Good morning from the ever so beautiful Albuquerque, NM! My best friend and I drove the almost 9 hours here yesterday because she has a job interview!! I tagged along because I love driving, she hates it, and I’m used to driving to New Mexico since Matt lives here most of the time. Also I just love roadtrippin’ so why not?
Something you’ll hear me talk about quite a bit is how life-changing going to or working at a summer camp is. It’s my favorite conversation topic. “So this one time at camp…” I know a lot of you will probably roll your eyes at me and say “Mary, all you ever talk about is camp, can you find a new topic?” Well the answer is no, and I’m going to tell you why.
When you send your kids to camp for a week (or two, or the whole summer depending on where you send them), you’re not only sending them to a place where they will have fun, you’re sending them to a place where they will branch out and meet new people. You’re sending them to a place where they will learn to be an independent person, where they will grow as a person. And I’m not saying this because I was a camp counselor for 2 years, I’m saying this because I was a camper for almost 9 years.
Camp was where I was able to get away from mom, dad, and my “annoying” brothers for a week and be free to ask questions that maybe I didn’t feel comfortable asking my parents. It was a week where I got to stay in a cabin with a gaggle of girls and giggle every night about which boy was the cutest, or talk about something that we were struggling with at home and still be loved and supported no matter what. We were all in it together, whether that mean’t taking a buddy to go to the bathroom in the woods during camp-out night and then proceeding to have that buddy run back to tell a counselor you had fire ants crawling all up your legs and in your pants (true story my friends), or hiking to the top of elephant graveyard during the heat of the day and banding together to share what water we had left in our water bottles so nobody got dehydrated. Shoot, I met people at camp as a camper that I still talk to!
Sure I made really great friends and grew a whole lot when I was a camper, but when you work as a counselor it’s a whole different ballgame. I always wanted to be a counselor when I was a camper so when I was finally able to be one I was absolutely ecstatic! YES! I was going to be one of the people that kids looked up to! I would get to help kids grow in their faith! I was going to get to spend basically my entire summer outdoors and in nature! SCORE! While all those things are great, what I didn’t realize is how much I would grow in my faith those summers I worked. I didn’t realize that I would gain some of my absolute favorite memories, or that the people I would work with would become people I couldn’t even imagine doing life without. I didn’t realize that camp would change me even as a 19 year old. Obviously I was wrong.
While working at camp, kids would ask questions in bible study that I never would have thought about. The spiritual advisers who came to be more in depth at bible study and lead vespers in the evenings not only helped kids be more in touch with God, but also me. Who would’ve thought that something meant for kids would change my life too? God works in mysterious ways my friends and the Holy Spirit is ever present at camps like Camp Gilmont.
Like I said previously, I met some of my absolute best friends while working at camp. Friends that I honestly don’t know how I handled life before that without. When you work at camp, you gain a second family. Your co-counselors are the people who at the end of the day are going to support you no matter what. They are the people who know what you’re like when you’re at your worst; sweaty, exhausted, and usually pretty irritable because of the first two. They are the people who when kids do or say something that just knocks you off your feet, or makes you want to die of laughter, you tell. They are people who genuinely care about how you’re doing even though you probably hadn’t even have met them until you started staff training. They know you. Like, actually know you. Your co-counselors are people you share your life goals and ambitions with. You create memories that last you a lifetime. Memories like: sitting in your hammock talking to each other because one of you heard an animal/felt an animal run under your hammock and is terrified to sleep, or mattress surfing down the stairs of a church while there for a traveling camp (sorry Liz!), or having to keep 15 5 yr olds interested in an activity for an hour and a half and taking them on a special “hunt” through the church to find the secret tunnel before the weebles get to you.
Your co-counselors keep you sane 90% of the time and drive you to insanity the other 10%. But it’s 100% worth it because at the end of the day you can laugh about it and spend the afternoon you have off eating good food and playing super mario party in the staff lounge or even better: sleeping.
Moral of this post is that camp is life-changing for all ages. I highly recommend you send your kids for a week this summer, or work as a counselor at least once. If you don’t know where to send your kids/where to work as a counselor, I highly recommend Camp Gilmont. Applications for camp staff close Janaury 31 so be sure to apply soon!!