Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lessons from Wildflowers

The field at camp = guns, bows and arrows, slingshots, tomahawks, campfire, flag, and games.
This field at night = tons and tons of stars, shooting stars, and the milky way.                                                         Photo Credit: L.A.Birdie
Being on staff at camp you learn a lot. Ten years of staff teaches you a whole-lotta-stuff. I can organize super-exciting games, or wash a few dozen dishes before the soundtrack to Prince of Egypt finishes, and I'm decent with a range of random weapons (though I still suck at tomahawk). With only a few prompts I could sing roughly 2gillion-hours of silly songs for campfires or van rides (to say nothing of the hymns). I've also got a good repertoire of skits involving good morals and/or dog pee. This summer's DaddyAndDaughter camp taught true fatherly love is expressed when wearing a lopsidedly-bedazzled-cowboy-hat. And every summer Mss. Posie/Cheif instills some of her wisdom and staff-isms in us, concepts like: "Hard fun" and "The night is a whole 'nother day" and "John-boy --What a man!"

Here (in no particular order) are some lessons of a summer-camp-staff-girl:

Showers are not entirely necessary. At a certain point you are coated in enough sweat, soot, sap, and dirt that being one with the earth simply ceases to phase you. Around that point you may be serenaded with "Little black things" more often, but right up until you really really smell bad (or rather smell worse than everyone else) showering is not entirely needed. Especially since jumping in a salty/chemically Pool/Ool is a nearly equivalent to bathing, right?  It rinses off poison ivy and leaves you less dirty, that counts for something.

To follow that up though, showering is a wonderful, blessed, exciting, rewarding thing to do every now and then. You never take a hot shower for granted at camp and any shower over 3 minutes is particularly gratitude-worthy. (As is an extra 7 minutes of sleep). Showers are few and far between, and the chance to shave your legs even more so, but that makes it one of the most amazing feelings when you can finally have smooth-non-tarzan-legs for a few days. Everything is more exciting at camp, even the everyday: hot showers, cold drinks, sleep, food, clean clothes, all those rare wonders we happy-dance for at camp. Real life could use a little more of that gratitude and excitement.

Camp is for the campers is practically a motto of staff. We hear and say it all the time as a reminder. It's simple, it's obvious, but it's also important. I've been a part of other ministries where this guiding principle seems to have been forgotten, where those they are suppose to serve were not the top priority, instead of being there for those they were aiming to serve the organization itself took center stage, or the staff, or a concept like "God's will". (And while I fully support God's will being central, you are not running a ministry for it, you are ministering to those who need your ministry.  If you forget that camp is for the camper, or your group is for the students, or your organization for those in need, it never turns out as well as it could.

"God Does Things" is painted above the door in the dinning hall at camp, three words to sum up why the staff subject ourselves to blood-sucking-bugs, nearly no sleep, very few showers, and endless piggy-back-rides when our backs and bodies would honestly just prefer a nap. Because at camp it is so much easier to see God do things. I've seen him do things the rest of the year too, but everything is more intense in the wilderness. Everything gets louder and you have more time to marvel at all that God does. The same God who lead the Israelites on dry land across the Red Sea and keeps campers safe playing in the creek, He provides comfort, healing, strength and courage, sends rain and rainbows. He does things.

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