week four: best ever.

and so concludes the best week of camp I’ve ever had.

it was so tough saying goodbye to the kids this week. each one of them, while they came in as new, unknown boys who had potential to be so many things (challenging, awesome, fun, exhausting), left as friends, as people that i will seriously miss this summer.

it’s just another example of how God totally flips my expectations. like i wrote earlier this week, hugo and i really were preparing ourselves for a cabin that might be a little more frustrating or tiring, simply because our week three cabin was so great, and it would have been difficult to measure up.

yet as God is wont to do, He blew my expectations out of the water. not only did hugo and i connect with each of the kids, the campers themselves really connected with each other and became close friends. many were really sad to leave these guys that they didn’t know just six days earlier. it was really touching to watch these kinds of interactions as they all headed back home.

our last few days this week were lots of fun. we did lots of awesome things like hang out in the nature center…


     

have massive fourth of july dance parties in the creative arts center…

traverse the always exciting and heart-pounding optimist challenge (although nine times out of ten the guys will call it the optimus challenge)…

     

it has the only head-first slide in all of camp. it’s kind of a big deal.

     

on Friday night our theme was, naturally, america.  we had all kinds of costumes.

     

my favorite was uncle sam and nephew sam though.

after dinner (consisting of asian cuisine, which felt oddly appropriate) and trading post we got to watch some awesome performances by the drama and brazillian dance clinics. then we ran back to the cabin to change into our unit shirts.

we have a pretty crazy bunch. but we love them all.

then we had a dance party over by the blazer cabins again.

i love that camp is a place where people (especially guys) feel comfortable dancing in front of others, because no matter what happens, people will always cheer them on. reason #1824 that the real world should be more like camp.

     

     

campfire was, as usual, crazy and fun. we had some hilarious skits, and i feel like the whole camp was somehow more involved tonight than usual. everything was bigger, crazier, and definitely hotter. i got to teach show choir clinic with katie this week, and all six of our kids totally rocked it on stage! one of them, gabe (the only guy), was from my cabin. during the week, we established that the entire group needed to perform at “gabe level: midnight”, which means acting like you’re having the time of your life and making everything big and fun.

devos were started really late, but the guys were still awake and paid attention through it all, which was totally a God thing. usually that doesn’t happen. after the bead devo, hugo and i went around to each of the bunks to tell the boys how glad we were that they were in our cabin and what specific things we saw them doing this week that we thought made them really cool. this week it was so easy to find words of encouragement for these kids, because God’s so obviously working in all of their lives. it’s probably my favorite time of the entire week, because some of these boys have never been told that they’re a leader, or that they have a kind and compassionate heart, or that we’re proud of them not because of the things they say or do, but because of who they are. many have never been told before that God is crazy in love with them.

i used to think that telling ten-year-old boys that God loved them might make them think God was weird. but now i know how impactful those words are. now i know how much ten-year-old boys long for that kind of a promise from a perfect God, to know that they are loved no matter what they do and no matter how many times they mess up. i think ten-year-olds and a-hundred-and-ten-year-olds alike need to hear that.

the following day, i woke up to find this on the table:

are there any of you that are somehow still not sure why i work at camp?

everyone wanted to take pictures with felix before they left!

      

     

this guy loved his stuffed animals. i told him felix wanted a picture with foxy, bunny, scarfy, and teddy. he was more than happy to oblige.

some of our campers wrote home and told their parents to buy hugo some ketchup because he loves it so much (i’ve talked about this, right? hugo puts ketchup on literally everything except fruit and cereal. this is not an exaggeration). they also brought us some cookies (and put a list of the ingredients in case we had any food allergies). it feels nice to be appreciated, especially when we appreciate their kids so much.

     

saying goodbye to these guys was really, really tough. i want so badly to know how the rest of their summer goes, how God is going to be moving in their lives, and how each of them is going to be growing. but that, i’m learning, is part of trusting God. some of these guys i might never see again. and while that’s sad, it’s also a reminder that the role God gave me to play in their lives might have been small, but it was intentional on God’s part. week four of summer camp 2012 was the time slot God provided for me to interact with these young boys. and there’s nothing i can be but thankful for that amazing opportunity.

there are many, many things i love about camp.

i love parents who are involved in their kids’ lives even when the world gives them a million reasons to focus on something else. i love it when parents want their kids to grow in their faith at camp. i love it when parents are invested in their children. i love when parents and their kids run into each other’s arms on saturdays.

     

i love seeing even more campers from last summer, the ways they’ve grown up a little but are still young people.

i love how my campers can also be my really good friends.

i love seeing siblings that love each other. i love seeing kids whose parents have raised them to be respectful, caring, and compassionate. i love knowing that my campers have such bright futures.

i love that i worship a God who uses camp to show kids (and staff) that He loves them like crazy.

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8 thoughts on “week four: best ever.

  1. Katrina says:

    Blad, did you write this during Bible Study? 😉 Kidding! I love to hear your heart for your campers and for the Lord! I hope you are still around in 4 years when Ollie is old enough to be a camper…so you can be his super fun counselor who teaches him how to have crazy fun being himself and how much God loves him no matter how crazy he is.

    • Alfredo says:

      What a great comment, huh? That’s what every counselor wants to hear from a mom. You deserve it, bud.
      Katrina, I think Ollie will teach Brad how to have crazy fun moments. I miss you guys.

  2. Alfredo says:

    Brad, while I am reading your post I praise God that I had the chance to work at this place. Your words remind me of such great memories and make me feel glad! Thanks for sharing your experiences and bringing mine back. Love ya, dude.

  3. Mom says:

    “… some of these boys have never been told that they’re a leader, or that they have a kind and compassionate heart, or that we’re proud of them not because of the things they say or do, but because of who they are. many have never been told before that God is crazy in love with them.”

    Along with all their fun memories, these are the things the boys will leave with… A new concept of who God is, and that He loves them simply b/c of who they are; not what they do or don’t do! What a privilege and blessing for you to be able to bring them that message! (or to reinforce it) I praise God that He has put you there Brad! 🙂 I love you!

  4. Mom says:

    PS: the note they left you guys is PrEcIoUs!! 🙂

  5. Jessica Hill says:

    Holy cow! 6 comments! you’re so popular.

    yep, you’re changing lives. and they’re changing yours. isn’t that cool how it’s a two-way street?

  6. […] four has historically been fantastic (see here and here and here), and this summer has been no exception. everything was fun, we all made some […]

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