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Geneva Varga

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2017 National Youth Leadership Training

I had been anticipating attending Nation Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) for nearly a year and so when it was finally the 13th of August I was pumped, but also extremely nervous. I had no clue as to what to expect, I had never particapated in a camp run by the Boy Scout Association. When my family lived in Northern California, I attended a camp for two weeks based all on Norwegian Heritage, but NYLT was something different entirely, yet also the same.

The Patrol Method

Luckily, I knew Dustin, another member of my Venturing Crew, would also be attending. My mom and I carpooled with Dustin and his mom as the location of the camp was nearly five hours away from home. Unfortunately, we arrived later then we were meant to, meaning Dustin and I missed the orientation, however we were both glad to discover that we would be in the same patrol, the Scorpions.

With 46 participants in total staying at the camp, the staff needed to have a way of controlling the large crowd and help illustrate the workings of a patrol. Each patrol was assigned eight participants, not counting our two Patrol Guides (who were there to help us if needed). Luckily, one person assigned to our patrol didn’t show, this meant the Scorpions were able to have an extra portion of food for everyone to share throughout the week.

Cooking & Cleaning Duties

The first two days of camp were undoubtedly the most stressful for me. After having a relaxing summer of not doing much, I was unaccustomed to the amount of activities we had to do. Even though there was a fire ban over the Willamette Forest, each patrol was required to cook their own food. Cooking duty consistently fell to Dustin and I – mainly because we wanted to cook and were both watchful to make sure none of the food burned. The moment we let someone else from our patrol cook, they burned the noodles as they thought it would be a good idea to pour the entire package of noodles into the pot at once. This obivously didn’t work how they intended it to and the noodles spilled over the pot, completely missing the boiling water. The noodles went everywhere, spilling onto the table, the floor, into the crevices of the stove, and even into the small fire. We had to quickly turn the stove off and clean the mess up, but after that no one else, but Dustin and I, were allowed to cook.

Additionally, I often willingingly chose to partake in cleaning up after the meals, as I find cleaning stress relieving. As an introvert, I needed all the stress relief I could find, seeing as I was unable to have any alone time with the buddy system in place. Regardless of the fact that Dustin and I, along with Gabe did most of the work in our patrol, I had a spectacular time after the first two days passed.

Leadership Classes & Team Building

Throughout the camp, we attended a variety of speeches by the patrol guides all designed to help us become better leaders, which was the entire point of the camp. Even though we were constantly learning something new (I, myself, learning more than just things relating to leadership), there was also many fun games. Many of the games were meant to help strengthen the patrol as a team, yet they were always fun and enjoyable.


One of the games we played was where we had to all stand on one tarp and then flip it over with everyone still standing on it. It was a good thing that Gabe knew exactly what to do as I had no clue what to do, I was even confused on the format of the game. After we completed it the first time, we had to do it again, but not talk at all. The second time through was slightly more difficult, but not so much that it was impossible.

The Outbound

On Thursday afternoon, all the patrols departed to go on the Outbound. We were not allowed to bring tents, seeing that we were required to make a shelter out of tarp and rope and then stay the night in the tarp shelter. Fortunately, they did allow us to bring sleeping bags and pads. Ironically, Dustin and to some extant Gabs had it in their heads that it would be rather warm that night so they purposely did not pack their sleeping bag. Dustin even neglected to bring a jacket so all he had to sleep in was his t-shirt. In the end, I lent him my scarf and he later told me that it probably saved his life as he was accidentally pushed out of their shelter. In the morning, when the girls returned to the boy’s campsite, Gabe and Dustin were desperately trying to stay warm, their feet and arms having become numb. It was a rather amusing sight to see so I also lent them my shawl from Peru, which was made of Alpaca wool. In the end, Dustin, Gabe, Seneca, and I ended up cuddling for a good hour in order to stay warm.

Closing Ceremony

At the end of camp, we had a campfire ceremony to celebrate, but because of the fire ban we had no fire so I dubbed it Camp-rock. As part of the ceremony all the patrols were required to perform a skit that each patrol had been working on throughout the week. The skits were designed to show the meaning of leadership or something else that we learned from camp. Several patrols took inspiration from skits well known by all the Boy Scouts, but the Scorpions decided it would be better to create an original skit. Our goal was to make sure that everyone in our patrol had a significant role to play in the skit.

Gabe was the narrator of a grand quest that six young scouts went on to find the great Cameron Willet (our patrol guide) to ask him the meaning of leadership. There were a variety of scenarios that these scouts went through to illustrate that they already had the beginning of leadership inside them: crossing a river, treating hypothermia, creating a shelter, tending to a scorpion sting, and encouraging fellow teammates. In the end, they found Cameron and told him of all they did to find him. Cameron informed them that based on their previous actions they had already found the meaning of leadership and that it was inside them all along.

At the end, my mom tells me that of all the skits performed that evening, she thought that the Scorpion’s skit was the best. I am still not sure if a portion of her decision was effected by the fact I was apart of it.

Another part of the ceremony was to exchange our patrol neckerchiefs for a special neckerchief only given to you after completing NYLT. Personally, that was one of the most exciting parts of the entire camp, namely because I love neckerchiefs and may have a slight obsession with them.

The ending of camp was bittersweet, having created new friends that I wanted to get to know even more. However, I was eager to return home, after spending an entire week in a location with dusty dirt that I am still brushing out of my hair. I’m looking forward to possibly staffing at NYLT next year.

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Arcturus – Digital Art of Orignal Character 

Drawing of my original character (OC) Arcturus, who acts as a mentor in a book that I have been writing in my head for years. I created this drawing on the IPad with the popular Apple Pencil using a wonderful app called Procreate. 

52 Book Challenge — 2016

I love to read, though lately, I have been finding myself procrastinating online, more often than not still reading, only it is fan fiction. To overcome this, I decided to take upon a challenge to read 52 books in the calendar year. I counted everything, some books were required for school, others by choice.

The Guidelines

The rules that I set for myself were really flexible, though I knew I wanted to have a basic system; it was a challenge after all. One of the main reasons for these guidelines was because I couldn’t count all the hours I spent reading fan fiction.

  • The book must be published (no fan created works)
  • Any manga that I read only counts as one. In other words, volumes within a series could not be counted as separate titles.
  • I need to comprehend the complete storyline and understand the material. Books I do not complete can not be counted.
  • Audio books are accepted. *

  1. Red Glove — Holly Black
  2. Shaman King — Hiroyuki Takei
  3. Still Waters — Ask Parsons
  4. The Lighthouse Land *— Adrian McKinty
  5. Peak — Roland Smith
  6. Black Heart — Holly Black
  7. How to Eat Fried Worms — Thomas Rockwell
  8. Lizard Radio — Pat Schmatz
  9. The Raven Boys — Maggie Stiefvater
  10. Fans of the Impossible Life — Kate Scelsa
  11. Survive The Night — Daniella Vega
  12. The Sorcerer’s Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter — Allan Zola Kronzek
  13. The Witch of Blackbird Pond* — Elizabeth George Speare
  14. A Legend of Wolf Song — George Stone
  15. Humans of New York — Brandon Stanton
  16. Pop Painting — Camilla d’Errico
  17. The Marvels — Brian Selznick
  18. The Dreamer — Pam Muñoz Ryan & illustrated by Peter Sís
  19. Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle — Rick Riordan
  20. Nimona — Noella Stevenson
  21. I Am Malala* — Malala Yousafzai (link to my reflection)
  22. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child — J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
  23. Smithsonian Intimate Guide to the Cosmos — Dana Berry
  24. The One and Only Ivan — Katherine Applegate
  25. Hipster Animals: A Field Guide — Dyna Moe (see more on their Tumblr page)
  26. Animals Real and Imagined: The Fantasy of What Is and What Might Be  — Terryl Whitlatch
  27. Robinson Crusoe* — Daniel Defoe
  28. Moby-Dick In Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page — Matt Kish
  29. Astronomy: 365 Days — Jerry T. Connell and Robert J. Nemiroff
  30. Walden — Henry David Thoreau

The Malala Experience

We had first briefly learned about Malala Yousafzai and what she stood for when she was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012. The news having spread throughout the world with social media and the global news stations. Other than that small information about her I didn’t know much about her, until we listened to her book in preparation for going to her talk in Portland.

She continued to fight for what she believed in, even when facing a threat of death. She prevailed past an injury that certainly would have killed her if she had not received the necessary treatment at the right time. Malala showed bravery and strength in the face of terror and continues fighting for what she believes. Malala is fighting for the right that every child has the ability to go to school for 12 years of primary and secondary education. This is what makes her one of my role models.

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” — Malala Yousafzai

The occasion to see Malala Yousafzai first came to us in May, we immediately purchased tickets after giving it little thought, already aware that it would provide a wonderful learning experience. I was not disappointed, for what she spoke about was truly inspiring.

She spoke about the fact that not only did women need to stand up for girls’ education, but also the men. For we need to work together for there to be change that lasts generations past our own.

Malala Yousafzai - 13008190293
Photography by Southbank Centre [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When Malala talked about her family, she was an ordinary girl. She reminded me of myself when I think of my family, I could almost see into her soul as she remembered brief interactions between herself and her family. Malala’s eyes lit up as she described how her mother is the strict parent while her father the fun one. The realization that she, like most teenagers, hates having to get up early in the morning to go to school resonated with me.

The fact that when she auditioned to be the Head Girl at the high school that she attends she did not win, shows that everyone can still lose even after accomplishing a great deed. She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, yet she did not mention this in her application, wanting to focus only on her academic achievements.  She told us that the girl that did win, “is very nice and can do everything.” Instead, Malala was awarded the Deputy Head Girl, which she gladly accepted. This made me happy to know that the people who are receiving these great awards can still be humble. She spoke about her classmate the same respect as she spoke about our president.

The one topic that struck me like a bolt of lightning was the fact that what these girls want most is the opportunity and freedom to willingly go to school and to learn. They are all aware that the only way to create a better life for themselves is to have a good education which will provide them with opportunities to find a good job, good pay, and be treated equally. They dream to have a pile of textbooks and a stack of homework to study and work through in the evening.

In contrast, every child with the privilege to go to school is stressing over whether they will get that brand new toy that they saw advertised on TV or a laptop on Christmas. To have a place to learn should be treasured, no matter what country you reside. In America and other more developed countries, going to school is always put on the back-burner and seen as a necessary evil and is regarded as burdensome.

Malala Yousafzai has inspired me to speak up for what I believe in. Immediately after the talk, I signed up for The Malala Fund. In the future, I plan on sharing what I think needs to be changed and then acting upon what I want changed.

The Piano Guys + Crater Lake

We traveled to see The Piano Guys in concert at The Brit Festival in Jacksonville and then camped near Crater Lake for the rest of the weekend. Going to Crater Lake and in-turn Wizard Island was on each of our Bucket Lists since forever and it finally happened. I took more than necessary amount of pictures and filled a couple of pages in my sketchbook.

We were lucky enough to obtain front row tickets to The Piano Guys concert. We had seen them perform once before and we were fully aware that it would be a blast. The very last song they played was an exclusive of their new song titled “It’s Gonna Be Okay”. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the song, but it immediately became my favorite song by them after only hearing a few beats.

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By far the most shocking was when we got that first look at Crater Lake. The pigmentation of the water was unbelievable, if I was going to name the color “True Blue” would still not express how blue it was.

It was very hot and after hiking down the water, to the summit of Wizard Island, and back down to the water, I was parched. I wasted no time jumping into the lake – it was very cold but so refreshing.

 

 

Jesse Reno Art Class

It was the 17th of June and I along with my Mum were volunteering like usual at the Coos Art Museum. There was a break in customers coming into the museum so Mum decided to take a peak at the exhibits that were upstairs. When she came down she simply said, “You must check out the art in the atrium gallery.” I was confused as the statement was vague, but my curiosity had been peaked so I complied.

What I saw forced me to stand still in awe. I lost track of time, but Mum reported that I was up there for a significantly long time. This was the day that I discovered Jesse Reno’s artistic style and fell in love with it.

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Lighting Reaching From the Sun to Touch the Sea

“if something is true you should feel it

without feeling there is emptiness that cant be ignored

roots from the sky to prove its all connected

you asked a scholar instead of a wiseman

same information different source, this changes everything

two halves with equal variables

rabbit and the whale meet where the lightning touches the sea

searching for whale stones”

~ Jesse Reno

I immediately purchased one of his books filled with images of the masterpieces that he had created. When I came home, I went to my Dad to discuss the possibilities of taking an art class that Jesse would be teaching the very next day. It looks some convincing, but in the end I won. The following day, I was entranced in this genre of art during the entirety of the class and for many days afterwards. IMG_2717

I came home with two pieces that I would continue to work on long after the class. This has opened up this new aspect of myself that I am now able to present through my art. Truly worth the money.

 

 

Discovering Seaweed Art

Early Saturday morning, my mother and I drove down to Charleston, Oregon to attend a class at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB). The class we were taking? Seaweed Art, which is the process of pressing seaweed or algae. With a diverse selection, the options are endless. There are three main colors that appear in algae: green, brown, and red.
Coos Bay

The instructors started out by distributing plastic bags that we could use to collect our own specimens. We had two options from where we would collect, either from the dock or, for a greater diversity, along the pier, a short walk down the road.

Mom and I chose to take the walk down to the pier. We were lucky to be out during low tide, abling us to go down closer to where larger specimens would be discovered. We found several baby Bull Kelp, which our teacher later informed us was a great find as they look lovely after being pressed.

 

We returned to the lab shortly after collecting our algae specimens. We placed our collections in an aluminum container with salt water so that they may spread out, allowing us to see what we had found. This is when one of the instructors gave us a short talk, What is Algae?

One of our greater misconceptions about the world is that all Oxygen is produced by plants, but actually 35% is created by Algae. The other 65%? 35% from Cyanobacteria and 30% from Land Plants. Interesting enough, Algae is not actually a plant as they lack vascular tissue, roots, flowers, and seeds. The way they reproduce is more similar to ferns – via spores.

 

Algae are Incredible 

Algae is the fastest growing organism on the planet; Bull Kelp can grow up to two feet daily. They have great symbiotic relationships between fungi and sloths. Who knew?

Fungi and Algae can live separately but can survive together in a much more diverse range of climate. Have you ever gone up to where snow is and seen a red substance on the snow? Most think that it was rust run-off (I did!) yet actually, it is Lichen. A clever phrase that always helps you remember this symbiotic relationship is, Freddie Fungi and Alex Algae took a Lichen to each other.

Sloths actually encourage algae to grow in their hair. This is helpful towards the sloths in that Algae provide camouflage and are more nutrient rich than the plants that sloths otherwise consume.

Algae is a great food source. Japan has long known this. Nori, a type of seaweed, is used in Sushi. On the Oregon Coast, we have a relative to Nori that grows. While Western Culture is still getting used to the idea of Seaweed being a great food source, Japan and China are still the largest consumers. On the Oregon Coast, there are no poisonous species so give it a try.

Pressing

After the short lecture, the instructors showed us how to press the seaweed samples we’d brought back to the lab. Essentially, you layer a series of different materials in this order: cardboard, blotting paper, herbarium paper, your algae specimen, cotton fabric, blotting paper, and cardboard. We were also informed that you could use any thick type of paper, such as watercolor paper if you are unable to obtain herbarium paper.

Mom and I both did three of them each, yet we had enough algae to do several more only the class ran out of cardboard. The only tricky part that I found, was selecting how you wanted the algae to be arranged in the final product.

When we had completed all of the pressings, one of the instructors wrote down everyone’s contact information to inform all the participants the time final products could be picked up after drying. The drying process should take about two weeks, but some of the works might be held back longer as they wished to put some up on display at the South Slough Visitor Center.

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