Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer Church Camp...

The counselors Erin Served alongside's something every kid should experience. I really believe this. Erin just returned from spending six days (or 117 hours!) with kids in grades three through six. Courtney led the way for our family in this area, she was the first of our children to transition from camper to counselor. She gave some time each summer to be a counselor for elementary school kids, then middle school kids, and two years she even served at both camps - back to back!

Before long, Zach was old enough to be a counselor and took the same path; elementary one year, middle school the next. This year Erin wasn't quite old enough to be a counselor at the elementary camp, but she was old enough to be a counselor in training. (This meant she was assigned as an extra counselor to a cabin, but didn't sleep in the cabin and needed to be flexible to help other cabin groups as needed.)

Messy Games
Counselors give A LOT. When its hot, (and it was in the 100's this past week) everyone wants to complain. Not only do counselors not complain, they lead the way in finding the "awesomeness" in sweltering weather! They engage, play, swim, sing, dance, pray, get messy, get eaten by mosquitoes, laugh, eat, develop heat rash, encourage, talk with, guide and lead kids, with almost no time off (one hour a day, and most used part of that hour to shower) And, I'm just gonna be honest here, most kids are a delight, some are not. But counselors find ways to take delight in every kid. I'm talking  e v e r y  kid.

The "Blob"
If you sent your kid to camp, you know they talked the WHOLE way home! Well, guess what, mine did too. Erin talked all about "her girls". She talked a lot about one in particular. She talked about how sweet this girl was, how they encouraged her to do some of the "scary" stuff, like the Blob, the zip line, and HUGE swing.

She told us that this girl had so many stories to tell, and she listened to each and every one of them. Erin truly enjoyed talking to her all week, she said, this girl just had so much to say! At one point the girl thanked Erin for listening to her and apologized for talking so much; she said she didn't want to waste Erin's time. Erin replied, "You're not wasting my time! This is why I'm here." She thanked Erin and told her that every time they talked, Erin made her feel special. So, yes, my daughter, that is why you were there. Well done, good and faithful counselor.

Teaching & worship time
Erin ended up with another group who needed her help one evening and one girl was sad about something. She was sitting next to Erin during teaching and worship time and put her head on Erin's shoulder. Then she nestled in a little closer as tears ran down her cheeks. Erin put her arm around her, then the girl put both her arms around Erin and started crying. (Now tears ran down Erin's face.) This girl was simply missing her dad as knew he was leaving for two weeks while she was at camp. But Erin was there to hold her in that sadness. She said she felt honored to be there. Honored. She was glad that group had needed her that particular evening.

Amazing, exhausted, dedicated counselors
How many times have I dismissed something my kids needed from me? Comfort, time to listen to a story, time to play and swim and pray and dance and more. We all do, none of us can meet every need of each of our children. This is just one more reason to send our kids to camp. There are counselors there to do all of that and more with a mission and a focus. And they show up to do all of that with each and every child who arrives at camp. I know this. Remember, I have three kids that have been counselors and I know many of the youth from our church who come to these camps year after year.

Erin came home with a rash on her belly, back and thighs, laundry that smells terrible and she is exhausted. She also came home a stronger leader, a more equipped counselor, more confident and is even bolder in her own faith.

Today I saw this posted one her Facebook: "At camp I prayed with a girl as she accepted Jesus for the first time. From that moment on every other thing that week was totally worth it...God is amazing!"

God is amazing. I'm so proud of you Erin.

Look for me to write here soon about Zach's 
time as a middle school counselor this summer...

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post, Sheri.... and more importantly, I love that your kids are serving as counselors at these awesome camps! I was just telling Pat and some of the other ladies in the office that I definitely grew as a camper at Camp Lakewood and Camp Adventure (I actually accepted Christ in 3rd grade at Lakewood!), but I grew 10 times more as a counselor in both of these places! :) I loved that Erin was at Aaron's first camp (and my Aaron is covered in heat rash, too.... I don't love that part quite as much!) ;)


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