For the last 3 months, it’s been all about FNR and with only 15 days before we set sail, I am nervous about taking a week off to counsel a week of church camp. Having been a high school youth sponsor at my church for many years, the kids don’t intimidate me. It’s just that there are so many last minute boat projects to complete. Should I be taking a week off?
Wait a minute. I am retired. I do not work. I do not need to “take” a week off. I can just go. I leave Steve with a massive honey-do list and head to Camp Caroline in Arapahoe, NC.
I know most of the counselors…my son, a couple of my former youth group girls, various adults I’ve met at regional youth events over the years. I don’t know many of the kids…yet.
There are six girls in my cabin. I have the older girls – 5 juniors and 1 senior. They arrive, and we introduce ourselves. Anxious to say hello to the friends they haven’t seen in a while, they hurriedly unpack and head out the door. We gather as a large group to listen to our first keynote. Then, we break out into small groups to discuss what we heard. There are 11 kids and 2 counselors in our small group. We introduce ourselves. We’re an hour in and I have 17 names to learn. Seeing as how I can’t call my own kids by the right name half the time, I’m a little overwhelmed. Oh well, thank goodness for name tags.
Our day starts at 7:30 in the morning and ends at 11:30 at night. We eat surprisingly tasty camp food. We sing lots of camp songs. We participate in interest groups. We swim, sail, swing, play games and just hang out. We even get Horizontal Time (AKA nap time)!! We have a Talent Show and end the week with an all-camp dance despite an all-camp power outage.
I enjoy watching a budding camp romance. I hear a lot of laughter and witness very little drama. These kids absolutely love being at camp.
We have two keynotes a day, and the theme for the week is about being a good neighbor in a multi-faith society. The morning keynote revolves around various “neighborly” scriptures. At night, we learn about some of the world’s other religions. Hearing about the tragic shootings in Charleston, we commit to accepting and embracing our differences. We end the week knowing what it means to be a good neighbor. These kids are remarkably insightful and not surprisingly, they teach me way more than I teach them.
At our closing worship, someone asks me to share my “highs” for the week. Suffering from sleep deprivation, I can’t think of any so I ask for time to reflect. Several afternoon naps and full nights of sleep later, my “highs” look like this:
- Care? Bears!!
- Things that glow
- Small group meditation. We really got into it!!
- Three honorable mentions and one outright win for the daily cabin clean up competition. All I did was make my bed so kudos to Patricia and Nora!!
- Things on screen. You can NOT watch The Blind Side too many times.
- Miss Pauline’s cinnamon rolls
- Things with talent
- Jokes that are so corny they make pirate jokes hilarious
- Not cheating during the Camper / Counselor kickball game
- Not forgetting my Prayer Partner’s name during the PP circle
- Uncontrollable giggling at inappropriate times. Emmi. Mallory. Diane.
- Things we celebrate
- Spending the week with my son and proudly watching him connect and interact with Every. Single. Kid.
Exhausting yet rejuvenating, camp is a well spent week off.