Monday, August 17, 2009

Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World

Week 10: August 2-8

The final Maverick (ages 12-14) camp of the summer was this week. If you didn’t catch it from my last post, it got off to kind of a rough start because I wasn’t expecting to counsel. When I learned that I would be after all, I had fairly mixed emotions. I felt excited about sharing my passion with an age group that I already knew I loved, but I was bummed that I wouldn’t get to spend as much time with the counselors who would be leaving that week. As mildly frustrating as it was, however, I was fired up (in a good way) and ready to go Monday morning. I could hardly contain my excitement during my quiet time with God that morning – I felt like I was flying through the Bible, finding passages that related to why Jesus died and why that matters and how much He loves us and all those kinds of things. I knew it was going to be an awesome week.

I had nine girls in my cabin with four who had been in the same cabin during Maverick 2 week. I had become pretty good friends with their previous counselor (Nikki), and I knew she had had a strong connection with that particular cabin, so I was a little intimidated when I got them in mine. (But you get used to hearing “my last counselor did…” and “last time I was at camp, we did…” after awhile.) Overall, though, it was a great week.

It started off on a pretty discouraging note, though. During our first evening devotion of the week, I got grilled by one of the girls on how it could be that Jesus was the only way to heaven (and whether this or that or the other thing was a sin), though it seemed more for the sake of making me frustrated than because she really wanted to know the answers. Everyone else seemed to either be sleeping or just not care. (This was after a guys vs. girls version of Capture the Flag played out at horse camp, in which one girl severely gashed her lip and one of mine lost her shoe somewhere in the woods. The only fun part was when the counselors all stood up on the tractor on the way back to base camp, doing the Hokey Pokey and nearly falling off several times. Jon-Michael was right when he told the campers that we would be losing our minds this week.) This attitude seemed to carry on for the first few days, reflected by their responses to chapel messages and the questions I asked to try to stimulate some discussion.

By Wednesday afternoon, I felt completely hopeless. I had come into this week so ready to get these girls on fire for Jesus, and in response I was getting meaningless questions and blank stares. During free time that day, I sat down with my journal and Bible, trying to find some encouragement. I wanted someone to talk to, with whom I could share my frustration, so God thought it would be a good time to send Nikki over. (He has done this at several points this summer. When I needed an encouraging word or someone to lean on, He would send just the right person almost immediately.) She was there to listen to me vent, almost to the point of tears. When it was time to round up all the campers for a big group game, I was in tears. I just wanted the girls to care, to realize how important God is, to fully grasp that He is everything. On a more selfish note, I wanted to “click” with my cabin, and I felt like we still hadn’t up to that point. Once again, though, God had it under control. They dynamic seemed to change completely that afternoon, and I felt for the first time like I was part of the group. Devotions that night put the icing on the cake – Nikki came over to help lead, and the girls were a lot more responsive.

The theme for the week was “Wild, Wild West,” so the chapel theme was based on the idea of being free – what those who traveled West were looking for. By the end of the week, several of the girls had felt challenged and spiritually driven by the messages in chapel and the testimonies of others. I got the opportunity to encourage and mentor a few of the girls in their relationships with God during our one-on-one times – the only instance in which I love being used. But there were also girls who really could not have cared less about anything related to God, and that was disappointing. But if it takes a time (or several) in the depths of the valley to bring them to Him, then so be it. I hope they remember.

While the spiritual aspect is certainly the most important part of camp, there were lots of other sweet parts of the week. Because the weather has been so hot all summer, we have been setting up a slip and slide in the sports field for the older kids. This week, we set it up on a hill on the beach so that it went into the ocean. While I wasn’t excited at all about going on it (it was rainy outside, and the ocean is cold!), it ended up being a blast. We also decided to incorporate the “chastity chat” into this Maverick camp, which wasn’t nearly as successful as it was for the senior high group due to the younger age and lower maturity level. But it was good for the girls to hear about modesty, “fleeing” from temptation, and healthy relationship boundaries with male friends (side hugs instead of bear hugs and saying things like “you’re swell” rather than “I love you” – no kidding).

My girls and I decided it would be a good week to prank a boys cabin, so we decided to try to carry out the same one my senior high cabin failed at completing a few weeks prior. The plan was to tie a rope to both doorknobs of the cabin to keep the guys from opening either door, put trashbags over all the windows to make it look dark outside, and wrap toilet paper all around the cabin. Around 1:30am Wednesday morning, we set out on our mission. We soon figured out that the rope wasn’t long enough, so we resorted to TPing only – and then discovered we pranked the wrong guys cabin. So we just did it to all three. No one ever figured out it was us, but they didn’t seem to care as much as we hoped when the truth was revealed. Oh well.

Counseling is always exhausting, but I have to admit that I miss these girls. Around the end of the week, I realized that some of them were the kinds of girls I would be friends with if I were closer to their age. We had a good time taking pictures, singing Disney songs, eating meals together, all those kinds of things. Oh, sweet goodness. Guess I’ll just have to keep up with them on Facebook.

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