I have survived my first two weeks working at Camp Ladore for the summer. You would think that since it is my third year in a row at camp, nothing would phase me. And yet, here on sit on my break day absolutely exhausted and thinking over all of the funny, sad, and interesting things that have happened to me this past week.
When I am at camp, I often get so caught up in my own exhaustion, my own frustrations and my own selfish attitude that I forget that I am there for the campers and to allow them to have fun. I have had to learn to “let things go” and not just keep my children in a straight line, punishing them for anything that they may have done wrong. I have to continually ask myself, “Is this camper having fun?” “Are they learning anything?” And if the answer is yes, then I have to learn to let them be…even if they haven’t done exactly what I would expect them to do.
Week 1 I had a little girl in my cabin who was an absolute riot. She was the slowest child I have ever seen, and nothing I could say would make her walk faster. She ate her spaghetti one noodle at a time. She wouldn’t leave her towel until there was not a wrinkle left in it. She would only take off one sock at a time. If you asked her to do something, she would just knit her brows together and say “I won’t!”. Or she would say, “I’m gonna go this way.” She was the funniest little thing. One day, Jack the nurse was asking her questions and she randomly burst out ‘I weigh 60 pounds but my brother weighs 54!’ And then Jack asked her how tall she was, and she said, “I’m 7!” It was really cute. But despite how cute she was, there seemed to be something wrong. She seemed to be really intelligent and yet it did not seem to ‘be all there’. She seemed to have a very rough home life and it just broke my heart. As hard as she was to deal with, I did not want her to go home on the last day.
Or what about the campers who said that they couldn’t use crayons on their Father’s Day cards because their dads are in jail, and jails do not let writing in crayons in because there could be drugs in the crayons.
The greatest moment I have had at camp so far was on Saturday afternoon, when I was able to lead one of my campers to Christ. During devotions, I talked to the whole cabin about sin, and how that equals death. But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. They all fidgeted and nodded their heads and answered the questions correctly. But I could tell that they didn’t really get it. One girl, however, really got it. I could tell that she really understood what her sins where and what she needed to do to accept Christ. So I let all the other girls go outside and play and I was able to pray with her! I felt so joyful, and at that moment like everything that I ever did at camp was worth that one child who is now eternally saved!!!!!!
There are, of course, funny things that happen to me at camp as well. Working with children is never dull, and these children certainly do not fail this! There was my camper this past week who had the biggest belly I have ever seen on a child, and we found out on day three that she had not pooped yet. The poor thing was so constipated and would not eat anything with fiber in it. We just laughed and laughed while we tried to convince to her to poop. Or there was the boy camper who got into a canoe and then started SCREAMING because there was a spider in the boat. He was just yelling and screaming for his mom, even after another child had killed the spider. Or the camper that wore a dress that looked like Dora the Explorer had gotten into a fight with a leopard, and nobody knew who had won. After the children went to bed, we pulled it out to take a few pictures of it. I couldn’t resit trying it on. Every counselor that was there was in hysterics when I put the entire outfit on.
Continue to keep me in your prayers as I work at this camp and try to show the love of Christ to children who do not often receive this love at home.