this weekend has been a rush. so many goodbyes, so much sadness and fun wrapped up all together. we said goodbye to the kids, and of course got lots of pictures.
felix and ispa were saying goodbye to everyone too.
after all the kids left, it was time to clean up. it was a really surreal feeling, packing up the cabin that hugo and i had lived in for the past nine weeks. much the same feeling as packing up the dorm when leaving for the summer. miami had become more than just the cabin we stayed in. it had become home, a place where we shared laughter, made new friends, talked about God and His love, and created an environment of safety where kids felt that love. that stuff wasn’t created by the things we had in the room, it was created by the people living there. and now the kids were gone and we were leaving. it was hard.
i snapped a shot of the wall where we taped up all the cabin photos from the summer so the guys could take a look at the other miami gentlemen that had passed through. crazy to think that hugo and i had connected with so many.
it was tough saying goodbye to that cabin. it had served us well.
after we were packed up, all the staff met for lunch and then headed out to a certain area of camp to clean up or get stuff ready for outdoor ed or something like that. i got to say goodbye to braydn and gavin one last time, which was nice. gavin was a little sad, i think, and didn’t really want to take a picture. i’m going to miss those guys, but i’m excited that i’ll get to see them again next summer, God willing. they’re awesome.
i got to hang out with ben modlin for clean up. he heads up the trippers, and so our job was to clean up the tripper closet and the library in kampen lodge, and then do whatever small jobs and errands we needed to. it ended up being an amazing time to just catch up with ben and get to know him better. he lead the cabin i was in for staff training last summer, and he’s the kind of guy that always seems to know people and care about them. he was one of the first people i felt welcomed by at camp, and it was cool that God gave us a few hours to develop that friendship. i really look up to him.
after clean up, i had three hours before the banquet. i finished up some secret buddy stuff and buzzed my hair and beard, and then washed off in the shower. naturally, i was late and people had already started getting food, but that was okay.
the banquet was awesome. the food was catered and delicious, i got to sit at a table with a bunch of my friends, and the atmosphere was so… happy.
while people were eating, secret buddies handed out their final gifts. i had morph, and i made him an encouragement notebook. i had asked everyone to write one thing they thought was awesome about morph, and i collected all the replies into one notebook for him to flip through. i even was able, with diego and forrest’s help, to get some replies from morph’s campers. my two favorite responses from them: “he believes in me” and “he is a love brother to me.” precious.
erin drews had me as a secret buddy, and look what she got me for my final gift!! a box of chocolates (they’re gone now), some bottles of coke (little did she know that drinking coke from glass bottles is on my bucket list), and a moustache mug. there is literally nothing i wanted more than these three things. nice job, erin, nice job.
after everyone had finished eating, some people got up to talk and share some final thoughts. i finally got a lake tank from jordan and john amy (despite not having been at the lake at all on thursday… hmmm… not complaining)! plus dave got up and spoke about camp and how it had impacted him, and how much he has loved being director. one of the things he said really stood out to me. he got kind of emotional, and he said that, as he was watching all of us on the final week, he “could help but think… camp is in such good hands.”
now, with scott brosman taking the lead next year, we are definitely in good hands. but dave was also talking about us, the counselors. and for whatever reason, when he said that, i was hit really hard by the fact that the counselors really do play a huge part not just in the day to day aspects of camp, but where it goes as a whole. and the people i worked with this summer, the people who impacted the lives of hundreds of kids… we all did well this summer. God did some really cool stuff through some pretty imperfect people. and all the glory goes to Him. what a crazy awesome chance to be a part of something so huge, something that’s been going on since 1924.
anyway. of course, there were lots more pictures taken at the banquet.
oh james. what an awesome guy. he was in my cabin for staff training, and right from the start i knew two things: he uses words precisely and intentionally, and he’s absolutely hysterical. i’ve loved getting to know him and becoming friends over the course of the summer. this is a guy who’s genuine, loves the Lord, and cares about his friends. i’m really going to miss him.
falco and mason. i could not have asked for better porch partners. even though it was their first summer, these guys were pros. they had to deal with a lot of tough campers, and i don’t think i could have handled it as well as these guys did. they’re hilarious, fun to be around, and i’m going to miss all the knowing looks and trips to and from the lake and sleepouts.
joshua jared frasure. what an amazing person and friend. i didn’t know him very well last, year… but i knew i wanted to. and this summer God just gave us a ton of time to hang out and get to know each other. josh is a solid man of God, someone who isn’t ashamed to do or say what he knows is right. he’s an encouragement and a brother. he’s one of the funniest people i know too, and seeing as he and i share an uncannily similar sense of odd humor, we can manage a conversation using nothing but quotes from youtube videos. it’s okay, you can be impressed. and jealous.
oh shawn. what an unexpectedly awesome friendship developed. he was in the same cabin during staff training, and is one of those guys that you kind of automatically look to for their input and advice. shawn was an encouragement, a source of laughter, and a brother. i’m so thankful that God provided the time for us to become greater friends, even if we were in different villages.
abby and rebecca! two of my favorites at camp. abby always had such encouragement to share, whether it was a verse from the bible, a note in my mailbox, or an m&m ice cream sandwich from the trading post (they are, after all, the best there is). rebecca was always so much fun, and inspiration to make every day the best ever, and every time i saw her with campers, it made me strive to love mine better. these were two of the reason camp was so amazing this summer.
morph. i just can’t say enough great things about this guy. it was so easy to be his secret buddy because there are so many people who love him. he’s one of the people i’ve looked up to during both my summers at camp, because he’s an awesome example of what it looks like to connect with kids, connect with your fellow staff, and put God first all at once. it’s hard to do all that, but morph makes it look easy. he’s a friendly, loving guy, and i hope he’s back next year.
this is kj. he’s another one of those guys that i unexpectedly got to be really good friends with this summer. he was one of the pathfinder coords, and he did a phenomenal job. he’s the kind of guy that is really easy to follow, because he leads by example and expects the best from himself and others. he’s also really warm and truly cares about people. there’s no telling how huge an impact he’s had on his pathfinder guys.
olivia! besides being really sassy and speaking to me in nothing but shakespearean insults, this is one really awesome person. even though we were in different villages, olivia is the kind of person that you feel like you know really well after spending a little time with her, mainly because she’s so open and inviting. she just has so much joy, and it’s contagious. she also just genuinely loves people. it’s cool to see and experience, and i’m so glad i got to become friends with her this summer.
oh, these people. these are the brazilian counselors, and they are some of my favorite people in the world. diego, fendler, thaís, nel, fabiano, and hugo. so loving, so fun and hilarious. so genuine and open and warm. the way they live life makes me so appreciative of the people around me and the blessings God provides. i spent many precious hours singing with them, talking with them about family and life and God, and serving kids with them. it was really, really tough to say goodbye.
and of course, hugo.
hugo was just amazing. such a blessing from the Lord. he encouraged me, taught me, and shared his life with me. he was also one of the best counselors i’ve ever known. he always took time with the kids, even when things were crazy and it would have been easier to move on. he has such a tender, loving heart, and when we talk about being at camp for the kids, there is no one who lives it out better than hugo. it’s going to be weird not living life with this guy anymore. God used him to bless me in so many ways, and he is a true brother. i love and miss him a ton.
after the banquet, a couple of us went to heike’s house for a farewell party. it was so much fun; there was ice cream, and we just hung out and talked. we finished a circle of life puzzle, played sardines, and reminisced about the summer.
on sunday, i woke up and spent some time just walking around camp. it’s so peaceful and quiet, and it’s hard to miss God’s hand in it all when you have time to take it in. sometimes during the summer things are so hectic that it takes effort to slow down and appreciate the beauty of it all.
i got to say goodbye to all the brazilians as they left for the state fair, and i met james’ parents and said goodbye to him as well. once becca got back from the wedding she was attending, we packed up the rest of the car. right before we were about to leave, hugo stopped by, and i got to say goodbye to him one last time. it was so bittersweet, but there were too many awesome memories for it to be too sad.
and now i’m home. it’s weird, because i’m leaving for ball state on friday, and so newburgh feels merely transitional at this point. but it’s been awesome spending time with mom and dad, and getting to sleep in and eat food that’s not camp food. it’s odd, though, not having to wake ten boys up at seven in the morning, or making sure all of them have clean clothes on for the day. not catching up with hugo about the previous night and if any of the kids were marshmallowing. not bring in that kind of wonderful crazy atmosphere where anything can happen because… well, it’s camp.
no matter. there will be moments of bittersweet nostalgia, moments of missing people and places like crazy. but i’m also really excited for what’s ahead, really pumped for school to start back up again and to be involved with the wonderful community that’s developed up in muncie.
from one blessing right on to another. God is so good.