Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sittin' on the dock of the bay

Camp may be a whirlwind of frisbee and soccer and surfing and sailing and chapel and outings, but some of the best times are just sitting quietly with a few kids, talking and talking and talking.

Boston trip

I spent 3 days back in Boston last week with 2 groups of campers. We hit all the hot spots: Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, Old North Church, Paul Revere's house, the Bunker Hill Monument, Old Ironsides, the Public Garden, and the Boston Common. And we did the hottest activities: watched an evening Shakespeare performance on the Common, played in fountains, danced in gardens, rode the swan boats, ate canolis, climbed all over the jungle gym at the Children's Museum, re-enacted the midnight ride of Paul Revere and even had our own Boston Tea Party. It was a great time!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Children of the 'firmary

The infirmary is quite a hot spot especially between 9 and 10pm. Kids are coming in for evening meds, bandaids for scrapes, tweezers for splinters, warm soaks , anti-itch cream for mosquito bites, aloe for sunburns, cough drops for colds, ice packs for sports injuries, and hugs for a bad day. Sometimes I walk in and find a literal crowd outside my door.

We fill the place up. First the chairs. But what do you do when the chairs are full?

You collapse on the beds.

What do you do when the beds are full?

You collapse on the floor.

What do you do when the floor is full??

You collapse on the desk?


Saturday, July 16, 2011


I was never really popular as a teenager in the United States. Sure, I had a few friends and my teachers certainly liked me, but I always wished that I was one of those girls who was always surrounded in the cafeteria and who got invited to all the parties. My senior year of high school was probably the worst year of my life - I lost almost all my friends due to a shift in our interests - and I was happy to go off to college and never have anything to do with teens again.

Then I became a summer camp nurse. I was 22 years old, working with 60+ teenagers, and I suddenly discovered that I was popular. Kids genuinely seemed to enjoy spending time with me and talking to me. They wanted me to sit at their dinner tables and to sail in their boats. They cheered when I was added to their team or when they realized I was their van driver.

I was shocked. And quite happy.

Four summers later, I'm still the nurse at a summer camp for 60+ teenagers and every summer, I am still a little shocked to find that I'm popular. It's a mystery to me - why so many kids want to spend their free time on the infirmary beds or on the dock while I'm lifeguarding - but I take full advantage of it.

I recently heard a quote that said, "Popularity is a line of credit to be used in the act of telling the Truth." That's my summer philosophy in a nutshell. I win kids' trust, build strong loving relationships with them, and therefore I am able to speak to them about the truth of Jesus Christ.

It sounds a bit cruel and if any of my campers read this, they would probably cringe, feeling like my friendships with them are just a ploy to create preaching opportunities. But that's not true. I adore my campers; I fall madly in love with them every summer and it's their fault that I come back to Chop Point year after year. There are plenty of opportunities for Truth-telling in Haiti, plently of teens who are hurting and need God's love. But for me, missing the chance to have 3 weeks with even one of my beloved campers is intolerable. So I return.

And when I return, I tell the Truth: the Truth that my relationship with Jesus is the most exciting, most fulfilling, most comforting thing in my life. The Truth that He wants to have that same kind of relationship with every person alive.

My campers listen to me. Wide-eyed and intently, they listen to my stories. Why? Because they love me and they know that I love them. I wouldn't be telling them these things if I didn't believe with all my heart that they needed to hear them. Love wants the absolute best for us; I want the absolute best for my campers.

"Popularity is a line of credit to be used in the act of telling the Truth." I don't believe that it's an accident that my campers and I have gotten so close. I believe that it's God setting up opportunities to speak to His beloved children through me. And for that, I am deeply grateful. To have been entrusted with some of the most amazing teenagers in the world, even if it's just for a few weeks, is an honor and a privilege I do not deserve.

So I will keep telling the Truth. And pray that God will keep using me to love His children. Because in the process, I get to love them too. And that makes coming back to Chop Point more than worth it year after year after year.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Surfin' in the USA

I don't like saltwater. I grew up swimming in a half-mile wide spring-fed pond. Its water is so clean that I drink it while swimming (everyone thinks I'm insane to do that but I promise you, I've been doing it for years and I've never gotten sick!). Compared to my pond, ocean water just feels yucky. I get out all sticky and sandy and my lips feel like they've been pickled by the salt and my hair feels like it's been turned into straw. I love beach soccer and beach volleyball, building sandcastles, and walking on the beach, but I do not really enjoy anything in the water.

Until I went surfing for the first time.

Chop Point is a 40 minute drive from the Atlantic Ocean so every few days, we send a small group of campers surfing. Our instructor? Sixteen year old Sierra, a girl who has been a camper of mine for the past 5 summers and who is a camper-worker this year. She participates in all activities like a camper, but she also has the job of maintaining the boats, doing odd jobs on the dock, and leading surfing trips. And since she's too young to lead alone, I get to be the surfing chauffeur and lifeguard.

The water is frigid and I spend most of the 2 hour trips treading water alongside 4 inexperienced surfers, helping them time their rides correctly and stay safe when the waves are really high. But every now and then, a few kids will get too cold or too tired, and then Sierra and I get the chance to ride the waves too. She's fantastic; I'm very bad. But we both love it! If the water wasn't so cold and the sun so burn-able, I could do it all day.

Monday, July 11, 2011

We love summer camp!

Strawberry picking, Christmas in July, obstacle course, sailing, war paint, silly skits, ice cream flower pots (if you've never done this, it's delicious and definitely worth doing), luau, water night, mud fights...

We love summer camp!