Tomorrow morning I drive back home after yet another summer at camp. Pretty much everyone has left from the summer staff leaving camp a quiet and humbling place. This was my 6th full summer on staff here and more than most left me thinking about why I keep returning to this place. As I thought about this and my summer as whole, two things entered my mind. The first was simply an image from week one, in fact the very first day campers had arrived. Most of the summer I felt pretty consistently tired and so at the start I was questioning my motivation to be here another summer. But as I greeted kids and their parents and saw them sitting in the dining hall, chatting and smiling away I knew I had made the right decision to return.
Fast forward to week six. 215 campers. Overall craziness and chaos. Many staff and myself are just tired. And I decide to plan the most epic night of fun for my camper’s unit night. Afterwards, as the kids are eating snack, a bunch of girls and counselors straggle in with a girl who is bawling. Apparently during the game some boys had said an awful comment about this girl’s appearance. I had not noticed this girl all week but in my position as unit director I sat her down and tried my best to comfort her. As I learned what had happened I simply said, “You know we can’t control what people say but God made you beautiful just the way you are and whenever says something like that again I want you to remember that.” She calmed down a little bit after that and I hoped for the best. There was only 2 more days left of camp but the change I saw in this girl was monumental. This quiet, unassuming 11 year old who I hadn’t even noticed for 4 days was now constantly smiling. She had a blast in her week at camp.
Lots of great stuff happened this summer. Kids played games, did activities and ran around in ways they simply can’t at home. They sang songs and had spiritual moments that they have never had and may never experience in their home churches. The logical outcome of all this is very simply smiles. I worked at camp this summer. I made kids smile. That is enough for me.