Week 4: June 21-27
Well, another week down. Soccer camp was much different than what I expected or what I had experienced that first week of Bronco camp, but it was good. God continued to show His faithfulness, despite my lack of faith. It never gets old, does it?
I had seven girls this week, and they were crazy. There were two 11-year-olds and five 9-year-olds. A few of them bought stuffed animals at the camp gift shop (Berner’s Bay Trading Post/Trading Post/BBTP), and they thought it would be a good idea for two of them to get married. So Monday night was the official engagement ceremony. They laid out a blanket in front of the romantically lit stove, aligned the eager stuffed animal spectators on each side, made a ring/bracelet out of yellow thread, and the frog proposed (or “purposed”, as they spelled it on the sign they made to commemorate the event) to the pig. Or maybe it was the other way around. The wedding was the next day, but I missed it. I think they were more excited about the proposal than the wedding.
My girls were all very different but got along great as a cabin. One of them liked to give at least one hug every five minutes or so. It drove me crazy. I think God did it on purpose, since physical touch is one of my lowest love languages on the scale. Two of them were good friends and pretty rambunctious, running late to just about everything. One reminded me of my ex-roommate Bethany because she loved Twilight, Harry Potter, and reading overall. Another was kind of a loner and pretty quiet. One of them had a fantastic attitude all week and was very mature beyond her years, and the last one was a sweetheart but always had a problem with interrupting everyone.
The girls all seemed pretty eager to talk to me individually. One in particular poured her heart out to me as we walked all around camp after the others were in bed. She told me about how her sister and parents were always screaming at each other and how her friends weren’t making very good choices. She always worried about her family and didn’t enjoy being home. I really didn’t know what to tell her. All I knew to do was offer her hope—that God would get her through this and make her stronger, all for His glory. I told her she just had to hang in there and pray. It felt very much like a Sunday school answer, and I could tell that what I said didn’t seem to resonate very much, but she said that it was always a relief to be able to talk to someone about. She told me she felt like a bottle, that all her emotions were just building up inside with no way to get out. After we finished talking, I prayed that God would give me wisdom to know what to say to her later. Once again, He was on the ball. During one of the devotionals led by the head coach, he talked about how God wants us to endure through different kinds of trials, one of which included problems at home. He said it a couple of times, and I hope that the girl caught it like I did. I felt encouraged because he said basically the same things I did the night before.
Oh yeah, I finally caught the Plague (cold/congestion yuckiness) that has been circulating throughout the staff. And then I gave it to two or three of my girls. I’m the best counselor ever. It’s pretty much gone now, though I still have kind of a nasty cough.
The kids had soccer practice in the morning and in the afternoon. In the evening was tournament play, where all the kids were split up into teams of four or five players each. The games usually went pretty smoothly, though the horses wandered out into the field and between the soccer goals a couple of times. I wasn’t around for most of the practices or tournaments, but they needed a coach/extra player during the last tournament, so I was the goalie. Thankfully, I didn’t have many balls come my way. It was fun to reminisce about playing my senior year, and it made me wish I had stuck around for more of the skills instruction this week so I could have learned a few things. The coaches were incredible. The head coach, Tom, was born with cerebral palsy. While he had to use a cane to get around, he interacted great with the kids. He was very inspirational, both on the field and during devotions in the chapel. His wife Nicole and assistant Emily also helped coach the kids during the week. In addition to soccer skills, they also taught the kids cup stacking for coordination practice. I got to learn too, which was pretty sweet. After the kids left on Friday, the coaches and a few of the counselors spent about two hours playing with the cups. We built a giant triangular tower of cups that was probably eight feet tall or so. It was awesome.
Our devotions before bed were awesome. Much like my last cabin, these girls had a lot of questions, many of which I didn’t know how to answer. One of my favorites was: “Does God ever have fun? In the Bible, He always sounds so serious.” I didn’t really know what to say. I’m sure God does have fun, and I guess I could have said things like He delights in us and in pouring out His love on us, but I couldn’t think of anything in the Bible that proved that God has fun.
Cabin clean up went a lot better this week than the first week. The girls got really into it, and we even won one day! I took a bunch of party decorations from the program office, and we decorated the cabin with streamers, balloons, and hanging beads. I had also saved some cookies from the day before and set those and two cups of Gatorate out for the cabin cleanup checkers. The girls were stoked, so I rewarded them with brownies and milk while they were playing on the playground the next day.
On Thursday night, the soccer group had a campfire out on the beach. We all sat around for a couple hours and reflected on the events of the week. The coaches then had the group say nice things about each person. When it came to me, one of the nine-year-old boys stood up and said, “I think Reagan is really pretty.” When everyone started laughing, he went on: “That’s right! I said it!” It was hilarious. Too bad he couldn’t have been about 12 years older.
The kids walked out Friday, so Saturday was a wonderful day of rest and relaxation for me. I spent a few hours talking to some of the counselors about different spiritual issues. Once again, the Lord answered my prayers for Him to reveal Himself to me. For various reasons, I had really been struggling in my faith this last week and wanted evidence that God was really there. I started reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis—which has been fantastic so far—but I still felt like something was missing. But hearing about the ways in which God has acted in the lives of others was the most effective way to get the point across, and He knew it. It is so refreshing being around the people here. Everyone is so genuine and open about their faith. Talking about God and spirituality seems almost as natural as breathing, and I feel like I’m learning new things every time I talk to someone about it. I’m hoping that won’t be lost once I leave “the bubble” – one of the three in which I live at this point.
Today was also a glorious day, but I’ll get into that in the next post. Thanks to all of you for your letters, prayers, and many words of encouragement. Next week I’ll be counseling for Colt camp, which is for the 7- to 9-year-olds (the “ankle biters”). Good times.