Thursday, June 28, 2012

JLSA Reading Camp:

Letters Home from Camp

It's SUMMERTIME. And this week, 3 of my 4 kids are off at various camps. My older daughter, Eleanor, is 8 years old and has been at a sleep-away camp on a lake in the Texas Hill Country and won't return until after the 4th of July. My 6-year-old youngest child, Sadie, is at a day camp all week in New Braunfels. And one of my teenage twin stepsons, Eric, is spending his mornings at football camp. This is Eleanor's first time to be away from home for any extended period of time, and her letters home, although limited in number, are chock full of entertainment. She sent a note home recently to Sadie that said:

Hi Sadie. I miss u and it's hard to believe that. Guess what! A lot of bugs are getting in my cabin. I hope I hear from u soon.
- Eleanor

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh...

My mother kept all of the letters that I sent home from camp--the same camp that Eleanor is now going to. I had no idea she saved them. She recently gave me a big blue file folder full of them. I read them a few days ago and was astounded by my younger self--what she thought about, what she loved, what she worried about. I plan to keep all of my kids' letters home from camp for them to read and ponder when they are grown and gone.

The camps my kids are going to this summer are just a handful of a multitude of camps offered to kids all over Texas to break up the monotony of a long, hot summer and to provide unique opportunities to learn and grow. For the past several years, our very own JLSA members have been providing San Antonio kids with a first-rate summer camp experience, focused on helping them with their reading skills. For two weeks this June, approximately 25 students at SAISD's Hawthorne Elementary School were led by 10 enthusiastic JLSA Volunteers, many of them professional educators, working on reading skills and doing fun activities designed to instill a love of reading. What's the Reading Camp experience all about? Julie Moczygemba, this year's dynamic Reading Camp Chair, told me. Based on our conversation, I imagine a reading camper's letter home might look something like this:

Dear Mom & Dad,

On my first day of reading camp, I told my counselors that I thought it was going to be lame. They were all wearing matching JLSA t-shirts. How lame is that? But it wasn't very long before I realized that this camp was not lame at all! We learned a lot about the different habitats that animals live in. From the Arctic tundra, to the African Savanna, to under the sea, and many places in between, every day we learned about a new, different habitat and the animals that live there. My friends and I especially loved the daily science lab. The coolest one (for real--it was COLD!) was where we got to put on latex gloves. We put one hand in Crisco, and then we put both of our hands in two ice water cans. It was amazing how the hand with the Crisco on it didn't get as cold as the hand without Crisco on it. That's how polar bears are able to stay in such cold parts of our world--they have an extra layer of fat to protect them. Every day, our counselors served us a yummy lunch catered by The Bright Shawl. And we got to do lots of different learning stations like reading, writing, and art. We made bird houses one day, and we get to take them home. I can't wait to see what kinds of birds might come to my bird feeder. On my last day of camp, I got a cool t-shirt and a bag with books in it to keep so I can practice my reading the rest of the summer.

Your Happy Camper,
Ima Reeder

The Arctic Tundra Science Lab was so "COOL"!

Way to go, JLSA Reading Camp volunteers, and way to go Julie Moczygemba! It sounds like another fantastic community partnership has come to a successful close for the year--and our year is just getting started! You'll be hearing more about Reading Camp wrap-up in the upcoming edition of Scrawls.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Bright Shawl

Summer Reading List v. Summer Eating List

Did y'all know that the JLSA's beloved meeting space and tea room, The Bright Shawl, is named after a relatively obscure novel that was published in 1922? I just downloaded the book, by Joseph Hergesheimer, on my Kindle for free. At the time, the book was very popular and was even made into a film in 1923. Here's what the Turner Classic Movies website has to say about the plot:

Charles Abbot, a wealthy young American, goes to Cuba with his friend Andres Escobar to help the cause of Cuban independence. He falls in love with Andres' sister, Narcissa, although he spends more time with Spanish dancer La Clavel, who is in love with Charles and gives him information she garners from Spanish officers. La Pilar, a Spanish spy, discovers their scheme and sets a trip for them and the entire Escobar family. La Clavel gives her life to save Charles, but it is a chivalrous whim by a Spanish officer that enables Charles, Narcissa and Narcissa's mother, Carmenita, to escape to the United States.

All this time, I thought that The Bright Shawl was named after the Mexican Ballet Folklorico dancers' bright skirts, colorfully embroidered, that the dancers wave around enticingly while twirling to mariachi music. But I guess that makes no sense, because the building would be called "The Bright Skirt," which has less of a ring to it!

If the Junior League of San Antonio was building a meeting place and tea room today, and the members were feeling literary, I wonder which contemporary book it might be named after?

What do you think? Any ideas or suggestions? Get creative and comment below!

Since we're on the topic of reading, you can read more about The Bright Shawl's rich and interesting history here.

While I don't think I'll put "The Bright Shawl" at the top of my summer reading list (I tried a few pages and just couldn't get into it), I do plan to put it at the top of my summer eating list! I have plans to meet my girlfriends for lunch at The Bright Shawl's tea room soon. The tea room is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11am to 2pm. Bring your JLSA membership card and you get a discount! And be sure to save room for a slice of famous almond crunch cake.  Yummmmm.

Friday, June 1, 2012

5... 4... 3... 2...1...  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

There’s no fireworks display.  And there are no noisemakers, unless you count my kids, who are currently chasing each other around the dining room while I am typing this.  And I should probably say there is no champagne, but I bet I could manage to rustle up a glass if I searched my fridge long enough.  Tiny bubbles....  I digress.  
Happy New Year, JLSA! Welcome to your new year, a happy new year, filled with new challenges, new placements, new opportunities, and new faces. I might even be one of those new faces. I’m Kelly Anderson, and I’m this year’s JLSA Blogger, on our fabulous Communications Council. I’ve been in the League since 2008, and this is my first time to match one of my creative interests (writing/blogging) to my League placement. I’m excited about this opportunity. But enough about ME--there’s plenty of time for that. We have a great big year ahead! Let’s talk about YOU. Do you have any resolutions for this New Year in the Junior League? Have you tackled a challenging placement that you hope will help you grow? Are you heading into a brand-spanking-new placement, with no idea what the new year will hold? Are you inspired to give back to our great community this year? What are your new year’s goals? I asked a few of our members what their JLSA New Year’s Resolutions were.  Here’s what they said:
Mallory Ahl, Vice Chair of New Members, shared, “Communication is the key to a successful year.  This includes communication with the new members, mentors, and any JLSA members who are helping the New Members to complete a successful New Member Year. Communication needs to be timely, detail-oriented, and reach the appropriate audience. With successful communication, the New Member "team" will understand its responsibilities and my expectations throughout the year.” Sounds like Mallory is up to the challenge!
Diane Castillo, a New Member Mentor, told me, “Last year I was the Business Manager for FÊTE DU CUVÉE, which is more of an in-league position.  So, this year I decided that I wanted to be in a placement where I could get back in touch with our Community Partners but also be in a leadership type of position. Luckily, I was given my first placement choice of being a Mentor to our New Members!  What a blessing, and I've already started on this year's journey with Super Saturday!”  Terrific, Diane! I remember Super Saturday fondly--I learned about several of our community partners and made new friends in the process.
Finally, Shannyn Romero, Green Spaces Alliance Co-Chair, remarked that she and Brett Beyer “are excited to chair a new placement this year. Having the opportunity to develop a new partnership in a placement that is so intricately tied to our mission and new signature project is an honor.” I can’t wait to hear more about this new partnership and what our members will be doing to help keep South Texas green. And I’m looking forward to sharing the stories, challenges, and successes of the women who comprise our League this year, on-line, with you.
It’s going to be a great New Year, JLSA. Oh, hey--there’s that bottle of champagne I was looking for.  I think I’ll pour myself a celebratory glass. Cheers!