May 06 2009

Box T: Saying goodbye to a piece of my past…

Published by under Jobs,Uncategorized

[Purely personal post.]

It’s almost summer–and I’m excited about the next six months… Visit my family, hike the Grand Canyon, climb Mt Kilimanjoro, etc.

But it’s also time to say goodbye to a huge chunk of my life… a piece I can tell you about, but you’ll never really know.

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For six of the past seven summers, I’ve worked at a camp in North Dakota. It wasn’t really work–more like living everyday to the din of twenty teenage boys, four counselors, two cooks, two helpers, a Bible teacher, the camp director and his wife, and maybe a guest or two.  On average, thirty people slept in that small ranch house every night.

It was crowded. On the other hand, if you wanted space, you could walk two miles in any direction before hitting the next ranch.

All good things must come to an end (in this lifetime), and this year the camp director decided he and his wife are getting too old. Perhaps it’s true. After all, he is turning 81 in July. (Last year, I saw him running across the yard with a camper in tow.)

So many stories.
Falling off my horse at a dead gallop
Rugby in a dried out slough
Someone’s boxers atop the windmill
Capture the flag with walkie-talkies and full facepaint

Thunderstorms dancing across the prairie
Early morning runs
Pulling woodticks off my skin
Sneaking extra deserts when the cooks weren’t watching

But more than anything else–I remember watching boy after boy make life-changing commitments to follow Jesus
(They e-mail me every so often. Let me know what’s going on. They’re men now.)

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This post is a memorial.
From the alumni of Box T.
To a man and a woman.
They served God with their lives.
And we were the recipients of their love.
Truly they blessed others.
And truly they were blessed.

I’ll stop now.

(Last fall I used Facebook and e-mail to gather stories from other alumni–my apologies for just now posting! Feel free to add your own via the comments. Enjoy.)

Lewellyn and Florence


My memories of Box T are many, far too many for even my journal. As I reminiscence about all that happened there, I am continually brought back to how my time there impacted my life. I am thankful for the terrific Bible-based teaching that I received. It gave me a base to stand upon as I walked through college and now post-college life. The love of the Word was truly implanted in me at Box T. For it, I am forever grateful. I also was given many fabulous friends, several of which I will be in touch with for the rest of my life. Thank you, Lewellyn and Florence, for your faithfulness to the Lord and your desire to impact my generation. You truly have laid up your treasures in heaven, as the lives you have touched, including my own, far outweigh any price anyone could have offered for the cattle you used to tend. Thank you for being willing to give up your lives and let us invade your house each summer. Box T will always hold a special place in my heart. And, more importantly, my relationship with Jesus that flourished and grew by leaps and bounds during my time there has enlarged my heart and empowered me to go out and follow your example. From my heart to yours – thank you!

- Michelle Widman

Wow….There are so many great memories that I have had from Box T.

I remember that first year that I camp to Box T as a camper. Had four of the best counselors and met so many great friends. Box T was such a crucial turning point in my life that first year of camp, it helped put direction for where I wanted my life to lead.

I was amazed at how Box T had the perfect balance between bible study, having fun, and working hard. Having been able to be a part of the staff this last year was such a blessing. I am always grateful for the sense of unity that the Christians life brings especially at camp.

My brother once listed on his blog all the places that he calls, “Home.” Box T would definitely be near he top for me. I have learned many life long lessons from the bible teachings and also made life long friends.

Random Memories: riding horses, talking with LT in his office, seeing how many people we could fit on the couch, late night talks with the counselors, making staff shirts, the pentathlon, dressing up at d-camp for breakfast with Daniel, Bryan, and Josiah; intensive bible study, staff pies, listening to Mark Wager, driving the blue gopher, going on staff rides, dunking campers in the pool, riding to the big hill, fixing fences, horse training, snicker salad, learning from The Boss, fixing go-carts, points time, post cards, fire works, volley ball, camp fire…

Thanks Llewellyn and Florence for the forty years of service to God and the campers. I will never forget the lessons I have learned and friends I have built at Box T.

May the Lord bless you as He turns another page in your life.

~Brad W. (S. Muffin)

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Since I was eight years old, Lewellyn has been telling us “this might be our last year” or “probably just one more year” of camps. I hoped against all hope those years that there would be “one more year” long enough that I might have the chance to finally go, just once.

Today, twelve years later, I have six Box T summers worth of memories to sort through and choose four hundred words from.

It was at Box T that my decision to follow the Lord became not a choice made once, but a lifestyle to be lived daily. It was there my dad and later my sister got saved, and there I met my best friend.

My favorite memories of Box T are not of the major things; not of awards ceremonies or even staff rides. The best of my memories are of the things that happened over and over again-sitting in the kitchen talking and hanging out with the staff; searching for Florence’s  coffee cup and sitting by her chair, discussing the to-do list for the day; hugging Lewellyn good night every night, him kissing the top of my head and saying “good to have you here” ; grocery shopping with Florence, finishing up and saying “do we have to call home and see if they thought of anything else?” I remember having Arby’s for lunch on those days and milkshakes as we left to head for home; Florence calling me Connie -my mother’s name-half the time; sitting in the trailer during points time eating candy, talking, and yelling “fifty!” Lewellyn: “Sixty?” “No! Fifty!” when Lewellyn asked for points.

I remember clearly the day Lewellyn first called me “my niece.” Up until then, I had always been “Florence’s niece.” He gave me my first lesson in driving stick-a two minute crash course moments before I was expected to drive campers around.  He challenged me, by his example as well as by his words, to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.

One evening, Florence and I were sitting in the living room and one of the guys walked through. He made a comment I don’t remember and then said “Katie hopes she’ll be as beautiful as you someday, Florence” Florence shook her head and said “I don’t think so” but I looked at both of them and said, “Yes, yes I do.” Florence will always be one of the most beautiful women I know, for she has such a gentle, quiet, beautiful spirit.  I have learned a lot from her about what it is to be a woman of “noble character” in God’s sight.

- Katie Bartlett

Box T.  When someone mentions those words, so many memories flood my mind.  The camp has been such a blessing to so many people, in a plethora of ways.  To describe Box T memories would take a whole book, but something that sticks out to me is a memory I have of the last summer at Box T: the summer of 2008.  I had never really thought of driving the trucks out there, because I didn’t have a clue of how to drive stick.  But, one afternoon during points, Lewellyn was giving us heads-up on what our work jobs were to be that day.  I had been on odd jobs and painting all week, so I assumed that would be it.  But, to my surprise, Lewellyn announced I was going to be driving the red truck and searching for wormwood.  I declared I did not know how to drive stick and I didn’t think that would be a good idea!  He assured me he would teach me and that was that.  You know, you don’t question the Boss’s orders!  So, after the girls were assigned their crews, Lewellyn and I hopped in the red truck.  He told me to turn it on and push down allll the way on the clutch.  He then told me to shift into first and slowly, very slowly, let up on the clutch while pushing on the accelerator.  He gave me a five minute crash course driving: “Shift into first …. Okay, shift to second … shift back to first … now to second … Okay, you are ready.  Drive up onto the road and get your girls.”  I was shaking.  I had the life of my girls in my hands!  No one was hurt and we had a fun afternoon gathering wormwood and realized that what the Bible said about not letting a woman’s words be like wormwood were right on track!

This memory is special to me, because anyone who has been to Box T knows that driving stick is a necessity there and it is a privilege to be taught by Lewellyn.  I didn’t hit anything that day, but my driving was not lacking in jerkiness for sure!  Even so, when he saw me after work, he told me that I had done well.  The confidence he shows in teaching you and the assurance he gives afterward is an amazing testimony of his patience with his staff.  Thank you, Lewellyn!

- Katie Shorma

To put my favorite memories from box t into a 400 word entry, is a hard thing to do, and to narrow the selection down to only one is even harder. I’m going to have to pick the summer of 2004, when I attended older boys camp for the first time.. The effect that camp had on my life was tremendous and affects me to this day. It was that year that I put my faith in Jesus Christ. I’d grown up in a Christian home, but what the bible teacher, Mark Wagar during bible study one night effected me and touched my heart. I can remember lying awake in my bed, the first bed on top as you walk into the second room. I lay awake that night for hours wrestling with the decision I knew I was going to have to make, to stubborn to admit that I hadn’t been saved the last 9 years as everyone thought. The memory of that night is a memory that has stuck with me for nearly five years, and I’m sure is one that will last a lifetime. There are numerous other great memories I have, like the time Nic Bargen was holding the fence down for me during capture the flag, and let it go to soon, leaving a two-inch scar on my knee for life, or the day I popped the tire on the s-10, and sent Uriah running a mile back to camp back to get help, along with many others, but the one that has had the lasting effect on my life is the one I shared above. Thank you to Lewellyn and Florence for providing this camp for me to camp at, counsel at, and for a great place to grow in my relationship with Christ.

- Tyler Treadway

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Box T will forever be the beginning of a new place in my life.  I was a camper a younger girls with Ms. Beth when I knew for sure that I had given my life over to the Lord.  Over the next several years, I was a camper and a counselor.  I was blessed to be able to use what I learned as a camper while I was a counselor.

The Lord used Lewellyn and Florence in my life in so many ways.  Florence taught me how to be a submissive wife who was willing to leave everything up to her husband and to the Lord.  Lewellyn was an amazing example of someone who completely followed the Lord in all he did.  Lewellyn’s Christianity was never about religion, but was all about relationship.  Relationship with his Savior and relationships with those around him.

Box T was the first place I really got to ride horses (everyone knows what I mean ;))  I will forever relive barrel racing and sunrise rides.  The many scars I have remind me of the pain and training I went through while I was riding in North Dakota.  The beauty of the barren land of North Dakota will always be one of my favorite places to ride horses.

Lewellyn and Florence, I can’t thank you enough for opening up your home to me and for being the examples you were over many years.  I miss you both and will always hold you very close to my heart.  I love you both very much!!!

- Sarah Carsten

What can I say! My first ever trip to Box T was D Camp this past summer and it stands out as a high point in my life!! I was so anxious to find someway to wiggle back up there next year only to find out that that won’t be possible. I heard so many great things about Box T before I ever went up there. People telling me that “I HAD to go there!” and that it was “SOO different than other camps!” I figured it couldn’t be that much different. How wrong I was. From the first moment pulling onto the driveway, I knew I was in for something. I was welcomed with open arms. I was listened to. I was encouraged. I laughed more in the 5 days of D Camp then probably at any other point in my life. From the anonymous postcard that embarrased me so much I turned a few shades of red to getting bucked off of Buddy the horse to nighttime sing-a-longs, I had a blast. I learned so much about myself, others, and my Lord above all else!! I was riding high on Box T fumes for the two months (Don’t believe me? Ask my friends and family – I couldn’t shut up about the place). I made some AMAZING friendships and deepened ones I already had. I pinch myself when I think that I got to be a part of something so unique and so special. I’m still applying lessons to my life from the messages and experiences from Box T. I wouldn’t trade that week for anything. I’m humbled that I managed to squeak in under the wire! Lewellyn and Florence did a bang-up job creating something so fun, so alive, so fresh, so godly and so wonderful for so many years. I never would’ve imagined I’d have such fond memories of a tiny town in North Dakota! I’ll most definitely miss it.

- Jonnique Peters

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Here I am, sitting down to write what could be a compilation of years and years of fun and memories, but more importantly an investment in a life that has been changed forever. I think often what my teen years would have been like without the influence of Box-T, and all it held for me and so many others. I have so much to be thankful for as I think back on the 10 years I spent as a camper, and a cook, and then a counselor.

I remember my first memory of Lewellyn vividly. He was visiting with someone sporting a Chicago Bulls basketball hat. Remember when they were all the rage? I knew he was pretty cool right then. I had no idea what an important role he and dear Florence, would play in my life.

Oh, I must have been a handful at twelve, but they were so gracious and kind to me, yet honest and forthright. The character they tried to build into my lonely heart was a work in progress from then on, and they inspire me still today.

I have many great memories, a few too many embarrassing moments, but mostly things engraved on my heart from the countless hours of Bible study, memorization, and “character building” moments in Lewellyn’s office. I laughed the hardest there, wept tears of joy and heartache, cried out to God from the depths of my soul, and got to know the Lord on a deeper level after my salvation. Box – T is where Christ first became real to me, and for that I am grateful beyond what words can express.

Who knew on all those walks down that driveway, when thoughts and dreams were shared among the closest of hearts, that I would have Lewellyn give the message at my wedding, that my daughter, Madeline Isabelle, woud be affectionately be named after ” Florence Isabelle, and that after eighteen years, I can’t imagine them gone without crying out to God…

I had a dream of myself singing this before a hushed crowd after Lewellyn and Florence pass on into eternity to meet the Saviour they have so sacrificialy served for over 50 years. The song writer seems to have written it just for them, with just a few changes from myself, and so my tears flow, every time I hear this sung, and I sing along with them in my mind and heart, and pray the legacy they have left to their son and daughter, is the one I will leave to my sons and daughters. A legacy of unconditional love, the greatest fruit to bear. So sing along with me now, and let’s thank them together for giving to the Lord. We are all lives that were changed.

I dreamed I went to heaven
And you were there with me;
We walked upon the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea.
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name.
We turned and saw a young man running
And he was smiling as he came.
And he said, ” Friend you may not know me now. ”
And then he said but wait,
You had that Horse and Bible camp
When I was only twelve.
And every summer you’d pray for me
As I was having fun,
And one year when you said your prayers,
Christ’s love became real to me.
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave.
Then another man stood before you
And said, “Remember the time
You didn’t know where it come from,
The camp had many needs.
You didn’t have much money,
But you gave it anyway.
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today.”
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.
One by one they came
Far as the eye could see.
Each life somehow touched by your generosity.
Little things that you had done,
Sacrifices made,
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven, now proclaimed.
And I know up in heaven
You’re not suppossed to cry
But I am almost sure
There were tears in your eyes.
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord.
He said “My child, look around you.
For great is your reward.”
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.
Thank you for the opportunity to share our hearts, and how your legacy of love has changed our lives into vessels of honor for Him. Great will be your reward.
Loving You, Because I’m Changed,
Jessica Cannaday Rivers

- Jess Rivers

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Lewellyn and Florence,

Being at Box T this summer with my girls was so special. Though my life has changed a lot since my “Box T days” coming back reminded me of how much both of you have impacted my life.

Looking back I see how much growing I did while I was there, and how much patience you both had with me.

Florence, I always think of you when I think of hospitality, submission, joyful serving, and completely surrendering everything to the Lord. When I’m tempted to hold on to my “things” that seem so important to me I think of how you opened your home every year and nothing that happened there phased you. :-) You didn’t care that certain cooks set the oven on fire, burned the food, did things differently than you did. It didn’t matter if ten extra people showed up unexpectedly just before lunch, you cheerfully served them. While I love all those things about you and will always be learning from your example my favorite thing was the giggles we had together. I love your sense of humor and am so glad I had the opportunity to discover it while I was a cook. :-)

Lewellyn, you amaze me. I could say a lot of the same things I did about Florence. You hold possessions so loosely. An example that comes to mind is the Dodge pickup. I think I still have a piece of that truck that I knocked of on a pole somewhere. But you let us drive anyway, even if it meant early retirement for that truck:-) For some reason when I think of the truck it reminds me that to you, people and their souls are so much more important that anything else in this life. I appreciate all the wisdom you have passed on to me. Your sharing scripture before meals taught me so many life lessons.
Thank you for all the sacrifices you made for each and every one of us over the years. I love you and am praying that my girls will be able to experience something like “Box T” in the years to come.

- Rebecca Rankin

Dearest Lewellyn & Florence,

As I write to you, my head knows the reality that Box-T will not continue, however my heart cannot fully comprehend it.  I have many fond memories of long trail rides, barn games, and memorizing verses in the laundry room.  However my favorite memories were when girls would get saved.  I loved seeing the joy in the girls’ eyes when they realized that they once were lost but had been found.  I loved getting into the girls’ lives and seeing them focus on Christ.  I remember specifically one girl who for a long time had rejected the gospel and even came two years in a row and still didn’t want to get saved.  I was heartbroken that she kept on rejecting Christ.  I prayed for her but didn’t have much faith, thinking that if she was ever going to get saved that she would have made the decision already.  When she came back the third year, I never would have thought that she would get saved.  However as you know the Lord had other plans and had been working on her heart.  She got saved that year!  It was absolutely amazing how the Lord worked in her heart!

Box-T has made a difference in my life as well. It was at Box-T that I realized the importance of a consistent quiet time.  I also learned how to get into girls’ lives, the importance of evangelism, and discipling others.  You have helped me to become closer to the Lord and desire to do His will in my life.

Box-T has had a major impact in my life as well as in others lives.  It has caused me to realize that the essence of Box-T isn’t ending, but will continue throughout eternity!  Many people from all around the United States and even different countries who have gone to Box-T and gotten saved are carrying on the mission of Box-T to share the gospel and build up the church.  All those people who were saved and will get saved will worship our precious Lord and Savior throughout eternity!  So in reality the affects of Box-T will never end!

Thank you so much for making the decision to follow the Lord’s leading in starting a camp in your home!  Your selflessness and giving all into the Lord’s hands is a great example to myself and many others.

- Ashley Jacques

Box T will always hold a special place in my heart.  I never forget the thrill as a camper of visiting with Ms. Beth.  I had been struggling with prayer in the life of a believer, and the Lord provided her as someone to listen, love and direct me according to the Word of God.  I can’t put into words how much that meant to me.  I loved Discipleship Camp – being challenged and encouraged to walk as close with the Lord Jesus as I could rather than as close to the fenceline as so many of my friends seemed to be doing.  I loved being a counselor – the silly giggles with the other staff when we were overtired, teasing Lewellyn about falling asleep during points discussion, working on the plays, the very close friendships that were made, and so on.  My all-time favorite memory, though, has to be when Kelli and I got up early for a sunrise bareback horse ride.  I loved the horses and being able to work with them!  I loved the smells and the sore legs when the week would first start, and then the excitement when the saddle would feel familiar after a couple of days!  And I always looked forward to the long Sunday afternoon ride across the beautiful prairies.

Thank you so much, Lewellyn and Florence, for opening your home without reserve.  Your example in serving the Lord with everything that you had and reaching out across America to love and teach so many young people has been a tremendous testimony and blessing.  I love you!!

- Emy (Bulow) Huseby

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One of my favorite times at Box T was when I was a cook at Younger Girls Camp. Almost every morning during morning recreation the cooks, Florence’s slave, Florence, and Elisha Bulow all got together in the blue trailer for a prayer meeting. We would start out by sharing the little gems that the Lord had showed us in our morning devotions. I was really encouraged by the things that people brought up, and it helped me remember things I read by sharing them with others. After the sharing, we would find out how to pray for the campers, and then have a prayer meeting for them. It was a refreshing time of the day to be encouraged by the Word and to be able to pray for others salvation and needs. I think that one of the most special things about Box T was the encouragement to be in the Word and to study it. To be encouraged to share what you were learning from the Bible, and to be encouraged to go home and encourage others in God’s Word. As a camper you talked about what you read at mealtime, and as a staffer you got a chance in the morning to share, and hear others share. My favorite thing about Box T was the encouragement by others from the Word, and just being encouraged to talk about the Bible outside of church.

- Nicole Jacques

When I think about Box T all I can think of is “wow.” How can I even start on all the memories, the challenges, and the blessings that fill my mind? The times I’ve spent at Box T and with Lewellyn and Florence will forever be cherished in my heart.

Discipleship camp ’01 was the beginning of many wonderful times to remember…Lewellyn’s GrapeNut desert spilled out on the sidewalk…smoke everywhere from sauce on the bottom of the oven we forgot to clean (I think at least 15 people asked if we burned the pizza!)…Ryan and Joel washing dishes ALL morning just to get an extra piece of cheesecake…setting out bits of leftovers or extra deserts confident that Jeff would clean them up for usJ…the “Jezebel” joke on Andy that we all paid for…all the compliments and satisfied sighs that made every meal worth making.

Box T took counseling to a whole new level for me. I feel like I got more out of each camp than the campers! I was challenged in my walk with the Lord, in my leadership abilities, in speaking out when I’d rather be shy, and in working with my fellow counselors as a team. As hard as it was to get up so early for those counselor devotions and my own quiet times I loved those beautiful mornings. And the counselor rides!! We had so many adventures. Poor Joel probably had the most…when his cinch loosened running up the road and he landed in the ditch or when Landy stepped in a gopher hole and he went flying and got knocked out.

My times as Florence’s “helper” were some of the best and most missed. The 3-cart grocery trips…mountains of laundry…working in the garden…doing the photo album…watching and learning from Florence’s every day…and laughing-oh how we laughed! And how can I leave this list of memories without mentioning the biggest change in my life? I wouldn’t be married to my best friend, Joel Ribbey. Some of you were there and remember that chapter in our lives. I remember that last summer when the staff rallied around me and supported me so much…and teased me of courseJ. I wish Joel was able to write his own memories down but he is in Afghanistan and doesn’t have access to any computers right now. He has even more to be grateful to the Tewksbury’s for as it was Discipleship camp ’01 that he stopped faking it and surrendered his life and heart to the Lord.

Every time I left Box T it was with tears. And now it is with tears that I say thank you, Lewellyn and Florence, for letting the Lord work through you…and though we can never go back again we will never forget.

- Esther (Eichholz) Ribbey

Sitting down at my desk, desiring to write a blurb on what Box T Ranch means to me, the memories feel a little fuzzy. Instinctively, I know that the ministry at Box T tremendously shaped my life. I know that the relationships I formed there-with Lewellyn and Florence, with fellow staff members and campers-are irreplaceably precious even if some were for just a season of time. God moved in my life there. Other people touched my life. I touched their lives.  Give me a sec as the memories come…

Oh yes, certain things come into focus. The long hill-strewn drive into the ranch. My first time there was at night, but even in the darkness I could tell Box T had less trees than Washington state. Far fewer trees. The air was slightly muggy but comfortable as we stepped out of the van. Going into the basement, I was impressed that so many bunks could be efficiently compressed into that smallish space. Close quarters living, love it or loathe it, was a worthwhile experience.

The Box T folks had less of an accent than I expected. I guess not all legends about the Midwest can be true! But they certainly lived up to the reputation of good old-fashioned hospitality. And above all, the Box T distinctive that struck me from my first moment and lasted until my final departure 6 years later, was the overwhelming sense of God’s special presence that lingered everywhere at camp. It was oh so clear that the Lord God was at work in the ministry of Box T, and in no small part because Lewellyn and Florence rightly honored and loved God. The Lord in return blessed and blesses them greatly. And others such as me got to share in the overflow of His goodness.

Many specific memories also come to mind. Learning to bridle and saddle a horse. Watching other kids be scared of incredibly tame horses. Being scared of those same horses myself. Pool Wrestling. Vociferously talking about Pool Wrestling. Sitting on beds listening to devotions. Giving those devotions. Getting to chat with Lewellyn in the office. Laundry day. Apple pie. Tablecloth signing. Capture the Flag. Memory verses. Baptisms in the pool outside of Pool Wresting time. Watching other lives get changed. Watching my life, slowly, get changed. Understanding the Gospel for the very first time.

Life at Box T is rich. Thank you Lord. Thank you, Lewellyn and Florence, for being obedient to God’s call. Thank you to other staff members and campers for contributing so much.

- Ryan Heathers

One of my favorite memories of Box T happened on water balloon-filling afternoon. Anna Bouche and Jen Ott  grabbed pitchers of water and dumped them from an upstairs window onto the boys who were filling water  balloons below. The boys didn’t know who had doused them, and assumed it must have been Kelly Ueland. Kelly didn’t know anything about it, so when she came around to take pictures of the crew, she was astonished to be met by a crew bent on retaliation. They began throwing balloons at her, egged on by their “trustworthy” counselor, Joel Ribbey, who was yelling, “Points off for throwing water balloons at her! Points on for hitting her!”

Kelly came inside the house, and the whole story was explained to Lewellyn, who stood there shaking his head with his “I can’t believe the foolishness that goes on around here but it sure is fun” smile on his face. He warned Anna that if she tried any more tricks he would duct tape her to the deck. She said that if he did that she would get her fiancée, Steve (who is not a small guy) to come and rescue her. Lewellyn replied, “Well, then Bammer and I will duct tape Steve to the deck!”

There are so many other memories…the summer  that Johnny was calling Jaidra every night, conspiring to answer the phone when we guessed he’d call and tell him “Oh, she’s on a walk with ‘Ryan’ …being so excited to go on the staff ride the first year I cooked only to find that none of the counselors woke up for it, and couldn’t even be roused by Lewellyn…one year at D Camp overhearing Jeff (none too quietly) instructing the boys too ask the girls at breakfast what it means to be a gentleman and scheming to beat them too the question…enjoying a little R&R on the campers’ beds during Capture the Camper- hey, we did go out and find them eventually.

I am so grateful for all the blessings that God has given me through Box T- blessings of fellowship, teaching, godly examples, friendship, opportunities to serve, and fun times. Every time I went to Box T I was both challenged and encouraged in my walk with the Lord. It was always a learning experience, and God often used it to humble me.  I am thankful to the Tewksburys for their faithful service to the Lord, and most of all thankful to God for what He has done through Box T.

- Abby Kramer

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Dear Lewellyn and Florence,
Thanks so much for allowing the Lord to use you in Box T!  I have learned so much from you, Bible studies, and life at camp.  One of the biggest things was that I learned how to live the “rustic, everything’s-not-perfect” life.  That’s much of what has made me who I am today.  I am also constantly inspired by you to live more faithfully to the Lord.
Florence, my biggest memory about you was this past summer.  We were in-between camps, and Katie B, Katie S., Rachel S, and I were in the kitchen, sitting down, eating and talking, with just the little kitchen light on.  We heard someone coming, so we quieted down.  The feet came closer to us, then you appeared with a surprised face.  You said, “What in the world are you doing?” (it probably looked liked we were hiding, but we really weren’t!)  We all laughed and Katie B. was the first to respond, “Having an early midnight snack!”  You said, Ok!”, got what you needed and headed back upstairs.  I always appreciated your humor and gracious attitude toward everyone in your house.

Also, how could I forget all those weeks of stripping, sanding, and refinishing with you!  How often I asked you to check the work, hoping it would be good enough, and you said, “Well, we need to work on this spot.”

or “We need to redo that.”  But somehow, we managed to get lots of furniture done!  Thanks for all you’ve taught me. Lewellyn, I remember you for often making creative props for our plays. The most memorable was the gasoline fire for “hell”, during my first year at camp.  I was a little scared to have to jump over that rod of fire with my flowing robe, but it was exciting at the same time!  And no one caught on fire!

You’ve engrained in my mind what iniquity is, and inspired me to talk about the Lord at every possible opportunity!  Thanks for all the encouragement to really get to know the girls and be a part of their life.  It has been so rewarding to do so for the Lord’s glory.

God bless you both for all your work at camp!  I know the Lord will continue to use you in mighty ways!

- Rachel Ueland

Box-T has been a consistent source of truth and encouragement to me.

Florence and Lewellyn, your love in action through the opening of your home and schedule each summer has been an awesome reflection of Jesus. I have many treasured memories… capture the shovel (flag), getting green foamy slobber flung at me by my horse, battleball and basketball in the barn loft, early morning running in the fields, deep conversations with friends, and awesome times in God’s Word (packing 30 or more people in a small living area!). Taking a week or two each summer to go to Box-T has been one of the best decisions of my 20 years of life; I have been forever impacted. I praise God for all those who made camp possible year after year. Florence and Lewellyn, you have my most sincere “thank you” for your relentless commitment to shaping young people’s lives for Christ!

- Nate Nordstrom

Box T holds many memories in my heart.  My 12 summers at Box T began at the cut-off of the 12-year age range.  Summers as a camper continued till I reached the cut-off on the upper end and provided fun times – like soaking the Bible teacher with a five-gallon pail after water-balloon volleyball (all because no one would expect it of me J); good friends with lasting relationships; memorable experiences – nearly bucked off of Catfish and then him just getting to the barn before falling over with a concussion (okay so maybe not such a good memory!);  and most of all, challenging thinking to my own Christian walk.

The Lord used Bible teachers throughout Younger and Older Girls’ camps and speakers at Discipleship camp to encourage spiritual growth in my life.  The examples of teachers, their wives, and cooks from various camps demonstrated how to live out the Christian walk.  Florence had a great influence in my life during the five years of cooking at camps as she encouraged us to “come away from the kitchen and spend time in prayer” with her about the needs of the camp.  It was during these times she taught me the value of the Word in a personal way as she’d share the gems she discovered while spending time with the Savior.  I heard the prayer life of an older woman devoted to her Master and I saw submission lived out each day – not only to her Lord but to her husband as well.

Lewellyn is a strong man (with a twinkle in his eye every now and then for a good prank) yet gentle and full of wisdom in the things of the Lord.  During my year of counseling and four years of coming back as Bible teacher’s wife I have appreciated his heart shown during staff prayer time in the mornings and in his sharing in my joy as I relate stories of my own children’s understanding in the things of the Lord.

Looking back on the spiritual journey of my life, I am grateful to the Lord for the 47 weeks which He allowed me to spend on the Box T grounds under the influence of godly men and women – Lewellyn and Florence in particular.  May the Lord richly reward His servants for their lives given in service to Him!!!

- Elisha (Reeves) Bulow

Thanks Lewellyn and Florence the summer of 2007 it was fun.. I have many memories there meeting all those girls and riding horses was a blast. I wish u the best.

- Kristi Wyandt

So this summer (2008) at older boys we had a surprise. There were almost no unsaved kids at camp. Probably only two or three. One of them was Johnny Mason. He was a cool kid who was in the process of getting adopted. He was the only kid with a profession during the camp. He got saved during the middle of the second week. I am pretty sure he got saved because of the way he smiled when he talked about it and acted just a little differently afterwards. Then at younger boys camp his little brother Ray was at camp and he got saved too! it was really cool to hear Travis Carpenter talk about it. Anyways, that is my memory. I have many others but too many to write.

- Lucas Jensen

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I was at Box T for New Years. It was the second to last night of the retreat, and everybody was having a blast with the people that had been over the years their campers, fellow campers, fellow staffers, and a general mixture of all of the above. There was also a pervading, underlying sense of melancholy, especially as the end of the week drew near, that this was to be the last meeting of Box-T-ers, and that the place we all loved so much, the place that had influenced us all so much, was now ending for good.
As I mentioned, it was the second to last night of the retreat. Lewellyn had four girls staying in the spare room upstairs, and I was one of those four. It was my first time in all the years I’d been to Box T that I got to stay in the spare room upstairs. Rachel, Ashley, Nicole and I could hear the rest of the Box-T-ers singing back and forth to each other from the basement as the sound drifted up through the spare bedroom vent. I wanted an extra blanket, and I knew there was a couple of them on the stairs, so I went down to get one. I stopped though, when I got there, to listen. The guys were singing a beloved Box T classic to the girls through the partition: “Immanuel’s Land.” They were on the first verse. They were doing a beautiful job, complete with strong harmony.

“The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks,
The summer morn I’ve sighed for, the fair sweet morn awakes.
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted, more deep I’ll drink above.
There to an ocean fullness, His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land

O I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved’s mine,
He takes a poor vile sinner, into His house of wine.
I stand upon His merit, I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth, in Immanuel’s land.

The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face
I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth, but on His pierced hand
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land!”

The words of that song swelled in my heart as I leaned back against the dark stairway hugging the blanket and gazing into the darkened study room. Chairs where strewn about in disarray, Bibles laying open on them, sweatshirts and notebooks and cameras decorated the floor and chairs alike. It was an incredibly familiar and precious sight. It was a lived-in room. As the song continued, I listened closely to the words and tears came to my eyes. My thoughts drifted to all the years I’d spent at camp and the richness of Box T’s heritage. The overwhelming beauty of it’s theme was Jesus Christ. It was all about Him. I’d been a camper at Box T. The Bible teachers and Lewellyn, and my counselors, they’d had no message for me except Jesus Christ. I realized it so overwhelmingly in that moment. I’d been a counselor. And I realized how much a Box T counselor was focused on sharing Jesus Christ with the campers. Trail rides were just an excuse to share Him. Evening devotions were our connection with the campers to show them the way to Him. Work time was overcast with the weight of His worth, and our desire and prodding to give Him to the kids. Even mealtimes were a chance to hear and see the beauty of Him and to discuss His glory and His fame. Sure, there were fun times and “secular” moments, practical jokes, tragedies and difficulty, but through all of that, there was Jesus Christ. It all happened because of Him.
I cried there on the steps because it was the end of Box T. But even in the mourning that I felt in that knowledge, I was aware of a great thankfulness to God for His work at Box T. I would not be who I am today without Him. And He used the faithfulness of two dear saints to touch my life, but also the lives of people who I have never met, will never see again, and those who were there with me at the last retreat. We all were different people because of Box T. And that, I knew, was only true because Box T was about Jesus Christ. There was no other conclusion. I had to smile too, because, listening to the song, I thought how funny it was, how appropriate. Yes, they were singing about heaven, but in another sense, were were standing on land that had been dedicated to the One we sang to. It was saturated with Immanuel. And none of us were the same after being touched by Him.

- Kimberly Treadway

To write about one favorite Box T memory this is an impossible task. Alone, hearing the name “Box T” brings to me a flood of memories which I consider to be some of the most precious and profound. I reminiscently float back in time to my first camp and the time I really truly understood the Lord’s love for me. On a sillier note, I remember a camp where “Safety First” was the motto and we convinced everyone, including Lewellyn, to wear a helmet for a day. And, in between those two spectrums, I can count hundreds of other treasured memories. Not only do I have all these memories treasured up, but in a way Box T lives on for me. Through the times spent at this camp, I was able to establish wonderful relationships with peers, counselors, and mentors which continue into today. I count these relationships as key in my spiritual walk as they have encouraged me, challenged me, and just comforted me along the path of daily knowing and serving my savior, Jesus. What a blessing Box T Bible and Saddle Camp has been!

- Carla Widman

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May 04 2009

Five obvious statements about business

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Isnt it obvious?

Isn't it obvious?

(I’d really appreciate it if you would become a fan of facebook.com/mint! See below for details…)


Solving problems is often easier than we expect.  Facing a gnarly problem? Start with this list…

When I worked at TechCrunch, I was told, “Fill out these profiles on CrunchBase.”  It turned out the fastest/cheapest way to get that done was hire a team of people overseas. For the cost of one-and-a-half interns, my team and I accomplished the work of two interns–plus I had enough time to write part-time. I loved it, TechCrunch loved it, and the overseas team loved it.

You can’t do everything.

Sorry.
Learn to say “I can’t do that–but who else might be interested?”

Partnerships are not a zero-sum game.

Working with others can leave you both better off.
(And builds relationships–always a positive thing.)

People respond to incentives.

Curious how to get others to do something?
(Like buy your product, work for you for free, or leave a review on Yelp?)

Creativity thrives under constraints.

Without rules, you can’t play the game.
If you aren’t given enough rules, add a few more and see what happens…
(Eg, can’t afford an MBA? Get one online at Online MBA.)

Constrain the goal not the process.

When you add rules, add rules about the score, the resources, or the motivation, but never the process.
(Particularly important to remember if you’re a manager.)

——————————–

Lastly, I just got hired part-time by Mint.com to run their  Facebook marketing channel.

You can find my continually updated list of marketing resources here:

delicious.com/jeffwidman/facebook

(My other part-time job is being a full-time student. I’m looking forward to graduating in June–yay!–that will be the end of a long journey…)

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Feb 09 2009

Just Learned A Friend Died–Three Nights Ago He Was Telling Me What Mattered In Life

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[My apologies for the lack of artful brevity in this post. I'm just typing this one out on the fly.]

I met Rollan at Pub night–a weekly hang-out of twenty-something Christians in the Palo Alto area.  Rollan was a gregarious Asian, forty-six years old, divorced, with three kids. Despite his age, he occasionally dropped by, and I enjoyed chatting with him about the tech industry.

On Friday night, I invited myself over to Matt Jeffryes‘ house–and invited Rollan along. (Those of you who know me well, know that I have a penchant for bringing along a guest or two when I invite myself over.)

I also texted another friend, warning her: “We’d love to have you join us–if you wanna hang out with 3 single nerds/biz guys. Rollan’s telling stories of [Silicon Valley history]. We’re also discussing theology of work–so not your average Friday night group.”

She texted back: “I like it. I’m not into the average group thing. On my way over…”

My main memories from the evening:
(I don’t like to waste time on small talk, so we had a pretty straight up conversation.)

Asking Rollan his story.

Hearing him recount growing up as one of the first Asian kids in his area, attending Harvard, working as a trader on Wall Street, adventures traveling the world, getting married, coming out west, his life falling apart after the divorce, and the lifestyle changes he made.

“God took my idols–me wanting to make tons of money, because even when I made half-a-million-a-year that wasn’t enough–I wanted to make millions–that was my idol, and God ripped it down.”

Hearing him talk about wanting to always be there for his kids–and trying not to let them see how much he was hurting after the divorce–but knowing they “occasionally found me weeping in the closet.”

Hearing him talk about God providing the job at Yahoo: “I was running out of money, praying desperately for a job–when this came along. Sometimes a real snore, but it was what I needed–paid the bills and let me spend time with my kids.” Hearing his worries after being laid off, and his new job with The Conversation Group.

I remember reflecting on my own desperate desires to live a meaningful life, and how often I aligned accomplishments, or respect of thought leaders with a successful life.

I remember asking Rollan about his kids–after complaining that I never get to hang out with kids in the Valley. “Careful Jeff, or I might be asking you to come by and hang out with them sometime.” I responded “I just might be doin’ that Rollan.”

(In Bellingham, the Miksovsky family blessed me time and again with their open door policy–I could walk in the door, bellow “who wants to play basketball?” and immediately three or four of their kids [I think they've got eight--I lost count] would come running out.)

I remember telling Rollan, “Thanks for sharing this stuff–it’s a blessing to hear you call out the warnings from your life.”

Walking away from the evening impressed by how much smarter and more accomplished Rollan was then he normally let on, and by how honest and humble and broken he was. I remember telling Matt at the end of the night, “I want to learn those life-lessons, without making his mistakes.”

It was a fun night–the four of us, all comfortable being a little abnormal–sitting around talking about theology, our lives, stories, gay rights, software, etc.

Rollan’s lessons are particularly poignant because I’m in a time of transition.

After my TechCrunch internship ended, I feel my year-long foray into the tech industry is accomplished–plenty of open doors there–so I’m enjoying two weeks of planned reflection time. I’ve been asking my mentors and advisors, “During your times of transition, what questions guided your reflection?”

Five of the better answers:

  • “Always ask yourself, is this a) the right opportunity, and b) the right time?” – Eric Mack
  • Don’t ask “What challenge to go after?” instead ask “Who do I want to be?” – Andrew Nelson
  • “When you die, how do you want each group of people–friends, family, co-workers–to remember you?” – Chuck Westbrook
  • “Reflect on the past year–and all your varied experiences. What part of each one made you happy? Have the courage to pursue those types of things.” – Karl Klaesius
  • “Jeff, you’re a connector and a leader. Change your question from  ‘How do I create lasting value?’ to ‘how do I set others free to create lasting value?’ ” – Prefers Anonymity

———————————-

This morning I awoke to a text message, “did you hear about rollan?”

Right afterward, I opened a friend’s e-mail with news of Rollan’s death.
(Currently, it seems we were the last to see him alive.)

Didn’t take long for the tears to start flowing.

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Feb 04 2009

I Can’t Believe This Interview Happened Three Months Ago!

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In October, Matthew Scott interviewed me for his Men@Pause podcast series.

Don’t know that I’m a man at pause (especially given this tweet), but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  And it’s not every day you get interviewed by a former Psychological Warfare specialist and combat paratrooper!

The broad topic was Gen Y–specifics included:

  • Distinctly generational definitions of success
  • Why Gen Y prefers multiple mentors
  • Generational expectations of online friendships
  • Realizing the next generation is already beginning to differentiate themselves from Gen Y
  • A brief recap of my summer adventures–and my upcoming TechCrunch internship (now complete–hope to blog more about that soon.)

Direct interview link.

In retrospect, I did an ok job.
Used too many “ums”, occasionally wandered all over the place, and bombed the last question. Perhaps more extensive mind-mapping would aid brevity. Certainly, next time I’ll enter an interview with two or three salient points I want to drive home–proactive, not just reactive.

On the positive side, there were a few good soundbites that came to me on the fly. And I realized I’m more comfortable than I expected.
(Matthew did a phenom job helping me relax–all that interrogation training. LOL!)

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Jan 26 2009

How to Network

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At least once a week someone asks me “How do I become a better networker?”

My opus on the subject.

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Jan 15 2009

Creating Useful Filters Rather Than Useless Speed Bumps

As long as we live in a resource-constrained world (time, money, etc), we will create filters to separate the top-notch from the tolerable, the Thinkpad’s from the Acer’s, the Nunatak‘s from the Campmor‘s.

Most of these filters are intuitive, unconsciously acted upon.

I remember hearing a basketball referree, a seasoned college-level veteran, recount how crowds went from respectful to jeering when he let his hair grow long. (An amatuer thespian, the long hair was necessary for a community play.) No fan consciously thought, “an extra three inches of hair causes bad officiating”–they just knew the good refs kept their hair short.  Long hair signalled bad ref.

In The Dip, Seth Godin writes about living within a filtered world. It’s a fascinating book about “when to quit and when to stick.” One way to separate a dead-end from success-just-around-the-corner: look for “measurable progress.” Maybe you can’t see the end of the tunnel, but can you identify progress?

(There is a danger here. Gen Y grew up accustomed to accurate and constant feedback. In video games, I knew how much farther until the end of the level, and how many more hits until I died. As a result, we’re addicted to measuring progress.)

But what about when you’re the one creating the filters for other people?

You face this question whenever someone asks for lunch. Every time you hire someone. Every time you create a sales funnel. How do you decide the best use of your time?

My friend Ramit faced this question recently. He wanted to enable someone’s dream to make the world a better place. Someone with the capacity to dream big, and the tenacity to make it happen. Ultimately, he created a scholarship for a twenty-something. (Hurry, today’s the deadline to apply.)

Many people create useless speed bumps–obstacles, especially to test tenacity.

“Thanks for reaching out–really busy–ping me in two weeks.”

But what if you created a useful, self-selecting filter?
“Thanks for reaching out–so I don’t waste your time, can you e-mail me three questions you want to discuss?”

Something that requires thoughtful effort. But the effort actually creates value for the rest of the world.

A guy applying to Seth’s latest internship reached out to me for advice. I looked at what he’d created, gave him some advice, and noticed how consistently he created value.

So I offered him a chance to come on board with another project I’ve got (still in stealth mode).

Just last night he sent me another e-mail saying thanks. And all because Seth used a filter that created value BEYOND Seth.

My super-abstract rule for filtering people: Constrain the outcome, not the process. And make the outcome value-added even if they get turned down.

I’ll spare you the rant. But you must create useful filters, rather than useless speed bumps. Otherwise, you’ll get less than the best. Because the best are filtering you. If you waste their time now, how do they know you won’t waste their time later?

Copy the master: http://www.squidoo.com/Alternative-MBA and http://www.squidoo.com/summerintern08

Create a filter, not a hurdle.

(Hat tip to my lifecoach, Chuck Westbrook, who prompted me to think more about filters.)

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Dec 05 2008

A short tactical post

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A friend recently asked how to get her own domain name (I am shocked by how few people do this!):

if you’re a non-techie, this is the simplest way to get yourname.com…
(and retain a Gmail interface)

if you’re a techie…
(you wouldn’t ask)

if you’re heading into the job/contract market, you’d purchase hirefirstname.com…
(much harder to miss-spell if spoken in a voicemail)

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Dec 03 2008

Learning by Doing: Jeff Widman interviews Charlie Hoehn & Aidan Nulman about interning with Seth Godin

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Talking heads. Yes--this is a pun.

This is the first, last, and only episode of the Gen Y Marketing Podcast.

In this twenty minute segment, I interview Charlie Hoehn & Aidan Nulman about:

  • Interning for Seth Godin
  • Listening to your audience versus doing what you think works
  • Generation Y–what’s hype, what’s legit
  • How they define marketing
  • A bunch of other interesting stuff I can’t remember. ;-)

(Hat tip to Brian Russell for the great editing job!)

Download link.

The Gen Y Podcast saga was an adventure in learning by doing. I learned the importance of action–don’t sit and wait. Inevitably you’ll fail. You’ll learn. Then you’ll either kill the project or change it. And do it again. You can’t shortcut this process. At best, you can only pre-think 40% of the process.

I had the proper recipe–recording equipment, smart people, and a little bit of free time. But I was missing the critical ingredient–a problem worth solving. My intuitive side knew this. It hemmed & hawed. So I killed the idea.

Perhaps you’ll enjoy my original thesis:

There are over 100 million websites.

Unfortunately, an abundance of resources does not constitute a solution.

After a point, the proliferation of blogs, tweets, pages, and images actually inhibits problem-solving. Too much noise.

Thus Google rose to prominence. Soon the web hit 2.0, and search diversified into Technorati, YouTube favorites, and SimplyHired. A lot of hype.

But it was all a pull-model. And my on-demand searches still contain noise.

What if the next step is a push-model?

It only works if search is perfect. Search results delivering exactly what I want, when I want it. Nothing else. Otherwise the noise overwhelms me.

You see, wall-able content doesn’t happen everyday. And when it does, we want to know. But technology is limited. That’s why the SEO industry exists.

I wonder. If the next step in search isn’t about technology, but about refining our ability to sift through information. (My brain consistently generates better search terms than my parents.)

I wonder. If the next step hasn’t already happened.

If my generation searches information differently. Sees the world differently.

Generation Y.

Hype. Or truth? Join the conversation.

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Nov 25 2008

Mentors versus Advisors

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A friend recently asked about mentoring folks.

Here’s an e-mail I sent several months ago to a guy who is gradually becoming a mentor. We both wanted to make the relationship happen, but we also both lead very full lives.

 

Thanks for the offer to mentor me a little more–much appreciated and it didn’t slip my mind.
(Apologies if I explained this before.)
I distinguish between advisors, and mentors.
Advisors–generally topic specialists–answer my questions when I need help.
Mentors ask the questions I didn’t think to ask–or that I’m subconsciously avoiding…
You have to know a person to see these unasked/avoided questions. 
There’s a snag though–it takes time.
That’s why I have many advisors, and very few mentors (none right now–most mentors/disciplers prefer face-to-face, and I’m too transitory.)

I mentored four guys every school year the past four years, and we met 1-on-1 every week for an hour (only possible with a school schedule). I learned the value of consistently creating space–conversations happen.
If you’re interested, I’d suggest we commit to a half-hour chat bi-weekly through the end of the year. (Any mentor knows the rewards are high, but so is the commitment.)

If you’d rather stay an advisor than a mentor–that’s perfectly fine… 
(The last thing I want is you saying yes if you’re not interested.)
Jeff

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Oct 02 2008

Distraction:Flailing::Denial:Finishing

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(Title format derived from SAT analogies–it must be PSAT time because this post is drawing over half my traffic.)

 

flailingWhen it comes to life, you certainly get your money’s worth!

-Karl Klaesius (friend & mentor)

 

Life is full.
Of opportunities.
For success. Or failure.
But most often. Simply distraction.

 

 

A particular quote keeps showing up in my life:

Be prepared for success.

-Steve Brock (at a KIROS breakfast)

Steve tells this to his clients all the time. So often, they prep for failure–emotionally, architecturally, and financially. Not a bad thing. But they fail to prep for success. So do we.

With success comes attention… and distractions.
But the people who consistently accomplish remain focused on the fundamentals. They do, rather than talk.

Recently, I brainstormed how to leverage some unique relationships I’d built–but I kept running into a brick wall. Eventually, I wordsmithed my own memorable quote:

An abundance of resources does not constitute a solution.

Aidan explains more.

 

When it comes to social media best practices, I’ve been tempted to think that meeting more people (face-to-face, phone, or Facebook) automagically solves problems. I’ve learned it automatically creates distractions.

Sometimes, preparing for success means learning to politely say no. Even in social media.

(Charlie, you better start practicing!)

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