A camp story
When you're choosing which week of the summer to come to camp you usually plan around family vacations and sports camps. What you may not realize is that each week of the summer has its own traits that set it apart because of what is happening at Tecumseh. Week 1 is full of energy- the counselors have just finished staff training and are amped to get their first group of campers. Week 4 is the 4th of July- the all camp parade and fireworks over the lake provide a change of pace. Week 9 is the end- counselors are nostalgic and often just as teary eyed as the Torchbearers at closing campfire. Every week has its own reason it is the best week ever.
Session 3 of CILTs is in the middle of the 9-week summer but is the final session for the CILT counselors. When it comes down to the end these counselors put creative spins on their routines, they may skip a night off to spend more time on the Longhouse porch, and throw in a few surprises.
Thursday night, with only two days left of camp, all 30 girls returned to the Longhouse from their adopt-a-cabins. This time of the night is regularly noted as a high of the day. With no real schedule, except to get ready for bed, the girls run from Choctaw to Hopi and into Abnaki to sit on their friends' bunks. They tell stories about their own little campers, share how the devotion they led went, and help each other with five-braid friendship bracelets. Ipods play from all three cabins and if you stand in the middle hallways right by the love tank you'll be able to hear Lovesick, Farwell, and You Belong With Me all at once. Counselors occasionally shout out how many minutes are left till devotions and girls run to the bathroom in the last few minutes to brush their teeth. Circles of girls cram onto bunks sharing boxes of Goldfish and bags of Sour Patch kids. Eleven days into the session everyone is close.
I got back to the Longhouse from my night off just after 10 and walked into the camper filled building. Tonight we had an early bedtime because of staying up late the night before and I helped herd all the girls into Choctaw for devotions. We turned off the light and the girls lowered their volume. 30 girls and 6 counselors is a lot of people to participate in devotions but we make it work every night.
Around the circle they summarized their day in word, because we had to hurry after all, and then Kaitlin spoke. "Ok girls, we have to go to bed early tonight. Since you already did devotions with your cabin we're just going to pray. Grab hands and bow your head. Dear God, Thank you so much for these girls..."
While Kaitlin prayed I snuck out to the front porch and Shannon held the door for me. I carried a stack of Pizza Hut boxes back into the cabin where Kaitlin was still praying the extra long prayer we'd planned. All of the girl counselors had chipped in to do something out of the ordinary tonight. I thought the girls might smell the pepperoni but all their heads stayed down. "And thank you for things like devotions, and Colleen's birthday tomorrow, and pizza. Amen," she finished. The girls raised their heads as all the counselors yelled, "SURPRISE!"
Screaming erupted. I don't know if any group of people has ever been so excited for pizza. They each devoured their two pieces of pizza in just a few minutes, still in the darkness of devotions. Occasionally a camera flash would illuminate the room, documenting this rare event. Counselors can't bring home pizza every week but it made that night extra special.
The empty pizza boxes were stacked by the door and we all sang Happy Birthday to Colleen. The girls stopped in the bathroom to brush their teeth one more time before heading off to bed. Only one full day left of CILTs.