Week 11: August 9-15
Colt 3 (ages 7-9) was the final week of camp this summer. It was a little hard to register in my mind that this would be my last group of kids, these little ankle-biters that were just living and loving life. Once again, I wasn’t super excited about it at the beginning of the week, but then I came across the passage in John that says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle this week alone, but I knew I could do it as long as I was connected to the Vine.
The Wizard of Oz was the theme for this week, and I’m serious when I say that I would be alright with not seeing that movie again for about five years or so. The kids seemed to love it, though, and the chapel speaker (a.k.a. our head cook, Pat) based her messages off the different characters. My girls and I also decided to give our cabin an “Oz” theme by creating a “yellow brick road” out of paper, hanging up our life-sized drawing of Dorothy, setting up a little garden outside one of the doors, and decorating the inside with colorful streamers and gift bows. And our hard work paid off – we won cabin clean-up that day!
I had only eight girls this week – three of whom I had previously during soccer camp, including the one who gave me hugs every 25 seconds. For some reason this time around, however, I was much more welcoming of the clinginess and actually enjoyed it most of the time. I guess I just needed a little more love than usual (or maybe God gave me an extra love language for that week). I only had a couple of “problem children” – one who was terribly homesick all week and almost painfully difficult to understand and another who was just painfully difficult. All in all, though, my cabin was fantastic. I had a blast hanging out with my girls as we skipped and sang, “We’re off to see the Wizard!” which happened pretty frequently after chapel. They also responded really well in our morning and evening devotions, and two of them got saved! (The only “bad” devo night was after the Carnival, when they were all hyped up on sugar. They had also spent fifteen minutes or so reading out of some Eliza Thornberry joke book and couldn’t stop giggling if their lives depended on it.)
By the end of the week, I was sad to see (some of) those girls go. I had grown especially attached to the hug-loving girl, who comes from a Mormon family. There were several times when she told me how her beliefs conflicted with the ones she was hearing throughout the week from chapel messages and my devotions. During our one-on-one time, she showed me her Mormon scriptures and told me about some of their practices. I didn’t really know how to handle it – this little girl was only nine and really didn’t know any better. I couldn’t imagine adopting a belief system different than that of my parents, let alone at her age. But she had heard the Truth all week, and all I can do is hope and pray that the seed produces a harvest someday.
The night the campers left was one of the strangest times I’ve experienced this summer. Now that it was all over, I felt almost as if it were the very first night I got to camp, and I was about to start all over again – I was lost, lonely, and seemingly purposeless. My work here was finished, and I had no idea what to do with myself. I get that feeling to a certain extent nearly every weekend, when I have little responsibility and no schedule. But it was different this time. I had come out to camp for a reason, and that reason was to serve God and love on kids. But the kids were gone now, and all I could do was ask God to point out the next direction.
Thankfully, the guys felt a little more purposeful. They decided it would be a great night to burn stuff – lots of stuff. Around 10pm, they created a huge bonfire on the front beach, and several of us hung out and talked down there for a few hours while it burned. (One of my favorite parts was using a leaf blower to spread the flames.) For whatever reason, it felt really good to watch stuff be on fire. It felt almost as if I could just throw all my anxiety about the future into those flames and then stand back and watch them burn. It reminded me that our God is a consuming fire – nothing can escape Him, and nothing is beyond Him. Jon-Michael made a comment about how we should make t-shirts with this summer’s theme being: “Echo Ranch Summer 2009: Did that just happen?” God has done some crazy stuff this summer, like provide just enough guys to counsel, just enough people to be on work staff, just the right number of kids for the people we had available… Things we knew we wouldn’t be able to pull off on our own. Our God is truly faithful.
I sat down in front of the big windows in the dining hall with my Bible and prayer journal on Saturday night. My heart was exhausted, and all I could do was keep asking God, “Help me. I need You.” I felt that I had no idea where to go from here – more specifically, after I was finished with school in December. I have been wanting a clear calling and direction from Him, and it just hasn’t been happening. Jon-Michael saw me there and came over to chat. He told me about how it sounded like many of the counselors have been struggling with this same thing – wanting to know the will of God. But he explained that we are not supposed to know God’s secret will; we’re supposed to “just do stuff,” and God will illuminate different situations in which we can serve Him along the way. His will is ultimately that we love Him with our heart, soul, mind, and strength – everything else will fall into place from there. “Just focus on God, that’s all.” It reminded me that that was the way of the righteous in the Bible – they did not need to ask God for direction each and every time they made a decision; they just lived lives that were pleasing to God because they followed His commands. When He wanted them to follow a particular path, He made it abundantly clear. And when they disobeyed Him, He still worked through it to bring about good. It gave me a lot of peace about the days to come; I love the way God uses people to speak truth and give comfort.