Summer 2011 may have been a year and a half ago, but the kids, counselors and memories of that summer still stand out as being some of the best of my camp history. This weekend we gathered together for a final official reunion, the third that this group has had. Because I've been caught up in other things lately I had been less immersed in the preparations for the event but it ended up being one of the best.
48 kids and 6 counselors ended up coming together for 25 hours at their favorite place on Earth. We missed our CILT friends that couldn't make it and especially Krafty who is now working for the Air Force. But those of that showed up had one heck of a party.
The December reunion is a constant go-go-go but the ones in the Spring are much more subdued. We definitely still play games and do weird, silly camp things, but we also have plenty of time to just be together and hang out. There is more focus on intentional conversation and building relationships.
We had a couple different group games in the afternoon and a Tri-Session Minute to Win It Challenge Competition.
Many representatives got to step up to the plate to out-perform the others in things like balancing dice, unwinding streamers, pulling Kleenex out of the box, blowing a deck of cards off a pop can, balancing a Diet Coke can on its side and stacking Oreos on their forehead.
Of course it was fun to watch the kids playing the games, but I liked watching the audience just as much. We played 4 on a Couch too, one of my favorite games.
We dressed up as "Old People" for dinner together. After a few Goodwill trips and perusing through our relatives closets we all looked pretty good. It was difficult perfecting how to talk but we know how to walk and we know what to say.
"Get off my lawn! More prunes and tapioca. Kids these days. Did I tell you about my hip replacement? Turn down that blasted music. Well back in my day..."
We walked into the dining hall and passed by a group of Indian Princesses and their fathers. They were a little thrown off by our attire. One of the little girls saw my outfit and said, "Oh, were you with the horses today?" Still not sure about that comment...
Lizzy and Mary did a great job leading us in grace.
I love these people. Getting to be back with Evan, Mel and Arielle for the weekend was just what I needed. I think I laughed more the summer I worked with them and Krafty than any other. I love that we're all so different and we each bring unique talents and gifts to the table. Just look at them, high-caliber folks right there.
Did I mention they can dance? Lizzy taught us her moves and we shook and shimmied all over the floor, well as much as our old bones would allow.
This crew of kids is dynamite. Annie, Samantha and Amanda were telling me on the way to camp about how they'd tried to explain this to their friends at school all week. No one really gets why these Seniors would want to come back to camp with kids they met two summers ago, dress up in weird outfits, play games, talk about faith and life and just hang out. But to all of us it makes total sense. We wouldn't want to do anything other than this.
It's been way too long since I'd seen girls like Katie Trchka, Whitney and Katie Cantlon. They each have so much personality and zeal for the life they're living. I love their confidence that they don't care what anyone else thinks about them. They'll just keep living this life they're proud of. Their day to day interactions with people are making a positive difference in the world.
It wouldn't be a complete camp meal if Reagan, one of the camp kids, didn't show up at our dance party. That girl is a star.
I'm going to miss being an old person. Hopefully I'll get to break out that dress and sweater again soon.
Back in the Riv we had a #tbt baby picture challenge. I'd like to crown Arielle Brosman as the MVP of recognizing everyone's younger self.
We had a few different options for our last activity of the night and decided to try a dance party. Sometimes it's difficult to judge how into it a group is going to be, it's always more fun if everyone is involved. These CILTs did not disappoint. They arrived with the funk from the first song and they danced hard. They even requested one more song after the whole thing was over. I'd even venture to say that this could rank in my top five dance parties ever.
There weren't even that many of us, but we were so enthusiastic Jordan had to warn us about not all jumping at the same time so we wouldn't make the lodge collapse. I love that we all knew the same routine for the chorus of "I Knew You Were Trouble" and that when Rachel started leading zumba we all just joined in.
Everyone circled up in the Party Room for devotions as a giant group. We talked about Jon's post about Rising Macro-Morality and Declining Micro-Morality. It's amazing to see the growth in these kids' ability to talk about things like this. Compared to two summers ago they're so much better at putting their ideas together. They think differently about the world now and have new hopes for their own life. They're still in the midst of figuring it all out but they're making huge strides.
I'm so thankful for a space where we can talk about things that matter. So many kids say that devotions and chapel are their favorite parts of camp and reunions. They want to talk about this stuff, they're hungry for it and many of them aren't getting filled like this back at home. One of the girls told me if we had church every Sunday at camp she would drive the hour and a half to be there.
The girls came back to the Longhouse and the boys bunked up in Catawba before we finally went to sleep. I love that Erin still comes to sit on my bunk and talk to me just like she did when she was a CILT. I love that Rachel tinkers around with her guitar, we can hear laughter coming from circles of girls and whispers from pairs sitting on top bunks. If we didn't turn off the lights they probably could have stayed up talking all night.
Early in the morning we hiked back up to the LV for a baked oatmeal breakfast. Granted it was beyond freezing, but the walk in between villages is one of my favorite things. Singing country songs with girls on the way back to chapel and the Christian songs from our childhood with the counselors was so fun.
Back in the Party Room Morph played guitar as we sang some of our favorite chapel songs. Mel masterminded a brand-new skit to illustrate how we can help each other move some obstacles out of our lives but ultimately we have to make the final push to having a relationship with Christ. I love the way Mel's mind works and how she is so good at coming up with visuals that help all of us connect.
We did Love Tanks in the middle of chapel. The first time the guys had ever done this activity, it was really neat to do it all together. As music played in the background we wrote so many notes of encouragement, support, affirmation and motivation. I hope that we never forget that our words have the power to make a difference. I've been getting love tank notes for several years but they never get old. I can always use more encouragement so I know that other people must feel the exact same way.
We broke off into small group teams about four times throughout the weekend. Our group of 15 met in the front of the office, circled up sharing our stories. Each person had a turn to tell us about their family, an experience that impacted them and explain their hopes and fears for the next year. After they finished, everyone else collectively asked four questions. I've known these kids for so long but still didn't know many of the things they talked about on their turn.
This was easily one of my favorite parts of this whole weekend. There were several silences between questions or stories when everyone would nervously laugh because they felt like it was awkward. We're not used to sitting and listening to each other like that. Without our phones to distract us from the quiet we were forced to look at each other. Weird. But thankfully camp brings us back to a culture where we say that connectig and authentic communication is really important.
It's interesting to see which kids make it back a year and a half after they were CILTs. We had Dan, Christa, Will, Whitney, Katie, Erin, Katie, Nina, Boocher, Michelle and Rachel from Session 3.
Session 2 brought back Whitney, Blake, Will, Maggie, Laurel, Natalie, Sarah, Grace, Lizzy, Mary, Karisa, Britt, Irene, Caroline, Abby and Allie.
Session 1 had the largest turn out with Lydia, Nick, Jen, Joey, Jack, Caleb, Madison, Bri, Mimi, Kat, Annie, Cat, Samantha, Amanda, Rachel, Claire, Ryan and Rob.
In our small group during Evan's time I asked him what was one important thing he learned at camp. He talked about the relationships and friendships he has made at this place. He's still friends with people he met as a camper when they were little kids and he has always believed that it's important to stay in touch with people. Evan got put in the Yurt at the last second before we started Summer 2011 and it was the best way things could have worked out for Team CILT. I'm so thankful that even though we don't all work together anymore these people are still such an important part of my life.
This weekend was bittersweet. Getting to see all of these old friends and spend time together was such a gift, but for many of us it might be the last time we see each other for a very long time. But I know that we'll stay in touch even if it's from a distance because we all value these relationships.
I'm thankful for Erin and Katie that love to have heart to heart to conversations. I love Sarah and Mary's enthusiasm for everything that they do and how they're both so incredibly cool. Madison and Michelle both have such huge hearts and are always kind to everyone they meet.
Lizzy is one of the most courageous and inspiring kids I know. Claire is always genuine and compassionate.
(Unsentimenatl sidenote: I think this photo should be blown up and framed in camp somewhere.)
Rachel is one of the most consistent kids I know and I'm inspired by how she leads the people around her. I love that Will is so sincere and uplifting to everyone he knows.
Even if they've only met at reunions, these kids have grown so close and really feel like a family.
Whitney and Abby are both resilient. I admire their ability to show perseverance through any situation and hold on to hope.
Kid President would be proud of us this weekend. We certainly gave each other a reason to dance.