Friday, July 16, 2010
So many kids, so little time
It's hard to maintain a blog when you're working at camp. My average day consists of staff meeting, many meds at breakfast, therapy sessions with homesick campers, soccer, swimming, prep for adventure trips, lunch, guard duty and blob duty, ultimate frisbee, dinner with meds, evening activities such as campfire, Capture the Flag or Harry Potter Night, many bedtime meds and finally, mercifully, bed. I love every minute of it, but I am frequently hit with the conundrum: which kids to spend my limited time with? Most of the campers are only here for 3 weeks and though I have more flexibility in my schedule than the counselors do, it is still virutally impossible to have quality time with all of them. Do I spend my time with those campers who I have known for several years, with whom I can have deep discussions about God and life? Or do I spend my time with the newbies, getting to know them and trying to win their trust?
Sometimes I can combine new kids and old kids for some real bonding activities, such as the day we had an impromptu poetry reading session in the infirmary or when we filmed an epic story about a clay camper who fell in love with a real camper. It's funny, but I can never remember how we go from awkward acquaintances on the first day of camp to best buds at the end of camp or maybe during the next summer. I remember meeting Nicole last year. This year she has told me everything about her family and her dreams for the future, but I have no idea how we got from Points A to B. Alex was a newbie last year and this year we have had many deep conversations about life and faith while icing sports injuries in a communal bucket. How did that happen?
I am a nurse, but as much as I enjoy stitching people up and draining abscesses, what truly floats my boat is relationship. I love building friendships with young people and helping them build friendships with each other. When that 17 year old boy who I've had to reprimand repeatedly for unsafe and disrespectful behavior hands me a note on the last day that says, "You're my favorite", I get chills. When a 15 year old girl who I just met sits in my room and tells me about her alcoholic father and her workaholic mother for an hour, I cry but my day is complete.
The relationship that I get most excited about seeing unfold with my campers is a relationship with a God who loves them. The majority of these kids don’t know anything about God or the Bible, but they are open to hear about it. Many of them will tell me flat out that they don’t believe in God but when I share about my experiences especially in Haiti, they listen eagerly. I tell them over and over that even if they are not ready to accept God’s love right now, I want them to know that it’s out there and that it’s good.
My campers know that I come back to Chop Point for many reasons. I come back for the gorgeous scenery and for the delicious food. I come back for activities like mud fights and cliff jumping and ultimate frisbee. I come back for parties in the infirmary with a few sick kids and a lot of healthy kids. I come back for Dodgeball Night. But most of all, I come back because I believe that God loves every camper and that He has given me a job to be a living example of His love to them. I may not get the opportunity to talk to some campers about God’s love, however, I hope that they are able to see it in the way that I interact with them. Can I demonstrate His love perfectly? Of course not. But even the kids that I have yelled at or been annoyed with this summer seem to see that there is love behind it all.
That’s why it’s hard to maintain a blog at camp. Because when given a choice between sitting with a laptop or sitting with a teenager, I will choose the teenager every time. And hopefully that choice gives the campers a little taste of how God feels about them.