This week, we felt on track for another 6 days of humid misery. The first half of the week was still steamy and hot, and you still just didn’t even want to go outside, even though you knew you should. But, about Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, something changed in the air. It started to move. There were occasional clouds that blocked the sun and gave us a shade that we had forgotten existed. We wanted to be outside again. You began to look for reasons to get outside. You tried to have meetings outside, go outside to look at the stars, some even considered long sleeves.
This week we had Judd Mowery’s Elementary camp. Judd is our longest tenured dean, and there are many things he does that hearken back to earlier years at Lakeshore. They do the hike to Pilot’s Knob, which is the highest point in West Tennessee (a mind-blowing 669 feet). Even though it doesn’t compare to Clingman’s Dome, it is a pretty decent hike for your average camper (and even counselor). So, the kids make the 3 mile round trip journey to the top of the hill. Inevitably there are the complainers in the group (I suspect probably as many staff people as campers) that come along with any walking farther than one room to the next. It is a steep climb, and you wonder if the hill will ever stop ascending. Your calves sometimes start to ache, and you’ll see some people walking backwards to use a different combination of muscles. Someone usually falls (typically from running) and everyone sweats. But, there is this moment when you near the top of that hill. The cover breaks a bit, and you feel more of a breeze. You begin to see far out across the Tennessee River over to Middle Tennessee. You see some of the lights in Camden. You can follow barges down river. You sit and look, and, for at least a moment, you are glad you did it.
At Camp Peace this week, we had boys. These camps are sometimes boys’ camps and sometimes girls’ camps. This camp is designed for youth who have anger issues, which seems to be easy to find among our youth these days. When I first heard that Lakeshore was doing this camp, I thought that was the craziest idea we’d ever hatched. Why would we bring 10-15 youth with anger issues together on purpose? But, we’ve been doing it for about 10 years now. It’s definitely a struggle. These guys come in with so many things to be angry about and have no idea how to get that out. The way it normally gets out is just whoever is the closest that pushes the wrong buttons. But, over the course of the week, you watch these guys become family. Like any other family, they still get on each other’s nerves and still don’t want to be around each other at times, but there are other things going on besides conflict. I got to watch these boys share their stories with each other. They cried and consoled each other. For that moment, they completely understood each other. They knew that what they were doing was worth it. I don’t know where they will go from here. We hope and pray it is in a direction away from their anger. But, whatever happen next, we think that they were given a short rest during their week here. They climbed the tough road, made it to the top, and got to sit for a time–looking out over everything. And, for just a few minutes things made sense. Things looked and felt very nice.
Be in prayer for all our campers. For the ones going home, that they will take what they experienced to their church family and their friends. For the ones on their way, that they will be ready for what is in store.