Were you the type of kid who counted down the weeks and days and hours and minutes to summer camp?
The anticipation of seeing friends, overpacking, the skits and campfire songs, crushing on boys and playing silly games, the nicknames we made up for each other, eating junk food, exchanging contact info at the end of the week (in that pre-internet world, writing letters was a big deal), camp food, "inside jokes" and pranks, the smell of camp in the morning, late night laughter and scary stories, cabin competitions, the boys serenading the girls, and other raucous elements made for some of the happiest memories from my youth. It seems that my experiences as a camper greatly outweigh my experiences as a camp counselor. Even though I took classes in youth ministry in college, my life took a few interesting turns after graduation and I found my heart acquiring new passions that didn't include teenagers.
Ohio has changed that for me. It's not that Chris and I haven't worked with young people in the past, we have. And everyone knows I love children. It's the junior high and high school end of the spectrum that has kind of hung out on the fringe of my adult interests until now. I don't know why here or why now, but God has created a special place in my heart for them.
Last weekend was my initiation. Fall Retreat.
I've been a leader with the Revolve youth program at Cornerstone Chapel for a few months now, but this was my first time going away with them.
It's funny how camp hasn't really changed that much.
There was a theme.
The zany youth pastor with a heart of gold.
Worshipping our Creator in like mind and spirit.
Inspirational speakers (including my husband).
The group photo, complete with matching t-shirts.
And everything in-between.
I was certainly put through my paces as a cabin leader, crisis manager, problem solver, rule enforcer and drama diffuser. Yet, in the same day, I was also a relationship builder, prayer warrior, encourager, therapist, and champion hugger.
What's even better is that God didn't reserve His power and restoration for the youth alone during those three days. The leaders were moved as well.
Can I let you in on a little secret? I like having a backstage pass.
Some of the privileges of being a grown-up at this retreat included how well we were cared for (hot coffee in the morning!) and trusted to lead the students well (without question). I didn't have to ask for a second cup of hot chocolate or an extra bowl of chili, I could just have it. And when the leaders got together to discuss plans, we did so around a huge stash of cookies in the kitchen.
Is it possible the sweet treats and that second cup were a replacement for something stiffer?
While I won't be counting down the weeks to our Spring Retreat just yet, I am thankful for what we shared together, and grateful I survived.
Live in harmony without divisions.