I have some great memories of summer camp, so I couldn’t wait to give my own kids the same kind of camp experience. My oldest daughter, Simone, is super outgoing, so I never worried about her having a good time at camp. But my second daughter, Brynn, is a bit more reserved. It takes her awhile to warm up to new situations and new people, so I thought she might have a hard time being away from home for an entire week. I solved this dilemma by volunteering as a camp counselor.
How hard could it be to spend a week with a group of 8-year-olds?
I soon realized that my own camp experience was more like a week’s vacation at a lodge. This camp, however, was more of an outdoor experience. In fact, everything we did—eating, singing, playing—was all outdoors. The only thing that resembled a building was the one bathroom down the hill.
We slept in teepees. Yes, actual teepees with canvas draped around wooden poles to form a cone-shaped tent. Our teepee was open at the top, too, so we could lay in our sleeping bags and watch the stars while falling asleep.
Every day involved a fairly substantial hike—all of it across rocky terrain. Those poor little 8-year-old legs were quivering and shaking by the time we arrived at our daily destinations. To be honest, my legs were quivering and shaking too. I kept telling myself: It’s all worth it because Brynn and I are creating memories together. For the first time, Brynn was experiencing the whole campfire thing. Singing songs with silly motions. Watching skits with crazy characters. Listening to stories while smoke from the campfire floated away. This was camp. And I loved it.
Amidst all the fun, I prayed for Brynn and the other girls in my teepee.
I prayed that God would meet each one in a special way. The mom-counselor in the teepee next door shared at counselor time how her daughter had accepted Jesus into her heart. Oh, yes, this! This was my heart’s desire. I remembered her daughter the evening before at campfire. She was in her own world—with hands raised, eyes closed. It was all so very sweet. I wanted this for my Brynn, too.
By week’s end, I was tired and sore. I couldn’t wait to sleep in my own bed. More than anything, though, I hoped that something more meaningful than losing a couple pounds would come out of this weeklong adventure. Then on the last night of camp, as the girls were climbing into their sleeping bags, Brynn whispered to me, “You know what, Mom? Even though Jesus is a boy, I still think He’s okay.”
No hands raised. No eyes closed. Just a kid in a teepee.
But in its own way, it was just as sweet. And it made my week.
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