So, today marks the first day of my third week as a camp counselor, and let me tell you – I have the best summer job. Ever. Period. Last Thursday I spent the evening watching Mulan, painting nails, and eating pizza with middle school girls. I had a watergun fight in the SWRC pool. I got to share my faith and have others share their own with me, I played games, got dinner for free, and to top it all off I work with a staff that has become family to me. As Dillon put it in our MPulse color group, we all love each other unconditionally, and the knowledge of the truth in that is an overwhelming joy.
The point of this whole post is to gush about these kids and this staff and the volunteers and how blessed I am by them. So if you’re not up for that, I suggest you quit reading now. 🙂
K1 was crazy. It was like nothing went like it was planned to go, and yet it all worked out because God likes to do his own thing. The biggest wrench in the plan was that lovely little hail storm that had an adverse effect (affect? I have such a hard time keeping those two straight.) on every pocketbook in Abilene. Including those of a majority of the camp counselors, staff, volunteers, and even a couple of the campers. And we took care of each other. At two o’clock the next morning, when it started to pour down rain, a couple of the boy counselors were parking damaged cars under the awning at the WPAC.
I got to be a kind-of group leader for a bunch of Abilene kids, which was unexpected and awesome, and played ERS in the Campus Center with some very competitive campers, resulting in loss of a small piece of skin from the palm of my hand. One of my girl’s best friends gave us his testimony during free time, and we played a lot of Apples to Apples.
The girls on my hall and the hall next to me were definitely the ones who I became closest to, and a girl from downstairs who I just ended up hanging out with a lot. They opened my eyes to just how close the community here at Kadesh is – my sister always talks about it, but I hadn’t experienced it first hand. It is insane. It’s like, these campers just kind of accept one another. The girls who I got to spend the most time around were particularly accepting and open with one another. Some were boy crazy, some hated to follow the dress code, some couldn’t wait to come to ACU for school (“I come to Abilene, and it just feels right”), and some just wanted someone to listen to them or to hug or to laugh with, and they just shared snacks and experiences and loved on one another. While I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time with these campers because they were so often in their groups, I definitely got the jackpot corridor for K1.
As far as the staff goes – another really cool thing happened after the hail. So many of us had hail damage that it was decided by a few of the counselors that it would be easier to just have our own church service in the Blacktop on Sunday morning than trying to facilitate a way to get everyone where they wanted to go. That would’ve been pretty much impossible. So now we have Counselor Church every Sunday morning, come one come all.
Y’ALL. MPULSE ONE. Holy goodness gracious. I wish I could just show y’all pictures of all of the girls on my hall laughing with each other because it was impossible not to smile when those girls were around. I had the youngest of the bunch, girls going into the eighth grade. The theme of the camp this summer is Agape (which according to a misinformed friend of mine is a color), but the girls seemed to already have this down. I hope it’s okay for me to tell the following story, because I can’t resist. It’s just too amazing to keep to myself. One room on my hall housed two best friends. We’ll call them Miriam and Oswin, because I’m writing this post and I like those names and I’d just feel better if I didn’t put their real names out there on the big bad internet even though anyone who worked at camp this summer will know who I’m talking about. Oswin has cancer, and Miriam shaved her head when Oswin’s hair started to fall out from the treatments. (Keep in mind that this has been going on for at least a year, so when this started happening the girls were 6th/7th graders.) Sunday night, I’m walking to dinner with these two girls, and Miriam says to me that she’s going to Africa next summer, and that she’s really excited.
“That’s so cool”, I told her. “What are you going to do there?”
“Oh, we’re digging a well!” She kind of hopped when she said this. I had been expecting for her to tell me that she’s going with her church on a medical mission.
I thought that was amazing enough, but the next part put my stomach in a knot and melted my knees. Without taking the time to bat an eyelid, Oswin said “Yeah, it’s her Make-A-Wish.”
This eight grade girl who is facing death head on, who could use her one Make-A-Wish trip to do literally whatever she wanted, is going to Africa next summer to dig a well. She is using death’s attempt to take her as a means to give others a fighting chance at life. If that isn’t agape, I don’t know what is.
This one moment is pretty indicative the rest of my week. They all accepted each other for who they were. The group had girls from every point on the spectrum of eighth grade social awkwardness, and they did nothing but include and love on each other, myself and Abby included. We have devo every night in my room, and on Monday night I asked them what they wanted to talk about the rest of the week at devo, and they said that they wanted to talk about being homesick. So, the next night, that’s what we did. And the most heartwarming thing happened – it turned into a room with myself, Abby, and ten middle school girls going around popcorn style telling about our own homesickness remedies. At dinner one night, we talked about how the Harry Potter books were way better than the movies, because the way *SPOILER ALERT* Voldemort dies in the movies is so weird, among other reasons. One of the smallest, most giggly girls on my hall informed me that she had played Shere Khan in her school’s production of The Jungle Book, because this sweet little girl had “the loudest voice in my whooolleee class!”The last night, I walked in to hear them singing along to some new Brit Nicole CD on Spotify. For the rest of the night, we just hung out in my room eating pizza and painting nails, watching Mulan (which includes quoting, singing, and laughing a lot). My color group was awesome too. I felt a little out of place at first, because us PM counselors are only with them for a few hours every afternoon/night. But the group leaders and the campers alike made Chandler, Dillon, Abby and I feel like we were a full-fledged part of the group. They even included us in the blessing at the end of the week, which is a huge deal. We wrote each other these encouragement notes, among which are some really sweet, serious ones, while some are sweet but also say things like “You’re cool for a Harry Potter geek”. (A little backstory on that – on the first day of color groups, we played the game where you pick a word that starts with the same letter as your first name, and then go around the circle saying everyone’s who went before you before adding on your own to the list, and mine was Muggle Maggie. Apparently, fewer people in this age group know Harry Potter than I expected. But seeing as how very few of the campers knew what a Muggle is, they had a hard time remembering the word and my name. This led to some fun variations, like Mugger Maggie, Muggie Maggie, Muffled Maggie, and my personal favorite, Mother Mary.) There was also this group of boys who went around the last two days of camps talking like pirates. And these weren’t the youngest guys – these were the oldest ones. At MPulse, the counselors are split up into pairs or groups of three, and assigned a Spiritual Discipline (i.e., worship, hospitality, and solitude) to teach a class on. The campers can pick whichever one they want to go to, and one of the counselors who teaches Scripture Memorization with me, Josh, happens to be the counselor of these Pirate Boys. While they were actually quite funny pirates, we ended up telling them that the next person to make a joke about “Arrg, I’m going to find the booty!” would receive no candy in class, even if they won the games. Their reaction to this was “Arrg, I’m going to find the gluteus maximus!” One of the pirates was also in our color group, and this one in particular decided to change my name from Muggle Maggie to First Mate Maggie. The Staff Oh, my camp family. I freaking love them. There’s never a dull moment. Joanna wore my death trap heels to Sonic, a huge group of us went to the pool on Saturday and played Sharks and Minnows, we eat together, we explore together, we give each other rides places, and we’re there to pick each other up. Two nights ago, Josh showed us that the library had dumped a bunch of books in the dumpsters, so we retrieved some. Last night, we stayed up too late playing Battle of the Sexes. This morning, one of our girls decided to be rebaptized. We watch The Office and 90’s chick flicks a lot, play cards, walk the Lunsford, laugh at and with each other, and sometimes we even share groceries – if that’s not love, I don’t know what is. K2 started today, and it’s off with a bang. I can’t wait to see what these campers have in store for me, and what God has in store for us.