Monday, March 30, 2015

"My high is that I raised my F to a D. I'm actually really good at math. I just like to rebel against my teachers."

For times a year Camp Tecumseh releases the Tecumseh Tales, a newsletter meets magazines of pictures, stories, interviews, updates and a magical mix of summer camp nostalgia. I love when I see the link in my inbox and read it right away. Mike Lang, the editor in chief, always does a phenomenal job of putting it all together. You can read the whole thing here. Today I really loved an essay by Joel, our summer camp director, about our exceptional staff that made me really proud to work at Tecumseh.  Here is just a bit of what he wrote...

"What makes Tecumseh counselors different? How can we say that our staff is the best?.. I would refer to the comments we get from campers and parents throughout the year, parents who say their kids dream of being like their counselor Sarah when they get older, or kids who ask their parents to buy the same shampoo as Emerson so they can be just like him. I’d refer to parents who call me in tears because of the way that their child has “magically” transformed into a better version of himself after just one week at camp. I’d also refer to what happens during the 51 weeks that our campers aren’t sharing a cabin with their counselors—when campers and counselors exchange weekly letters (yes, real letters, not emails or texts!) to keep in touch, when counselors coordinate with a camper’s parent to show up at a recital or sporting event, or when a camper is having a rough time at school and the first person they turn to for help is their Camp Tecumseh counselor. 

Tecumseh counselors are the best because these college students would rather spend their time at a 7th grade basketball game rooting on their campers than going out. Tecumseh counselors are the best because they would rather spend their last weekend of their Christmas break back at camp for a CILT reunion or a winter planning session than crashed on the couch watching Netflix. A lot of camps have counselors who are dedicated to their camp for the summer. Tecumseh has counselors who are dedicated to their camp for life. Tecumseh has the best counselors because 90 years of experience tells us, from those first 10 campers who came from the tiny town of Brookston in 1924, to the thousands of campers who now come from all over, that our staff members change lives. Not just here, but all over the world."

In honor of J (aka my camp boss Joel) and only 60 days still summer camp staff training, here is a painting inspired by his favorite phrase. I also posted it to Instagram and he commented, "I would hang this in my office. Then when appropriate I would just point at this sign."

Since it's Monday it's only fitting and predictable that we would have a little ode to Young Life...

I love sitting around a table with adults that love kids and love Jesus. I love that we're a mixture of old and new friends that know what makes each other's hearts tick from our friendships to our hatred of Reba. These leaders give up hours of their week to meet kids where they are, but the more we dive into this ministry the less that it feels like work and the more that it looks like joy.

I love the family of kids that show up here each week. My hope and prayer is that every single one of them will always know that they are loved, welcomed and accepted here. We're different and alike at the same time. That's confusing to people on the outside-- they don't get how everyone could belong, how these unlikely friendships could be formed.

I love that this is space we create together on Monday nights is a safe and holy one. Sometimes we talk about how Tecumseh is holy ground, that God is protecting it and that he's undeniably present there. I think the same could be said about any time we meet together as a YL family for Campaigners or Club. Baggage can be checked at the door, acceptance is a given, there are no expectations except that you do you.

I love that for KCraig and I and so many other leaders, the kids we work with become something between our friends, little sisters, students, partners in crime and fellow adventurers. We do this thing called life together and realize that all of life is spiritual-- not just Sunday mornings or Monday nights. These friendships, these bonds, are some of the most valuable parts of our lives and we wouldn't trade them for anything.

I love that we're living lives of transformation. Only through God's grace and strength could the stories we've witnessed together have ever happened. I wonder if the Bible was written today if you would read stories about some of these people-- stories about our friends Chloe and Jackie and Jenna and Hannah. Their lives are stories that are such a beautiful novel of mistakes and triumphs, hope and blind faith, courage and fear, surprises and steady patience. I see God's love in each of them.

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