Friday, July 03, 2009
Summer Camp love
When I was a young girl, I recall collecting stamps for camp each Sunday I was in Sunday School. At the beginning of summer break it was each child's goal to fill up the coupon book to earn a discount for summer camp.
Ahh... summer camp. For me this was my only understanding of a summer holiday in the classic sense of things. We were not poor, by any means, but we were not the type of family that went to Florida on spring break either.
Summer camp represented many things for me: adventure, independence, new friends, a culturally diverse community, art projects at the craft shack, singing by the campfire and swimming. Oh how I loved swimming!
Then beyond all the bug juice and taco lunches was the time and space to unplug from life at home (once the homesickness wore off) and really listen to God speaking into my life.
There are moments from camp that still seem tangible to me. One summer, the theme was, "I wanna be a hero." - spinning off of the Steve Taylor song by the same name. The pastor talked about people want to be perfect, or at least good at SOMETHING. I remember that summer in particular,feeling very awkward and clumsy. Did I mention that I turned my ankle the first afternoon that I'd arrive and was on crutches the whole time? Yes I was clumsy and awkward, but I recognized through speaker's words and actions that I was loved by God. Crutches and all.
I think if I wrote all the things I loved about Camp, I'd be able to write a book. To be honest some of the best and worst times of my life seem anchored around camp life.
Things like: my first "real" kiss, being at a camp session the few days before my sister passed away (I was sent home to see her in hospital.), my initial exposure to worship music/drama being fluid and spirit led, meeting and making real friends, and learning so much about God wanting to be involved with my life - the every day real and not so easy parts of my life too.
Sometimes I think the reason I work in youth ministry has a great deal to do with summer camp and the people who I met there. Big Ben the lifeguard taught me to swim in the deep end of the pool, stoic but caring Dan Frank directed the camp I grew up, Joy the counselor helped me work through the loss of my sister, and the fun continued when I was finally old enough to volunteer to work a summer camp at the age of fifteen.
Yesterday I went to the office to work out some applications for kids to get to summer camp. It was good to get that accomplished, not just because it's part of my job, but summer camp and how God works through it made a distinct and positive difference in who I am today.
As I walked into the camp office yesterday to deliver the completed forms, I had happy butterflies dancing in my tummy. I smiled as I walked out the office door with my mission complete. I fell in love with summer camp when I was seven years old, and that love has never left me.
Isn't that like God, to wrap up his love in a way we can receive it and to only later understand where the gift came from. For me, summer camp is that venue of God's love that made all the difference in my life.
This difference is one I'm still fighting for others to have too.
If you live in the Chautauqua county area and know of a child/teen who would do well to become connected with a camping ministry, check our LCLC on Lake Chautauqua. Maybe you can help someone else learn to love summer camp, and get to better know God who uses camping programs to express his love to all his children, even the clumsy ones on crutches.