I’m visiting camp for a weekend in January. Visiting Douglas and Darla, really. Because the friendships we make at camp are strong and made of something special. So when we say camp, we don’t really mean the place, the buildings, the lake, the evening program, the cabins. What we really mean is the people who make those things come alive, who make each other come alive. I’m visiting camp and the snow is also here. I put on snow shoes and walked around; from across the road, through the BMX course, behind the cabins, across the parking lot to the bike shed, down by the tunnel, over the bridge, past cabin 12, into the prayer walk, and emerged onto the lake. Many good memories flood through my mind in that walk. And all of those memories have people in them. People who we spent hours sweating with, stressing with, laughing with.
After my first summer, I wasn’t really sure what had happened. I was disconnected, confused, tired, unsure of if or where I fit in, and knowing that I could do better even if I didnâ€™t know how yet. In January, at the table in Walla Walla, I asked for another chance. I wasn’t sure at that point even how to move forward but I knew I wanted to keep going. Although my first summer was a struggle, I caught a glimpse of what camp is really about. Why we work long hours full of “diesel fuel” and “Darla clean”. It’s because of the kids. We are here to purely serve the kids. There are a lot of reasons we think we want to work at camp. “To get closer to God.” That will happen. “Develop better teaching/communication skills.” That better happen. “Because I’ve heard good things about it.” Yea, of course, but Disneyland sounds nice too. “A lot of my friends work there.” You’ll make even more friends that you never even thought of. “Because I was a camper and now I want to be a staff.” You have no idea. You have no idea. And if you stick it out for long enough, your perspective will be blown away.
Camp is made of people. And we are here for one purpose: to serve with love. During the six weeks, it’s the kiddos we serve. In the Winter, it’s the families, the freshman, the quilters, the singers. But whoever it is, where ever they’re from, whatever they are doing, we are here to serve them. As tiring and stressful and frustrating as people can be to take care of, we have to maintain our focus. We’re people too. I know, it’s hard. But the joy and reward comes from the countless stories of “it’s worth it!” The kids who started as wobbly eight year olds on a bike are now teen campers leading their peers down the trains at Bear basin. The couple who opens up about God after coming to camp for fifteen years. The camper who we meet years later that took control of her life style because of an example. The kids who know there is something more and asks the really deep, hard, “I don’t know the answer to that question” kind of question on Friday night. The ones who want to be baptized because commitment is hard but they want it. The ones that you’re not sure if they even heard anything you said, but inside a battle is drowning their thoughts. The loud ones, the quite ones, the creative ones, the brave ones are all here, and we are here for them.