As the conference came to an end this past Tuesday, my team and I were finally able to take time on Wednesday to reflect on and debrief all of the craziness we endured:

  • Friday, July 10th: My team and I set up and decorated a celebration called “Legacy Track” for the Cru staff members over the age of 65.
  • Saturday, July 11th: The Legacy Track members were treated to an outdoor ice cream social that my team decorated with center pieces, table cloths, banners, candles, and music.
  • Monday, July 13th: My team was in charge of both registration for the 3,500+ staff members that all arrived that day AND the welcome fair!  That was easily the craziest and longest day of the conference, as we ran registration from 7am – 7pm, and then facilitated and tore down the massive Street Fair from 7pm – 12am.  The Street Fair, as mentioned in previous posts, took place in the parking lot of Moby and provided food, rides, games, a petting zoo, and an awesome atmosphere for the staff to fellowship and catch up with old friends from all over the country.
  • Tuesday, July 14th: My team was in charge of handing out 2 free give-aways for everyone of staff –
  • Free Cru15-branded donuts on the deck of Moby before the first session of the conference
  • Free choice between 4 different types of Cru t-shirts OR 4 different types of Cru Tervis-brand water bottles (mine are pictured below)

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  • Wednesday, July 15th: My team was in charge of planning and decorating for Heritage Night, a celebration that honors staff members that have been with Cru for 15+ years.  For this party, we made balloon bouquets, created retro center pieces, laid out colorful overlays on each table, and scattered Cru memorabilia throughout the room for the staff to reminisce.
  • Thursday, July 16th – Saturday, July 18th: We used these days to catch up on paperwork and other miscellaneous jobs, attend conference sessions, and prepare for the massive last-night party.
  • Sunday, July 19th: Our team planned a pool party for everyone on the staff conference team.  We rented out the City Park Pool and had a catered dinner.
  • Monday, July 20th – Tuesday, July 21st: These days were CRAZY!  The last night party is one of the biggest events of the conference, and it involves the most preparation as the theme changes each year.  This year, the party was Latino-themed and was complete with Latino food, live music, and décor.  The party was set to look and feel like a Spanish courtyard, so there was a large fountain in the center, surrounded by tables with bright flowers and tablecloths, and stringed patio-lights running the entire length of the field to illuminate the decorations.

Needless to say, it has been a VERY busy past couple of weeks helping to pull all of this together, but it has also been incredibly rewarding.  To be able to serve the Cru staff in a way that encouraged them and boosted their morale was a unique learning experience that I have loved every second of!  I am so glad to have been a part of the staff conference team, the special events team, and of Cru in general.  It was a great summer, and certainly one that I will never forget!

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Foot of the Rockies Summer Mission 2015

 

Leave A Comment, Written on July 24th, 2015 , Uncategorized

Walking to work each day as an intern with Cru is an ever-changing and exciting experience, as the scenery changes almost daily.  As the weeks dwindled down and we got closer and closer to Cru15 (the name of the staff conference this year), more and more decorations, tents, and even carnival rides began to be constructed.  Although my walk is only 5 minutes from our house to the office where I work, Cru managed to squeeze all sorts of exciting things into a small area of the CSU campus.  For example:

  • Carnival rides, a petting zoo, food tents, and games were set up to welcome the 3,500+ staff to Cru15
  • Massive tents, like the prayer tent, the coffee house tent, the staff depot tent, and the ministry fair tent were all set up outside of Moby (the stadium where all of the conference sessions were held)
  • Patio furniture on the deck of Moby and surrounding grass areas (complete with decorative lights) were set out for the staff to sit and enjoy their free time
  • Cru15 sculpture branded with the conference design theme (triangles) and colors (dark blue, light blue, orange, and yellow)
  • Prayer wall mural made out of boxes that were Velcroed to the side of Moby—staff could take a box, write a prayer request, and re-stick it to a different wall to create a beautiful mural of colorful boxes

Although all of these were exciting, welcoming, and fun to look at, one of the things that I saw each day on my walk to work that really caught my eye was the large, wooden box sculptures that lined the entire pathway from my house to Moby.  They were branded with the triangles and colors and were a fun way to lead people to where they needed to go.  However, the thing that struck me most about these boxes was that they had large quotes attached to them that changed each day based on the theme for the sessions.

Below are pictures of the wooden boxes that were on my path, and on most of them is written the tagline for the conference—“together.”  As Cru is a large religious organization that works towards spreading the love of Christ all over the world, many of these quotes refer to working together to achieve that mission.  The small blurbs on these wooden boxes inspired me each day as I walked to work.  They served as a continual reminder of why I am working with Cru this summer:  To be a part of a global mission that serves people of all races, ethnicities, genders, and ages for the purpose of bringing them God’s unconditional love and grace.

I feel so blessed to have been able to have the opportunity to take part in such an important mission, and I have the internship grant to thank for that.  Without the money provided by the grant, I would not have been able to afford all of the fees involved in working with Cru (a non-profit organization that fundraises all of its staff’s salaries and other expenditures).  The mission of Cru is something that I am very passionate about, and I could not be more grateful for having been awarded the money from the grant to make my passions a reality.

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In the background of some of these pictures, you can see Moby (“together to refresh”), patio furniture (together for renewal), some of the tents (“together to win”), and Durrell (the campus building where I work every day—“together to build”).  Finally, the last picture is of the prayer mural.

Leave A Comment, Written on July 24th, 2015 , Uncategorized

One of the services that Cru offers to all of their staff and interns is the Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment.  It’s a series of about 60 questions about your preferences, habits, and overall personality.  Cru then uses the results of this assessment to analyze their employees’ strengths and how those strengths can fit into the workplace.  Here were my strengths:

  1. Communication
  2. Belief
  3. Achiever
  4. Responsibility
  5. Consistency

After I took this assessment, another Cru staff member met with me one-on-one to discuss my results, how I can most effectively use my strengths, and how I can better prepare myself for the pitfalls of each strength.  Here are some of the things we talked about in my meeting:

  • Communication helps me to not only put my own feelings and ideas into words, but it helps me to express the ideas and feelings of others who struggle with communication as well.
  • Belief and consistency complement each other in many ways, such as that my beliefs help me to remain consistent and to stand up for what I believe to be right in my line of work.
  • Responsibility and consistency also complement each other in that being consistent doesn’t only mean that I thrive when my schedule remains relatively unchanged, but also that I am reliable and dependable when it comes to deadlines and quality of work.
  • The achiever strength means that I have an intense drive to do well and to succeed in all areas of life, particularly work.

Learning all of these attributes about myself was what I would have expected, but some of them were also surprising.  For example, I was surprised to see that communication was my top strength, because I don’t consider myself to be a good communicator in social settings (telling stories, small talk, etc.); however, I had not realized that I tend to communicate well in professional / educational settings like group projects, classroom discussions, etc.

Taking this assessment and being able to discuss my results with a professional was not only helpful, but it was also very enjoyable!  I like learning about myself and realizing what I excel / don’t excel in, because being able to fully apply my strengths (and recognize your weaknesses) allows me to fully reach my potential in both professional and nonprofessional settings.

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This diagram offers more detailed information about my strengths assessment—my strengths are highlighted.

Leave A Comment, Written on July 13th, 2015 , Uncategorized

My event has finally happened!  I wish I could say that it went off without a hitch, but that would not be completely true.  It was, however, a huge success in the eyes of all those who attended, and I received many compliments and congratulations on a great event!  What I’m trying to say is, the 4th of July picnic was by no means perfect, as there were a few behind-the-scenes snafus that needed to be taken care of at the last minute, but as far as the picnickers were concerned, the event was fun, smooth, and successful.

Here are some of the behind-the-scenes issues that my team and I dealt with throughout the day:

  • 2 out of the 3 judges for the bake-off got the flu the day before the picnic, and we needed to replace them at the last minute
  • There was a slight miscommunication and our tables, canopies, chairs, drinks, and coolers arrived 40 minutes late
  • The judging for the bike parade took longer than expected and the kids (and parents) were getting antsy to begin
  • The kids loved the bocce ball set that we rented form Colorado State University, but they also enjoyed scattering the pieces all over the field and in the creek (we spent quite a while rounding up all of the bocce balls to avoid a fee from CSU)

With the help of my team and other volunteers from the Foot of the Rockies mission trip, we swiftly and efficiently handled all of these incidents and successfully prevented them from jeopardizing the integrity of the picnic.  This adaptability and “go-with-the-flow” mentality has been difficult for me to get the hang of, as I am the type of person who loves to plan everything to the very last detail.  However, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since beginning my internship with the Special Events Team for Cru has been that adaptability is key.  Planning everything is great, but being flexible enough to change your plans when things inevitably go wrong is a vital skill to possess.  This internship has definitely been helping me to master this skill.

Finally, despite my focusing on the negative aspects of the day in this blog post, the day as a whole was absolutely fantastic, and everyone had a wonderful time!  Below are some pictures to prove it:

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Leave A Comment, Written on July 7th, 2015 , Uncategorized

This week I want to talk about how vital the internship grant has been for me this summer.  This internship and this entire mission trip experience have been absolutely incredible so far, and it’s not even over yet!  Here’s what I love about this trip:

  • I’ve been stretched outside my comfort zone in so many ways, but always in a fruitful and positive manner.
  • I’ve learned so much about myself and how I can work to better myself.
  • I’ve had amazing opportunities to explore Colorado and its beauty!
  • I’ve been able to sharpen my leadership and organizational skills by heading a project for the Staff Conference Team.
  • I’ve met some of the most amazing people who have come alongside me in this incredible journey!

None of this, however, would be possible if I had not applied for and been awarded the Dickinson College Internship Grant.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am one of three students who are not working in childcare this summer.  As you can see in the chart below, there are 49 students on this mission trip and I am the only one who is interning with the Special Events Team (green).

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There were 2 things that I didn’t know about my internship coming into this mission trip:

  1. I did not know how imbalanced it would be; I thought that there would be many other students doing the internship with me, and that it would be more evenly spread out between internships and childcare.
  2. I knew that I was unpaid, but I did not know that the childcare workers were paid.

In addition to the fact that I am unpaid (the other 2 interns with the Design Team are also unpaid), there was a hefty fee for me to participate in this mission trip plus travel costs!  I had my heart set on being here this summer, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it happen since not only would I not be making money, but I also could have potentially lost money—a lot of money.

Luckily, the internship grant is available to all Dickinson students holding an internship, and provides amazing opportunities for students that would otherwise not be possible.  I was awarded a grant that paid a little over half of my fees for this summer and I am so thankful, because I wouldn’t be here without it!  Fortunately, I was also able to fundraise almost all of the rest of the fees / travel costs, leaving only a small portion for me to pay out of pocket.

So overall, this trip has been a life-changing experience so far, for so many reasons beyond what I could have even imagined!  But none of it would have been possible if I had not been awarded the internship grant.

Leave A Comment, Written on July 6th, 2015 , Uncategorized

My main responsibility at my internship this summer is planning the 4th of July picnic for the Staff Conference Team (SCT), which is about 400 people in total.  This project has been entirely entrusted to me, as the rest of my team is busy working on their own projects—they do, of course, help me with things all the time though!  Here are the events that I have planned for the day:

  • Bike Parade: All of the SCT’s children adorn their bikes with America-themed decorations and parade around the parking lot of the apartment complex where they are living for the summer.  There are judges, prizes, music, and lots of fun!
  • Amazing Race: Teams race around Fort Collins following clues, completing challenges, and solving riddles as they race to be the first team back to the picnic.
  • Bake-Off: The SCT members take this event very seriously and plan months in advance what they will bake for the competition.
  • Lunch: A local BBQ place caters the event each year with smoked meats, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, and more.
  • Backyard Games: With LOTS of fun prizes at stake, the kids (and adults!) all compete enthusiastically in games like tug-of-war, sack races, and dizzy bat.
  • Activities: To keep everyone occupied in down times, there will be ongoing activities throughout the day, such as temporary tattoos, a photo booth with patriotic props, badminton, and more.

As you can tell, I have been working very hard to plan, organize, decorate, and coordinate all of these different activities into one, fluid event.  Since I’ve been given so much freedom to plan this event, I have added many new features to the picnic this year:

  • Signs: I have designed and created completely new signs for the bike parade and the photo booth (samples pictured below)
  • Patriotic Tootsie Rolls: As a prize for participating in the Bike Parade, all participants will be awarded a gift bag of tootsie rolls.
  • TOYS!: Instead of candy as prizes for the backyard games, I made room in the budget for buying 300+ toys as prizes instead!  We have PlayDough, water guns, Frisbees, bubbles, animal figurines, and much more!
  • Award Certificates: Instead of spending money on expensive ribbons for the Bake-Off and the Bike-Parade, I designed award certificates and printed them on cardstock for free.
  • One-Bite Category: I added a new and fun category to the Bake-Off, and also based the grand prize off of this idea –> a Betty Crocker Tiny Bites cookbook and a mini muffin tin.
  • Cornhole: In addition to badminton, horse shoes, and bocce ball, I have added cornhole to the list of ongoing activities.
  • Watermelon: By request, watermelon has been added to the menu this year, and people are VERY excited.

Being given the responsibility to plan this picnic has been difficult at times, but I’m eager to see all of my work come together into a fun and exciting event for a well-deserving Staff Conference Team!

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Leave A Comment, Written on June 26th, 2015 , Uncategorized

Another interesting aspect of my internship with CRU this summer is that I am 1 of 3 interns, while the other 46 students who I live with are working at a kid’s camp.  Obviously since I am an event planner and they are childcare workers, are jobs are very different:

  • They start work at 7:30, while I start my internship at 9
  • They travel 2 miles by bike to a local elementary school to work, while I walk 9 minutes to a building on Colorado State University’s campus
  • They get paid, I do not

Most of these differences make it difficult to connect with these students, as they are not only participating in a completely different experience than I am, but they are also working different schedules and in a different location than I am.  Because of this, the other 2 interns and I have grown closer to each other than we have to the other students on this mission trip.

Even though the other 2 work on the design team in a different office than I do, we are all working as unit—the Staff Conference Team—towards one goal:  Helping the Staff Conference in late July to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.  In fact, the design team has partnered with my team (the Special Events Team) for a few projects already:

  • The county-fair-themed welcome party –> my team is responsible for planning this event, and we have asked the design team to help us design the tickets for it
  • The end of the year banquet –> the design team is helping us create center pieces for the tables at this event
  • 4th of July picnic –> I collaborated with the other interns to help me design posters and other signage for this event

In addition to occasionally working together during the day, another way that I have connected with the other interns is through evening activities:

  • Coffee House –> there is a free coffee house for everyone on the Staff Conference Team to use until midnight every day, so in the evenings, the other interns and I come to the Coffee House to enjoy free drinks, popcorn, wifi, and AC
  • Drive-Ins –> tonight, the other interns and I will be going to the movies together as a bonding activity!

So even though it has been difficult for logistical reasons to bond with the 46 childcare workers, the 2 other interns and I have been able to create our own fun both at the office and at home!

Leave A Comment, Written on June 20th, 2015 , Uncategorized

My name is Stephanie, I am a rising junior at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and I am interning with CRU (an international campus ministry) in Fort Collins, Colorado for the summer.  Every other summer, CRU hosts their national staff conference on Colorado State University’s campus, inviting about 5,000 staff from all over the country to participate in the week-long conference.  My job is to work with the Special Events Team to plan all of the events that surround this conference.  Here are some of the events that we will be planning this year:

  • Movie nights for the ~600 Conference Staff Team (CST) members and their families who will be here for the entire summer
  • 4th of July party, also for the CST à I will be leading this project, so more details on this to come!
  • County-fair-themed welcome party for the ~5,000 staff and their families when they arrive for the conference in mid-July
  • End of the year Latino-themed banquet, also for the entire staff (~5,000)

These are our large events, but we will also be planning many other picnics, banquets, catered meetings, etc., for smaller groups throughout the summer (anywhere between 20 – 1,200 people).  I work on a team with 5 other members, and we will be pulling together the logistics for all of these events.  For example:

  • Booking the venue
  • Coordinating the food
  • Decorating
  • Communicating with invitees
  • Planning the overall schedule of the event
  • Staffing the event

In addition to all of these awesome and lofty responsibilities, here is why my internship is unique:  I work with the Special Events team during the day, and then at night, I join the 48 other interns to do missionary work!  We host outreach events, volunteer, and engage the Fort Collins community in many different ways that vary each week.  This week, we focused on familiarizing ourselves with the community, specifically the large international student population that remains on campus during the summer.  We hosted an “Amazing Race” scavenger hunt to get to know the area better, during which I snapped the picture of Horsetooth Reservoir that is the background for this blog.

To summarize:

  • I’m interning with CRU in Fort Collins, Colorado
  • I’m working with the Special Events Team to plan large-scale events surrounding the national staff conference
  • I’m doing missionary and volunteer work each night with the rest of the interns

In short, I have an extremely busy and incredible summer ahead of me!

Leave A Comment, Written on June 12th, 2015 , Uncategorized

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