week one: molehills.

i really can’t believe that it’s already thursday, that tomorrow is the last full day of week one. part of me can’t believe it because there’s no way the week could almost be over. the other part of me can’t believe it because it feels like i’ve known these kids for way, way longer than five days. i’ve gotten to see the ups and downs, the cabin dynamics, the craziness and the quiet, and through it all, how God specifically crafts places like camp into places where He can be known.

the past few days have held a lot of tiny stressful things that, when looked at in view of the big pictures, turn out to be molehills rather than mountains. i know i already wrote about how my expectations were flipped (as an omnipotent God is apt to do), but a lot of other things have been flipped as well. let me share:

  1. rowdy cabin that won’t listen in devotions –> cabin of boys that is simply just giggly. cabin of boys that just enjoy each other’s stories and laughter so much that everything is contagious. cabin of boys that see the bright side of everything. cabin of boys that, after laughing so much with each other, feel comfortable to ask (unbeknownst to them) pretty deep questions.
  2. stressful night of filling out paperwork –> night filled with encouragement. night filled with good conversation with friends that i wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. night of restful work and productive writing. night full of time to realize all the cool stuff God’s doing.
  3. out of control clinic –> opportunity to individually talk with and encourage each of the campers. opportunity to develop friendships with campers outside my cabin. opportunity to point out leadership qualities in campers who never realized they had them. opportunity to let go of my obsessive idol of control and just let God do what He will. opportunity to be reminded yet again that what He wills is always better than what i feebly plan.
  4. cabin mates picking on each other –> a chance to tell a camper, possibly for the first time ever, that he is admired and loved, no matter what mean things people say. a chance to learn to trust my partner with a tricky situation. a chance to teach young boys about the importance of being respectful and loving like Jesus. yet another chance to trust God that He knows what He’s doing, even if the words coming out of my mouth seem so fruitless.

this week has been a constant reminder that while things can always be twisted to make a day horrible, they can also be viewed in such a way that you end up just thankful for everything. one of the best pieces of advice i’ve ever heard (from whom i can’t seem to remember) is how thanking God for the crappy stuff almost immediately changes things. it’s spiritual as well as scientific (they aren’t, as some would believe, opposite ends of a spectrum): the spirit becomes thankful by default, and the mind is forced to process an otherwise negative event in a totally different (read as: positive) way.

something really awesome happened today too, to add to the series of positives the Lord has been laying in my lap. i’ve been able to see a bunch of campers from my first week last summer, and while most of them look the same, it’s interesting to see all the subtle ways they’re definitely older. one brought his identical twin with him (who is now joking around with me as if he was totally in my cabin last summer… i’m down with it), another picked right back up where we left off in our discussion of which mythological adventure book series was the best, and another fell right into step with me on the way to an activity so comfortably, it was like no time had passed at all. on our walk, we were catching up about how each other’s years had been, what we’d been up to, stuff like that. after a moment of silence, he looks over at me and says, “you know, i still have that letter you wrote me. it’s in the drawer in the table next to my bed.”

for those of you who don’t know, at the end of each week, the counselors at camp tecumseh write a letter to the parents of each of the kids that were in their cabins. it’s an awesome way to fill the parents in on not just the activities and clinics that the camper did that week, but also how they’ve seen the camper grow, the ways that they and the camper have connected, and, in one of my favorite turns of phrase, to show that they just know the camper. i love to write, and i love to encourage, and since the kids almost always read them too, it’s a totally great way to let them know how much you loved having them in the cabin. while the writing itself can get a bit tedious, i really do enjoy crafting a good parent letter.

it was this letter to which my old camper was referring. he apparently still had it, and kept it in his bedside table. i’ve heard many times that these letters mean a lot to kids, and i’ve heard many stories of current counselors that still have the parent letter their old counselor wrote, but i wasn’t expecting to catch a post-summer glimpse of how a letter i had written was still important to one of my campers, much less that they would think to bring it up. it meant to much to me to hear that. what an unexpected blessing.

now, in keeping with the randomness of this post, a few unrelated pictures from the week:

i love how much my kids love the cilt we have this week. it helps that he’s freaking awesome.

i love big smiles and new friends at s’more time.

i love seeing all my campers line up during pop stop.

i love seeing team spirit. i feel like it exemplifies camp.

i love watching kids build castles during world cultures clinic.

and finally, the list of thankfuls from the past two days:

1.) a God who puts up with my tendency to complain
2.) a clinic partner who really helps out
3.) really awesome chapel songs that i can connect with
4.) watching campers connect with really awesome chapel songs
5.) decks of cards. they’re so incredibly versatile.
6.) random times when i get to see becca. i feel like all we have to do is look at each other and we know what’s going on. 

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3 thoughts on “week one: molehills.

  1. Christy says:

    I absolutely love your thankful attitude in this post, Brad! It’s a good reminder to me while we try to adjust to some of the seemingly annoying culture differences here in Greece. They really are opportunities to grow and learn! I love you and I’m so glad you’re getting the opportunity to do what you love (and are gifted at) again this summer. You are reality impacting lives for the kingdom! Praise the Lord!! Skype date when I get home? xoxo

  2. alovesj82 says:

    Brad what a wonderful work of grace God is doing in your life! I love how he is using you in the lives of many boys and fellow counselors. What a privilege! It’s wonderful that you see opportunities for good out of what could have been seen as just “stressful” or “annoying”. I will continue to pray for times like this. xo

  3. Jessica Hill says:

    sometimes I feel like your entry just speaks for itself enough that I don’t have to comment. I mean on the entries you’re frustrated, I have a lot to say. But on this one I just read it and I’m like “yep.” but that’s not a sufficient jessica comment. so instead you get this.

    also, you are the cat’s pajamas.

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