Dangsang Church Camp

8-15-09

So I just got back from a pretty epic day. this morning we woke up at around 5:30am after sleeping at around 2:00am, and headed to the car to go hiking. We were given a free hiking stick (which I think I lost) which was pretty sweet. On the car ride there, it took about 2 hours and I slept intermittently on the way there. Anyways, we finally got there and after snapping a few photos and putting on sunscreen, we were on our way. I decided to bring my 5D and my 35mm, and attached it to my backpack using a carabineer. It worked pretty well for most of the trip, and it was nice to have it for easy-access to take a bunch of photos of the trip.

The weather in the morning was not particularly blistering hot, but it was enough to make me sweat pretty profusely. After a while hiking up, my entire shirt was wet from sweat, and after time my shorts even got pretty wet from my shorts. I enjoyed in nice conversation with all my hyungs and noonas on the way up, and it was great to have time to share time to get to know more people better.

We were given a goody-bag and a lunch for the way up, and we were told that after the first two stops, there would be no more spots for water. Therefore I filled up my kleen canteen to the brim, as well as bringing two other bottles, thinking it was enough (I soon went through it around ½ through our trek on the way down). In the goody bag it was pretty nice to have a mixture of chocolates, choco-pies, Korean sausages, and even hi-chews. I killed the entire bag before we went to the bottom of the hill.

For the most of the trip up, I refused to use the hiking stick because it seemed to get in my way when I tried to take photos. Going up seemed pretty tough, but in hindsight it was much easier than heading down.

Walking up the mountain was a great experience. It reminded me of Camp Exodus, in which everyone complained about the hike that everyone had to do, but it ended up bringing the group closer together. It was also great to breathe the fresh mountain air, and sweating felt strangely refreshing. It had been a while since I hiked, and I thought that it would be a great little date idea if Cindy and I could go hiking one time, and enjoy a little picnic together somewhere on the mountain. Then maybe spend the night camping.

But anyways, the view on the top was pretty amazing. I had a huge feeling of accomplishment getting to the top, and so did everyone else. Although the sun was quite bright, a bunch of cool breezes on top felt refreshing. The view was also beautiful. There were several layers in the mountains, which were topped with nice fluffy clouds.

After snapping a few group photos together, we started the trek down the mountain. The trip down the mountain seemed to take twice as long as the way up (although it was supposedly 4 hours up and 5 hours down the mountain). After a while, I remember my knees starting to hurt (although it didn’t hurt on the way up).

I forgot to mention, but during the beginning of camp, I was given a tiny red piece of paper with a name on it. Supposedly we were supposed to treat that person especially well, and I think the name on my paper was 마유리. Imma go check. Yeah it is. But anyways, I was looking for a chance to talk to her for a while but it seemed too awkward to start off a conversation out of the blue. Finally at a rest stop I saw her, and she first started talking with me asking if I was really from America. I found out she was a year younger than me (I think she is only one of the two people here who are younger than me) and that she was pretty fun to talk to. Her oversized glasses seemed extremely similar to mine, and she reminded me of a friend back from home. Soon we lagged behind everyone and we just talked the entire way down.

Also I forgot to mention all the people that I have been able to get close to during the trip. There is 희상형 who has one of the most approachable people that I felt naturally drawn to. On the way to the bus in the beginning of the trip, we both lugged a hite keg together. He seems to always be all smiles and makes me feel very comfortable. Another hyung is 도현형 who is the “badass” at church. He has a pretty cool style, with a black star stud and a tattoo in latin on his left arm. He looked pretty different from two years ago when I saw him, as he grew out his hair a little. He would always be kind to me, and treating me like a younger brother. Another person I met was 명기형 who is a huge guy (190cm) but is pretty timid. He seems very soft-spoken and doesn’t talk much, but he is probably the kindest guy here. I spent a lot of time with him on the bus, and also during our hike up. The last guy is 동진 who is trying to become a priest. I remember a while back he randomly gave me a t-shirt that didn’t fit me, which was grey and with a black image of an amazon warrior on it or something. But he is very outgoing and loves to socialize, and always shared in conversation with me. During the end of the hike, he ended up buying 번덕(a herb similar to ginseng)  막걸리 (a traditional Korean rice alcohol). I usually don’t like the taste of 막걸리, but this tasted strangely good. And also at the bottom of the mountain, I was pretty parched and it was extremely refreshing. I took two small cups of it which made me feel pretty good.

We started to head down the mountain some more, and 동진형 ended up buying cooked 번덕. We waited for a bit (명기형 and 희상형 waited with us) and it finally came out. It was pretty badass, it was sort of crunchy but it was cooked in spices and some 깻닙 which was a pretty awesome combination. We ate that all together while heading down the mountain to the car together.

Anyways, one thing I don’t want to forget. Probably 3/4ths of the way down the mountain, there was this little creek. I arrived there late with 유리 and at the sight of everyone dipping their feet in the water, I couldn’t help but flock to the area like a little kid. The refreshing feeling of the water was indescribable. It felt as crisp and refreshing like water from a glacier. After hanging out with my feet in the water, I saw another 형 chilling in the water, fully submerged. I then decided that it was  a great idea  to jump in. after doing that, I have no regrets. Damn it felt good.

Anyways, its time to go to mass. Supposedly we are going to have a talent show and probably drink some beer before we sleep. I look forward to having more fun with everyone here.

8-16-09

I just woke up and last night was pretty damn hilarious. Anyways, we ended up starting mass late last night (at around 9) and it was held outside. There were a bunch of flood lights illuminating the place, as well as a car with its engine and headlights on. I was assigned to group 5, and there I talked a bunch to 희랑누나 and 안나누나 (I forgot her Korean name). I still feel pretty bad, because I cant remember all these names in Korean, although they have no problem remembering mine.

But we ended up still having a good time. I was the second person to sing a song, and I sang “8:45” by Drunken Tiger. I think that the crowd had fun as I got them to pump their hands, but it seemed that they were pretty uninterested because it wasn’t a pop song. But regardless, I think I put on a pretty good performance and had a ton of fun myself singing on “stage”.

Soon they busted out the beer and the 안주, and that’s when the fun really started. I remember first coming to camp two years ago and being surprised when everyone started casually bringing out the alcohol. Alcohol at a church camp? It sounded kinda sacrilegious in a certain way. However during my time here, I realized that it wasn’t just for people to get messed up. Alcohol is very tied in with Korean culture, and Koreans almost always socialize with it (not to say that they’re dependent on it). However the beer and the soju really helped liven up the atmosphere and help people open up to one another. Sometime during the night I ended up at the front table and taking a bunch of shots with people at the table.

Towards the end of the night, I was feeling pretty tired, so I had some thoughts about heading back. Looking at the crowd, it seemed that a good amount of people dispersed. At that moment, 도현형 came stumbling to me and started talking to me drunken and whatnot. It was fun, but I decided that he may have had enough so I wrapped my arm around him and helped guide him back to the cabin. It truly felt like a “bromance” moment which made me feel a strong sense of friendship and care. Once back at the room, I felt strangely unfazed by the fact that he threw off his clothes in the middle of the room and stumbled around a bit before going into the shower. After taking a shower, he stumbled out again and changed into his shorts and without his shirt on, he left the room to go have more fun. I simply waved him to have fun, and after closing the window and turning on the air conditioning, I went to sleep.

8-17-09

Today was the last day of camp. I woke up in the morning feeling okay considering the drinking I did the night before, and rode one of the most epic things ever. At the camp site there was this huge water-slide that you could ride circular tubes down. There was a little hose on the top that constantly sprayed water down, and it was pretty awesome. When I rode my tube down, it was substantially fast and it was just a rush. It reminded me a ton of my childhood. It was all fun and everything until I ended up hitting a hyung on the way down, which made me tip over and scrape my shoulder and elbow on some dirt and sand which made me bleed enough to stop enough for the day.

After that, we had some lunch where I ate with a hyung named 민수. He told me about how he went backpacking in Europe as well, but he spent so little time in each city that he wasn’t really able to enjoy his experiences. However he told me about how awesome it was to shoot the 한강 river at night by 당산. I definitely have to shoot it once before I head back to the states.

Soon we had mass outside under some tents. It was nice to have mass outside and just being able to relax on the grass. While we were waiting for mass to begin, I pulled at the blades of grass just like I did in the second grade when I played soccer. Mass was very nice and it wasn’t particularly hot or anything which made it all the better. During peace, we had to confront the person we were especially supposed to look over, which was given to us by random on little red pieces of paper. Mine was 마유리 so I confronted her and she was pretty shocked that I got her name. I also hugged and greeted everyone else in the crowd before sitting down.

After mass, we boarded the bus and headed home. On the bus we wrote our names on autograph papers and passed them around. I wanted to write a bunch to everyone, but writing on the bus made me feel extremely car-sick so I decided to pass. Once we arrived at church everyone dispersed pretty quickly as everyone was pretty dead tired. I got my autograph sheet and was pleasantly surprised to see mine filled out so much. It touched me but made me also feel a bit guilty for not writing on others’ papers as well. But anyways, a group of some hyungs, noonas, and me went to go eat 감자탕 before leaving.

I really loved camp for not only the sightseeing and fun, but the more intimate connections I was able to make. Knowing that I have friends, family, and even a church in Korea brings much peace to my heart.