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