Last week I went to church camp for the first time.
I volunteered to be a camp counselor for our church’s youth group during senior high week.
We’ve gone to the same church for fifteen years, and I always knew that the teens there went to church camp each summer, but it wasn’t until my kids were old enough for youth group (and I had
in signed up to be a youth leader) that I realized HEY! I can go, too!
As you know, I’m not much of a camper. My top ten dislikes involve everything that camping stands for:
- Camp chairs
- Cooking over a fire
- Bugs and other wild animals
- Being dirty
- The woods
- Being outside
My top ten likes? Oh, very well:
- Climate control
- Not being sweaty
- Feeling clean
- Real beds
- Non-folding furniture
- Walking around, knowing that you won’t step in poop, or on something that’s already dead, or squish something that is living
- Red Vines
- Being inside
Because of this very established set of dislikes that was set pretty early in life, I haven’t camped very much. As a kid I went to sleep away camp for a night or two here and there, but not a whole week.
Anyway, the time was right and I offered to go based on my qualifications of 1) being an adult, 2) having the required clearances to work with students, and 3) already being a youth leader anyway to join the ranks of camp counselors for our church, but only if they needed me. I didn’t want to take the place of someone who was chomping at the bit to go along to camp. And guess what?
They needed me.
To tell the truth I was sort of excited about going to camp because although I’m not much of a risk taker, I was curious about this whole camp thing. After all, the literal dozens of people who love camping can’t all be insane. Plus, I knew this camp included things like “hotel” and “beach”, so it wasn’t really a stretch to envision myself staying there for a week. I packed my bags and beach chair, and away we went.
And it was pretty amazing. Awesome, even. Like, on the last day I found myself thinking, eh, I wouldn’t hate it if we had to stay another couple days.
Did it help that there were other adult friends around to talk to and share with? Yes. Did it help that the kids who surrounded us were awesome and fun and funny and friendly and open and generally great people? Yes. Did it help that we slept in a hotel-like building with air conditioning and that we ate hot meals at a table each day with real silverware and there was indoor plumbing and hello, the beach, too?
There were so many other reasons why this particular week at camp was so great, such as watching relationships among teens I know and love bond and gain strength, laughing so hard I nearly peed in my pants while avoiding getting beaned in the head during a seriously aggressive dodgeball tournament, and hearing speakers talk about God and faith and love, and even listening to some pretty great Christian music (even though I’m not much of a fan in general).
And this, nearly every night:
It only took thirty years, but I finally made it to summer camp.
It was worth the wait.
This post inspired by:
Prompt #2: Show us a summer sunset!