Posted by John, Catholic Studies Master of Arts student
John Rogers here. I’m a Catholic Studies Master of Arts student, and I’ve spent the last two summers as the event coordinator for the Church and the Biomedical Revolution faculty seminars. During the school year, I attend CSMA classes part-time and work full-time as a teacher at Saint Thomas Academy in St. Paul, MN. This summer I took “Paul’s Letters” with Dr. Martens and an independent study on “Phenomenology and the Theology of Disclosure” with Dr. Wojda.
After summer classes ended, I hit the road with my friend Russell Shurts, who will be entering the UST Master’s in Engineering program in the fall. We headed to Lancaster, PA, and spent a week competing in the 19th annual World Boardgaming Championships. This convention is a chance for 2000+ boardgaming enthusiasts to test their mettle and play their favorite games. A lot of the events at the WBC are either European-style games (popular ones in the U.S. include Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Power Grid) or strategic/war games (Risk and Axis & Allies being two of the best known). It’s also a great opportunity to try out games that are brand new or currently in development.
Perhaps my favorite event at the WBC was the Here I Stand tournament. Here I Stand is a six-player war/political/religious game about the Wars of the Reformation. Players control either the Protestants, Papacy, English, French, Hapsburgs, or Ottomans and try to score points by capturing cities, converting areas to their religion, exploring the Americas, etc. I advanced to the semifinals in this event and had a blast meeting lots of people who are as interested in this period of history as I am! In addition, I was able to try out “Small World” (pictured above) early on in the week. I liked it so much I purchased it at a discount in the Dealers’ Room on Thursday, and played it four more times throughout the week. It’s a fast-paced, multiplayer game of territory control. This is the sort of game I knew I could quickly introduce to my family. They really enjoy it!
If you want to learn more about my trip, or about board games in general, please visit my blog about board games: Margin of Victory.
Posted by John, Catholic Studies Master of Arts student
Posted by Liz, UST Junior, Political Science and Catholic Studies
I have been going to summer camp since I was 10. I love the magic of summer camp; the evening activities, skits, campfire, making s’mores, and fingernail polish parties with the other girls in my cabin. In fact, even before school got out for the summer, I was counting down the days until camp. It should be no surprise that I decided to work as a counselor at Camp Birchwood for girls in Northern Minnesota. This summer I have found myself challenged as my job duties include not only instructing wilderness activities and living with a cabin of campers, but also planning and leading camping trips. The most memorable trip for me was a 6-night trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). My co-counselor, Kat, and I took seven 12-14 year olds (as many as we could take on our permit) on the Alpine Loop route, leaving from Grand Marais, MN. The BWCA is comprised of many lakes, rivers and islands, and for those of you who have never been, I recommend that you add it to your “bucket list” right away. During the day, we canoed 4-6 hours, stopping for a lunch break around 1 pm. Upon arrival to our campsite each evening, we would guide the campers through setting up tents, preparing the fire, cooking, tying the bear bag (for food/scented items), and practicing the “Leave No Trace” principles to protect the land so that someday my campers’ grandchildren can enjoy the same beautiful landscape as we did.
One of the first nights on trail, we went around in a circle and shared our goals for the trip. I had two goals that I expressed out loud: that I would have a meaningful conversation with each camper during the trip and that I would increase my ability to rely on the land for my basic necessities and practice living simply. At the beginning of the summer during staff training week, each staff member added a line to the camp’s 2009 summer mission statement. My addition was that this summer each girl who went on a trip would feel beautiful and strong at the conclusion of the trip. I believe they each accomplished this, and will continue to enjoy the outdoors and be open to the possibilities that they face as they get are reaching their high school years. They acquired the skills of building a fire (even when our matches were basically duds), living off the land, and enjoying each other’s company through conversations, a scarcity in a society where technology is heralded because it is convenient, albeit increasingly impersonal.
At St. Thomas’ Catholic Studies department, we have tremendous role models to look up to in our professors, priests, upperclassmen, and seminarians. They are such advocates for the faith and really embody Christ in their words and actions. I have always felt like I have someone to go to when I am struggling or want to share good news about a personal matter or academic triumph. This summer, I have learned how humbling it is to find myself in a position where I am a role model for others. At camp, how I act and how I carry myself leaves a lasting impression on the campers, not only those who live in my cabin, but also those to whom I teach canoeing or rock climbing. Now more than ever, these girls need solid role models who are identifiable and living happy and positive lives. This summer, I have had the opportunity to grow as a leader and mentor, while encouraging the girls who come to camp to take healthy risks and create lasting memories with their friends. Being a camp counselor certainly keeps me busy, but I am loving every second of it!