spider was successfully coaxed into that box.  The Lodge thanked us for the spider and said they’d try to figure out it’s type.  We all breathed a sigh of relief and shuddered a bit, glad that the critter was gone.  However, it’s buddy showed up Wednesday, in the early evening,in another boy’s tent!   Again out came my broom, and that spider was driven onto the  forest floor and it scampered away,  only to return when it was time for lights out!!!!   The fire bucket was emptied of it’s water, my broom was utilized, and I trained my flashlight on the critter as it was once again driven from the tent, and the bucket placed on top of it.  In the morning, it was taken far away from our campsite.   Camp Arrowhead patch

Wednesday at 10:00 am, my replacement came, another scouting mom with a son in troop 81.  She took over my tent and my stuff was packed and ready to be placed in my van and with a good-bye to my son, off I drove back to Marshfield, and eventually to Rolla, for a nice hot shower, and a good night’s sleep in my own bed.  I admit, I was cautious as I unpacked my Rubbermaid tote box, as I didn’t want to find any stowaway Fishing Spiders in there!!

Summing up , Camp Arrowhead, established in 1924, is a very nice Boy Scout Camp.  Improvements are happening, and the staff worked well together to make sure that the boys had a fun week, and an educational week working on merit badges in order to advance to the next rank.  I don’t know if I’ll go back to help next year but if I do, I am bringing a nylon tent, one that I can  keep  completely zipped up so that it’s interior is off limits at all times to any outdoorsy critters!!

 

 

 

My St. Patrick’s Day Rant

We live in Rolla, MO, a smallish city of roughly 19,000 people.  The place is  dominated by a state university, Missouri University of Science and Technology, to be specific.   It is a mainstay of Rolla, a large employer for the area.   The university began in 1870 as the School of Mines and Metallurgy.  Now it’s known as the school in Missouri to enroll at if you want to be an engineer, work in the field of computers, or work in any field of science or mathematics.

For some unknown reason, back in the early 1900s, a group of students decided to have a party, and they decided to  pick a saint to give their party concept an air  of “honor”.   They chose St. Patrick, claiming he was the patron saint of engineers.  Who knew engineers had a patron saint?  I sure didn’t!  Supposedly good old St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland and did do his level best to spread the gospel message to the natives of the Emerald Isle, but patron saint of engineers?

St. Patrick and his minions arrive at the Rolla St. Patrick's Day parade

St. Patrick and his minions arrive at the Rolla St. Patrick’s Day parade

Every year since that group of students began their traditional party,  the week in March leading up to St. Patrick’s Day has become  a time for the students to slack off, and for some, it’s time to just party the days away; beer, booze, and who knows what else.    Rolla gets in on the “fun”  by holding a St. Patrick’s Day parade.  It’s the typical small-town parade: high school marching bands, some honorary civic-minded citizens wearing various green outfits smiling and waving from convertibles as they are driven along the  parade route, boy and girl scout groups, people on horseback, dogs decorated in green costumes, some of the college students march in the parade, some groups build floats for the parade.   The parade lasts a little over an hour and   then the partying begins anew.

As I was listening to the local radio station on Monday morning, I heard that one of Rolla’s ministers went to the latest city council meeting to inform them as to  how the church’s property was mistreated by party-goers.  People with no intention of attending the church had filled the parking lot with their cars, and some folks decided to hold their  parties in the parking lot!  Of course, those happy folks didn’t clean up after themselves.   The church’s worshippers, on  Sunday morning, couldn’t find many parking spots due to the partiers leaving their cars in the church’s lot.  City council was then  informed about  some idiot or idiots  who went to Lion’s Club Park and drove their car(s) in the grass, in 360 degree circles, or “donuts”, tearing up areas of the park.  The other act of vandalism that irritated me when I found out about it was  that an Eagle Scout’s project had been destroyed.  There is a nice, new memorial to veterans near a nice walking trail in Rolla, on the southwest side of town.  Last year,  a boy scout wanting to earn his Eagle Scout badge,  built a proper burn pit  so that the park could host the proper ceremonies for retiring old American flags.  The burn pit was totally torn apart and destroyed.

I was told years ago, in the late 1970s and during the  1980s, the St. Patrick partiers  shenanigans were getting out of control; businesses and other personal  properties were being damaged.  The city council and mayor had a meeting with the University’s Chancellor and told him to  get the celebrations under control or St. Patrick’s wouldn’t be celebrated anymore.  The University complied and the damaging  shenanigans ceased.   I think it’s time for the Mayor and city council to visit the current Chancellor and let her know that destruction of property in Rolla isn’t going to be tolerated.

Granted, I don’t have proof that drunken college students partied in a church’s parking lot, destroyed park property, and destroyed a burn pit.  However, when parties are broadly advertised and people flock to them, it’s pretty much a guarantee that people behaving badly will be the result.

I do have to wonder why the University allows the students to start their partying days before St. Patrick’s Day even arrives.  I was at the Post Office on Tuesday, March 10th, and across the street, the fraternity house had 2 members standing on the front yard drinking beer and blasting music.  At least it was country music, but to some that musical choice would be a crime!

My question  to the University is if you want to have a parade, crown a St. Patrick and pick a Queen of Love and Beauty, then why not  do so on the morning of the parade?   Those events could happen at 10 am and then the parade could begin at 11:00.  Tell the professors that classes and assignments, tests and quizzes will still happen that week  so that the students will still have to work and not have a bunch of free time to while away with drinking.  If the beer bashes don’t begin days before the parade and only happen  Friday night and after the parade, perhaps some of the damage done by the partiers will be minimal.

To businesses and churches with parking lots within walking distance of the parade and the campus proper, my husband wondered why don’t they charge money to park in their lots?   That’s what lots in St. Louis do when people drive in for a sporting event.  Or block your lot off.  Yes, it’s a hassle as you might have to have employees or church volunteers man the lot to make sure the barriers aren ‘t moved but that would be another way to keep the idiots at bay.

My rant is over,  and this video clip about the real St. Patrick might be enlightening for the university community.