A camp story
My first year on Day Camp staff I lived with Weeds, one of the craziest and most creative counselors I've ever known. Her curly red hair matched her personality and she taught me so much about making every week of the summer special for our campers. About halfway through the summer, we decided that every devotion that week would happen somewhere other than our cabin. We wanted to take advantage of all the other spots in camp that would make a devotion memorable.
The girls were in their pajamas when we left our cabin in the O.C. "We've got to walk far tonight," Weeds told them, "stay close together." It was pitch black outside and even though we were at camp, the happiest place on Earth, the woods seemed creepy. The girls all stuck close and the beams from our flashlights bounced all over the gravel road as we walked. Weeds lead us up the giant hill and down the lake road that cuts through the Oak Forest. We whispered as we walked, our hushed voices blending in with the sounds of cicadas and owls. A few girls shown their flashlights into the woods, lighting up the area between trees for a brief second until they turned it back to the path.
After several minutes we got to the beachfront at the lake. Weeds unlocked the boathouse and told all of the girls to put on a life jacket. "We're not going swimming," she promised, but the girls were obviously scared about what was coming next. The girls were used to devotions around a candle, no life jacket required. Weeds and I grinned, excited for what was coming next.
We led the girls in a single file line down the white plastic dock. It rocked with our weight, making tiny waves in the water. Weeds climbed into the lifeguard paddle boat and unhooked it from the dock. "Abby, Lizzie, Meredith- you girls first," she reached out her hand to help them cross over. I stayed with the rest of the cabin on the dock and we watched as Weeds rowed the boat over to the side of the giant floating trampoline. One by one, the girls climbed up the ladder onto the trampoline. Weeds made the trip back and forth until our whole cabin was up there together. Sitting in a circle, we just fit on the black circle.
The girls said their highs and lows to start, many of them saying, "My high of the day is right now." This was an adventure. The sky was black above us, clouds covered the sky and most of the moon. We could see porch lights on the other side of the lake and pieces of conversation floated over the empty space to us. Water lapped up against the sides of the trampoline.
We finished the devotion Weeds had planned but we didn't want to leave yet. Everyone laid back as if we were making snow angels and stared up at the sky. It had been cloudy all day long but just then the clouds above us disappeared. It was like someone had cut a perfect hole into the sky right above our circle of girls. The stars were incredible. They shone brighter that night than I had ever seen before.
"You are holy," Weeds started singing the song we had sung in chapel that morning. "You are mighty," all of the girls joined in. Together we sang, our words rising up in the air, somewhere between us and the thousands of stars above. Almost all campers come from towns and cities where you can barely see the stars. Looking up at them as we sang together than night, we felt closer to God than we ever could have inside the walls of our cabin. Song after song, we continued to sing together until the clouds moved back to cover the stars. Time to go.
Weeds climbed back down the ladder into the boat and took groups of girls back to the dock. I am so thankful for the simplicity of camp. During the rest of the year we're surrounded by traffic lights, car horns, tall buildings, and sidewalks. But tonight it was just the lake and the stars up above us. Nothing else really mattered. I took in a deep breath, feeling content and peaceful. I wish we could have stayed there all night.