Category Archives: Cork Board


Looking at my cork board I see lots of really great memories. But there is only one that has multiple memories attached to it. One thing most of the stuff on the board has in common with each other is that it was given to me by one single person with one single memory associated with the item.  The Applebee’s gift card is different in that respect.

I received this $30 gift card from the 2009 Mach III 12 Day group. We had a cook out under the bubble at Aviation Challenge the night after S.E.R.E. (no, not the real S.E.R.E. but the puny AC version).  It was a perfect night. The kids were tired, but reveling in their accomplishments. Chops and a few other campers pulled me aside to present me with a gift card to Applebee’s. The real cool thing about this gift card is it is an aerial view of Aviation Challenge, the greatest place on earth! Chops thanked me and the other staff for “bringing back 12 Day!” Really though, the kids brought back 12 day camps.

The second memory attached to the gift card is the night the AC gang converged upon Applebee’s in Madison, Alabama. We sat around telling stores and laughing. If I remember, it was Biscuit, Divot, Slip Knot, Snapper, and Tank. It was the whole gang, but a few others. It was really nice. It wasn’t often that we all got together. But we did that night. And we enjoy a little something from Applebee’s on the 2009 12 Day kids.

The greatest aspect about the card is that Aviation Challenge is forever honored in plastic because Applebee’s has a design your own gift card program! What a great concept! This gift card screams, PRIDE, PROFESSIONALISM, and LEADERSHIP! Thank you Aviation Challenge campers and staff for wonderful memories.

The Shizzle

What should I write about next? What item on my cork board should I tell you about? When I asked Rachel Ray, she had a hard time deciding between the Wisconsin cow post card and the photo of her training class. She looked at the 2009 training group and said, “The Shizzle!” I am sure she meant that group was the shizzle. I have difficulty interpreting things. Call it my stubborn red headed nature or the fact that I am very self centered, but the shizzle definitely is referring to my job!

True, in this photo is of a solid group of outstanding staff and many of whom are now supervisors at camp or have gone on to work at other camps and fantastic places. I could list off names, but I am sure I would leave someone out. But just look, there is Michael Hall (Digger). He is now selling furniture at the Red House in North Carolina. Kim Thornton (Spud) has started her own baked potato restaurant on the campus of Boise State. Faith Laska is in Hollywood working as a body double for Zooey Deschanel. And who can forget Rachel Ray. Well, she isn’t my favorite, but she can spell really well.

I look at this photo and see how lucky I am to get to know each and every one of these wonderful people. They are different and special each one of them. They come to Space Camp for a season or two but their impact stays around for years. I am lucky! I get to teach, train, coach and mentor new Space Camp staff and most of the time I learn much myself along the way. This group may not be the best group ever to train at Space Camp, but they are near the top of a very short list. I have the greatest job! Maybe “The Shizzle” is describing this group, but I am lucky to be included!

The photo was given to me by Brandi Wahl. She has just recently returned to camp from working at a few different camps. Until I put this photo on my cork board the photo was safely tucked in my moleskin journal. The photo, just like most everything on this cork board, is very dear to me.

Yellow Pencils

“More than a writing and art products company Dixon Ticonderoga is a company that empowers people to take conscious and subliminal thoughts – facts, ideas and dreams – and preserve them using tools that are simply extensions of themselves.”

A few years back I started the sentimental ritual of buying school supplies each fall. It was just after I left teaching and started full time at Space Camp. I am defiantly better suited at Space Camp than in the classroom; however, I miss school supplies. As a teacher I had two pencil cups on my desk. One cup held pencils for public use. Those pencils could be used by students who were not prepared for class or just needed an extra pencil. These pencils were most often found on the floor after class. Chewed and gnarled by students these pencils had less than adequate writing cores. Then there were my pencils, a gleaming cup full of perfectly sharpened number two Dixon Ticonderoga pencils.  The pencil angels guarded these pencils from unappreciative students and their dirty little hands.

Once I started buying my favorite pencil the people of Space Camp started to notice the greatness of the Dixon Ticonderoga. After I stated using the pencil others followed and soon I had dozens of Dixon disciples. It was a writing utensil revolution. Adults who had never been exposed to a quality pencil wept with joy at the ease in writing. Men and women rushed to Staples to buy their own Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. Ok, this is a bit of an over exaggeration. One thing is true, the greatness of Dixon Ticonderoga pencils was introduced to many employees at Space Camp.

This small writing sample is from Dixon Ticonderoga’s website. It is a marketing slogan that I picked up when I started used Dixon Ticonderoga pencils as props in The Presentation Everyone L.I.K.E.S. This presentation is used to teach new staff how to present educational topics as a Space Camp counselor. Joseph Dixon wanted to create a company that made a product that was the “best of its kind.” I want the counselor staff at Space Camp to be the best of their kind. This small quote on my cork board is one of many reminders I have in my office to show staff that I mean what I say. I am all in, committed to greatness, an over achiever in the pencils world, and dedicated to the education of the masses. If you are going to be a nerd about something, just step up your game and be a geek!

Oak Creek

One little beer cap with so many stories. Let’s start with the obvious, it is from Arizona. In 2007 Snapper and I visited Arizona with little known about each other in hopes of finding Space Camp counselors. We found Minnie! All was not lost! We found beer too, at least Snapper found beer. She didn’t know much about good beer!

Thing is, this bottle cap came from Arizona 2010. However, Snapper and I would find this beer in 2008 at the Hassayampa Inn with our favorite barkeep, John, at the helm. Oak Creek Nutbrown Ale is a 2004 Gold Medal winner in the North American Brewers’ Association competition. This Arizona favorite has a consistent nutty flavor with just a hint of spice in its depths. A slowly emerging bitterness crops up along the way and is unobtrusively incorporated into the smooth flow. It finishes with a gentle nuttiness and spiciness. This beer bear is great with sandwiches and subs, as well as recruiting at ERAU.

Ok, let’s cut the bull! At one point in time Safety would retrieve a resupply of Oak Creek for people in Alabama. As he drove cross country to work at Aviation Challenge. This beer is so epic that it has followed me on two canoe trips in Tennessee. When Oak Creek made the trip on the Elk River, only Red Bull and Snapper enjoyed the Arizona beer. This year as I was off recruiting in Arizona, Nemo was trusted with the care of my puppy. She shared in the goodness of Oak Creek beer by drinking the last of Safety’s beer.

However, the best way to drink Oak Creek Nutbrown Ale is to drink it in a small chilled glass at the Hassayampa Inn with one of your best friends. Prescott, Arizona is special place and that is why this Arizona blazoned bottle cap is on my cork board. This beer, these memories, and Arizona it’s self are special to me!


Near the center of my cork board there is a white button that has everyone’s favorite fighting vegetable on it with the words, “I’m an Okra too!”  This button was picked up while recruiting at my alma mater, Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.  This is the coolest idea for a happy I have ever seen.  Recruiters that graduated from DSU are given these buttons to wear around campus while recruiting.  It shouts to the college students, “I love my school and proud of my career! Please work for us!”

My time at Delta State was great! It was the perfect university for me.  I was somewhat fearful of the college experience, but I was lucky to have wonderful professors and friends at DSU.  It is amazing how much Delta State and Space Camp helped to form the Okra I am today.  During my student teaching at DSU, I met Julie Ferris at Madison Avenue Elementary School.  At that time, Julie was a second grade teacher at Madison Avenue and would later be my first boss at Space Camp.

Next week, I will get to again visit DSU to recruit staff to work at Space Camp!  I will see my good friend Emily, visit with new friends, and hopefully recruit a few Okras to work next spring at the most amazing camp in the world! So my button serves as a happy reminder of who I am, where I came from, and where I am headed!  Thank you Delta State!

Shameless Plug… if you want a job at camp use this link to learn more.  Space Camp Staff Application