By Rachel H
Happy Saturday! Our Smarty Mom this Saturday is Julie G. I met Julie a few years ago when a friend told me about a wonderful children’s camp called Camp We Wonder. Julie started this camp in 2007 as a spin-off of her friend’s Camp Cotton Candy. She does a wonderful job leading and organizing this camp! Both of my kids have attended in the past few summers and they absolutely love it. Julie is such a wonderful role model for the kids and an inspiration for moms!
Julie has lived in the Triad her whole life, and even married the little boy who grew up one block away from her. She and her husband Steve actually did not meet until college at Appalachian, but the rest is history! They have two boys, Owen 7 ½ and Drew 3 ½. She works full time as a ninth grade English teacher at Summit School in Winston-Salem. She is also in charge of service/community outreach, social activities, and spirit there. They couldn’t choose a better person to lead those activities! Both of Julie’s sisters have MS, and she is a big supporter of finding a cure. When Julie finally finds time to herself, she loves the Metabolic Effect classes and monthly massages.
So, let’s chat with Julie.
I know I am going to regret telling everyone about the best camp in the Triad because your spots fill up so quickly. BUT, please fill us in on Camp We Wonder!
Summer of 2009 will begin officially July 6th and run for four weeks until July 31st. I am in the process of getting my web page updated and it will be up and running by Valentine's Day. I like to think of myself as a creative person and this camp gives me just the outlet for that energy. I love creating the activities we do together with campers. I also have such fun reconnecting with former students who work as my counselors. Here's what you can expect:
Explorers wanted! We’ll spend the week examining everything nature—from bugs to flowers. Spend the week learning about the birds, bees, and bugs—all while having fun with your friends. WE will also pay particular attention to our role in saving the environment.
HAPPY & HEALTHY WEEK
Bring your tastebuds! We’ll rely on the Food Pyramid for help with healthy eating. We’ll create Taste Passports to track the foods we tried. We’ll also learn about our bodies and try a variety of exercises.
Surf’s up! We’ll get you ready for a trip to the beach this summer. Spend the week playing beach games, singing, learning about the ocean, and creating neat keepsakes.
IMAGINATION ODYSSEY WEEK
Open your mind because we’ll spend every day on a new adventure! One day we might be pirates looking for buried treasure; the next day we’ll visit Africa on a safari. Every day promises to be memorable!
How did you decide to start Camp We Wonder?
When my son Owen was two, I realized that I needed something to help stay busy during the summers. I’m not good at sitting still. I contacted a family friend, Elizabeth Pollard, about re-starting her backyard camp from her adolescence, Camp Cotton Candy, at Burkhead Methodist Church. She showed me the ropes. A few summers later, I wanted to do my own camp and Camp We Wonder was born.
What is your favorite part about teaching ninth graders? Any advice for moms of teens?
I have lots of favorite parts – school spirit, community outreach, introducing them to great literature, the relationships, babysitters for life, etc. William Stafford said that most of the material of writers is experienced before the age of fifteen. I totally agree. I am always amazed at what kids write in their poetry responses. Students move me to tears regularly. Also ninth grade speeches give me such pride. Fourteen and fifteen year olds stand before an audience of 150 and deliver a researched topic for seven minutes! Not many people are comfortable doing that at my age, but they do it anyway – and are better for it. They are inspiring. The literature is another aspect of my job that I love; Romeo and Juliet, A Tale of Two Cities, and the Odyssey are so rich.
Advice for moms of teens?
My students are going to hate me . . .
• Computer and TV in the family room. Teens waste countless hours watching TV and playing on facebook. Block facebook and myspace when kids are working on homework.
• Cell phones should be on the kitchen counter at night charging; I can’t tell you the number of kids who are still talking on the phone at 2:00AM on a school night.
• Help organize your kids –we’re not all born knowing how to do that. Buy them a planner, organize their study space and regularly help them purge their backpacks.
• Don’t overschedule your teen. Force them to do the family thing!
Please tell us more about your sisters and how you have been involved in the fight to find a cure for MS.
My older sister Cristy was diagnosed when Owen was three; my younger sister Ansley was diagnosed when Drew was two. Both of them have mild cases and give themselves daily shots of Copaxone to keep the episodes at bay. Cristy deals with fatigue; Ansley has numbness in her hands and upper torso. They are both living with the disease and making it work. They tell me regularly to take Vitamin D and be vigilant about my own health. We’ve been living with the disease and raising money as a family for the past several years. Last year we raised over $9,000 through a series of different fundraisers, but it doesn’t seem like enough. I worry that I might get it some day and hold on to the hope that in my lifetime a cure will be found. The sooner the better.
Now for the easy questions …
Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
From friends. I share my sons’ clothes with a few friends and they share theirs. Then you don’t feel bad splurging on a $35.00 pair of shoes for your son.
What is your favorite family activity?
I have two. I really enjoy eating dinner together. We try to do that at least four –five nights a week. My husband calls it dinner and a show. Second, we travel to the New River where my folks have a vacation home. We leave everything behind and just play. Swimming, canoeing, fishing, hiking, flying kites, Wii tourneys, poker – we love all of it. I always return feeling rested and closer to my kids and husband.
Favorite book you have read?
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtrey. When we were first married, we named our dog Captain Bailey’s Magic after Captain Call. The characters are some of the best I’ve ever read.
Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids?
K&W Cafeteria or La Carreta
Funniest thing your kid(s) has ever said?
Drew is hilarious. He is very animated about everything in his life. His favorite expression is “HEY! I have an ideal!” Recently we were having dinner and reviewing spelling words for my older son. We were taking turns, but Drew kept interrupting. We’ve been trying to teach him to be polite and wait. My husband told him to wait his turn for a second. He promptly interrupted and then said, “It’s been ONE second.” That was funny. It continued. I would say Owen’s spelling word; Drew would say whatever word came in his head. Mustard, then ketchup, then cookie, then stupid – which he followed with a Beavis and Butthead-like chuckle. I was staring at him with a look of – you know you’re not supposed to say that – when he asked –"What are you looking at?" - much like Gary Coleman on Different Strokes. My husband had tears streaming down his face as he tried to keep it together.
Favorite park in the Triad?
I’ve always been partial to Hathaway Park in Winston because we used to live in that neighborhood and take our dog there. But I also love hanging out at Reynolda Gardens and Hanging Rock State Park. The hiking trails in both lead to numerous bugs, adventures, and fun.
Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
Having our families nearby. My parents regularly see our kids and as a result they are very close. Because of health problems, my boys don’t get to see Steve’s parents as much. Regardless, we live around the corner from both sets of grandparents and one aunt. I love that I can run a quick errand while my dad watches the boys. Or that Drew will call my parents and say he wants to come spend the night. Or that my mom calls while she’s baking cookies to see if they want to come lick the spoons. Or that Auntie Beth needs some Drew-time. I could go on and on. It’s the best.
Best kept secret in the Triad?
www.AlisonTurner.com – she makes the best cakes! You should profile her!
Best birthday party you have attended?
Owen’s seventh army bday party in my own backyard. We made Tshirts – Alpha and Bravo. Then the two teams went through basic training, had a tug of war, and then an all-out water war with balloons, water guns and 15 boys. It was a blowout!
I could not live without my...
Coffee, Ipod, trips to the River, cheesy Reality TV, my circle of friends through Circle, Bunko and book club, and dates with my husband – no matter how infrequent they are.
I wish someone had told me sooner about...
Lowe’s Foods to Go and Dewey’s red velvet cupcakes
Thanks, Julie for all your Smarty answers!
We are always on the hunt for Smarty Moms. And while we've been featuring some moms who have done AMAZING things such as going above-and-beyond the call of duty for others, doing incredible work for her family, friends, or community, or has accomplished tremendous feats - we are also looking to feature moms in the Triad who just simply live the daily grit of motherhood! Please send us your "mominations" and don't be embarrassed to nominate yourself - no one will know! We look forward to hearing from you. Email us here with your “Smarty Momination”!