praise the sun

As trumps tweets age better than  a fine wine, summer is just around the corner.

We start camp in 5 days. In past years, there always has been this break of school ending and summer camp starting. But now that I’m a full time camp staff person. Its been insanely busy since March when it warmed up. There still a lot to do at the garden but hopefully I’ve got everything planted and now just taking care of it all. Also Japanese Beetles are really annoying, have I mentioned that. Sorry for not posting in a month+ but the garden is growing and trying to get everything reined in is always fun.

The purpose of the garden is to provide a place of fun for the kids. Also to show the kids that not everything has to look like it does in the store for it to still be the same kid of plant or produce. Like purple carrots, 6 different colors and kinds of tomatoes, 10 different types of peppers, 3 different types of beans, eggplants, squash, okra, sunflowers, melons, watermellons, corn and alot more. We also just harvested garlic yesterday and hopefully it will dry in a month or so and be usable.

Fun, Exploration, Growth

Scott decided to leave before summer camp got underway. He hopes to be a raft guide for the summer out in North Carolina. I wish him luck on his continued adventure. It’s currently throwing off the house gender ratio…which is always interesting.

News back home, Dad is currently living the bachelor life because Mom and Michelle are walking the Spanish road out in Spain…and then going to Finland . So if you feel pity for a grown man who can’t cook anything fancier than a steak and order pizza. Feel free to hit him up and give him dinner.

Anyways. I hope Ashley approves of this length as she will judge me if I dont write enough words. Peace out till next time. And apparently some of you actually read this based off of the numbers. WOW

Covfefe is so hawt right now

Praise the sun

praise the sun


three stories in one

Hello. welcome back to whatever this is. anyways in the last month+ or so there has been lots going on. so trying to explain it all in a brief summary, without to much personal opinion and critical thinking.

  1. We went to Baton Rouge with a PDA trip to help the flooded houses of Baton Rouge. The floods happened back in August and we went down in April. In that period of time, the houses have been mucked out and many have been slowly repaired. We worked with a group called rebuilding baton rouge together. They work with one street at a time, and help rebuild the whole street, working with groups, Americorps and trusted contractors to help complete homes that have experienced flooding. We worked in an area called Merrydale and the group worked on the painting the interior and bottom floor boards around the house we were in. The PDA group was from Missouri and the usual age demographic of Presbyterians.  We spent the time at College Presbyterian right next to LSU. It really is a quite beautiful and huge.  The town of Baton Rouge is an interesting mix of everything that make a city. The city is roughly divided into two with a street called Florida. We worked on the north side of town and there wasn’t much evidence of flood, but once inside the houses, everything was new house material from 5 feet down. Because the flood happened nine months ago, each house had something different in them,  as they tried to rebuild without help from a group or organization. There were many stories of hope, courage and strength from the two streets that we helped. There was also a great bbq during Friday, and a lot of community involvement.
  2. Death row: Arkansas is/has set itself to kill 7 death row inmates in a week. In lieu of this, we watched Paradise Lost about the West Memphis Three. Three boys were killed and three teenagers were accused of killing them in 1993. You should watch the movie, as its a court documentation of the trial and how…flawed it was. Looking at it now it seemed so flawed of a court case and the entire justice system was stacked against the boys based on one flimsy confession of one of the boys . They were sentenced life in prison and Damion Eckles was on death row at the age of 18. They were released in 2010 with an Alens Plea stating they were guilty but they remained that their weren’t guilty. There have been many different opinion on the matter of guilty or innocent based on how people view them.  Anyways. We got to meet one of the WM3, Jason and have lunch with him and pick his brain about what he was upto now. He currently resides in Houston and is going for his law degree after getting out of prison in 2010. He spoke to us about his life, the trouble with mass incarceration, and several other things(his love for heavy rock and roll). We then went to the state capitol for the march against the executions scheduled for the week. Also there, was Damion, another of the WM3, he gave a speech to the crowd about being on death row and the injustices he faced. Along with him was Johnny Depp. So that makes meeting/seeing a total of three famous people I got to see in a mater of hours, which makes Arkansas currently the top state I’ve seem famous people at. As a side note, I think the justice system needs to have better outside audits to make sure things like the WM3 trials and appeals dont end up stalled out and leaving the possibly innocent people in jail. Anyways. Figure out your own view points on issues like this but take care to look at all the facts before rushing to a judgement.
  3. Georgia, the YAV retreat, and civil rights museums. We just got back from the southeast yav retreat down in Georgia at a farm community called Quininia. It was started in the 40’s allowing all people to come and work in equality. It was also the start of Habitat for Humanity and the main location is a few miles up in a a town called Americus. It was really good to hang out with fellow YAVs and here about how their sites are going. Also knowing that they are going through some of the same community issues and strength was a nice chance to be able to talk to them. We learned of Quininia’s involvement in precivil rights issues and community for all during our time there, also their farm and Pecans Orchards were nice to tour. Albany is just south of the farm, and Saturday we traveled to the civil rights museum. Albany was one of the first towns to protest for civil rights and equal treatment among races. Being in the deep south, the KKK was a constant battle and threat with their intimidation tactics to everyone involved in helping African Americans gain rights. On sunday we traveled back and spent the day in Birmingham Alambama, where we went to the civil rights museum there. It is located next to the 14th Avenue church that was bombed killing 6 poeple in total, 4 of them girls. The next day we went to Memphis, besides great chicken, we went to see the National Civil Rights Museum. The location is were MLK was shot and the hotel has been renovated into the museum. This civil rights museum tied all of the other museum’s together and focused on the broader picture that was created through civil rights. This trip was incredibly valuable for its relaxing with the YAVS but also through the learning that we got to experience
    As a bonus we got to go to Jimmy Carters Sunday school and got to stand next to him and  his wife and take a picture.
  4. Also. The farm is going well, stuff got blown down as we where coming back from the Baton Rouge trip, but its mostly been cleaned up. We got chickens now, and more ducks, beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, beets, carrots, egg plant, and alot of other stuff is going in the garden and coming out. Happy garden. Overtasked chris.



5.Have a good time.




Sorry for the two month hiatus,

The adventures of the Little Rock Yav house have been many and with spring on the doorstep of the south, we all have been busy. Some adventures that we have taken on Fridays have been very fun and educational, sometimes both.

We went to the urban garden that one of the farmer Chris’ runs in Suburbia Little Rock

We went to the other farmer Chris’ farm/garden out at the heifer international building.

We went to Bill’s Library

We went to the actual Heifer international building and checked it out, right next to the farm out in east Little Rock

We went to the Women’s Day march at the capital

We checked out the little rock art museum, where they have very squeaky floors when you walk on them

we went to Fayetteville and went to Crystal Bridges (thank you Walmart for raking in enormous profits from your stores to help fund an art institution). On the trip we also got to hang out with the Arkansas youthminiquake, and go to the Arkansas Presbytery.  We also got to hang out at Arkansas state and walk around checking out the campus.

We went to the dump(landfill) and recycling center to know where the stuff we throw away ends up.

Katie sent out a disaster shipment of clean up buckets in late February and is going to send out a smaller one this week.

Also I got to see my parents. Admittedly it was the sod conference in Florida, however it was nice to see them around the time of my birthday.

We went to a University of Arkansas Little Rock basket ball game

Other news around camp, got most stuff planted, beets, radishes, carrots, lettus, cold weather crops. and we even got peppers and eggplants and tomatoes growing inside underneath lights until it stops freezing. we got pigs, they are julian mini pigs, so they are only going to be about 70 pounds when fully grown. oh and the worst of it all. we gave up meat for lent. its been a ….sad time around food.

but next week we will be going to baton rouge with a disaster deployment group from Missouri to help with flooded house repair.


anyways till next time



a objective look at a subjective world

(with fun pics and gifs/video)

With George Orwell’s 1984  quotes popping up on facebook as the current hot thing to post about trumps “new” america. lets take a look at the last few days of fun. to go along with all of the other yavs blogs of updating in this time of life.

now there is truth in the fact that the facebook world has currently been divided into about three different slices. truth and fact being two world that aren’t present in much of the vile and mess that is facebook, or at least my news feed.

  1. the conservative point of view. you represent what has “won” with this election. your facebook feed is often filled with older folks, some younger, posting about the greatness of trump and what he will do. you probably didn’t like Obama for what he represented but overall thought he wasn’t that bad. you have probably voted for trump on the grounds of either/or single issue politics, party lines, not hilliary clinton, he is not part of the political process, or some other reason entirely.
  2.  the neutral point of view. you have both friends that are conservative and liberal. while you probably have liberal and conservative issues that you lean to and fro, you facebook feed is literally a mess of back and forth garbage that is spewed. you might think the economy could be fixed a bit better but you also agree that women should be able to have the chance to get an abortion.
  3. the liberal. you hate. and i dont mean i hate broccoli, but actually hate the donald. you dont agree with anything he represents or what he stands for. you want to oppose him and every part of you fights him. you post and so do you freinds everything bad about him, and everyone that disagrees with you, you have already unfreinded two years ago.
  4. the only person to lose to trump was clinton and the only person that could have won against clinton was trump.

so where do we go from here.

well we need to take a step back to be able to look forward to current events.

  1. why wasn’t Hillary elected.  well. it wasnt so much a win for trump as it was a loss for Hillary. from 2008 to 2016, 10 million people did not show up to vote for Hillary as they did for Obama. Now the DNC needs to take a good hard look at why they didn’t show up to vote, to be able to win against trump in 4 years. also in the DNC with the electors and the primarys. She lost most of the states  to trump, that bernie had won in the primaries. battle ground states: many states that turned out to be battle ground states weren’t expected to be battle ground states. She did not prepare well in those states. insulting people and degrading them doesn’t bring a way of political discussion, but rather an entrenchment of ideologies. She represents everything that is wrong with politics. she didn’t have that fresh and new feel that trump had.
  2. the horseshoe theory. the fringe of being on the left or the right are actually closer in theory that moderates (hence the horseshoe shape).
  3. articles on facebook. these articles, listicles at best, are there to serve two purposes. get clicks and make money. how do they do this, writing clickbaity headlines and writing to the extremes in the most basic and unchecked format and calling it “news”. a list of why joe and barack make the best unisex couple is not news, it’s there to get clicks and make ad money.
  4. you’re not affecting anyone or doing anything by posting articles on facebook your yelling into the void. get up and do something
  5. saying trump is doing this or that has to be looked at in comparison. comparing obama to trump in their first days needs to be taken with a grain, no a block of salt. every president signs a bunch of executive orders in the first days of their presidency. yes they do vary on topic but the amount is usually the same. plus trump, like obama when he first started, has both control of the house and senate. why would he need to executive order a whole bunch of stuff that he doesn’t need to.

The march

three(4) problems that i saw

  1. to promote a way of affecting. people should have voted in the first place. I can tell you that there were people in the crowd that didn’t vote. Just because the news tells you Hillary is going to win doesn’t mean that everyone around is going to vote for her and you can relax.
  2. Micheal’s must have been very happy. think of all the poster board they sold the Friday before. it was more of a writing catchy phrases to hold up, that are repeated every 10th poster. and then get photos of you and your sign to put on facebook and reap that sweet sweet internet points.
  3. the Social Justice Warriors were strong in the crowd.  Little rock as a county voted democrat. to be able to change Arkansas to a blue state, there needs to be a spreading out of ideas and engage in discussion without name calling to raise support for the cause and change the future election.
  4. ok, you marched, i bet, 95% of those people will do absolutely nothing to actually change and affect politics.



The world is messy. Deal with it. Don’t go run and hide. Face is head on. No one is more powerful that you. Don’t hide behind the word privilege. Don’t feel exhausted after dealing with this. Everyone is and everyone else is dealing with it.



A head of cabbage and the death of my grandfather.

I’ve been putting off writing for a time now. With everything going on since my last post. I haven’t the slightest clue on the many things going on and how to write about it. From the election results, to the garden slowing down, and my grandfather passing away the day after veterans day, thanksgiving, the leaving of Marie for a real job to be pastor at Second Pres., neutering the sheep, PCCCA having their annual conference here at Ferncliff, and the stewing of my brain as day to day life here in Arkansas.

Other things I missed. The Christmas parade, getting worms, getting fresh vegetables from the “water veggie guy”, the standing rock site, going to petite jean for hiking.


I would like to thank everyone who supported my family and continues to support them as they continue with life without Charles. I could not be there. I got to see him the week before he past away from pneumonia. The last thing I told him was that I’ll see him soon. But the rest of these things mulling in my head are best left for speech and not paper. Sorry.

The garden has produced. Over 50 pounds of broccoli, 70 pounds of cabbage, 35 pounds of green beans, 20 pounds of peas, and a myriad of other vegetables,  it finally frosted on the 12th of November, killing off most of the plants. Only the brussle sprouts are left and I fear they got in the ground a little late to produce a viable crop.

PCCCA had their annual conference here in early November. It was nice seeing the camp active and alive with everyone milling around. Equally nice was getting to have a relaxed work schedule and getting to go to the different meetings. Also getting to meet people around the country, and Canada, and seeing what their camps are run like.

The Election. I tread into turbulent waters here, but all I ask is that the opinion pieces from the news/newspapers/huffingtonpost/clickbaity websites/and such, get competly destroyed. Facts. Facts are good. I do not care what you think about Trump, or Clinton, or Sanders, or Bush or Romney, or Regan, or FDR, or Coolidge, or any of them, or how angry you are, or how sad, mad, glad, frustrated, or any other emotion you are. It doesn’t matter. What Trump is going to do, is probably different than what he said he is going to do. But, if you don’t like something that he has done. THEN GO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Quit being on facebook and being outraged, and tagging your self in the standing rock site. If it takes no energy, it will make no difference. To actually make a difference you need to go out and put out energy and express your views not on facebook. If you are feeling about Trump, your time to change this was before November 11th. Not after the fact. As they say, Clinton managed to steal defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Sheep castration. Super fun. The vet came out last Monday and castrated the sheep. He first put them under, sanitized the area, then sliced a bit of the scrotum off the bottom with a scalpel., reached in there and pulled them out, woke them back up. Even Bart the tiny sheep got them removed to. They both feeling better now, a week+ after their surgery. Also if you are feeling like donating animals that you have to a camp, please make sure they are neutered for everyone happiness and safety.

To end. Happy Christmas, today is the 15th, and when its officially okay to start celebrating Christmas. The 10 days of Christmas. Merry holidays. Enjoy the Christmas parties.



Also for dailyish photo updates of life.



Lots of words. tread carefully




Just kidding

Story time.

I started volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club on Thursdays at the Penick location. Now a bit of background to give you some reference. Its south of 630. This is one of the more recent freeways that has come to Little Rock. Say what you will (locals) about how and why it was built, but it offers as a rough dividing line between the two Little Rocks as one.  Here is a picture of Little Rock

Image result for little rock map

Now 630 is the dividing line. Between the black community and the white community. Some things south of 630, one of the main campus’s for University of Arkansas, the Hillary Clinton children library, a couple of cemeteries, the sheriff office and  jail detention center. Now truthfully, bias is involved, but this won’t become an opinion piece, turn to facebook, buzzfeed and the Atlantic  for that. That doesnt seem very optimistic, kinda bleak. But people…. survive south of 630.

North of 630 is an interesting mixture of white. (yes this has to do with the B&GC, stay with me). There’s a lot of money in north LR. The Walton Heights, several private communities and houses that would cost a cool million out in California but only 750k in Arkansas. There’s money in the people, there’s fancy places to go eat, the UALR medical center is north of 630. Several department stores and businesses are located north of 630.

Ok, now that I’ve painted the picture for you, lets get back to the Penick B&GC. South of 630. I wouldn’t say it’s in a bad neighborhood, I don’t think Little Rock has a truely has a bad neighborhood (define that for yourself). The first day I arrive, a bit early because my truck broke, so I got to meet the staff. One of the guys comes in and say ” You get in trouble? They usually don’t send white guys out our way”

Uhhhhh no. I’m new and volunteering.

So I get to play pick up basketball with 7 year olds and they beat me every time. I keep it close ok. 99% of the kids are african american, I make the 1% in the room for a few hours. Also Penick has a really good basketball program, they attract more kids than they hardly know what to do with it seems. People actively send their children to come play basketball here. From all over LR. I know this isn’t a 100% truth and a mere observation, however the white families that sign up there kids for basketball often drive luxur(ous)y cars, there kids dressed in charter or private school uniforms. I don’t think they need the B&GC like the kids who attend every day.


Second story

Over the last few weeks, Second Pres. has put on a series in analysis of the LR school district. Brief background: there is no easy answer. The school board was taken over by the state two years ago. Charter school are on the rise, but do they really perform as well as the LRSD schools even though they are separate from the rules and have less restrictions on how to teach.  And are they taking kids that could raise test scores out of the the LRSD.  Also private schools and how they stem back from the integration of central high and how people feel they needed to keep their kids separate. They represent the rich and affluent families that can afford to send their kid to private school. Also loosing a chunk of funding from the state government. And on top of that, is the government run school board going to be able to raise test scores higher that before they took it over. If they can’t then, why did they take it over in the first place.  Its like wading into a kiddy pool filled with gasoline as it’s on fire. And the state government(board of education) did a swan dive into it. If you want a headache, do research on it. It’s interesting as it affects all of LR.

Third story

I went to Avilla (not Availlia) for a monday night worship service at Zion Lutheran Church. I  brought some fresh vegetables from the farm as they have a food bank on Monday nights too. This is the closest food bank to camp and is only about 35 mins away from the greater LR area. However the town is quite small. Two completely different worlds 30 minutes from each other  Imagine your stereotypical Arkansasan.  And I bet you could have picked them out of the service crowd.

The face of hunger is is not what you expect. The face of hunger is the elderly. The face of hunger is not hungry now but tomorrow they will be.  The face of hunger is not a race, a religion. The face of hunger is not educated at a doctorate level. The face of hunger has vices and smokes and I bet you 100 bucks, drinks too. The face of hunger might be clean but the body is not. The face of hunger is the body that has tattoos or scars or medically wrong. The face of hunger eats but isn’t full. The face of hunger is obese because an only carb diet will do that to you.

Fourth Story

When do we become accountable with the choices we make, and have to live with the consequences. Can we blame it on the “system” for choices we make.


Thoughts on a blog.

Now you  might be asking. What?

Yes. I know. I know. It’s a bit rambley but keep reading.

Why have an introspective year with great thoughts, challenges, wonderings, and growth in my self, if I can’t correctly explain myself and them “feels” across the computer from my brain to yours. I have a hard time knowing what goes into a blog from the daily life and ramblings that go on in my head. I look at other blogs and see that people are able to locate growth and other time annoyances in their life that make them ponder and go hmmm. But for me, that doesn’t really occur. I can’t find one event and make that some highlight of growth and expanding my horizon. I think if I keep adding keywords and hot topic issues that my blog will glow and become worth reading. So hear we go, maybe adding hashtags, it will seem relevant.  I mean if two other people other than my director read this, I’d consider that a success.

Over that last 5 weeks I have been living here. Well, we have done alot so far. sometimes I think we are used and wanted by everyone all at once. Thursday afternoons are for working in the community and while we have visited many different community opportunities and some stand out to us or I, the list keep growing and growing. Maybe I like this explicitly told to me of the reasons why we are shown these community grounds. But I also like to make my own choices in where and what I get to do and volunteer on Thursdays. Its a mix of doing nothing and being competely packed with things to do, places to see and people to meet. Everyone wants their own slice of a YAV. And sometimes I think we are obligated for we represent the entire Presbytery as a whole. But we are obligated to Second Pres. because they financially support us and emotionally too. If your not there, will they keep investing in the YAV experience knowing they do not benefit from it. I don’t think its bad that I can’t do everything for everyone, that turning down people is a fact of life.

I’ve officially dubbed these thoughts as limbo. And maybe this is what this year is try to convey. I don’t know.  If I was any good at actually writing a blog more questions would be answered than asked. I could talk about how the garden is, everything looks great, green and growing, and if you know why cauliflower leaves burn then perhaps you could tell me, cause I sure don’t know. But that would seem almost expected and honestly quite boring for me to talk about the work that I talk about with everyone else as soon as I explain that yes, I am a YAV and yes I work in the garden, here at Ferncliff.

And another thought in limbo. Being a YAV, around people who know about the YAV program, and those who don’t, but less so, is like being a celebrity. Sometimes we are toted around to events or groups as the only young people ( for those who don’t know, Presbyterians are often of the older generation) in the room. We represent a complete whole, for we are the young group that isn’t represented hardly at all. Sometimes we are compared to the years before YAV’s. Living in the shadow of one, whether good or bad has an interesting effect on the experience of the experience. Other times people know us before even being introduced. I guess I’m just not used to all this attention. We are the new fresh faces at church that offer a deviant from the normal life. I also think that if I answer this one question it won’t come up again (yes I know it will, tongue in cheek moment here) that yes, Arkansas is different, darn near everything is different from California, but no its not a culture shock. That, yes its a different culture, but not a culture shock.

Ending with things I’m grateful for because I realize that this entry has been slightly negative in its tone.  The garden is great and growing. Ashley is great even though I annoy the crap out of her on the daily. The house is great and huge. The camp is super beautiful. the staff is awesome and cares. The last week has been nice and cool. The duck has a bathtub. Every time I mention California I get eye rolls from the other YAVS. My new I.D is the most ridiculous thing ever. Marie is on point with being a director.

Maybe these thoughts seem arrogant or I’m a fat jerk for not being grateful of all the thing I’ve received (I am, even if I’m not great at expressing it). Or maybe this made no sense or you hate me for expressing this. That’s ok. Let me know.

And if you have made it down this far in the page. Personal plug.

Follow me on here. Or the Facebook. Or instagram: _california_chris_

Pictures from the road trip

starting left and down towards right hand column

1.Crater lake, as I approached it during the evening of day 2

2.Crater lake at night, there was a full moon

3.The ghost ship

4.The water is actually this blue.

5.More crater lake, from the west side

6.Detroit lake, Detroit, Oregon

7.Colombia Gorge

8.Craters of the Moon, National Monument

9.Top of Inferno cone, looking north

10.Looking east

11.Inferno cone southwest face

12.View from the lava tube caves

13.Old faithful, at night, Yellowstone National Park


15.East side of the park

16.The Little Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Falls

17.One of the many prismatic pools

18.Grand Tetons, National Park, Colter Bay

19.Grand Tetons at sunrise

20,21,22.Hiking to Bradley Lake

23,24.At Bradley Lake

Made it to Arkansas

I made it to Little Rock. After an adventure-full two and half weeks I arrived at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center.

To start, lets take a step back. The road trip out to Arkansas was fantastic. 9 days across 8 states, 3 national parks and 1 national monument, 3506 miles driven, 1 entire pizza eaten across 2 days, a lot of gas fill-ups, 1 bear sighting, and over 60 hours sitting in a truck that wouldn’t go faster than 78 miles an hour. I made it. Alive….And then upon arriving at 8 o’clock in the evening, I had to wake up at 3 A.M to fly to New York for orientation.

Orientation was a good time to get to know what I truly got myself into. The host camp was Stony Point Conference Center, located about an hour north of New York City, and about 20 minutes south of West Point. Our national coordinators from Louisville were there to greet us as we got settled in.  The material they presented was challenging and new and how to prepare ourselves for the upcoming year. They often referred to it as “disorientation”, a common phrase now used amongst the YAVs. But over all it was an exciting time to get to know 68 other young adults going all over the country and world and seeing what their experiences were before the orientation and during. After the week in Stony Point, we the YAVs , headed out to our placements.   

Coming to the present, Ferncliff has a wonderful house in which the YAVs stay and live in. We have had a week of camp orientation to get to know what we will be doing in the community and around the camp. The two other YAVs that I get to participate in this adventure with Ashley and Katee (pictures of us doing stuff will be coming soon). This week Little Rock has had about 90 degree temperature with about 80% humidity but today it is the first pleasant day outside. The garden and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance building are both nice and a welcome challenge to see what the future holds.


As for now

Chris Utterback


(pictures will arrive shorty)