Falling Creek’s Leadership Team goes to ACA National Conference

Falling Creek Directors and summer leaders converged in Atlanta to attend the American Camp Association national conference in mid-February. It’s an opportunity to gather with other camp professionals from around the world to share and learn as we prepare for the summer.

Yates and Frank caught up with Virginia Ballard at the ACA Conference. Virginia is the mother of a long-time Falling Creek camper. She is now the president of Camp Aranzazu near Houston, TX, on the coast. The camp is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with chronic illness and special needs by providing unique camping, environmental education and retreat experiences.Yates and Frank caught up with Virginia Ballard at the ACA Conference. Virginia is the mother of a long-time Falling Creek camper. She is now the president of Camp Aranzazu near Houston, TX, on the coast. The camp is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with chronic illness and special needs by providing unique camping, environmental education and retreat experiences.
Falling Creek Directors and summer staff leaders at the ACA Conference in Atlanta ran into Sterling Ivy, the mother of a long-time camper from Augusta, GA. Sterling has started “Camp Ivey” as a camp for youth with developmental differences. (l to r) Frank Tindall, Kyle Jeffries, KD Lemons, Zach Rivera, Sterling Ivey, Marisa Pharr, and Yates Pharr.Falling Creek Directors and summer staff leaders at the ACA Conference in Atlanta ran into Sterling Ivy, the mother of a long-time camper from Augusta, GA. Sterling has started “Camp Ivey” as a camp for youth with developmental differences. (l to r) Frank Tindall, Kyle Jeffries, KD Lemons, Zach Rivera, Sterling Ivey, Marisa Pharr, and Yates Pharr.
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New Years Resolutions

3…2…1… Happy New Year!
Have you ever welcomed in the New Year with a resolution? According to Statistic Brain, 45% of Americans make a New Years Resolution each year.

What are the top five resolutions for Americans, anyways?

falling creek ironman

Number 5 is staying fit and healthy. After the past 2 months of stuffing turkey, ham, every casserole you could think of, the most delicious pies and cobblers in existence, and of course cookies, cookies, and more cookies into your mouth, it does seem like a good idea to put back on the tennis shoes and give your digestive system a good cleanse. Eating Well has some delicious easy and healthy recipes for any budget to get yourself back on track!

Number 4 is to enjoy life to the fullest. It seems like just yesterday, we were sitting at the table carving the turkey. The holidays fly by! It seems like the more that gets put on the calendar, the faster the days go by. Busyness takes over and we forget to slow down and actually enjoy life. Maybe we should just throw the calendar out the window! For most of us, that is impossible. There is soccer practice, piano practice, dance class, soccer game, oh, and the neighbor’s birthday party. Phew. Zen Habits says that it is actually possible to get the “you-time” in that you need each week! One wonderful habit they say to start, if you have not already, are date-nights with your spouse! Make sure this gets put on the calendar before anything else does! Have at least one each month. Another great tip is to create your calendar first. Find a time in the morning and evening to start and end the day without the kiddos. This means wake-up before them and send them to bed early so that you have a chance to enjoy yourself. You can use this time to workout, read scripture, meditate, or maybe just sit down and watch a good T.V. show or read a good book. You can also create more time for yourself by making household chores a family activity each week; not necessarily your own responsibilities.

falling creek basketball

Number 3 is to spend less and save more. If you have never heard of Dave Ramsey, he is “the guy” when it comes to dealing with that f-word…finances! Dave is a strong Christian man with amazing insights on how to grab hold of your finances and take control so that you are saving more money each week. If it has anything to do with money, spending, investing, or saving, he has tips and tricks to make you feel more satisfied and confident about your finances.

Number 2 is to get organized. The most frustrating thing is when you know you have seen something, you know, that thing you need right at that moment, but remembering where you saw it… huh. You open junk drawer number 1 and sift through the random assortment of gadgets, batteries, pens, and the duct tape you needed last weekend, but couldn’t find. You move to junk drawer number two, but no luck there. Then you face the dreaded closet; the one that you are afraid to open because an avalanche of who-knows-what is waiting behind a slight turn of the handle. Real Simple has some great tips on organizing those scary places in your home so that you can lose the fear of the dreaded closet. The first step is to have a family day specifically dedicated to cleaning out the closets and drawers and making a pile of anything that has not been touched or worn in 6 months. That Xbox game that has not been played in a year- see ya! The shirt you used to love, but it just does not fit right anymore. Yes, it is time to get rid of that one too. If it is taking up space in the closet and is no use to you, today, it is time to go! Depending on your pile of “stuff” you can either sell it or donate it. Once you get rid of the useless stuff, do not just throw what is left back in the drawer or closet. Instead, separate them into likes and neatly put them away. For example, one place for all of the shoes to go, unless going to your own closet. All the batteries gathered and placed in one drawer. Make sure they are easy to find this time so you do not have that frustrating, “I know I saw that somewhere” moment.

falling creek push up

Number 1 is, you guessed it, weight-loss. What is the most successful way to lose weight, anyways? We all hate hearing it, but it is not the powder you sprinkle on your french fries or the pill you take to burn off body fat. The most successful way to lose weight is, well, refer back to resolution number 5. Diet and exercise. Of course we go back to the most ancient from of weight-loss, but it is still the most successful to this date. There are many diets out there, but eating healthy portions and well-balanced meals is truly the best. There are some diets out there to guide you on the foods you should be eating, like Weight-Watchers or the Mediterranean diet. There are many ways to work-out as well, from popular work-out DVDs like PiYo and Insanity which allow you to work-out in your own home, or apps for the phone like Nike’s app called Running which will track your runs and workouts and help you achieve your goals. And do not forget the new Fitbit or iFit fitness trackers that work with your phone as well.

Although only 8% of Americans are successful in completing their resolutions, 46% are able to commit to an entire month, which is definitely enough to start some good habits. Even if you do not fully complete your resolution, there are other ways to measure success. The first step is to determine what success is, create a plan on reaching it, and stay determined to follow through! Most of the time, short-term goals are more successful than long-term, so start small to give yourself a an opportunity to succeed!

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Christmas Joy

It is that time of year again! A time of excitement, family, and joy. But where do you find your Christmas joy?

The Ornament

Evelyn, 12 years old, has spent many Christmases around many different trees. Born fatherless, her mother passed away when Evelyn was young and she spent most of her life being passed around orphanages and foster homes. Every year, Evelyn would ask Santa for the same thing; a real home and a real family.

fcc christmas tree

This year was different. As she helped Mrs. Vance and her 3 year old daughter hang ornaments on the tree, Evelyn found it hard to get in the Christmas spirit. “Every year is the same,” she thought to herself. “I hang these beautiful hand-made ornaments, family photos, the cute little clay ornaments celebrating the first house, the first Christmas, etc. But there is no ornament for me!” She appreciated everything the families would do for her and how they would include her in their Christmas celebration. But she just didn’t belong anywhere.

That Christmas Eve, the whole family came to the house for dinner. The grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Vance, some aunts and uncles, and some cousins. Again, Evelyn felt out of place. But this was a very normal feeling. She would just smile and give hugs and show the family her appreciation. After dinner, the whole family sat around the tree. Presents filling the bottom. They all began to exchange gifts. One at a time. Evelyn was used to this. Nothing unusual. The Vance’s little girl waddled over to Evelyn, with a small red box. Evelyn smiled and said, thank you. Evelyn began to open the present. Again, this is very common. She usually gets a neat toy or new book to read. This box was very light though. And small. A book would definitely not fit in this box! She carefully unwrapped the gift, feeling everyone’s eyes in the room beaming down on her. And there it was, the ornament.

It was a clay ornament. Hand-made. A clay man, a clay woman, a clay girl, and a clay toddler, all hand-painted with their arms around each other. At the bottom was a clay banner with 1st Christmas hand-painted on it and the words, Evelyn Vance below it.

For the first time, Evelyn had her very own ornament to hang on the tree. Tears streamed down her face. She was in shock. Immediately the Vance’s surrounded her with hugs and together they hung the ornament on the tree; a tree she could now call her own. Evelyn had been adopted and for the first time, she was no longer fatherless.

falling creek candle

Finding Joy
It is so easy to get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas. Doesn’t December just seem to fly by? Wouldn’t it be nice to slow it down and recognize the joy that Christmas brings, beyond the opening of presents?

2000 years ago, a baby, born in a manger, changed everything. He brought us the best gift, the ultimate gift, a miracle; salvation. Because of this gift, we have all been adopted by The Father and we are no longer fatherless! There is no greater joy than that!

Isaiah 9:6 says “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas! Praying for a home full of joy this Christmas!

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The Perfect Christmas Gift

It is that time of year again! We are constantly asked, “Are you ready for Christmas?” Less than 10 days away from Christmas and most people are trying to find time to get to the store, are waiting for their online purchases to make it to their door step, or maybe you are one of the many still trying to figure out what in the world to get their children or grandchildren for Christmas!

We are here to help! From the perfect Christmas gift to some awesome stocking stuffers, Falling Creek is here for you!!

The Perfect Gift!

falling creek climbing wall

These days, there is so much out there, from toys to electronics, which it seems that most toys these days are electronics! There is one small problem with electronics, however, within a few years, they are out of date or they break! So, what is the perfect gift?

Imagine a gift that lasts a lifetime! A gift that develops a child’s interpersonal skills, resilience, competence, decision making skills, and so much more! A gift that creates memories, bonds, and friendships that will last forever! What “thing” can do all of that?

Summer Camp!

Falling Creek offers the opportunity for your boy to experience, grow, and develop skills from physical to social that will mold them for success in school, athletics, college, and through adulthood. We offer camp from one week to four week sessions for boys starting in 1st grade. We also offer father-son weekends where the skills and memories can be developed as early as kindergarten, experiencing camp with their dad! Falling Creek also has expeditions; amazing adventure-based trips where the boys travel to places from Ecuador to Utah to grow their skills in backpacking, paddling, rock climbing, or mountain biking.

falling creek expedition

Camp truly is the “perfect” gift! But for those of you who have already picked camp, we have some awesome stocking-stuffers too!

Falling Creek just recently partnered with Everything Summer Camp and built an online store. We have amazing gear from all sorts of clothing, to mugs, to posters, and so much more. To have your order by the Christmas, it is recommended that you make your purchase by the 18th. We will also be updating and adding more to our store over the next few weeks, so make sure to check it out before camp!

You can visit the Falling Creek store here!

To learn more about what Falling Creek can offer you and your family, please contact our office at 828.692.0262 or .

You can also apply for camp at www.fallingcreek.com/sessions.

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Child Protection Improvements Act

As the holidays approach, that means camp is right around the corner! In just a few short months, we will be welcoming our first group of campers for 2016.

Our leadership team spends a great deal of time during the off-season to assemble a team, who share our core values, to dedicate their time and talents to serve as mentors and role models for the camp community. Our staff go through a rigorous process before they are offered an opportunity to be part of our team. A critical piece of our vetting process is the background checks of our staff. Currently, our background checks consist of the following searches: Social Security Trace, County Criminal Conviction Search (All counties of residence), National Criminal Conviction Search, National Sex Offender Registry and Motor Vehicle Record.

falling creek staff

This background search is extensive and does provide great detail into the background of our staff, however, there is no single all-encompassing background check database available in this country. While still not all-encompassing, an FBI check is the best background check available, yet it is not always accessible to camps and other youth-serving organizations. The FBI check is the only truly nationwide check available. Individual states are the gatekeepers of criminal history information and they can decide who can access the information, as well as who can have access to the FBI’s information. In fact, thirty-four states bar access to FBI information!

At Thanksgiving of this year, the Child Protection Improvements Act was introduced to both houses of Congress, Bills S. 2332 and HR 4703. The purpose of the bill is to close a gaping hole in the federal law that prevents camps, children’s groups, mentoring organizations, after-school programs and other organizations that work with children or vulnerable adults from gaining access to federal criminal background checks on employees and volunteers.

We need your help!

We would like to ask that you support this legislation and advocate for Falling Creek and other camps alike. Advocating for the passage of this important legislation is very easy! ACA has an online tool with key messages and sample advocacy messages that can be sent immediately to your legislators. Participate today or learn more about the bill by visiting the Child Protection Improvements Act Advocacy Tool. Please take the time to help us advocate for this legislation and protect our campers today and for years to come.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Thank you for your time and support!

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