LIFE UPDATE / BEING SICK SUCKS by Kat Montgomery

First of all, if you've never heard Ed Sheeran's cover of Trap Queen, do yourself a favor and go listen to this right now:

You're welcome.  

(Fun side note: my mom really really wants me to meet Ed Sheeran and marry him.  If he promised to cover my favorite terrible pop songs forever, I'd probably consider it.  Sorry Alex.)

I planned to update this thing at least once a month but then mono/some mystery mono-like virus knocked me on my ass and here we are.  I started feeling sick around the end of February which was, unfortunately enough, right when my spring OE season started, and have been riding the struggle bus since then.  The timing could probably not have been worse.  I should have seen this coming because Alex got sick when we were in Miami for New Year's Eve and was down for the count for the entire month of January.  I guess I was just hoping that somehow my body would know that it wasn't an option to get sick so close to the start of my science camp season when I have to consistently work 12-hour days.  Unfortunately, my body did not cooperate.  Anyway, it sucked and it's been a rough month or so but my staff have been killing it and I've got a wonderful boyfriend who also happens to work for me and was able to pick up a lot of my slack - so everything worked out.  And now I'm FINALLY starting to feel like myself again just in time for my 26th birthday on Sunday!

Speaking of birthdays, it was Alex's this past Saturday.  Our birthdays are 8 days apart so we decided that every year, we're going to go on a birthday adventure over the weekend that falls between our birthdays.  This weekend, we'll be camping up in Big Sur to celebrate.  I'm stoked because I'll get to wake up in Big Sur on my birthday just like last year :) 

I'll update sometime soon with some Big Sur photos and will (hopefully) keep the updates and the photos coming.  Now that I'm feeling better, I want to make the most of these gorgeous spring weekends!

(I know, I know: we're cute as hell.  I don't even feel bad about it.  Check back later for more pictures of us being adorable, along with some pretty ones of the most beautiful stretch of coastline in the world.)

HAPPY 2016 Y'ALL by Kat Montgomery

Hey guys!  This is going to be a very brief post because in about five minutes I need to leave the coffee shop where I am currently sitting to go get oysters and happy hour drinks with a good friend :)

I wanted to be sure the get this post in before the end of the month, though, because even though it's obviously well past new year's day, I feel like you can still talk about new year stuff in the month of January.  So this is my new year post!  If you've been reading this blog for a while (hey mom and dad and Mimi!) you know that at the start of each new year, I choose a focus for the upcoming year.  It's basically like a new year's resolution except that it's not necessarily an attainable goal.  I never "reach" my resolutions.  Instead, my goal is for them to become second nature over the course of the year so that by the time the next year rolls around, my focus has become second nature/something that I no longer need to focus on.  Past new year's focuses/resolutions have included learning how to lead a healthy lifestyle, working on using my job position to make a difference in the world, and most recently, being more positive in all aspects of my life.  I have mostly had great success with this method.

So, this year my focus is to learn how to balance a crazy full-time job and a fantastic relationship while still retaining the things that make me really happy.  I noticed that in 2015, I really threw myself into my job, which I think was important at the time.  I worked some crazy crazy hours during the spring and I built my program a lot.  Once Alex and I started dating, I likewise threw myself into my relationship (which is also important!)  What I noticed when I reflected back on the year is that I didn't spend a lot of time doing the things that are important to me and that make me happy as an individual.  Examples include scuba diving (I went on like three dives in 2015, which is pathetic), photography, reading, staying in touch with old friends, and this blog!  So my focus for 2016 is to learn how to be passionate about my job, be invested in my romantic relationship, and still make time for the things that I love to do.

That's all I've got for now!  I'll update again within the next few weeks, I promise.  I'm off to happy hour, then driving out to the desert to camp and do some star photography with Alex and friends, as per my 2016 focus.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Cottage Life by Kat Montgomery

In my last post, I mentioned that I moved off of camp and into a studio cottage nearby.  Now, the word "cottage" may be a bit generous.  I learned during my housing search that, in Cambria, anything smaller than a three-bedroom house is advertised as a cottage.  I came across lots of "charming" and "quaint" cottage listings for places that were essentially wooden shacks.  I actually got pretty lucky with mine.  It has running water and a kitchen and is pretty well constructed.  The ventilation leaves a bit to be desired (every time I take a shower, all of my windows fog up) and somehow there are always like 5 spiders creeping around in here but at least I don't have mice!  Honestly though, it is a really cute place and it's exactly the amount of space that I need in my life right now.  Besides, I really can't beat the location.  I'm less than a five minute drive from camp, which gives me peace of mind when program is running because I can get there quickly in case of an emergency.

Anyway, I broke out the ole Go Pro this weekend and took some photos of the place for you all! 

(Disclaimer: it is not always this clean.  I had just vacuumed the whole place and done some much-needed tidying up.)

In the first and second photos, you can see the main house.  I don't know if I mentioned this last time, but I basically live in a backyard.  The main house (and my cottage) belongs to an older lady named Laurel.  She sells pies that she bakes at home and is always around.  She's very sweet.  A guy named Brad rents out the basement of the main house.  He's a contractor who leaves the house super early and is always inside watching tv when I come home from work.  All of his windows are covered by heavy blankets.  I don't see Brad very much but the few times that I have, he's been nice.

In the very last photo, you can see my backyard, which clearly needs some work.  I bought a grill (currently covered by that ugly tan thing) and Alex and I made a sweet DIY fire pit out of an old washing machine drum (instructions here) but I really need to put a table and chairs out there and make that space a little more usable.  That's the next thing on my home improvement agenda.  Stay tuned for more cottage life updates :)

Back in action by Kat Montgomery

I was home for Thanksgiving last week and a few different people asked about this blog.  I'd been thinking about picking it back up and I think that was the final push that I needed.  So, here I am!  

It's been over seven months since my last post, which is crazy.  Things got super busy in the spring and then didn't slow down until the end of summer and I think that by that point, I had fallen so far out of my blog routine that I just never got back into it.  I wasn't sure who was reading anymore and writing had become almost a chore by that point, so I just let it go.  But I've realized that 1. there are friends and family out there who read this blog and want to stay up to date on my lifeand 2. I kind of miss it!  Blogging is a nice way to gather my thoughts and remind myself what has happened lately in my life.

So, here's what's going on in no particular order:

  • I no longer live at camp- I still work there but I decided at the end of the summer that it was finally time to be able to leave work at the end of the day, so I found an adorable studio cottage about five minutes from camp.  It's tiny and cute and I love it.  I also upgraded from a single camp (read: plastic and crappy) mattress to a queen size memory foam mattress, which pretty much changed my life.
  • I have a wonderful, amazing boyfriend named Alex who was actually one of my staff members last spring (yep, I started dating my employee... #camplife) and is now my lead naturalist/co-leader for our upcoming teen trips.  When there aren't students onsite, he does odd jobs around camp and works with our facility director.  I would always rather spend time with him than by myself, which probably sounds strange to most people but is a pretty rare thing for me.  He is the greatest and will feature heavily in my future blog posts.
  • Things are going great at camp!  The spring season was hard but successful and I learned a lot.  I went straight from the fall season into summer camp, which was way too much, had a minor breakdown, realized that I can no longer run the outdoor education program and be an administrator for summer camp, somehow made it through, and took a week off to go to Hawaii with Alex (thanks to my boss taking on my responsibilities for a week so that I could decompress and mentally prepare for the fall), then jumped into the fall season.  This fall, for the first time in a few years, we had a real fall season with staff that worked for more than just a couple of weeks and it went really well.  The staff were fantastic and the schools were all really happy.  It was just and all-around great season. 

So life is good!  I'm currently hiring for the spring season and working with schools to plan out their schedules.  I'm also starting some early preliminary planning for our summer teen trips, which I will continue to run.  In past years, the trips have taken place at the end of the summer and I've brought a few camp counselors with me.  Starting this year, I will no longer be involved with our residential summer camp and will instead run trips throughout the summer with Alex as my co-leader.  I freaking LOVE our teen trips and am super excited to run them with Alex.  He has years of experience leading international summer trips with teens; he's taken high school students to Australia, Thailand, Ecuador and the Galapagos, and most recently Turkey and Greece.  He's great at leading games and discussions and controlling group dynamics, which is really not my strong suit.  With his group management skills and my planning/logistics skills, we're pretty much going to be the dream team.  This year, we'll be taking a group on a road trip around CA, taking a group to Hawaii (the big island and Oahu), and taking a group of teens from China on a service learning trip around the central coast.  We'll also scout out a Catalina Island trip for next summer and will continue to think about other cool places that we want to take kids during the summer.  Our ultimate goal is to have a mix of local trips and international trips :)

I'll be here in California for another week and a half, then I'll fly home for Christmas.  The day after Christmas, I'm taking a bus down to North Carolina to stay at Alex's house (he's there now because there's no work available at camp in December) and meet his family.  From there, we're driving down to Miami for New Years and then we'll fly back to California together to get ready for the spring season.

I'll at least attempt to update semi-regularly from here on out.  I hope that everyone is having a good week :)

Say hello to Earl! by Kat Montgomery

There has been a very exciting development at Camp Ocean Pines, you guys: we got a new owl!  He's a rehabilitated great horned owl who can't be released into the wild because of a permanent wing injury, so we were able to get a permit to keep him here for educational purposes (the same kind of permit that we have for Rufus; she's in the same boat with a permanent wing injury, although hers is much worse.)  We got him from a facility that just closed down in Bakersfield and he's ours for good now, which is awesome because Peepers (the big beautiful owl that I've posted pictures of before) was only on loan and sometimes his owner would take him for breeding programs, etc. which would leave us with only Rufus to use in bird presentations.  It wasn't the end of the world, but Rufus is not the most cooperative of birds, so it was always more of a challenge.  Also, I think it's a more powerful experience for a kid to see an owl up close.  We've all seen hawks flying around, but how many owls have you seen in your lifetime?  (Fun side note: I just saw one about an hour ago!  A big female great horned right near my room.  So cool.)

Anyway, I got to name the new owl, since I'll be working with him a lot.  I named him Earl.  Not the most majestic of names, I know, but he's not the most majestic of birds.  I've always named my animals by getting to know them and then letting the name come to me... and this owl just seems like an Earl.  I 100% love him.  He's pretty scared of me still but is a really sweet bird.  He wasn't handled at his last facility, so he freaks out around people, hissing and making this cool clicking sound with his beak.  But he hasn't tried to bite or foot me a single time, which is WAY better than I can say for Rufus.  We're working on training him right now, which for now mostly means handling him as much as possible and feeding him by hand with a falconry glove on.  (The next step is to get him to step onto the glove of his own accord, then we can start flight training!)  It's also important to get him used to people, so I've been tying him up to a perch in my office for a few days every week.  That's pretty funny, because he just sits there and hisses at everyone that walks by and occasionally tries to fly out the window and knocks a bunch of stuff over.

Earl does this thing where he stares directly into your eyes and doesn't look away.  It feels like he's looking directly into your soul.  I'm still trying to get him to translate that into taking great selfies with me but he hasn't yet mastered the art of looking into the iPhone camera.  Anyway, here are a few pictures.  (You'll notice an injury on his beak- he hurt himself when he was being transported from Bakersfield to camp.  It's healing up and we're keeping an eye on it.)

Pretty adorable, right?  I really like working with him and am super excited to get him to start flying a little bit.

In other news, we don't have a school here this week because there's a big group of sculptors who come every year to attend workshops and make sculptures here at camp.  My staff have the whole week off and I'm taking a few days off too to make up for the weekends that I've lost to weekend schools.  It's going to be really nice to be able to breathe and regroup before our really busy season starts.  Starting next week, we'll have 75+ kids onsite every week until summer staff training starts.  I've learned a lot over the past few weeks about what does and doesn't work and I think that we're in a pretty good spot to provide a kick-ass program for the next six weeks.  I'll let you guys know how it goes!