Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hi all,

Today was our last full day in Costa Rica and it is a bittersweet ending to the trip. While we are all sad to be leaving, our last day has been so much fun and by far one of the most memorable days as well as my personal favorite. We jump started the day with a 6:45 wake up and were out the door by 7:15. Dressed, packed, prepared to teach, and full of Kelli's yummy pancakes, we were ready to go. The drive to Escuela de Cerros was neat because it took us right through a plantation for the plants that produce palm oil and we got what the ticos call a "free costa rican massage" (aka a bumpy ride down a dirt road). When we pulled up to the school we were met by Karoline, the English teacher for grades 1-6. We paired up with each other and each pair was assigned to a grade. We assisted the teacher in leading each class and then got thirty minutes at the end of every period to conduct our own activities with the kids in each grade level. We played pictionary, charades, and different games to help the kids with their vocabulary. In me and Kelsey's second grade class we even got the chance to teach the kids one of our favorite camp songs, "My Father's House." Some of the kids caught on to the lyrics and hand motions and joined us in the front of the classroom to sing and dance. It was a lot of fun. When we weren't teaching we were painting trashcans and tables or just playing with the kids. We taught them few fun hand games and chants in English and they taught us some Spanish ones in return. We also ran around in their yard playing soccer and held a big boys vs. girls game (girls won of course). The girls were so much fun and even gave us bows. It was an awesome day of hanging out with these kids.
Tonight we went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and then just hung out back at the bungalows. We are all very tired from the long day and are headed to bed. Tomorrow we are going to hang out at the beach and then leave for San Jose to spend our last night near the airport.
Buenos Noches! Besos

Sunday, July 14, 2013

'Twas a Sunday in Costa Rica

'Twas a Sunday in Costa Rica, when all through the bungalow
Not a creature was stirring, not even a monkey of the jungle-o
The bathing suits were hung in the shower with care
In hopes that they would dry in the Costa Rican air

 The children were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of zip lining danced in their heads
And soon they were wakened by pillows and noise
I guess that's what we get for rooming with boys

JAMBO! This is the Wolfpack (Megan, Kaleigh, Brooke) coming to you live from Costa Rica. We hope you are enjoying your last days of peace while we are away. Today was one of our last big adventures. (included in this blog post are Spanish vocab words)

We started off the day as all good days should start off...WITH BACON. Mama Adrienne showed off her domestic side by cooking us a plentiful breakfast in the comfort of our own bungalow cocina (that's kitchen for you Americans... and Canadians). Kaleigh  showed Megan and Brooke the ways of work crew while they helped prepare and clean up breakfast.

After breakfast we made our way in an autobus (bus) to the zip lining area in the rainforest.  When we got to the zip lining area we were given a tour of a butterfly and snake garden. There were many types of butterflies, but the prettiest ones were a bright azul (blue). We were determined to catch butterflies, but only a few lucky souls were chosen as a landing spot by the mariposas (butterflies). Thankfully, the snakes were in glass cages. The Harry Potter fans of the group tried out their parseltongue, we must not be related to Voldemort because the snakes didn't answer us. Our guides hurried us out of the garden after they realized we were obsessed with getting the butterflies to land on us.

The friendly zip lining crew strapped us in our harnesses, and we were ready to go! We started with a short zip line and then hiked 8.6 miles (more like .5 miles) up the rainforest. Armed with walking sticks, our guides leaded us up steep stairs. By the time we got to the top we smelled of rainforest juice and fear (a.k.a sweat). It was an experience my calves will always remember.  The course consisted of 10 zip lines, 2 free fall repels, and a tarzan swing. Rain fell from the Costa Rican clouds and it created a majestic scene in the jungle. As our guides soared through the trees it reminded me of monkeys, and I felt like Jane from Tarzan touring the rainforest from the tree tops. On the final zip line we were allowed to be hooked on to another one of our friends and fly through the trees together back to base.

After a lunch of pollo and rice we took an autobus back to our bungalows where we changed out of our now wet clothes and dispersed to do different activities. Kelli took a group of us to the market to get snacks and food for dinner and the rest of us went to the beach. The beach sits in a little cove and the waves were huge. We spent the time boogie boarding in the rain and the Kaleigh was magically turned into a sand mermaid.

It started to get late and a car came and picked us up and took us back to the bungalows so we could begin to get ready for dinner. We stayed in tonight and Kelli made us a beautiful dinner of burgers and chips. Megan dropped her phone 4 stories from the top of the bungalow but don't worry it survived... barely. We finished the night off with an M&M pazookie and we all made lessons plans for tomorrow to help teach children english.We are all looking forward to spending the day with the students. Buenos Noches

The Wolfpack

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Today we had fun.
Rafting, waves, beach, God, and stuff.
Fun for all, costa.

Food, we eat that stuff.

Chicken lunch, chicken dinner.
Costa Rican Treats

Cold water splashing
white water flowing quickly
giving joy to all

Sunscreen on people
vamos a la playa, yup
waves, boogies, kayaks

hope you enjoyed these poetic visuals...haikus


Saturday Outline
  • morning
    • breakfast early
    • bus ride to white water rafting headquarters, then bus to white water rapids on the river up in the hills
    • white water rafting class 3 and 4 rapids and waterfall hangout
    • lunch at headquarters
  • afternoon
    • private beach at the villas. bungalos. casas. hotel. "our headquarters".
    • kayaking, boogie boarding, body surfing, laying on beach
  • night
    • dinner at el avion restaurant
    • played what are the odds game..wes lost

         Detailed Highlights
 Today, after enjoying a delicious breakfast we sert out on an adventure to the mountains. After stopping many times for pictures and sight seeing we finally made it to the top. Quickly, we learned the commands and rules for the water. It did not take long for the first people to fall victim to the rapids; as the wolf pack (Kaleigh, Brooke, and Megan), Sheridan, and Adrienne fell in. For our break, we stopped at a waterfall. After a few pictures, swimming, and watching Wes and Charlie jump from the rocks under the waterfall we made our way back to the river. A few more rapids passed as more and more people fell victim to the river. One of the teams, Team Fern (Wes, Mitchell, Annie, Maddie, and Charlie) *name given because of ferns poking from helmets*, found a boa high in the trees. Their guide pointed out the boa and said it had been there for a day or two. After the rapids, the gang chowed down on pineapple and watermelon, while the guides packed up. Lunch shortly after was chicken and rice.
Once returning to the villas, many people ventured to the beach for fun in the sun. People kayaked, swam, and played in the waves. The most popular thing was boogie boarding on the huge waves, or as we call them, tsunamis. Then, back to the villas to shower and get ready for dinner.
Although there was a wait for dinner, Wes managed to entertain people with his stories, telling of an adventure between Mitchell and Charlie as they ventured for food. (The story had a few celebrity appearances, like 50 cent and Audrey) Then, it was time to eat. Meals varied from chicken to seafood to tenderloin, and anything in between. After dinner Wes lost a game of "what are the odds" to Mitchell and was forced to sit in the cockpit of the restaurant's plane and sing "bad day" by David Powter. Briefly after the show, we set out for a walk back to the hotel. Once back, a few people listened to a story from Sheridan from the book Love Does and then everyone went to bed. Luckily Charlie, Mitchell, and Wes stayed up to fill y'all in.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Hello CBS family! All is well in Costa Rica. We did a lot of traveling today. We made it to Manuel Antonio with several stops along the way for souvenirs, to see some crocodiles and lunch. We were sad to part ways our guides Jairo and Manrrique...we could not have asked for better people to show us around their beautiful country! Once we got settled in our bungalows we enjoyed some time at the beach.

No new pictures for the day, but here are some more from the last several days!

Day 3 Pictures

Day 2 Pictures

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A day of adventure and service. Costa Day 3

Our group woke up this morning and after a hearty breakfast, filled with the correct portions of each of the food groups, we were prepared to seize the day! We traveled along a dusty path for approx 32 minutes and arrived at our destination. Upon arriving we were overwhelmed by the kindness of the Costa Rican tour guides. They dressed us in matching (stylish I might add) blue raincoats and helmets to make us resemble minions. They did this in order to make us seem more like a team and it really brought us together as a group. It's surprising how much closer you get to people when are wearing the same thing! Wow! We began our adventure trekking through the wilderness and braving the rainy elements. At times we could hardly see, but we pressed on with the determination of Spartan warriors. We arrived at the first waterfall and a hush fell over the group. A jaw dropping 164 feet 2.3 inches. Wow what to say. wow. speechlessness is all I can convey to you. My blood ran cold with fear and a tremor began in my left leg. I was second in line behind the fearless Kelli. She proceeded to jump off without blinking an eye. Talk about setting the expectations high. I inched toward the edge with the cautiousness of a newborn bird about to leap from the nest. I lept and slowly repelled down the cliff similar to a jaguar chasing its prey. It was breathtakingly magnificent and I highly recommend the experience. You parental guardians will be pleased to know each of your children are safe after repelling down 4 waterfalls. WOW they take safety in Costa Rica very seriously. Hope all is swell in the U.S. cause Costa Rica is definitely rad. Now I will turn it over to my trusted comrade P $$$$ to explain the wonderful safe house experience.

Hello everyone, Pmoney here. Ready to tell ya'll about our incredible experience at the La Fortuna safe house. We departed for the orphanage at approximately 1:30 from the hotel with our huge bags of Pack for Purpose items. We had no idea to what to expect. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by multiple smiling children of all ages. Everyone then began to spread out and play with all of them. Each person seemed to find their perfect child for the day. We got to play games with them, run around with them and best of all, just get to know them. Leaving the safe house was really hard on us, since we had become so close to the children. In my opinion, this was the best part of our trip thus far. Getting to know these children and knowing that you're making a difference in their life is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced. It really opens your eyes to what the world is really like and makes you realize how blessed we are.

We are excited to see how the rest of the trip unfolds!
L and P

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

                                   Rancho Margot, Day 2

We started off our day with a delicious breakfast and a lot of coffee. We then piled on a bus and learned that our tour guide owns the company that took the Bachelor Brad and the contestants waterfall rappelling, which is what we will be taking part in tomorrow.  We visited this really amazing self-sustainable farm called Rancho Margot. We began our experience with a tour around their facilities and got to learn how they are able to have a negative carbon footprint, we got to see many of their organic crops and plants including banana trees and coffee plants that they grow on their 400 acres. We then took a much needed break and got to experience a really yummy organic lunch buffet that their kitchen prepared for us. After our bellies were full and we refueled on coffee we then broke off into our separate tour groups and took part in some really cool projects that helped out the ranch. Our first group got the opportunity to herd some dairy cows into the barn and actually got to milk one of the cows and some of us were brave enough to try the milk straight from the utter. During this time the second group was preparing a garden bed out of the homemade fertilizer. The first group then planted cucumbers, carrots, and cilantro in the garden that the second group had created. While the first group was planting crops the second group got to feed chickens with worms from the compost and also got to take part in feeding the pigs, and actually kissed the pigs. After a long day at the ranch we returned to our hotel and relaxed in the hotels hot springs until the rain storm hit. We finished off the night with dinner at The Volcano Lounge. Today was definitely a tiring, fun filled day and everyone can’t wait to get a good nights sleep. Until tomorrow…

XOXO Annie and Sheridan

(Pictures coming soon due to slow internet) 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

                                  Pura Vida!!!
                                                     Day 1

Hello America, 
Greetings from Costa Rica,
This morning we got to have a very relaxing time. We went to breakfast at 9 and then went into the pools and hot springs at the hotel. Later today we hiked up to the basin of the Arenal Volcano. We saw a bed of lava rocks and took pictures over-looking the Volcano on one side and the Lake Arenal on the other. While hiking to the Volcano we took a detour from the main trail and took a route through the jungle. We saw various trees, some that were over 400 years old. We saw plants that contained an orange liquid that the tour guide painted Kelsey's nails with. Also, we saw plants that monkeys had eaten and thrown the reminisce onto the ground. We didn't actually get to see any monkeys though, hopefully we get to see some soon. We did see a Coati on the way to the volcano and were able to get out of the bus and take up-close pictures of the animal.  We also ran into a small yellow snake perched on the tree at the beginning of our hike and luckily didn't run into any others on the trails. After the volcano we went to a Tobacan Hot Springs Resort. It has several naturally fed pools, as well as other man-made pools. We had dinner there as well and ate our body weight in food, going up to the buffet several times. Until tomorrow...

Kelsey and Maddie <3     

Monday, July 8, 2013

                      Costa Rica...The start of our adventure

Today has been a long day of travel, but it was well worth it. Our group continued to grow throughout the day and we weren't complete until we reached Dallas. Once in the DFW airport we met up with our last three travelers and we were ready to really get this trip started. All of our flights were enjoyable and smooth. Once in Costa Rica we met up with our guide and started our three hour drive to La Fortuna, along the way he explained the different regions of Costa Rica and got us excited to see this beautiful country. 
We are currently tucked away in our beds and ready to rest up for the adventure that awaits tomorrow.

-CBS Family Costa 2013 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Girl Scout Brownie Retreat!

Last weekend at Camp Balcones Springs, our Retreat Staff welcomed several Girl Scout troops from the Austin area to the property! Brownies (and even some Daisies) got a taste of CBS over a weekend full of fun camp activities.

Scouts and scout leaders arrived Saturday afternoon and went swimming and "Blobbing" in Lake Ted, climbed the Rock Wall, flew down the screamer, played Gaga ball, and spent time hanging out in Dustin's Tree House. After a fiesta dinner in the Rio Grande, the Girl Scouts went to our bonfire area and enjoyed roasting S'mores.

The next morning after breakfast, some girls returned to the Rock Wall, while others jumped on the Charlotte's Web trampoline and made friendship bracelets in the Arts and Crafts Shed. Our guests enjoyed Camp Balcones Springs' famous "beach burgers" at lunch before returning home from their Brownie excursion. (Rumor has it there were unfortunately no Balcones Breezes included in this lunch time meal.)

Having the Girl Scouts with us this weekend got us thinking about camp and how exciting it is that it is just around the corner! We are looking forward to all of the fun summer will bring, and we are thankful to have gotten a taste of that with our Girl Scout visitors last weekend. See you all soon!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Fest 2013!

In celebration of Easter, the Retreat at Balcones Springs hosted the CBS Easter Fest--a holiday-themed family event--this past weekend!

The activities began Friday, as families arrived to appetizers and cocktails in our Bluebonnet lounge and a fiesta dinner in the Rio Grande dining hall. Afterwards, families gathered on our lawn to watch an outdoor movie under the stars.

The next day was full of camp and Easter fun. Guests played matball on our soccer field, climbed the rock wall and took a ride on the screamer, went down our famous Balcones Springs zipline, played in Lake Ted, took kiddie rides at the horse barn, and decorated eggs and other Easter crafts to celebrate the holiday.

After dinner, families hopped on a hayride out to the barn to enjoy a bonfire, complete with s'mores. The next morning, we celebrated Easter with a special brunch and Easter Egg hunt! Our two pet bunnies--the latest addition to the Camp Balcones Springs family--were also on display during the weekend to meet and play with guests of all ages.

We were so happy to spend Easter Weekend with all of the lovely families that stayed with us! We hope everyone had an equally joyful Easter.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Senior Camper Hang Out!

We had a blast this past Friday in Austin, as the camp team hosted a Senior Camper Hang Out Night with several of our rising senior campers!

The evening started outside of the Austin Salvation Army, as the Camp Balcones Springs mobile food bank, staffed by our senior camper guests, served hot plates of food and drink to the homeless and hungry. We were blessed to be able to serve such a large amount of food--vegetable strew, rice, enchiladas, chicken and turkey sandwiches, fruit, pretzels, and even ice cream! Lines were long, and we were thankfully able to serve food to nearly every person who asked for it.

After cleaning up, we headed back to Christine's house for a cook-out and outdoor movie! While waiting for dinner to be served, campers filled out surveys and spoke with our high school program staff to generate ideas and feedback for the coming summer. CBS is in the process of revamping its Senior Camper program, and we wanted to make sure to include the campers themselves in this reinvention!

Once dinner was served, campers enjoyed burgers from the grill, fruit, chips and salsa, soda, and lemonade while discussing the most recent results of March Madness games (and the current success or failure of their brackets). After eating, campers and staff relaxed in bean bags and blankets in the front yard for an outdoor viewing of Super 8, complete with s'mores.

We were so happy to have the chance to hang out with some of our rising senior campers this Friday, engaging in community service, getting ideas for improving camp this summer, and enjoying a fun movie together. We hope to have another gathering like this again soon, and we hope even more to see all of our rising senior campers this summer!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Engine 2 at Camp Balcones Springs!

This past week and weekend at Camp Balcones Springs, our retreat staff hosted Engine 2, a plant-based dietary group based out of Austin. Approximately seventy Whole Foods employees from all over the country entered the gates of CBS last Wednesday for the Engine 2 immersion program, spending seven days eating a plant-based, Engine 2-designed diet, exercising, and having their cholesterol and blood pressure tested to measure the effectiveness of the Engine 2 program.

Aside from eating specially-crafted meals designed by Engine 2 and prepared by camp's renown chefs, our Engine 2 guests had time to go for runs around camp, play tennis, paddle board and kayak on Lake Ted, and even go down the zip line!

The Engine 2 diet is a vegan-based diet that also eliminates all plant-based oils (olive oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil, etc.), salt, processed sugars, and refined grains. We hope to have picked up some healthy cooking and eating habits from Engine 2 over this last week that we can apply to our camp food this summer! (But don't worry, we won't be getting rid of Nutella or chicken tenders just yet.)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Family Camp!

To help tide us over until the summer, this past weekend at Camp Balcones Springs, we hosted several wonderful families at CBS Family Camp!

Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and dogs alike all arrived Friday evening to a fiesta dinner in the Rio Grande. Afterwards, parents could relax with appetizers and drinks, while the children (and maybe some of the dogs) watched a movie in our Live Oak room. The next day was packed with activities, featuring horseback trail rides, the zip line, rock climbing, gaga ball, fishing, archery, riflery, cookie decorating, a scenic hike, and even spray-tanning for the moms!

After the fun-filled day, all of the families gathered in the Rio for dinner, featuring a huge "Monster" chocolate cake made by our Boys Camp Director. After dinner, families played games in the Rio and put their pipes to the test with family karaoke! The next morning, after some more horseback riding and sports playing, we said goodbye to all of these wonderful families. It was so fun to have a small taste of what camp will offer this summer, and we hope to see you then for more of the fun!

Here are some kind words from the families who visited with us this past weekend:

"This is our second Spring Break at Balcones Springs, and we love it. We love how relaxing the area is and how all families participate in the activities. And dogs can come!" "We couldn't have have enjoyed ourselves more. The friendly and relaxed staff really lends itself to the overall relaxed atmosphere without feeling overly catered to or structured." "This is the best place ever! I wish I could live here. It is so fun. This is funner than everything in the world!"