Saturday, June 25, 2011

WBR Tour 2011 -- Missouri to Colorado, and HOME

It's so weird to imagine that my last year as a Wesley Bell Ringers is coming to an end. It seems like just yesterday when I was 15 years old and had just joined the choir.

Being a Wesley Bell Ringer has taught me so much. I have developed leadership, social skills, team work and, of course, grown up. Each year I have learned more and more how to become a harder worker and how to set an example for the group.

The friendships that develop in the choir make the experience even better. It has been truly amazing knowing so may Wesleys with so many different personalities.

Going on two week tours each summer is also one of the best parts of the choir. We get to travel to different parts of the U.S. Throughout these 5 years, I have been to about 43 states.

It's so neat staying at host homes each night. It's interesting learning about each family.

Some people would wonder how we put up with each other for two weeks on a bus. However, the bus is one of the best parts of tour. We get to socialize, play games, watch movies, sleep and, of course, pass the junk food!

A few of my favorite places I've traveled to are: Pensacola Beach, Fl.; the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham, Alabama; performing at the Cathedral of the Pines in New Hampshire; touring New York City; visiting Canada; participating in the Area VI Handbell Festival in Tucson, Az.; Disneyland; river rafting; Washington D.C.; a Cardinals/Phillies baseball game; seeing family in Lawrence, Kansas; and so many more.

Being a Wesley Bell Ringer has been an incredible honor and experience that will be with me for the rest of my life.

Kaelyn Walzel, Super Senior

This choir is one of the most meaningful things that has happened to me. You have all shaped me in ways that I cannot even describe. Getting to know all of you has been some of the happiest moments of my life. You are all part of my family. We've had our discordant moments, but we've always risen above our differences and come together as a choir. I love you all so much and it hurts me beyond words to be leaving the choir. But I will still be around and if I can leave you with one last piece of advice: Hold on to the memories you made in Bells for they are more precious than any souvenir you might buy. I will remember all of you and you all have a special place in my heart

Eric Conrad, Senior

These past four years have been the most memorable years of my life. They've been filled with both good and bad times, mostly good though. I will never forget my time in the choir fobeen more like a family to me. When I was having a bad day, I could always count on the choir to be there for me and to make me feel welcome and wanted. I'm really going to miss coming to rehearsals and performing for people. It has brought such joy to see how our music moves and affects people. I love you all and will miss you like no other.: (

Luke Weiben, Super Senior

Believe it our not, we are STILL having fun. We've took on St. Louis, including a trip up in the arch; (How many bell ringers can you squeeze into a tiny travel pod? Five) a visit to a brewery; and a baseball game (Phillies 4, Cardinals 0). Today we are happy to be back in the West, Colorado, where the heat is bearable and the sky is blue! Mostly, were all excited to come HOME!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

WBR Tour 2011 -- Maryland to Kentucky

Westerville, Ohio

Picnic Day in Kentucky. Time to frisbee, mini-golf, canoe, paddleboat, run around. Great day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Reflections on being a Wesley Bell Ringer

When I first joined bells, I won't lie, I was extremely nervous. What will it be like? Will I fit in? Or will I even have fun? When I started my first day, I was scared. But as I kept coming back and experiencing what bells is, I really enjoyed it! At first, I had to highlight my notes because I had no idea what to do. Now I don't have to do that and I get my notes right 99% of the time. I have made some true friends. The choir is like my second family. I can go to them for everything. The first time I found out how close everyone is was when we were grieving for Andy. I'd met her once, but that was all. And it was cool to me to see how much everyone loved her. The sad thing was she didn't notice the love around her. To me it is good to know how much everyone really loves each other. We love each other as a family! Since we've been on tour I've had so much fun. Performing is exciting, to say the least. You get the greatest feeling when you know you've played your best. I've loved hanging out with everyone and I've definitely learned to not get annoyed with people in such a small space. It's been overall one of the best experiences of my life! There is a bond growing between me and the choir that I'd never give up for anything.
Jessica Stanley, first year ringer

More Reflections...

It feels like yesterday that I joined the bell choir as an awkward teenager. And now, as my final tour is almost over, I am grown up. I don't feel like I've changed all that much, but I know that I must have matured and become more sentient. I've seen all but three of the United States; made the best friends I will probably ever have; and am fortunate enough to be in the choir with my younger brother and see him grow. I've been a member of other groups: Scouts, music ensembles, sports teams. None of them even come close in comparison, in my mind, to the bell choir. I've had the best and worst experiences from this organization, and they are experiences I wouldn't trade for the world!

Josh Mangelson, supersenior

Saturday, June 18, 2011

WBR Tour 2011 -- Morehead NC to Chesterfield VA to Herndon VA to Washington DC

Hi Everyone from the Chaperones,

The kids are well and playing terrific concerts to very enthusiastic audiences. The comments have been so positive. Many have said how touched and awed they feel after listening to the music this choir plays. We are very proud of them.

Of course, we are actually having fun, too. We visited a museum in Beaufort, NC, with treasure from the pirate Blackbeard; we visited Thomas Jefferson's home, Montecello (beautiful); and spent two days negotiating Washington DC, including mastering the Metro system to see the monuments and museums. You won't believe how much fun it is to herd 28 teenagers and 9 adults through the Metro subway, but, hey, they are all still with us.

Blackbeard exhibit, Beaufort, NC

First Baptist Church, Morehead City, NC

Chesterfield, VA


The White House -- far away... Riding the Metro subway.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

WBR Tour 2011 -- Atlanta to Charleston to Surfside Beach

Downtown Charleston, SC

Pirate Museum, Beaufort NC

Myrtle Beach, SC

Kayaking in South Carolina

In the hotel in Georgia, it was pouring rain and me, Haley, Alicia, Desi, Luke, Josh F. , Jeff and Larni played in the rain for a long time! It was so fun!

Georgia rain is heaven...

Grace United Methodist Church, Charleston SC
Last night's concert was where the prayer really hit me. It made me think of the future and what could happen.

Southern people are so great and always so willing to help...
Surfside Methodist Church, SC

Our first host family served Ed and me and two boys, Jeff and Matt, a big southern breakfast. Eggs, ham, pancakes, grits and orange juice. We enjoyed!

The dolphins were amazing and the guides were really chill, [while sea kayaking] which is nice in the muggy heat!

The Pool Party with 19 bell kids and the youth from the church was so fun! Especially after playing an amazing concert.

So much fantastic food and hospitality...

When they say southern hospitality they mean it! Everyone was so nice and welcoming, which helped with an amazing concert.
Hayley F.