Camp ended yesterday closing yet another chapter in my relative nomadic life. It was an amazing summer as I will relate shortly but it also continued my rather consistent pattern of going someplace temporarily, meeting awesome people and then leaving for an extended period. South Africa, Czech Republic and Camp have been some of the best and fulfilling parts of my life. But when they have ended I have realized how fleeting the time really is and how important the people I have met in those places are.
Summing up this summer is hard. In many ways it defies explanation. But as I was thinking about it one thing popped up in my head repeatedly and surprisingly enough that was the word “Beds.” Let me explain.
I arrived at Camp the day before Memorial day about two weeks before most of the summer staff arrived. My expectation was to do a few odd jobs around camp but mostly plan chapels and cabin bibles in my air conditioned office. My director had other plans. For the first week a few counselors and myself helped complete an entire inventory and massive rearranging of beds in camp. There were new wooden bunks that needed to be screwed together and old metal ones that needed to be (re)moved. We needed to find the optimal arrangement to fit as many as possible in each cabin and to get rid of all the old terrible ones. When we were done we took two huge trailer loads of beds to the scrap yard. It was hard work. In the end we had about 370 beds I never wanted to touch again. Of course that’s not what happened.
Each week I had to place kids in cabins by their age and gender. Doing head and bed counts were a vital part of this puzzle. It was pretty smooth until week six when with nearly 200 kids (and 80 staff), we realized some creative bed placement needed to happen. Sure enough my fellow unit director and I found ourselves in the minutes before kids arrived scrambling to move bunks into cabins where singles did not suffice. It was a sweaty afternoon.
And finally today with only 20 people in camp a few fellow counselors and I moved some final bunks around to get to the original number we had reached in June. I really don’t want to carry a bed again in my life. Beds can seem like a random theme to grab onto after a crazy, fast-paced summer but I think my experience with beds really exemplified my postion.
For the first time I was in a position of leadership at camp. All roles require some ability and result in growth in leadership of course but this was really a step in a new direction for me. The biggest difference here was how often I was totally behind the scenes. And few things are more behind the scenes than beds. When you go some place do you think about the bed? Maybe you are worried about how it will feel but if you paid for a hotel room you’re not going to worry about there being a bed in the room. Of course there will be one. And that is the attitude that 1,100 campers had this summer. They were excited or worried about a million things about camp, but having a bed to sleep on probably didn’t cross their mind.
This summer I planned games, activities, chapels and cabin bibles. I dealt with homesick and problem campers one on one. I drove sick campers to the doctor and various staff to pick up or drop off points. And I made sure that every kid had a bed to sleep on. All behind the scenes. It wasn’t always fun or easy. It was certainly different than the camp experiences I had had before. But regardless of the changes, camp was still amazing. Kids and staff lives were changed this summer so much for the better. I wasn’t always directly involved, in fact most of the time I wasn’t. But I played a role in the great picture of the body of Christ that camp was this summer and for that I’m overwhelmingly grateful.