Upon first entering Camp Casey, we were greeted with a bombardment of signage on post. Each one had lovely morsels of information about the goings on that would occur over the next couple of months. Not wanting to miss a single thing, I (slightly) annoyed Sweet Baboo as I took iPhone photographs of every sign that grabbed my attention. Then I hounded him for further information with every step deeper into the installation. I swear that at one point, he was about ready to do an about-face (turn around... for you non-military speaking folk out there) and send me back to the airport. But he did the best he could with what little energy he had for my unabating need to get involved with the local community. And then he introduced me to his immediate boss.
Within the first five minutes of the conversation, I had produced my enthusiasm, my starry-eyed love for adventure, and my photographs of every. single. banner. and asked how we could make this happen. Sweet Baboo's boss, we'll call him Mr. Amused, got equally excited and told me that I had his full backing on anything I wanted to sign up for in the name of the office. Sweet Baboo groaned.
It's not that Sweet Baboo minds, per se, that I get involved. It's that my need to be involved is so strong, my love of giving back to the community in which I live is so deep, my admiration of those who have a story to tell and are willing to take the time to tell it is so unwavering that I sometimes (read: every single time) get tunnel vision and forget that other things in life exist. Like eating. And sleeping. And, well... everything. Life's too short (if you ask me) to miss a single thing this world has to offer you, and I only get 2 years to experience this community. So I want to get started now.
|These banners are the first thing you see when you walk on Camp Casey. And I was salivating when I saw the magazine they publish monthly!|
The next hurdle was to come up with a theme for the tree. I didn't bring any of our breakable ornaments from the States. I opted to have them go into storage. We usually have two trees: one "memory tree" with fragile ornaments that are chosen specifically based on the big things that happened that year, and one "medal tree" that holds all of the finisher's medals and winning medals from the entire family's athletic life. I left the "memory tree" behind, and only brought the medal tree and ornaments. And I didn't want to sacrifice our own tree at home in the name of setting up a tree at the post's club. So I decided to go with a theme. And this is what we came up with:
|General Frosty T. Snowman complete with snowflake lights on, around, and under the tree. (That's a Christmas light present down there, too!)|
|I did my best to keep General Snowman from looking too creepy. I'll admit, his face haunts me. But check out his rank: he's a 1-Snowflake General!|
As soon as the CO met me, I mean literally five minutes after meeting me, he asked me to be his FRG Leader. Sweet Baboo was nowhere to be found (he was at his office, working). I was wandering the Company HQ, trying to get my NEO packet completed (more on that later), and he asked me to fill the position. When I hesitated, he asked the girls to talk me into it. So after discussing it with Sweet Baboo over dinner that night, we decided that I should absolutely take the honor that his CO offered me.
And in taking that role on, I took the (unspoken) permission from Sweet Baboo to find half a dozen more projects to get involved in. I found out about these two cultural events because I was "in the know" now that I was an FRG Leader. And I had the full backing from the CO to get his company as involved as I wanted with the happenings on post. So I signed us up for four shifts of gift wrapping at the Camp Casey PX.
|We take gift-wrapping quite seriously!|
|Wouldn't you want these awesome elves to wrap your Christmas presents?|
I got on the battalion FRG Steering Committee. I found out about upcoming training exercises, official Korean holidays that would affect Sweet Baboo's schedule, and upcoming potlucks.
|There aren't many families here, but the ones who are happen to have adorable children!|
I helped to decorate Sweet Baboo's office for their Christmas party. Again: way too many lights and an exponential electricity bill make for a poor Spunky Soul. So I shared the bounty.
|This Christmas is brought to you by your Chain of Command. Keeping it festive!|
|The group of volunteers who represented their units in the meet-and-greets!|
|Meet Ae Jin!|
|I am very glad that our KATUSA came with us. He was able to find out which band she liked best so we could shop for her Christmas presents!|
Our time with her was short, but this visit was only supposed to be for us to break the ice. As we left, Ae Jin gave each of the girls several more hugs, and even gifted me with one! I was touched, and honored that she warmed up to us. She is a very sweet young lady, and I can only hope that she is as excited about Sunday as we are.
As we left, we snapped a few more photos of the orphanage, and headed back to the bus:
|Dogs in the woods right next to the orphanage!|
|The girls and me with our KATUSA. He was a wonderful help!|
|This was really taken after we got off of the bus and headed to the orphanage. We basically had to hike a mountain to get there. Not really. But it was really steep.|