Monthly Archives: July 2011

First week of SHS Cross Country Conditioning going well!


I started off the week with a nice mountain bike ride Sunday morning at the Tombigbee National Forest trails. Pretty good ride, probably lost 5 pounds in sweat!

On Sunday evening, Joseph and I met Steve Shaffer, Kamau Bostic, and Ethan Musser at the South Farm and we did our  campus/downtown Starkville Loop. It was pretty humid for sure, but it seemed maybe a tiny bit cooler, so the run was not overly bad. Even so, Kamau was hurting today; being from Virginia, he still seems to have problems with the humidity. I think he will be fine once the temps come down though. This may have been the first, and possibly, the only time that Steve and Ethan finished a run before him. Joseph seemed bored with our pace and took off on his own after 1.5 miles. The rest of us ran 6.2 miles, and Joseph showed up about 20 minutes later, probably having run about 9 miles. He seemed pretty relaxed and was not tired, so that was cool. I was sweating like a mug myself!

Early Monday morning, Joseph and I got up at around 5:30 am for a tempo paced run. Actually, I rode my bike along while he ran. He first did a mile warm up, then ran 3 miles at a 6 minute per mile pace.

The first  week of cross country conditioning for Starkville High School started Monday afternoon at 4 pm. And, yep, it was pretty hot, but we do live in Mississippi, so it was not unexpected!  The cross country head coach is Caroline Woomer and Chris Barnett is the assistant coach. I am a volunteer assistant coach and really enjoy running with the guys. We met at the high school track, but ran through Longmeadow neighborhood and back around the Industrial Park area. For our first day, we basically started with an easy run of varying distances dependent on the ability level of the runners. The ones in the best shape were supposed to do a 7 mile run or so. Joseph ran with us for a while, about a half mile, then split off as his easy pace is pretty fast compared to most of the others. He ended up running for an hour, probably 8.5 miles or so. Both Stuart Woomer and Ethan Musser ran with me at a decent pace for 7.2 miles. Damian Grady and Walker Mattox ran for an hour or so too, probably doing 6.5 miles more or less. Nathan Gaudin, Grant Woomer, and a couple of others ran about 5 miles and did a pretty good job. I was glad to be through with the run though, it was really hot!

On Tuesday morn, Joseph got up and jogged an easy 25 minutes on our trail. That afternoon, we again met at 4 pm near the SHS track. This afternoon, Coach Barnett had some of the kids who had obviously been running this summer do a few 800m intervals. Joseph, Stuart and Walker were the only ones to do 6 (with 400 jogs between), and the others did 4 of them. I ran with different people here and there. I ran along with Joseph on his last one, since he did not have anybody to run with him. We managed to do that one in about 2:35. His first three were faster, the 4th and 5th were a bit slower, so he probably averaged around 2:35 for the six. I thought quite a few of them did a pretty good job today, especially considering we were running on the freshly paved road at the high school with temperatures above 90° and the humidity very high. In particular, Joseph, Stuart and Walker stood out, but nobody really looked bad.

Joseph again ran about 25 minutes on the trail on Wednesday morning. He followed that with his core/weight workout later in the morning. At 4 pm, we met at the track for another run through the neighborhood/McKee Park area, which was to be followed by some drills. I ran with the more advanced group (at least the ones that are coming to practice at this time of year). Today, Kamau, Damian, Joseph, Nathan Gaudin, Christian, Daniel Ruff, Alex Ross, Walker Mattox, Abigail Arinder, Shanika Musser, Stuart Woomer, and Grant Woomer started out with me, with Grant doing 3 miles (slight injury), some of them only doing 4 miles, most of the rest of us doing 5.5 miles, and Joseph probably doing 11 or 12 miles. He was supposed to only go for 50 minutes or so, but apparently was feeling good and kept running for a good while-at least an hour and 25 minutes. When we got done, everybody did their various drills, and a storm started moving in. By the time Joseph showed up, everybody had already left practice. Hopefully, in the future he will be more cognizant of the time. At least he appears to be in very good shape right now.

Tomorrow, doing some type of fartlek workout.

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humid running in Starkville


Another week of running in Mississippi equals another week of sweating profusely. The humidity is so high here you can be coated with a thick sheen of sweat by just walking out the door! Joseph got Monday morning going by running about 30-35 minutes on our trail at an easy pace.  He usually follows that with a core workout later in the morning, but one of his friends came over and spent the day, which put a crimp in the workout. Unfortunately, they spent the day drinking large quantities of Dr. Pepper and eating lots of chips and sugary snacks while watching videos all day. This was probably the worst thing he could have done before our 4 mile tempo run planned for 7 pm.  Even so, we did go by the North Farm to run at 7 pm. Joseph ran a mile warm up, then started running with me, but he soon felt the effects of a sugar low and had a difficult run! Hopefully, he learned his lesson. The whole thing was exacerbated because he does not usually drink sodas at all and eats very little junk food. For me, the run was about what I had been doing, as I was able to keep a 6:30 per mile pace. Steve Shaffer cruised along a what looked to be a good pace. Also joining us for the first time this summer were two high school sophomores, Josh Franz and Andrew Rogers, who were both getting ready for the upcoming xc season. Josh, who had run cross country as a freshman, had just been at cross country camp the week before and was probably still a bit motivated from that. His friend is basically a beginner, but is tall and thin, ideal for running distance.  Since neither of these two had done much running this summer, they only managed to run a bit more than 3 miles at a fairly slow pace. But, it was hot and humid, and they will have to get used to that.

On Tuesday, I told Joseph not to run in the morning, since he did not do very well the evening before. I felt like he needed a rest. He did do his core/weight type workout some time before lunch. For our evening run, we again went to the North Farm. Joining us today were  Kamau Bostic, Christian Kingery, Russ Patterson, and a first timer, John Mitchell. John is a graduate student at state who we met on Saturday at the Boardtown running club run. For today’s run, I had planned on doing three one-mile intervals at a decent pace, but not crazy. We warmed up by running from the rose garden area to the Research Park, where we were going to run.  Since everybody there was at different levels of fitness, we all kind of had our own pace. Joseph set the pace for the first mile at about 5:16, with Kamau running just over 5:20 and me right behind him.  Russ and John came in around 7 minutes or so, maybe a little under, and Christian was some where around 7:30. Of course, with the heat that was not as slow as it sounded. We took about 4 minutes for a rest, drank some water, and headed back for a second mile. Some time around then, Steve Shaffer showed up to run with us. Whew! The 2nd one was not as easy! At least for most of us. Joseph looked smooth and relaxed, again running his in 5:16. However, Kamau and I only mustered about 5:43 and that felt hard with the heat. The other guys also ran slower than the first one. We again rested for a few minutes before doing our third mile. Joseph also ran this one at a decent pace, about 5:23. I was about 5:50, Russ was in the mid 6:40’s, and I believe John was mid 7’s. Christian did this one a little bit slower. In fact, all of his were fairly slow, but that was fine, since he is just getting back into running.  Kamau was completely zapped from the first two, so he decided to run the last one as a cool down mile. Near the end he sprinted a bit, but was still well over 7 minutes. I don’t know about Steve, who was doing his on his own schedule. Julie also ran some intervals, but she did them over on the gravel road, and I don’t know how fast or what she did exactly. When we got through with ours, everybody jogged back to the rose garden, then stretched and we headed on home.

On Wednesday, I again went out of town to collect insects and did not return until late Thursday afternoon. Joseph was able to get an easy run in Wednesday morning, but did not run later that day because of thunderstorms.  He ran about 25 minutes on Thursday morning and did an ab workout. That evening at 7 pm, we met at the South Farm for a run. Christian and Steve again ran with us. Julie did a 5k distance in what was her best time so far. Christian and Steve both ran 4 miles at a moderate pace. Joseph and I ran 7.3 miles at about a 7 minute per mile pace.

I took Friday off, but Joseph ran 5.3 miles in the morning with Julie riding behind him on the bike. She said he ran easy with good form and at a decent pace. The next morning, we got up early the next morning and ran with the Boardtown running group doing a 12.4 mile loop. I was not feeling it today; I think I was still worn out from my driving around the state collecting ants on Wednesday and Thursday. I started out ok, but could not keep the pace up past the first water stop. Haley Greenwell, the Star runner for MSU, again ran today.  She and Joseph ran together for the entire run, which was great for him as she is a steady runner who has already run a 16:20 5k. Apparently, he did not have any problem keeping up with her, which may bode well for him this year, since he would love to be able to run a 16:20! Anyway, by the time I got through, I was soaking wet,  had a couple of new blisters on my toes, and my thighs were cramping up a bit. This humid weather is taking its toll on my toes! For sure going to lose a couple of toenails. Fortunately, they grow back.

Later that day, Joseph and I did an easy little recovery jog out here in Sessums just to loosen our legs up. Boy, they were sore at first, but after a half mile, everything felt much better.

Tomorrow evening we will be meeting at 7 PM at the South Farm again for an easy run of some non-predetermined length (depends on how hot it is). Starting on Monday at 4 pm, cross country practice starts for Starkville High. Runners will meet at the SHS track. Basically, practice will be every weekday from Monday to the end of the season from 4 to 5:30 pm. For the first couple of weeks, it sounds like the runners will be meeting at the track to run in the nearby neighborhood. Hopefully, we can start meeting elsewhere soon to get off the hard paved roads. Should be a decent season with quite a few returning runners, both boys and girls. It will be interesting to see how they all do!

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A few more days of running…


Another week has gone by and we are that much closer to the end of summer. Amazingly, Joseph starts school on August 8th, right around the corner! Cross country practice starts on the 27th of July, just 10 days from now. I imagine we will have a multitude of new runners trying out for the team. Until then, we will keep on with our summer training, which has kept us in pretty good shape. Except for the week when we were on vacation and last week when he was at a church retreat, he has been running 58-63 miles a week (on the two vacation weeks he averaged about 30 miles per week).  With this base mileage and core workouts 3 times a week, Joseph should be primed for the XC season.  Regardless of how he does in cross country this fall, his running form has improved and he is in great shape, and so far, injury free. Hopefully that will continue, it is so easy to tweak some muscle group or joint.

After Tuesday’s light interval workout at the North Farm, we did not meet to run again until Thursday night. I did not get to run Wed. at all, as I went insect collecting that day in the Delta National Forest in Sharkey County. Joseph was able to get in a few easy miles on our trail that morning. He was going to run later that afternoon, but thundershowers prevented it. He was able to get his core workout in before lunch too. The next morning, he and Julie went to the South Farm to run at 6 AM. He ran 7 miles at a decent pace, and she went a 5k distance.  He also ran for 35 minutes later that day, then headed to see a friend who was visiting town.  Since he was at his friend’s, he did not get to run with us on our Thursday afternoon run.  However, after lifting some weights, I headed to the South Farm to see if anybody felt like running. Of course, the amazingly enthusiastic Steve Shaffer was there, then  Shanika Musser showed up on her bike. Christian again joined us. His Mom walked and his younger sister Kennis ran with us for the first time. She is thinking about running XC this fall as she enters the 7th grade.  At some point, Ethan Musser also showed up.  He was supposed to play softball, but the other team did not show up, so he came and ran. Most everybody ran a 4 mile loop on a hilly section, except for Kennis who intermittently jogged for a few minutes and walked (since she is a beginning runner). I ran ahead of everyone and did about 5.5 miles, then came back behind them to make sure everyone made it in. It was hot, but no problems. In fact both Shanika and Christian did a great job. Shanika is a beast! Although she is only going into the 7th grade and not even 12 years old yet, she has no problem running 4 miles at an 8 minute per mile pace! She is is overall good shape and can do over 50 pushups in a row! And, it is not taking long for Christian to get back in running shape. He had no problem with the 4 miles.

Joseph ended up spending Thursday night with his friend(s), but got up Friday morning and ran 3 or 4 pretty fast miles with two of his friends pushing the pace on their bikes.  Later in the day, he did his core workout. He did not run again on Friday, but instead went skating with some friends that night.

We got up early Saturday morning to run a 13 mile loop with the boardtown runners. The temperature was a bit cooler and we had cloud cover the entire journey, which made it somewhat easier to run. It was just as humid as ever though! Joseph was beat after pretty much staying up all night Thursday and again hanging out with friends on Friday night, but he did alright considering. He knew he was tired, because he was not way out in front like he usually is!  I felt alright, but my calf muscles were a bit sore and a couple of toes were feeling it. May loose a toenail pretty soon. That is the problem with running in high humidity, my feet get soaking wet after a while! We were aiming for 13 miles, but did not know the route, so were following other people today (of course, I often follow other folks, as some of them are very fast!). Houston Franks was out in front as per usual, and he added a section on at the end not knowing that several of us were following him. Anyway, we added close to two miles to the entire loop, so ended up doing about 15 miles total! I believe that is the farthest Joseph has run. We finished up about 1:45 or so.  I met a couple of new people today and also ran with an Australian guy (Keith)  who I had not seen in quite a few years. Keith is in town visiting friends. I had actually run with him about 20 years ago, when he was about 46 years old. Now, he is 66 and still in amazing shape. He had no problem running 15 miles at a pretty decent pace! Met a guy named John who is friends with Russ. Coincidentally, I had just seen him for the first time this past week in the gym lifting weights! Meggan introduced me to Haley Greenwell. Haley is about to be a senior on the MSU XC team and is a running beast! She apparently now holds the MSU female 10k record after running a 33:51 (or something like that). Haley was super nice and ran effortlessly. Russ later told her about about running group, and she asked me if she could run with us some. So, she may join us occasionally, which would be seriously cool! I can’t tell you how nice it is to run with the Boardtown runners.  They are a group of amazingly fit athletes lead by people like Houston and Meggan Franks, Micah and Kelly White, David Dycus, and others. If these folks and everybody else out there does not get you hyped about running, then nothing will.

Today, we met at the South Farm at 7 pm for a run through the campus and downtown Starkville. Steve, Kamau, and Christian ran with us today. Julie ran 5 miles on the South Farm and Christian’s mom walked while she was there. Christian ended up doing about 4 miles or so with Steve, after which Steve ran another mile or so. Joseph, Kamau, and I ran for 45 minutes at a pretty good pace. It was great to have Kamau back running with us. His being there always brings more out of us, and usually we have a good run when he is there. He had been at a running camp the past week with several other kids from the XC team and coaches Woomer and Barnett. Sounded like they had a good time at camp. Today was a great afternoon to run, because it was only about 85° instead of the usual 95° or more. Even so, I was sweaty like a mug when I was through.  It ended up being an easier run than I thought it would be. My calves were sore before starting, but they felt better after the run. Crazy. But, that is often the case.

And, as in previous weeks, we will meet at the Rose Garden/North Farm at 7 pm Monday and Tuesday, and at the South Farm on Thursday at 7pm.

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insanely hot running weather!


Last week we took a bit a of a break from our typical running because Joseph and Julie were at a church retreat at Orange Beach. I also was out of town some. But, we got back to it this past Sunday with a nice run through campus and University Estates. For this run we had Ethan Musser, Steve Shaffer, Russ Patterson, Joseph, and myself, plus Christian Kingery, a SHS runner, joined us for a while. Julie ran on the South Farm. We ran at 7 pm and it was still very hot and humid! We consider these Sunday evening runs easy, but the heat takes some of the easy out of it. Also, I think taking the last few days off made today a bit harder.

Monday morning, Joseph got up and ran for about 35 minutes, then later did his core workout. I got a good weight workout from 4 to 5pm.  At 7 pm that evening we met at the North Farm for our weekly 4 mile tempo run on the gravel road. Temperature when we started was a cool 100° plus humidity. Ethan, Steve, and Russ again joined us. Also, Michael Lee and Ethan’s little sister Shanika ran with us. Both Michael and Russ are on the MSU triathlon team. In fact, they are the two fastest guys on the team. Shanika is going into 7th grade and planning on running for our cross country team this fall. She is already in great shape. Not only can she run 4 miles at a pretty good pace, but she can do at least 50 pushups in a row! However, with the heat today I asked her to only do a bit over 3 miles instead of the 4 we did, and to not push it.

Tuesday again started with Joseph running about 20 easy minutes on our trail. That evening at 7 pm we again met at the North Farm. Today we did some light 400m intervals  with 400m jogs between each one. We did them on a grass road area. Nothing seriously fast, it was pretty warm again, although there was some cloud cover that gave us a bit of relief. Ethan, Russ, Steve, Shanika, Christian, and Daniel Ruff joined Joseph and I today. Julie also ran, but did her own thing.  Shanika did only 5 X 400s, since she is so young; Christian and Daniel did 6 of them, as they had not been running nearly as much as we have; Steve also did 6;  Ethan, Russ, and I did 10; and Joseph managed 11. He was going to do 10, but was enough ahead that he ran another one to push Ethan and Russ a bit, which he did a good of. I was not pushing mine super hard, but was able to maintain a pretty nice pace between each one with about a 1:50 recovery pace. Got done and stretched as a nice lightning storm was moving in. Don’t know if it ever rained though. I thought Ethan and Russ both looked good today. They are both pushing each other! Shanika was a beast as usual. I have to restrain her a little as she would run harder than she needs to in this weather.

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Running in the Mississippi summer does get easier!


After our nice long run with the Boardtown running group last Saturday, we went for an easy 6.5 run Sunday evening at 7 pm. Just a few of us, Joseph, Steve, Kamau and I, so we started from the South Farm, ran through the campus, then down University Dr., down Louisville St., Gillespie St. and back through the campus to the parking lot.  I was tired before we started, as I did a mountain bike ride that morning at the Tombigbee National Forest for a while. But, Kamau actually had a harder time than me today after eating at Mugshots for supper at around 5 pm then playing soccer for a while before running with us! Crazy joker. Anyway, Joseph seemed to be more invigorated than us. He ran ahead and we did not see him for a while, until he turned around and came back and joined us.  He probably ran an extra mile or so.  I ran with Steve and Kamau until he rejoined us, then on the way back we ran together for awhile until Joseph and I picked it up (or maybe they slowed down a bit). We ran pretty strong to about Barnes and Nobles, then slowed down near the forestry dept. for a cool down run. Steve and Kamau finished up pretty closely behind us (a minute or two).  They must have pushed it pretty good the last mile or so, because they were quite a ways behind earlier.

On Monday Joseph got up and ran about 3 miles (easy on our trail), which he followed by a core workout later in the morn before lunch. I got a pretty good weight workout that afternoon myself. These upper body (especially) workouts really augment running programs and are great for getting in overall shape. That evening we did a tempo run at the North Farm. The usual folks, Steve, Kamau, Joseph, Ethan, and I ran. Also, Steve persuaded a couple of college girls to run with us. Joseph took off and did a warm up run, then  joined us later. The two girls, who ran about 3 miles (more or less), took off first, then Steve headed out to see if he could catch them after giving them a good head start. They all three did a good job. Ethan, Kamau and I started a couple minutes later. Ethan had a twisted ankle, which he taped up so he could run, so he ran pretty easy.  Kamau and I kept up a pretty good pace and our first two miles were under 12 minutes, and I think were just over 18 at the 3 mile mark (or at least where I think 3 miles is), then we jogged the last mile easier. Even with jog, we ended up with a 6:30 per mile pace. Joseph was under 6 minutes per mile, but I am not exactly sure what his pace was.  Anyway, we all felt pretty good and ran at a decent pace.

On Tuesday morning, Joseph again ran on the trail, about 40 minutes, how ever many miles that works out to. Basically, just an easy recovery run that followed our tempo run the night before. It is nice that we have the grassy trail for him to run on! And, of course, it is much cooler in the morning. That evening at 7 pm we again ran at the North Farm.  Ethan and his sister (Shanika), Russ Paterson, Steve, Joseph, Julie, and I all ran today. Julie did her own workout, but the rest of us did a five X 1000 meter intervals on the grass, following a warm up jog and followed by a cool down jog (Ethans sister only did 3 and at a much easier pace).  These intervals are not designed to be super fast in the summer, but simply a way to run a little faster in the heat with rest breaks and something to keep us from getting too bored with simple, easy summer running. In between each 1000m run, we rested about 3 minutes, which a good time to stretch and drink some water. My first one was pretty good, about 3:19, but I started off too fast, getting to the halfway point in about 1:30. It always seems really easy when you start, but gets hard very quickly!  I was actually ahead of Joseph at the halfway point, but he caught me at some point and passed me. Russ and Ethan ran together for the first two, running about 3:48 or so, and Steve was back a bit from them. I ran the 3rd through 5th with Ethan and Russ, but finishing a good bit ahead of them; except for the last one, where I challenged Russ a bit. That was by far his fastest one at about 3:19. I barely finished ahead of him. Russ is in crazy good shape and is the fastest guy overall on the MSU triatholon team. He is running with us to try to get his running times faster. He is a great swimmer already and a decent biker.  Joseph also pushed the last one a little, and ran about 3:01, easily kicking our butts! Ethan ran faster on that one too, especially considering his ankle was still sore.  One of the coolest things about the run tonight was that we ran through a swarm of mating ants.  With  sun block liberally applied to my body, the ants became plastered to my body. After the first run, I had to clean the ants off of me.  I collected them and put them in a bottle of water. These particular ants were thief ants in the genus Solenopsis. I was very happy to collect both males and females of this species, which is in a taxonomically challenging species group with several similar species. I needed some females and males to measure and photograph!!!!  I put the bottle of ants out of the way, so I wouldn’t drink them by mistake, but by the time I had done the next run, I forgot and started drinking the ant water! Fortunately, I quickly remembered and stopped before swallowing any ants!

On Wednesday, I went collecting in north MS and did not return until late Thursday around 4:30 pm. Whew! It was hot, and I was worn out! While I was gone, Joseph ran a few easy miles on Wed. and did his crazy core workout. He also ran about 20 minutes Thursday morning. That evening, we met at the South Farm to run. Steve pulled in just as we did. Abigail also joined us, and she jogged 4 miles. Her mom walked for a long time herself! Julie did a 3 mile run, with the middle mile being faster. Steve ran with Abigail, and when they got done, ran another mile or so. Russ ran too, going about 4 miles. He was already worn out from a 4 mile swim!  Joseph and I did the 7 mile loop. I was surprised I could make it as I was really beat from all the hiking I did for work that day and the day before. But, as it was, I was able to run a 7 minute pace the entire way. I never did quite catch Joseph, who was probably about 6:45 or so per mile. When we finished, we were stretching and drinking some water as Ethan showed up. He had played in a softball game, then jogged to the South Farm from his house and was going to run on the gravel roads some. Joseph and I felt surprisingly good, so we grabbed Steve and we all ran another 3 plus miles. We went out and back, with the first half being slow, but we cruised in fast on the way back. The temperature had dropped quite a bit, so I felt like picking it up, and they all three did too! The last 3/4 mile or so we were flying! Or, at least it felt like it. Ethan had motivational music playing on his cell phone for us to run to; things like the Rocky theme song. Ethan and I used that music to try to catch Joseph on the last stretch, but we couldn’t do it! Punk. By the time all was said and done, Joseph and I had run at least 10.5 miles and Steve had run at least 8 (if not more).

Friday, Joseph ran 5.5 miles at an easy pace out here in Sessums, and later in the afternoon, he did his core workout. I lifted weights again at the gym. Got a great shoulder workout. Also, weighed myself and was back up 3 lbs from Monday, when I was about 165. The week before I had been about 175! With all this running and crazy hot weather, I had lost ten lbs in a week. Not a good thing to lose that much weight in a week, but it seems to be getting back to normal. On the other had, 165 is an easier weight to run at. Especially compared to the 200 lbs I weight 4 years ago.I have noticed that when I run at 7 pm in this hot weather, I am not very hungry at night. I tend to want to eat fruit and drink lots of liquids. So, I need to eat bigger lunches I guess!

Tomorrow morning, we plan on running with the Boardtown Running group again. They have a 14.7 mile route planned, although, we will probably only go about 10 or so, depending on how we feel. On Sunday, we are heading to Jackson, MS where Joseph will be running in the Watermelon Festival 5k at 7:30 on Monday morn. This is supposed to be a pretty big race with all sorts of age groups. I decided not to sign up myself, and will just watch.  The rest of the week, Joseph will be going to a church retreat in Orange Beach, AL, so they will not be here to run next week. I imagine he will get in a couple of runs while he is there, since he will not be able to stand it!  In fact, I will be out of town collecting for much of the week, so we will not be in town next week to run either. We will resume our running the next Sunday evening. Several of our high school kids will be out of town that week, as they will be attending a cool running camp at Virginia Tech. I am pretty sure Kamau, Walker, and Abigail are all going, along with several others than don’t usually run with us in the summer. Joseph’s church camp overlaps with their departure, so he will not get to go.

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