Some people say that Camp T is the closest thing they know to heaven on Earth. I know what they mean. It's here that we're excited to jump out of bed every morning because we know it's going to be a great day before it even begins. Whether we've known them for a summer or for over a decade, the counselors we work and sweat and play and worship and teach and dance alongside become like our family.
The kids that stay in our cabins for a week make us laugh, make us want to wait in the blob line for 30 minutes just because they love it so much, make us really get why it's better to live your life for someone else, and sometimes they even make us cry when they leave in their parent's car on Saturday morning. It's at camp that so many people have found what they're most passionate about and found a joy that transforms their life. Over and over again I witness people connecting with God during chapel and devotions on a deeper level than they have anywhere else.
This place isn't perfect by any means--there are still people that frustrate you, days when nothing seems to go right, you can only eat so many corn dogs, and you never feel completely clean. But we take the challenges in stride because we wouldn't trade this camp life for anything.
I was reading Haley George's recent blog post about a road trip she took across the US with one of her friends. Her words reminded me of what we feel and experience at camp, "It was truly a week of adventure and intention and spontaneity and whimsical living. It was reinforced as many times as we blasted the song "Wide Open Spaces" that i don't ever want to bore myself by living a life of doing things that don't matter. I always want to be dependent and obedient. I want to choose something adventurous every morning that I wake up, and I can. I never want to settle for anything less than the full life to which Jesus has called me."
That decision to live life to the full has been one of the most significant things for me. It makes it easier to say yes to the things and people that will fill up my life and to say no to the activities or people that won't help me. If God has called us to live life to the full then we've got to believe that he has great plans in store for us, that he has made us for a purpose and he's going to be right there with us every step of the adventure. These lyrics remind me of that truth, "Your love never fails and never gives up, it never runs out on me." I wish I could get that song to run on repeat all day long around me.
It's been 11 days since we moved out of our cabins and back into the real world. If we were still there now it would be the middle of week 11, the River would have just finished a game of Gold Rush and everyone would now probably be practicing their back flips from the high dive at the pool. I'm actually sitting at my desk in my classroom, waiting to go to dinner and then come back for parent night. I'm miles and hours away from Brookston, IN but my mind keeps going back to that place.
Camp has an affect on you that sticks--you can't stop thinking about it after you leave. Alumni come back for decades, campers proudly wear their unit shirts to school, CILTs get on Facebook multiple times a day just to reread their Session's group wall and counselors put photos of their cabins all over their dorm rooms. We all miss the faces of the people who made our summer so memorable.
I know I'm not alone in this sentiment when I see posts from friends like Alex Defreeuw, "It's a little past due, but this summer has been one of the most amazing summers of my life. When it was all said and done I have met some of the most amazing people that I now consider best friends, I have learned so much about myself as a person, and have had the privilege of working at one of the best YMCA camps in the entire nation. Nothing better than the feeling you get while you're there with the staff and with campers each week. I truly have been blessed to work at Camp Tecumseh, and wouldn't change any of it for the world.
Until next time Camp T - It's been real!"
Last week Jack McGee vlogged in Team CILT about the similarities between a small island in Maine and Camp T. At the end he said, "For some of us it's only been a week or two since we were at camp, for others it's been over a year, but that doesn't change the fact that we all went through the same awesome and life-changing experience of being a camper and a CILT. We all laughed at our inside CILT jokes, we all cried at that last closing campfire and we all wanted to scream at each other during RFAJWD. My hope and prayer is that no matter where life takes you, you will always take a piece of camp with you and share it with others. After all, the greatest treasure of all is the glow that you feel when a child reflects our love in his face. So make friendship bracelets, talk in foreign accents just because you can, and most importantly don't forget to be third and have a great day."
We may not get to see the faces of the camp people we have grown to love everyday, and it might not be socially acceptable to walk around in just your swimsuit anymore, but camp will continue to stick with you. I love that. Even after the Torchbearers cry in their candlelit line, after the CILTs graduate, after counselors get their Green Jacket, camp just sticks to you and continues to impact the person you are all year round if you let it.