Sunday, March 4, 2012


For the second year in a row, we invited the CILTs back to camp one more time for a Spring reunion. We put 'Welcome Home' signs on all of the cabin doors because this place does feel like our second home and these people are our family. We'd been looking forward to this for three weeks and everyone that could come was just so excited for what lay ahead.

I love when everyone arrives. All of the kids swarm the cars, attacking their friends in a giant group hug, practically smothering one another in pure joy. We are the cliche of screaming, running to your friend, embracing and jumping up and down. It's a beautiful thing to witness people so incredibly excited to be reunited.

One of my favorite things about last summer was getting work with Mel, Arielle, Kraft and Evan everyday. They are an incredible group of counselors as well as incredible people. It was so fun to be back working with Mel and Arielle for a couple days but we really missed the guys and wished they could have been with us.

First thing, we sent all of the CILTs over to Trader Jim's to wait while we finished setting up the first activity. We were shocked when we walked in and they had taken the initiative to make a circle and start playing Down By The Banks. Classic camp.

We played 150 Bracelets, a new original game for the weekend, and were only slightly thrown off by one of the buckets falling through a window and alliances that didn't really work out. I still think we'd call it a success. One of the things I miss when I'm away is how you feel emotions to the tenth degree at camp. I laughed till I cried more times that I could count this weekend--I've missed that feeling of being so happy you can't even handle it. I talked in my excited voice the whole time we were at camp.

Arielle squeezed into a window, typical Arielle, and we played the message across the room game.

Everyone was so excited to play Fugitive when we started. I was one of the six fugitives, and paired up with Irene. When you're running through the woods, trying to keep an eye out for the 50 people tracking you, it's impossible to not feel scared and hunted. We should have waited everyone out but were too excited and tried to make a break for it too early. Irene and I sprinted once we started getting chased by a pack of girls. I made a break away from everyone and attempted to hide behind a bush. I was found and tagged out by Emily Nix.

While we waited for the last two fugitives to emerge from the woods everyone got bored and cold and opted for taking some pictures instead of searching the forest.

Eventually Maggie and Miles reappeared and made it to Irving without getting caught.

Our dinner theme was COLOR! COLOR! COLOR!

I couldn't get over how everyone just looked so fun. Even though we were wearing long sleeves and pants, all this color made it feel a bit more like summer.

These girls definitely had the energy of summer camp still going strong.

I was thrilled at dinner to find Reagan and Braden. Reagan ran up and jumped on me and we got to chat about life and camp and school and all the important stuff. Camp kids are the best.

Girl Scouts were one of the other groups at camp this weekend and some of the CILTs found name twins and mini best friends. While Mel, Arielle and I are still entertaining on our own, our CILT counselor pic wasn't quite complete without Fratopher and Bike Chain.

Circles naturally happen at camp. We know that in a circle everyone is part of the conversation- all weekend long the kids formed circles to talk with old and new friends.

We had a facebook stalking test and learned interesting things about each other, played spontaneous Sardines, and found our friend Frederick the deer.

Granted we got to all live together for two weeks this past summer, but when we're apart for months at a time one day feels like such an incredible celebration of togetherness. Every time I saw Karisa or Erin or Irene or Lizzy they would give me another hug. I wanted to just sit down with everyone and hear something really true about their life.

There was a cabin riddle challenge...
some chili eating...

and hanging out with friends...

One of the funniest parts of the weekend may have been when we split into groups and made up choreographed routines for a dance off.

We heard routines to Stronger, Someone Like You/Rumor Has It, We Fell In Love and Down. These kids have talent.

I'm always impressed with their creativity and goofiness.

"Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead."

Inspired by Young Life events, one of my dreams for camp came true and we had a CILT Dance Party Rave.

The room kind of just looked like this, a wild blur of glow sticks, and I couldn't stop yelling, "THIS IS SO COOL!" as we danced all over Trader Jim's.

But once your eyes adjusted you could kind of tell who the people dancing all around you were. It was hot and smelly but goodness was it fun. We bernied, we wobbled, we two stepped, we dougied, we jerked, we sang and we danced until we thought we couldn't dance anymore.

We did devotions together in Trader Jim's and wrote our own Psalms of Lament, Thanksgiving and Praise. Sometimes I think we just need time to write, to process, to pray. It's harder to do that at home when it's not built into your schedule. It was so good to have that time together this weekend.  Different people shared the Psalm they had written and I was blown away- not by how good their words were, but by their honesty, their hope and belief , and their stories of how Christ is working in their life.

We eventually headed back to our cabins late that night. The girls went back to talk and write love tanks. We're pretty calm after midnight.

But the boys on the other hand went to work building a giant maze out of mattresses through their cabin.

We woke up bright and early for the trek to breakfast in the Main Lodge. Everyone was in a sleepy daze and ready for french toast and coffee. There was an impromptu talent show and I was most impressed by the made-up languages these kids know.

Then we had a bit of a surprise. Everyone gathered into the fellowship room and had this reaction when they saw...

Krafty Skyping in from Air Force Officer Training in Alabama. He got to tell them stories about what he's been doing there and the kids filled him in on what we'd been up to all weekend. I know he wishes he could have been there with us, so it was really great that we could talk to him for at least a little bit.

We had chapel together and introduced The Stand and Give Me Faith as well as singing some camp classics like Mighty To Save, All in All, In Christ Alone and Faith, Faith, Faith. Mel talked to us about contentment and appreciating what Christ has given us today; it's hard to not get caught up in what we want to happen or wishing we could go back to a time when things were easier. I'm just so thankful that it's part of our culture to talk about these things, to sing songs about Christ, to pray together.

Throughout the weekend we met in smaller groups of about twelve people to share some of our life stories with each other. On their turn, everyone told about their family, about a significant experience they had, and a dream for their life. Then the rest of the group asked them five questions. I loved getting to hear more about all of the kids I was in a group with. Even after spending two weeks together this summer, there is still so much we don't know about each other.

For a lot of kids I think the small groups were their favorite part. In just 25 hours they got to really know so many people well and become best friends with people they'd just met. When they heard other people's stories it reinforced the fact that they are not alone with whatever they're going through.

Katie told us that when she told her friends at home that she was coming to camp for a CILT reunion they said, "Oh, you're going to see all of your camp friends?" and she said, "No, I'm going to see my best friends."

These friends don't forget about you when you drive back home at the end of the weekend . These friends still care about your story, they're their when you need someone to listen or pray for you, they accept you for who you are, they make time for you in their life even when they're hours away.

Being a CILT counselor has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. I'm so thankful for the counselors I've gotten to lead with and all of the campers that have been part of the CILT program.

We've become friends; first quickly in the two weeks we were at camp and then those friendships continued to deepen as we stay in touch. We've shared in adventures, in struggles, in dance parties, in reunions.

There were about fifty of us here together but we missed the rest of our CILT friends that couldn't make it to be here with us. They're each an important piece of this group and we wish they could have shared this with us.

Some of these kids will be returning in just a few months for Day Camp staff training while others don't know when they'll come back again. Even if they don't return to Camp T, this place and these people will still be a part of them.

Without a doubt, camp is biggest influence on who I am today. The people I met in this place and the things I experienced  here have shaped and molded me into who I am. They showed me who I want to be and helped me decide what I value. I think that's why I love CILTs so much. I can see that in their own way these kids have been transformed by camp too and they want it to continue to influence their life.

This weekend was the perfect escape back to camp life. I loved every second. I miss it already.

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