Post details: Happy Campers
Permalink 06/18/08 09:50:37 pm
Surprise! Here I am! It's not very kind of me toward anyone who is actually
concerned about my welfare to write a big post about having my wisdom teeth
out and then disappear for a month, is it? I suppose I could spin you out
some yarn about horrible complications, hospitalization and a lengthy,
drawn-out recovery, far away from computers. Truthfully, though, with the
exception of a pretty big hole in my lower jaw where I think they used
dynamite to extract a particularly stubborn tooth, my recovery was just
about as smooth as it could be. I did go back once, because I was certain I
could see exposed bone way down in the bottom of that hole, only to discover
that it was just some of my lunch. The oral surgeon tried manfully not to
laugh at me, and sent me away with a nifty little syringe to rinse out that
Mostly, I've just been extra busy. We have a lot going on this month, and no
time to do anything extra. It's another one of those "sleeping optional"
One of the things that has kept me from the computer is the week that Lion
and I spent as counselors for Senior High church camp. What an incredible
experience! It's been a lot for me to digest, which is why it's taken me
half a week to get any of it into words. I'm going to try and limit myself
to just a few anecdotes (after the jump, so you don't have to read if you
don't want to), but I can't guarantee that it won't keep cropping up here
and there in my writing.
He is so very different from the other kids. So much of what they consider
normal, he might never experience. Lion and I exchange glances as he hovers
around the registration table, near the cluster of counselors. This week
is going to be more of a challenge than we thought. Both of us, Lion
especially, (as this boy is in his cabin) are envisioning a week spent
guarding him from the teasing of the other kids. He is so very different.
He ends up on a bunk above one of the biggest trouble makers in camp, a boy
uncomfortable with himself, trying desperately to prove himself a "big shot"
during his first year of Senior High camp. Lion girds himself for disaster.
And it never comes.
He is so different from them. He talks differently. He walks differently.
But every camper, without exception, treats him with dignity, kindness,
respect, and love. They help him read his Bible. They help him with some of
the more physically challenging activities throughout the week. They engage
him in conversation, and are genuinely interested in him, in his life. They
see him not as a target for ridicule, but as one more child of God.
He is so different from them. But here, he is the same.
I'm a spaz. I admit it freely. What I never realized is what an asset a
general sense of spazziness can be when counseling high school students. To
be truthful, I was actually kind of anxious about the whole idea. I mean,
after all, what if they didn't think I was cool? I wasn't a very popular
teen back in the day, and once you add in being just another dumb adult,
well, that's just dork squared.
I hadn't counted on my lovely co-counselor.
The first night, before campers arrived, I staggered to my cabin under the
weight of the world's heaviest duffle bag, that I still wasn't sure had
everything I would need for the week (it didn't, by the way). There, on the
other side of the cabin, was a veritable shrine to organization. My
"roommate" had needed to return home for the evening, but before she had
gone, she had unpacked and set up her side of the cabin. Everything was
neat, tidy and accounted for. Here she was with real sheets on her mattress,
a neat set of stacking bins set up to be a multi-purposed night stand, and a
giant rolling tackle box for her curriculum materials; and there I was with
a sleeping bag, a duffle bag to prop my alarm clock on, and a notepad that I
was rapidly covering in my own illegible scrawl. Talk about the odd couple!
Luckily, it didn't take me long (like, say, until the next day) to realize
that all that organization was just a thin disguise for another spaz like
myself! Each morning we serenaded our campers awake, reveling in our
dorkiness, and each evening we defied lights out, just a little, to read
kids stories to our high school aged campers.
The funniest thing about it, though, is that even after a whole week of just
being goofy and out there, the campers in our cabin still referred me as the
So no, they didn't think I was a dork, and even if they did, they liked me
anyway. I had the greatest group of girls in my cabin, and I even got a
solid adult friendship out of the deal. What more could a ex-high school
misfit wish for?
During this past week, I kept hearing from other counselors, "You look so
peaceful." What I may have realized then, but couldn't put into words, is
that camp is like a hole in reality. Only, instead of the fabric of the
universe being rubbed thin, it is as if all the junk, and mud, and trouble
of everyday life is scraped away, to reveal God, right there where God
always is, if we only take the time to look. Returning to the "real world,"
I've tried to keep that perspective with me.
There is so much more. So much more. So many individual stories, so many
lessons, so many great people. But I think I will leave it here for now.
Like I said, it will keep cropping up, so if I think of something else, I
will try and write it, hopefully before another month has passed!