Tuesday, July 27, 2010

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.

A sewerful story

On my annual trip to Boston with a group of teens from Chop Point, the common theme was a hat. It's owner was Savannah, a hilarious 16 year old on her second year at camp. She wore that hat all over the city, from Paul Revere's house to Fanueil Hall to Old North Church and eventually to Fenway Park. There the wind picked up and the hat received a little more than it had bargained for.

Savannah refused to wear the hat after its little jaunt in a Boston sewer. I insisted we bring it home, sterilize it, and keep it forever, but I think it may be buried somewhere under her cabin.

Nurse shark

I met my alter-ego at the Aquarium last week with some of the Chop Point groupies...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chop Point family reunion

It was hard to get into the swing of things at camp this year. I felt out of place and out of rhythm. Until First Session began.

With the first session came a host of repeat campers, many of whom I have known for four years. They treat me like a mix of mother, friend, big sister, coach, and nurse. One evening, as I stepped out of the infirmary yelling warnings at the troop of kids inside and hearing their joking banter aimed at me, I found the best description for my interactions at camp: family reunion. Like my extended family, we can spend many months apart but instantly rekindle the close relationships when we are brought back together. New campers are like the boyfriends and fiances that my cousins introduce and we casually insert them into the mix. I miss Haiti, but it is honestly very hard to be homesick when you're at one big family reunion.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Small world

Last week, I left camp to go buy some meds in town. As I drove down the mostly deserted road into Bath, I saw a police car sticking out of a driveway up ahead. I instantly glanced at my spedometer: 45mph. Momentary panic. What is the speed limit on this particular section of road? I think it's 45 but what if it's that little funky spot where it drops to 35?

Woosh. I zipped past and held my breath for the next 2 minutes. Nothing. I relaxed and went back to enjoying my radio music and the wind in my hair. And then I heard a siren behind me. Uh oh. I pulled over, but instead of pulling behind me, the police car came alongside mine. The officer's head poked out the window. Brace yourself.

"You're Keziah, right?"

Wait. This is not what's supposed to happen. He's supposed to say, "Do you know how fast you were going, young lady?"

"I met you at the music festival at Chop Point, remember? You helped take care of me when I was sick."

Hmm, yes, he does look familiar. Very very vaguely familiar.

"Are you doing OK?" he asks kindly.

Does he know about the earthquake or is he just asking generally? Better give the generic "I'm OK, tired, but OK."

"Well, you have a great summer and I'll see you around."

Sure...What just happened??

Well, after I told everyone at camp about my morning experience, I was enlightened. The officer is named Jamie and he attends the little church in North Woolwich where many former Chop Point staffers have been following my blog posts and praying for me since the quake. I did indeed meet him and take care of him 2 years ago at the music festival at the end of the summer. But I'm still not sure how he so quickly realized that it was me cruising past in a little white car with a Kentucky license plate...