Killeen, TX Summer 2017 Blog

Killeen, TX – Peaceable Kingdom – Day 1 – Gabi Akrap

 

For this Mizzou Alternative Breaks trip, a group of 10 of us are starting off service in Killeen, TX. We are serving at Peaceable Kingdom, which is a retreat for kids. For the week we are serving in particular, PK hosts different school groups. After a long, 12 hour drive on Sunday, we were ready to serve on Monday!

 

Starting the day off at PK was very exciting because none of us had any idea what we were in for. I spent the entire day hanging out at the pool with some amazing kids. We each had to step out of our comfort zones and interact with all types of different personalities. After a fun day in the pool with the kids it was time to get to some serious work. We took down bunk beds, sketched new dino's for the dino track, and helped out on the farm. The animals at the farm were so cute I literally died. Mini horses, alpacas, and tiny goats. I mean, who knew Texas was so cool? We then attended a community dinner where two members close to PK came and spoke and we learned some valuable life lessons. One member, Nancie, taught us the importance of "People first", it should always be "the person who has.." not their disability first. We were also told not to be afraid of change and to follow our passions.

 

Killeen, TX – Peaceable Kingdom – Day 2 – Amanda Montgomery


            Today, we spent the morning session with the entire third grade class from a local elementary school. We rotated between 5 groups: movie, moment to own it, campfire, nature walk, and water bottle rockets. It was incredible seeing how many kids experienced "firsts" today from things as small as roasting a marshmallow for the first time to things as big as getting to watch a movie in a theater for the first time. The camp directors really threw us into the activities today and gave us opportunities to lead and direct the activities, which was a great chance for everyone's individual skills to really show.

 

In the afternoon after the kids left, we got to try out the high ropes course, which consisted of a rock climbing tower and a zip line. This really let us get out of our comfort zone and try something new and helped us bond as a group through encouraging one another. It was awesome to see how helpful it was to say encouraging things, especially during the tougher/scarier parts of the course.

 

 We went to dinner at Pluckers and then returned to our site for reflections, and then got a chance to explore the area. Some of us played volleyball on the courts while others hung out on the porch to chat, and we finished our night hanging out in the living room area. Overall it was a very full and exciting day filled with lots of different activities.

Killeen, TX – Peaceable Kingdom – Day 3 – Emily Aldrich

 

Today was one of my favorite days ever. I got to spend 4 hours playing with some of the happiest kids I have ever met. We started off by playing putt putt golf. The kids were SO supportive of each other that it just melted my heart. They loved cheering each other on and giving high fives when they made it in only a few tries. Santiago (one of the kids) was the biggest supporter; he was alllllways clapping and smiling and supporting the other kids. I also really loved the adaptive golf clubs for the kids in wheelchairs.

Next, we got to play on the playground. I have never seen some kids smile so big. Ella, one of the students, loved to cheat when we raced down the slide together. She laughed so hard when she beat me. Jayden, a kiddo with Down Syndrome, loved climbing up the wall and felt so empowered when he made it to the top that he jumped up and down. This really made me happy because the playground was sp adaptive that he was able to do so without being in danger. Lilly, however, was my favorite. She was in a wheelchair and non -verbal but it was clear how much fun she was having. We sent her down the slide and the giant smile on her face was contagious. She made everyone happy. Last, we played arcade game. Air hockey was the most popular. Everyone loved hitting the puck back and forth and were of course very supportive of each other.

I really loved today. It opened my eyes to so many new things. I learned all about Variety and how it helps gift children necessary items that insurance doesn't cover. This instantly caught my attention and I am now looking into it even more, so I can possibly work there in my future. It was just so amazing to see how happy the kids were when they got to play on the Variety playground and I want to have a positive impact on even more kids.

                At night, we were able to explore around the property and walked down to the river. It was beautiful and a nice place for a reflection!

 

Killeen, TX – Peaceable Kingdom – Day 4 – Bethany Irlmeier

 

I am one of the site leaders for this trip. Today was Thursday, our fourth day serving with Peaceable Kingdom. Today, other school groups came out to PK for a field trip. Seven of us worked with a school that brought out four classes of 2nd graders. In the morning, the 2nd graders alternated between four activities. These activities were gaga ball, a reptile show, dino tracks, and low ropes. The seven of us were split up between these activities. We spend the morning helping out the staff and playing with the kids. It was super fun! Then, the kids had lunch and watched a movie.

                The other three people in our group had a pool party with kids from two other schools. Some of these kids were part of a "skills" class, and the others were middle schoolers. However, today was a bit different because these groups were paired together as "pals". Basically, the middle schoolers played with/helped out with the skills class. These two groups have been together all year, and today was their end of the year pool party. It was so nice to see these groups work together.

                After we worked with the kiddos, we painted the big dinosaurs for the dino tracks. This was our big project and our way to leave a mark on Peaceable Kingdom. We had a lot of fun coming up with the designs for these dinos, and we really hope the kids like them!

At night, one of the staffers took us to the "high swing". It was exactly as it sounds. We were harnessed and attached to cables, and we basically swung back and forth super high in the air. It was so much fun and it was very nice for Dylan to go out of his way to help us out. Also, we did it at night which made it so much more exciting. Thank you Dylan!!!

                We are sad tomorrow is our last day serving at Peaceable Kingdom. However, we have had an amazing experience thus far and cannot wait for our last day! As a site leader for this trip, I can honestly say I could not have asked for a better organization to serve for. The service has been great, and they have been extremely accommodating, allowing us to enjoy their amenities and explore. We are very grateful for the time we have spent here. We are excited for tomorrow!


Killeen, TX – Peaceable Kingdom – Day 5 – Erica Schuette

 

                On Friday at Peaceable Kingdom, a large group of over 50 students with a variety of disabilities came for an end of the year pool party. For me, personally, Friday was the best day of the trip, as the high school students were so fun, energetic, and honestly, so relatable. I swam in the deep end of the pool with the more high functioning kids, playing pool games, diving for rings, and jumping into the pool. I have never done more cannonballs in a single day, than I did on Friday. I really enjoyed how excited the kids were to jump into the pool with me, and how hyped they got about making massive waves in the pool. These kids made me laugh so hard, as they found so much joy and fun in doing belly flops and back flops into the pool. It was a great day to relax with happy kids, and not worry about anything except having fun with the kids.


Austin, TX – Free Day – Day 6 – Josie Meyer

 

Today, May 20, 2016, our MAB group traveled to Austin, Texas.  Once we arrived in Austin, we found our way to the graffiti park called Castle Hill where artists of Austin come and create a graffiti drawings along concrete walls.  It was a very neat experience and we were all excited to have seen the graffiti.  After the graffiti park, we found a restaurant to sit down and eat.  We then walked to 6th Street and South Congress (SoCo) which had a bunch of shops to look through.  We found souvenirs to take back home for ourselves and family and friends.  6th street and SoCo were full of entertainment to see! We finished our day in Austin at Amy's which was an ice cream shop.  Today was very fun and a great city to see for the first time!  


Zion Life Blog Post

Our trip had the opportunity to serve with the National Park Service in Zion National Park. For many of us, it was our first time there, and we were blown away by the breathtaking views as we drove into the park. We quickly found our campsite, and after some (many) struggles with setting up our tents, we settled down and made Zion our home for the next week. During our trip, we learned more about the importance of preserving the natural beauty of the park, respecting its past, and consciously thinking about its future. Our first day, we cleaned up trash around the campgrounds. It's amazing how the little things we think are no big deal add up—from the small corners of granola bar wrappers, to bottle caps, to sunflower seeds. These pieces of litter, while often seemingly inconsequential to us, really affect the wildlife, and can signal to other visitors to the park that littering in the park is okay. The next couple of days, we helped remove invasive species of plants from the park's nursery, so that the rangers in charge can more effectively grow native species to better collect seed to repopulate throughout the park. The work was challenging, but in the end so worth it as we saw the entire nursery transformed. We were also fortunate enough to be able to collect data on the park to better help their Visitor and Use Management Plan. We hiked various trails, like Angels Landing, Observation Point, and the Kayenta Trail to do trail counts of the amounts of people on them. On our last day of service, we helped with handicap accessibility on the Riverside Walk Trail and the Pa'rus Trail, by removing debris and sweeping off sand. Later, we were in a focus group to help out with an upcoming PSA about leaving no trace when on trails. In all, this trip was an amazing time— the rangers were so welcoming and friendly, the scenery was breathtaking, and we were able to get in lots of quality time to serve.