Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Surf trips!

I've taken my first few groups of kids surfing. As usual, it's the biting cold of the water, the stinging burn of the salt, and the exhausting pull of the waves. And as usual, it's the utter exhiliration of a successful ride. I am hoarse from yelling encouragement and frostbitten from 2 hours of treading water beside the kids, but I love every minute of it. Bring on the waves! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happiness is...



 giant splashes


sunny days on the waterfront

 back rubs



doing nothing

 being surrounded

"joyful glances only"

embracing one's inner weird

(Thank you to Mary, Hamish, and Richie, Chop Point campers, for helping me write this blog post.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Girls' Night In

One of our evening activities is Girls' Night In. All the boys go out with their cabins for ice cream or a campfire, and all the girls stay at camp for some "grown-up girl bonding time". We did colorful handprint art, notes of encouragement to one another, facials, nails, friendship bracelets, and foot baths to a pleasant background of Disney music that we all sang along to.

When we'd gotten our girlishness out, we gathered together on the floor with pillows and blankets while one of the counselors shared about her teenage battle with an eating disorder. She spoke about the fears and pressures that progressively spiraled into a serious disease, fears and pressures that all teenage girls face. Then she told us how God's love slowly removed those fears and pressures and how she began to recover.

I stepped up and ended the evening with a plea for the girls to believe this simple truth: they are good enough simply because God made them and loves them. They don't need a boyfriend to affirm that they are pretty or unique; they don't need to weigh a certain amount to be accepted. God created them and He does not make mistakes, therefore not of those 30 girls is a mistake.

If the success of the evening was measured in laughter at the beginning and tears at the end, we can rate it 100% successful. And now we pray that those girls will not forget the lessons they learned as they get ready to go home.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hard work has its rewards

At Chop Point camp, each evening has a special activity - Capture the Flag, Southern Night, dodgeball, knock-out, and many others. My favorite is my own creation, Peter Pan Night. We play treasure games and make our own pirate songs and Lost Boy hideouts. We try to capture Tiger Lily and we make kids walk the plank. But before all the fun can start, we have to transform camp into Neverland.

The dining hall gets divided in 2, one half for the Lost Boys and one half for the pirates. Each has its own unique entrance.

And inside, each has its own long table, laid appropriately. For example, the pirates get candles and pitchers of rum (water) and silverware. The Lost Boys, however, are surrounded by foliage and fairy lights, and they have to barter for their silverware if they want some, trading a rock or an acorn or a flower for a fork. Otherwise, they eat with their fingers.

I spend hours prepping for the event, planning activities, collecting supplies, and assigning roles. A few hours before dinner, I close the dining hall and I request that all the "workers" report to me. From our 60+ campers, a dozen or so have jobs around camp to help keep things running. It helps the staff and it gives them a discounted stay at camp. These teenage workers run the dishwasher, the laundry services, the camp store, the lawn maintenance and whatever else we need.

On Peter Pan Night, they started working for me at 4pm and most did not stop until nearly 10pm. They decorated, they played roles in the drama, they set up the pirate ship complete with plank, they helped run the games, and when it was all over, they cleaned and put everything away. And they did it all with huge smiles, great enthusiasm and amazing attitudes.

 I love those workers. Many of them have been at camp for 3, 4, even 5 years and I have had the privilege of being part of their maturation. They have heard all my Haiti stories, my earthquake stories, my God stories, and they always seem to want more. So I jumped at an opportunity to spend some quality time with them and to reward them for their hard work on Peter Pan Night.

We set off this morning in 6 canoes and trekked across the bay to a series of little islands an hour away. I shared a mini-chapel talk about my year in Haiti, we ate snacks, climbed through poison ivy, scared a nesting bald eagle, danced on the rocks, held hands and prayed on an island that was barely large enough to hold our circle.

The day was made even more memorable by the escape of one of our canoes which floated downriver on the current and had to rescued in a valiant effort by me and 3 of our boys. We also discovered and named a new island, Mandrobby Island, in honor of its first landers, Mary, Andrew, and Robby. And we captured a snapping turtle...OK, perhaps he was already dead, but still, Leo the Snapper made everything more exciting.

We raced home against the current, through the chops, the strongest and most intense section of river near camp. The kids had been begging me to let them stay out long enough for the tide to change so the current would be moving in the right direction, but we couldn't. Besides, I knew the secret - yes, fighting the current with all your strength is hard work, but hard work has its rewards. They reaped it with Peter Pan Night, and they reaped it again when they beat the river and arrived at the dock panting but grinning from ear to ear with the exhiliration and pride of conquest.

Hard works has its rewards.