Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cardboard Testimonies, just what I needed

I got off at 11:15 this morning when I dropped off the CILTs to Mt. Wood, the meeting spot for all the stay-over campers. For the weekend they would be with a small group of counselors so that the rest of the staff could have just over 24 hours off.

My next stop was my parent's house on the other side of Main Field. I threw my laundry into the wash before collapsing onto my bed for a much needed nap. And there I remained for the next three and a half hours. Taking naps is not one of my strengths, but today was an exception. Being a counselor wears me out and I needed this time to recharge and refocus.

Priorities on weekends for me include two things--sleeping and eating. When I finally awoke I went with Dad, Mom, Katie, Nick and baby Lincoln to dinner. We ate good food and talked about camp and the trip we're going to take this Christmas and ate more good food. It was just what I needed. Check and Check.

Back home at camp I worked on blogging and uploading pictures, a never ending process. I was thankful for the break of camper craziness but still had this feeling that I should go visit my kids since I was in camp. They were working on planning their chapel for tomorrow and hanging out with the rest of the stay-overs and I wanted to see how they were doing.

They had already finished planning and were taking an intermission from Despicable Me for ice-cream sundaes when I arrived. Being away for just a couple hours feels like days in camp time, so many of them were surprised and excited to see me. And honestly it feels great to be missed by your kids. I ate ice-cream with a table of CILTs and had a dance party (minus the music) with Anna and little Sarah before heading home again.

I figured out when they would be having devotions and went to the Party Room to meet up with the CILTs and stay-over counselors a couple hours later. This time of the night is easily my favorite part of the day and I didn't want to miss an opportunity to share in the experience with my kids tonight. Morph, Maddie, Kenzie and Jenna led the kids in Cardboard Testimonies. One side of the cardboard is the story of our past--who we used to be, a lie we believed about ourselves or an experience we went through. The flip side is the story of the present-- who we have become, the truth God has taught us and how we're being changed now.

The CILTs stood up and shared their testimonies in-front of their friends and I was struck by their honesty and vulnerability. I've done this devotion several times but it never gets old. Some of their testimonies  I had learned in the past week and some of them I never would have guessed.

God is good. He knows exactly what I need, exactly what you need. This weekend I needed to recharge, to sleep and eat good food for sure, but more than that I needed a renewed perspective. I'm at the midpoint of CILTs for the summer. It's a strange spot to be in tonight knowing that one and a half sessions are over and there are just one and a half still to go.

This session is unique in the fact that I knew very few of these campers before they arrived last Sunday.  One of the things I've learned about myself as a counselor is that it's important for me to spend as much time with a group of kids as possible to really get to know them, to hear their stories, to figure out their dynamics. I want each session to be special and to know that I took the time to invest in the group. I'm not perfect at that by any means, it's hard to do when I'm tired or distracted by other things or waiting for something to happen.

I think tonight, going to devotions with the CILTs, was just what I needed. I needed to be reminded of the way our God works and how he shows up in our lives. I needed to hear the stories of these kids and my eyes were opened to better understand where each of them is coming from. I feel like because I know them that much more after tonight, I have this new outlook on what the next week can be. Already God is at work in them and he will continue what he has already begun.

It is such a privilege to get to be a CILT counselor, to work with this group of campers and have the opportunity to lead them for two weeks. I don't want to take that role for granted. I pray that I'll be able to give this Session everything I've got in the next week. They've been waiting to be a CILT for at least year, for many of them even longer, and I want to make this the best year at camp they've ever had. As their counselor I hope that I keep reminding them of who Christ has called them to be and teach them how to live life to the full so when they leave in a week they'll be different from who they were before all of this began.

What's not to love about camp?

I love how Annie and Maggie are such good friends to each other all the time. During the rest of the year I'm used to talking to them all the time but at camp we don't get to have those one on one talks. I love having Annie in the Longhouse because I do get to see her everyday. But with Mags up in Lake Village our times together are sporadic--that just makes them more exciting.

I love that I know I'll get to see the Day Camp counselors like Colleen, Erin and Irene at chapel everyday. And when it's only the RV in the Green Cathedral I get to sit with the Warrior CILTs like Emily and Macey.

Friday morning brought out service project at St. Elizabeth nursing home. Last session I was away for the wedding in Michigan, so I was extra excited to go and see some of my friends there.

A few CILTs have volunteered in a setting like this before and some visit their own grandparents in places like this, but for many this is a brand-new experience.

We sit and visit with our new friends and then the kids share flagpole and chapel songs that they've prepared before hand.

I don't know how much of the songs they can really understand because they're unfamiliar with the lyrics, but they have giant smiles on their faces and are obviously so excited to be surrounded by all of these young kids.

After spending our days with our adopted eight and twelve year olds this is quite the change of pace.

I love getting to hang out with my friend Ruth. She's my go to person every time I visit and we talk about the latest changes at St. E, her new crafts, about camp and teaching.

Back on the bus the kids shared stories they had heard and what they had learned about the residents. We played iPod shuffle the rest of the way back because this group is just so good at it.

We played Running Charades the rest of the morning. The CILTs were broken up into four different teams in Main Field.

In each round a counselor would tell the first runner something to act out for their team. Whoever guessed it correctly ran back to the counselor to get the next item on the list to act out. Usually we make lists of movies and TV shows, but this time each counselor made a list of their seven favorite things. Can you guess which list belongs to each counselor?

It was boiling hot out there in the Tecumseh Dust Bowl but still really fun.

When clinics were released I was so glad to find Lilly. That morning I had challenged her to find two ways to be exceptionally, out of this world nice to at least two people. She gave me a friendship bracelet and then told me about all the ways she had shown kindness that morning.

In the afternoon I took a break from finishing up last sessions Parent Letters to go to pop stop. When I got to the Trading Post I discovered they had just received a shipment of brand new royal blue quarter zip sweatshirts. I love it and had to get one right away. So did Annie and Jamie and Madison and a bunch of other counselors. I'm expecting them to be a very big hit.

Friday night equals Super Hero and Cartoon night.

The CILTs sang the Phineas and Ferb theme song at Flagpole to go along with the theme. Arielle and I enjoyed being Phil and Lil from the Rugrats.

I love great costumes and dressing up with friends.

All of the camp kids were dressed up for the night too.

Look at these best friends-- Sar and Annie, Jeremy and Eric, Haley and Natalie.

The CILT counselors came as the entire Rugrats crew-- Colleen as Chuckie, Sar and Arielle as Phil and  Lil, Jamie as Angelica and Morph as Tommy.

 Baby Lincoln got to be Baby Simba on Pride Rock during the Lion King. Burke makes a great Pongo.

Arielle was stoked to see Sarah's Buffy costume. Coll was impressed with Ellen as Wonder Woman.

During Trading Post I was so excited to be reunited with Rachel and Kathleen. Camp friends have become some of my best real life friends and it's strange to not have Rach here with me after so many summers together.

Ellen and Sarah were awesome in this week's drama skit.

I don't think Alli wanted to stop being Harry Potter. Jamie brought (Barbie) Olivia Odle to campfire with her.

Next I was reunited with Katie Quille and Sarah Scott. Katie and I met when we were CILTs together in 2003 and was one of my very best camp friends during my early years as a counselor.

Sarah Scott and I go all the way back to Girls State in High School before she started as a counselor here too. I'm so thankful that even though we're separated by distance and busy schedules she continues to be a consistent friend. When she left tonight she said, "Ok, see you at Christmas!" and even though it's far away I can't wait to see her again.

I'm so thankful for the people that are the main characters of this summer. Friends like Arielle and Jamie  and Colleen and Morph that I get to spend practically all day everyday with. People like Annie that are so loving and positive and helpful. This is an awesome staff, an incredible camp family to be a part of.

The LV Color War shields led the way to week 3 closing campfire.

Gathered there were even more old friends. These are the people that I spent my first couple summers working with. They were on Resident and Day Camp staff in those years and the ones I first learned to be a counselor alongside. It was so fun having all of them back again.

It was awesome having all of them up front handing out four-year bandanas to kids. Such a blast from the past.

I love that Closing Campfire is the event of the week. Every person at camp is gathered together for the grand finale to the session. I get to see Warrior girls like Devon and see Mags for a second.

Everyone does their cheers and there is a series of clinic performances. I'm continually impressed by how brave these kids are to perform in-front of 700 people. We had martial arts, show choir and hip-hop from both River and Lake Village.

I was really impressed by the Sweet Tea Trio show choir performance and by how well those River girls whipped their hair. Willow would be impressed. And it was a special treat when Jamie, Arielle and I got to join Country Line Dancing for this week's Happy Girl performance.

I love this camp. I love these campers. I love our traditions. I love the way camp makes people feel. I love what we learn and value in this place. I love how faith is alive here.

The Saturday morning between sessions is kind of funny since none of the CILTs are leaving. We get to help with adopted cabin check-outs but then have the weekend to rest up for the second half. I'm glad our time is only partway through because I still want to get to know these kids so much better.

Today I'm thankful for my old campers like Erin O'Farrell, current CILT girls like Emma Servies, and younger girls that I love like Lucy Welch. So many generations of awesomeness.

Week 3 was a great one. Now to rest up before the next one begins.