Tag Archives: kids

week three: “i have two words to say about the rest of the week: i’m in!”

week three was absolutely awesome. as each week passes, i’m realizing more and more how God is answering my prayers to make this a summer where i am challenged in the best ways, while at the same time He blesses me in ways i would never expect.

i was a little disappointed that i didn’t get to be at camp t for week two, especially after seeing some pictures online (check them out here. you can binge on them if you want. that’s how i just spent my last thirty minutes.) i recognized campers that i’d had in years past, and i was disappointed that i hadn’t been able to reconnect with them. but on sunday i return to camp and discovered two things. first, matty was really excited to see me. it was a great reunion. and second, we had three stayovers. which meant that almost a third of last week’s cabin would still be here, so it was almost like i hadn’t missed out!

also all three of them had been in my cabin last summer. so that was basically the best.

i’m sure i’ll be saying this all summer, because chances are i’ll have more opportunities to have previous campers in my cabin again. but there is just nothing so cool as being able to see the ways God has been working in the lives of kids that you’ve invested in. while i stay in touch with a few campers from over the years, the vast majority of these kids i say goodbye to on saturday and don’t get the chance to see where they are in a year. but when God allows me a glimpse into the lives of campers i’ve developed relationships with, it’s encouraging and exciting and makes me praise Him.

that was probably my high of the week, seeing how guys had grown in patience, care for others, and a desire for God. one of the campers told me after devos that he hadn’t before known that he didn’t have to earn God’s approval. but since coming to camp this week, he learned that there’s nothing he can do that will ever make God love him any less. how is it that the Lord has chosen someone like me to deliver such beautiful good news? i certainly don’t deserve it, but i will gladly accept it. praise Jesus!

other highs of the week would include the clinics. i had hip hop, mountaineering, and clay. all of them were the best. i had some of my campers in mountaineering and clay, and it was so much fun.

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a variety of clinics is always the best, because you’re always on your toes and things don’t get boring. i went from choreographing the chorus to “best day of my life” to cheering on a camper who climbed to the top of mount wood to painting facial hair on the campers in clay clinic. all in a couple hours. that’s like the best.

wk3_2we did some pretty awesome things as a cabin this past week too. we went on a mud hike (one of the guys i was sure would back out was in 110%), we visited the minifarm to do the chicken round-up (side note: for some reason i’d always been afraid of chicken round up, mainly because it involved running after them to catch them and i was afraid that somehow i’d manage to lose all of camp’s chickens. but it turned out to be a blast), and we dressed up and went crazy for disco night. we also had one of my favorite unit games ever… prom night! somehow the guys always think it’s the best when they dress me up in pinks and purples and jean jackets and dresses.

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what i love most about camp is the relationships that form. i love looking over at trading post and watching david listen intently as his camper explains chess to him. i love watching milson initiate a heart-to-heart with one of his guys. i love all the little things i get to see as i walk around camp. so much silliness, so much happiness, so much joy. and it’s all so very real.

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i like real.

 

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week one: “time me to see how fast i can jump rope around the house!”

things i love:

1.) campers that are excited to be at camp.

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2.) showchoir clinic with a bunch of kids who are not afraid to sing it loud and proud.

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3.) trailrides.

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4.) adventures in the creek and picking out a pet rock for the cabin.

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5.) silly cheers.

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6.) pop stop.

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7.) completing the optimist challenge with our porch partners!

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8.) nights off that are so full of wonderful people and conversation that there isn’t a whole lot of time to blog.

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week three: corn snakes.

let me share with you how i woke up this morning.

i’d had a restless night, because i officially have pink eye in both eyes and there was a sort of hesitation to fall asleep because i knew i’d wake up with my eyelids glued together. there had also been a massive thunderstorm, and while i love rain and thunder and the end of droughts and dust storms, one of the boys was scared and woke me up to talk to me for a little bit. it was sweet and i was glad that he had woken me, but i just didn’t get a whole lot of sleep.

anyway, i was gently shaken awake by one of my guys at around six in the morning. our conversation went roughly as follows:

“brad… brad.”
“yeah man… what’s up? everything okay?”
“there’s a corn snake shedding its skin in the bathroom.”

that was not a typo. this guy wasn’t sleep talking either.  he was completely serious, and completely convinced that not just any snake, but a corn snake (which he’d seen for the first time in the nature center on monday night at our sleepout) was not just hanging out in the bathroom, but shedding its skin.

i blinked a few times (or tried to… my left eye was cemented shut) and tried to process this information.

“did you see the snake yourself bud?”
“yeah. it’s in the bathroom.”

i knew the chances of a corn snake getting into our bathroom were slim to none, but i also knew that this was a very important issue for this boy. we got up and walked to the bathroom door, which was shut tight. the guy admitted that he hadn’t actually opened the door, but had seen underneath, through the gap between the floor and the door. i bent down to look, and saw nothing.

“i’m going to open the door now, okay?”
“okay. be careful though.”

i gingerly pushed the door open and we found… nothing. there was nothing on the floor. my guy looked utterly confused. he looked at me blankly, searching for some kind of answer to his predicament. i shrugged.

“sometimes the floor can look like there’s snakes on it. no big deal. how about we go back to bed, okay?”

he seemed satisfied with that. he crawled back into his bunk and i got another hour of sleep before the day officially started.

i’m really going to miss this cabin of boys. it was just such an amazing combination of gentlemen who were respectful, good listeners, and were all about making the most of their camp experience. many of them really, really did not want to go home today.

     

friday night was awesome this week. we had a great superhero slash cartoon themed dinner, and then afterwards we got to see a performance from the river village drama clinic. they did the tecumseh olympics, and it was hilarious. katie sink has been doing an amazing job planning all these skits, and it’s so easy to see that the kids have a blast. one of my favorite campers from last year was in the skit, and he did a fantastic job!

after the skit, we ran back to the cabin to throw on our orange brave shirts and head over to closing campfire. since we had some extra time, we decided to throw a dance party. no big deal.

     

it was really tough to say goodbye to all the guys this week. hugo and i were talking about how next week will definitely be interesting because since this week was so great, it might be hard to live up to. but i was thinking today about how each week has its own personality. even if no other cabin this summer has the same personality as week three did, it still stands to reason that each of the other weeks will be brilliant in their own respect. having the same cabin over and over again would be boring.

and ultimately that’s why i’m a counselor at an awesome place like camp tecumseh. i love it here because i get to interact with a vast scope of kids. they have different backgrounds, different personalities, different struggles and different strengths. all of them are intimately known and loved by an infinite God who made them exactly the way He wanted them to be. and each cabin is a specific combination of personalities and dynamics that God designed to work together for a week in summer 2012. and i get the chance to show each of them that i think they’re awesome… not because of what they do or say, but just because of who they are, and because God thinks they’re pretty awesome too. why would i not want to be a part of something that cool?

i was reminded recently how important it is when we pray to not only make our requests known to God, but also to praise Him for the awesome things He’s doing (and for the tears and the struggles as well). so would you join me in praising our Creator for the way that He is using places like camp to draw kids closer to Him and show them that they are loved no matter how some people might make them feel otherwise? would you join me in thanking Him for the amazing opportunity that we all have to spread this kind of love to those around us? i’m only one minuscule piece of God’s huge plan, and that plan always includes the prayers of His people. it’s so cool to think that when we’re joining in prayer together, we’re working for the combined goal of bringing God’s sovereign design to fruition. not in our own power, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, by the will of a God who designed things so that our words could somehow be used to bring about His will.

have i mentioned that there are lots of things i love about camp?

     

i love that kids can be superheros here. i love that on superhero night there are on average about a hundred batmen and batwomen and two hundred supermen and superwomen.

i love that sunglasses give you instant swag, and everyone knows it.

     

i love seeing more guys from my cabin last summer, even though they’re blazers this year. i love seeing the way they’ve grown up but still think it’s cool to take pictures with their old counselor.

i love having really good conversations and finding out all the amazing things God is doing in the lives of old campers (who really just feel like old friends). i love the feeling that God’s going to use these kids to do amazing things in the world. i love knowing that God’s vision is far beyond anything i could dream up. and i love that God gave me a chance to be a small part of their stories.

i love being part of a place that loves kids and gives them the opportunity to be who they are.

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week one: frenzy.

is it seriously only tuesday? i left flagpole after singing some crazy songs with my campers and walked back to the cabin feeling like i was leaving for the weekend. but no, i have over half the week left, and if i’m being honest, that’s exactly what i would want.

there’s been a ton of stuff crammed into the past few days, so once again i will share the highlights with all of you. 

sunday is when the campers got here. hugo and i spent the morning making signs to put up around the cabin. they were pretty awesome in my opinion.

 

 

 

once the cabin was all set up to our satisfaction, i went with morph to subway to grad some food and bring it back. naturally, we ran into six or seven other staff members, all with their blue polos and nametags. the other subway-goers were probably a little weirded out. or jealous.

when we got back, we went straight to the staff meeting. it was such an interesting and awesome experience, getting right back into the frantic flow of paperwork, hugs, prayers, and declarations of “i’ve got a possible marshmallow here!” as if there had never been a break. i loved it, and when i stepped into that room, i felt like i was right back at home.

it was the same with meeting all the kids once we made it back to the cabin. for braves, the parents usually stick around for a bit, help their sons set up their beds (if it was up to the campers, their sheets would stay packed tightly in their suitcases… not because they didn’t want them, but rather because they just don’t know how to do it themselves), and make sure they have sunscreen and bug spray and extra underwear and a third towel and snacks and their home address and stamps and more snacks and more sunscreen. i love it though… with our guys averaging the age of nine, lots of them are anxious for the parents to just leave already, and so while the kids are doing everything except talk to them, hugo and i get the chance to get to know them a little bit. 

and then the parents are gone and it’s just me, hugo, and ten nine-year old boys, all hyped up on their newfound independence (from their parents, which is enough for them).

and you know what? things felt really, really right.

we have a cabin full of good kids, but even these past two days have been kind of tough in unexpected ways. none of them are really great listeners, and so it can be frustrating trying to get them all on the same page.

goodness, i’m having trouble organizing all this information in my head. i’ll make a list of tough stuff and blessings and things i’m learning, yes? yes.

1.) we have two stayovers (meaning that they’re staying for two weeks instead of just one) and they’re both really awesome guys. i asked them on sunday if they could be sure to interact with the guys who had never been to camp before, and they’ve really been awesome about it. there’s been no comparison to last summer, which sometimes happens, and honesty they’re just really good kids.

2.) i’ve already had the chance to grow closer to a few of the campers. we have a couple that have just really tender hearts, and it’s been cool to connect with them. i’m excited to see how things continue to grow throughout the rest of the week.

3.) i came into this week with lots of expectations, and even though the past two years have been a huge exercise in trusting God’s plan over mine, i still tend to go into basically any situation assuming that i know exactly how things are going to work. lots of the stress from the last two days has been from me expecting things (specifically, devotions) to go a certain way, and the Lord saying “nope… this is actually what’s going to happen.” the kids were unfocused, or i arrived late from the planning meeting, and suddenly this brilliant devotion i’ve been idealizing in my mind seems to deflate. last night we talked about loving our enemies, a devo that was really great last summer. i had high hopes that all my campers would be hugely impacted by my brilliant delivery and start loving everyone around them. instead, the night was filled with fake fart noises and flashlights shining around and kids messing with markers and other craft supplies. i abandoned any hope that the kids had gotten anything from it.

but you know what? one of my campers, while we were walking back from clinics, looks up at me and says, “today, i went up to someone i didn’t like, and i asked him some nice questions.” i was so proud of him. and i felt God reminding me that it’s often when we think we’ve totally and completely failed that He uses our material.

4.) one of my other expectations apparated into existence when i saw what clinics i would be teaching: canoeing, peteca, and world culture crafts. the first and last might seem obvious. for those of you who don’t know, the middle one, peteca, is a brazilian sport that i’ve never played before. also, because of a scheduling fluke, i wasn’t given a partner. it was the one thing on my mind all day, and all night, and all of canoeing clinic. i was freaking out. how could i possibly lead a good clinic that i literally had no idea how to lead?

long story short, peteca is easily my favorite clinic this week. we have a small group, but everyone knows each other. all of the campers are great, and even one girl who seemed like she might pull the too-cool card ended up really enjoying herself once she learned everyone’s name and found out she’s not too bad at peteca. our team name is the swagtastic diving eagles (or, of course, s.d.e.), mainly because i’ve never seen a team so committed to needlessly diving to the ground to save a serve. once it caught on, campers began diving no matter where the peteca was headed–just in case it might land in their area. the three petecas (which we named eagle bob, charleston, and bananarama) were flying through the air today, and i was legitimately impressed with how much they’ve improved in just one day. they’re making it so easy to talk about good communication, teamwork, encouragement, and supporting each other. it’s just awesome. plus, God blessed me with one of my cabin kids in that clinic, so i’m able to really specifically encourage him. i love doing that.

the world culture crafts clinic is totally new this summer, and i was pumped to lead it. each day we travel to a different part of the globe and make a craft native to that area. monday we made origami, and today we made hieroglyphic messages to each other. the kids are so proud of themselves, and it’s so cool to see how creative these guys can be. also (thanks God) i have, you know, six kids from my cabin in that clinic. no big deal.

5.) i have been so blessed by having hugo as a partner. right off the bat, he’s been so willing to be involved. i love watching him with the kids, how they totally adore him and how he totally loves being with them. he’s always there when i’m most exhausted with a pat on the back and a warm smile. hugo is seriously the partner i prayed for.

6.) tuesdays are bible study and dinner at the elliot’s house. we had a wonderful meal cooked by renee, and then a super encouraging study lead by katrina. this summer we’re going to be looking at the parables Jesus shared. tonight we talked about the parable of the sower and the seeds (one of the only parables mentioned in three gospels), and while i (of course) felt like i already knew everything coming into it, i was seriously blown away by some of the insights that they other staff there were sharing. it was so encouraging. we were talking about the benefits of solid community and the way that God specifically reveals truth to people and how we as sowers can be cultivating fertile soil in the hearts of our campers and other friends. i’m so thankful for a community that seeks to draw closer to God together and be there for one another. it’s a blessing i don’t deserve.

all right, i realize that was a massive post. and i need to sign off anyway for curfew. but let me close with the six things that i’m most thankful for today and yesterday.

1.) a partner willing to stay for dinner on his night off
2.) a legit CILT who truly wants to be involved
3.) the nature center
4.) a small clinic full of awesome kids
5.) the opportunity to canoe on the lake on an otherwise stressful day
6.) a God who knows far more than me 

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