It’s currently 9:31 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Right now, I should be telling parents how much money their camper has left in their canteen account (which is, 90% of the time, a whopping zero dollars), whether or not they need to talk to the camp nurse, and where they can pick up their luggage. If it were a weekday, I would be teaching kids how to do archery, how to put on knee pads, or how to tie a bunch of knots that would ultimately result in either a really cool friendship bracelet or a really tangled mess that the kid doesn’t realize looks completely different than it is supposed to.
Instead, I am sitting in my kitchen at home with a cup of coffee from my French press, my Bible, my journals, a bowl of maple and brown sugar oatmeal, and my laptop. I am majorly out of my routine.
Everything is weird. But everything is good.
Leaving camp is something that I have loved/hated for the past two years. I absolutely LOVE camp. I love the ministry that it has and the impact that it has on kids by God’s grace. I love the people there and I love that my bosses are also my friends. I love that my personal appearance is the last thing I’m ever worried about. I love that I get to live on a lake and tag along on boat rides in my free time and paint ceilings and sing songs and play tag with kids and get paid for all of it. I love seeing the ways that God provides even when we have no idea how things are possible. I love that it feels normal to have paint or stickers all over my face and speak in weird accents and that sometimes I feel like I’m giving the most glory to God when I’m making an utter fool of myself.
I love camp.
But I also love the life that is not camp. I love seeing the changes that God made in me and in others come into the “real world.” I love grocery shopping with my mom and eating ice cream with my dad. I love that I get to move into a house with my best friend in five days. I love telling people about the things I experienced this summer and listening to their stories. I love taking showers without shoes on. I love sitting on the front porch with my grandma and grandpa. I love knowing that God works in places that aren’t camp, too.
Sometimes leaving camp is really hard. I think in one way or another, it always is. But this time, I have peace about the transition. God has shown me so many things about myself and about him this summer, and one of the biggest ones is that he is constant and he will provide. Though so many things change around me and in me, God remains the same, and so does the identity that I have as his beloved child.
As one of my friends said, I think it’s impossible to leave a whole summer working at camp without being changed. Sometimes those changes are more obvious than others. Sometimes they require real life actions. For me, these changes involved quitting some things in my life that were taking up time that I could be using more effectively. They involved making decisions to get rid of things that weren’t necessarily bad, but also weren’t glorifying to God. They involved a shift of my priorities and of my views on what it means to serve others and to serve God. I am so different than I was two months ago. I am completely different than I ever expected to be. I am so thankful for that. God is shaping me into a person that I could not have imagined. Camp is a huge part of all of this and I am so thankful for the privilege of being called there though I was not equipped. As one of my bosses/friends often says, God works in spite of us. Half the time I had no idea how to do my job, but God saw my meager efforts and my mistakes and did whatever he was going to do anyways. I love that about God.
Our theme at camp this summer was “Life Mysterious.” I don’t think there could have been a more perfect theme for this summer for kids or for myself. It was a great theme to make cheesy jokes about all the time, but those cheesy jokes were often also very relevant. It was fun to be able to tell kids that our schedule was part of their “life mysterious” whenever they wanted to know what we were going to do next. However, our theme became so real when a nine-year-old boy that I never thought would listen to me became one of my best pals and wanted to hold my hand every time we walked somewhere. He also called me Kenneth and ate Cheetos at 7:30 a.m. It was adorable. Uh, anyways… It became so real when the job I had, which was intended to be done by four people, was somehow managed by the two of us that God provided for the summer along with some gracious volunteers who arrived at the perfect times. It became so real when so many of the staff members who were new to camp this summer absolutely knocked their jobs out of the park and made camp that much better. It became so real when I felt God leading me to quit activities that have been a far bigger part of my life than they should have. It became so real when I was instructed to memorize the Beatitudes before school started and they hit me exactly where they needed to on the day I began doing so. The “Life Mysterious” theme became so real in so many instances throughout the summer. The Holy Spirit’s work was evident. At the end of the summer it was suggested to us as summer staff to begin making a list of where we could recognize the Holy Spirit in the things that happened at camp this summer. I had never done anything like that before, so I didn’t really know where to start. But as I began trying to figure it out, I realized that it was obvious. The list went on and on and on. I love the way that God’s glorious mystery is revealed to us in tiny, tiny chunks as he works. We will never know everything, but we will always get to know a little more as we seek God. I love that I don’t know everything about God. I love that I don’t know what my life will be like in five years at all. I love that God has shown me enough of himself to make me want to constantly know more. I love that no matter how much I get the privilege of learning throughout my life, I will never have it figured out. I love that God has placed me at camp for the past two summers and I love the role that camp has played in shaping my life.
Camp is the best summer job I could dream of. I am so thankful for the opportunity to do the things I’ve done for the past two summers, and to learn so, so much. I am also so excited to do the things that God is calling me to over the next year until I hopefully get to return to camp for my third summer. For now, as I enter into my junior year of college, I have peace in the unknown because I know it will provide challenges and situations that will allow me to learn more about this mysterious God I serve and the mysterious life I get to live each day.
“We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:7