Here is what happened this summer in numbers:
I lived in 3 different cabins
Over the course of 8 weeks (plus 2 weeks training)
With 4 different co-counselors
And 41 different girls
I woke them up 40 mornings
Made sure they were on time to 36 morning exercises
Ate 132 meals
Watched 12 summer life nights
Instructed 24 days of swimming and competitions
Cheered them on at 18 meets
Timed their 32 showers
And sang at 44 dining hall singings that needed to be over after 1 song, but went on for 3 more, with 19 “down-in-my-heart”‘s
I had the privilege of going through Casparis cave 5 times, and rafting one time, camping at Camp Carmel 6 times.
And those are just the numbers
I worked 4 terms, which was 4 2-week sessions with 9-11 girls each time (averaging 10.25) in my cabin, along with one co-counselor.
Let me tell you, I loved those girls. I was on my knees for them on daily basis. I poured out every ounce of energy inside of me, and when I came up empty (read: 10 o’clock in the morning some days), God was more than enough for me. And along the way I managed to have a blast as I occasionally pretended to be a cave man, Mr. Beaver (from Narnia), and a camp counselor (Just kidding, that was real life). I also did some side things, like stuff a brownie in a girl’s mouth, pushed kids into the pool, and danced around in the morning to wake them up and so much more.
I learned so much about life while I was there. The first thing that comes to mind is marriage. Go figure that at a summer camp I learned about marriage. But it makes a lot of sense, I spent 2 weeks with 10 or so kids, with another (girl) counselor. We were the ones who were responsible for their wellbeing the majority of the time. I lived along one other person, and we had to be consistent about everything, and really sensitive about how to love and support them, and each other. I learned when we had really difficult kids how important it is to invest in our relationship as “parents” , because when it’s all about the kids, we get exhausted and stressed and at the end of the day, when they all leave, there isn’t a relationship to show for the fact that we just spent 2 weeks doing life together.
I learned a lot about God too. I got to see a glimpse of what he sees. I saw kids blatantly ignore what we were saying and the rules we had set for them. I realized that I do the same thing to God. He tells me to do things, and I flat-out ignore him. As I continued to vigorously dive into the bible, I came to the realization that every single law that God set for us is solely for our protection – so that we could live life to the full. And those were the rules we set for the kids: don’t throw rocks, wear shoes, eat your vegetables etc, so that they would avoid the possible consequences: concussions, splinters, and constipation.
I learned what it means to do something whole heartedly. It is so easy for me to try to do something, but give up before I’ve fully exerted myself so that if I fail, I have the comfort of knowing that I could’ve tried harder, and wasn’t actually a failure. I started the summer with that attitude, and it sucked. When we were getting trained for high adventure (rock climbing, repelling etc.), we had to do the activities so we could practice on each other. I think I made it 2 steps up the tall rock wall (it’s a difficult wall), and then I gave up because I didn’t feel like failing. As time at camp went on, I saw what it looked like to try your hardest and fail, and become a better person because of it (maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time refereeing the 3rd/4th grade girls competitions, and repeatedly telling them to put their all into whatever activity they were doing). Mid summer, on the day between terms, I decided to try it again, and I decided I was going to put my all into it, because that is when God is most glorified. And I did. And I got almost half way up. I was so proud of myself in that moment, to see that kind of progress. But I didn’t stop it there. During the last term, when no kids were at the rock wall, I got another counselor to belay me. And I freaking climbed all the way to the top. It was so glorious! To see how God had really changed my heart about what it means to glorify him in my everyday actions, but then how strong I got over the summer was pretty sweet!
And at the end of the day, my summer was about grace. It was only by the grace of God that I am alive, that I was accepted to be a counselor, that God would satisfy this desire of my heart (I’ve wanted to do this since I was in 3rd grade). It is by grace the many times I was able to share the gospel with middle school girls, and to live it out every.single.day. It is by grace that God would even consider using the words from my unclean mouth to speak truth into their lives. It is by grace that God provided 4 co-counselors that really got me, and were so easy to work with. It is by the grace of God that I got to live in the woods in community. It is by his grace that I spent time in his creation, stargazing every night, caving, camping, hiking, and swimming in various bodies of water.
I’ve realized that this is probably way longer than it needs to be, but it does not contain nearly as many things as I wish I could share. I guess the moral of the story is that you can’t put 2.5 months into words, and God is good.