This looks to be our last large camp of the summmer, with school beginning to start up in our area. I remember the days when September signalled to me the end of my carefree summer days, sleeping in, watching cartoons, and playing in the sprinkler. That last week of August was a time to get number 2 pencils, notebook paper (regular rule, not college), and of course all the hottest new school fashion that the 12 year-olds would be evaluating each other on on that first day. These days, by the last week in August, we have some idea of how the high school football team is going to do and which classes we wished we hadn’t signed up for. We do have a fair number for our Junior High camp next week, though–about 100 campers. But, this week, we tip the scales at 200 elementary age young-uns.
If you want to experience something close to pure chaos, you should check out a canteen time during these weeks. Canteen is the time of the day when we let the campers buy candy and drinks. This time is the craziest at night, for some reason. I guess the campers’ bodies still have that defense about them that, for whatever reason, does not want to go to sleep. I wonder why, at a young age, we resist sleep so much. For many of us working here, it would be the sweetest kind of relief. But when you’re 10, it is something akin to punishment. So, they run around at full speed, drink the most caffinated liquid they can get their hands on, and shoot for the most sugary candy that the FDA allows. And, when you walk up Lakeshore Drive and find yourself surrounded by 200 sugar-crazed children, you have to breath deep and tell yourself, “it’s all going to be ok.” If you let yourself get overwelmed by all the energy bouncing around, it is very easy to miss the pure excitement and play that is happening right in front of you.
The kids are resisting that thing that must inevitably come for all of us, and I guess that is something we all do. I’m hoping that in 30 years, I’ll still be able to run miles each day and hang with the college kids in competitive sports, even though I know that it’s a long shot. It seems my only chance is to get out there–even during the heat advisories–and keep my legs moving. That’s the only way I’ll stay in it. So many things we want to resist, and your guess is as good as mine on how to do it.
We are also hosting Junior High Music and Drama this week, and last night they put on their talent show. I was walking around with a homesick camper, so I missed most fo the show, but I managed to see a few numbers. I saw a young girl do a memorized routine from a Michael Jackson video. I caught one of the leaders using a loop device to record the sounds he was making with his guitar and mouth, to play over and over each other. And, of course, there was the skit where the girls tricked the boys into letting them put make-up on them. For those moments, you watch these campers and see such geniune joy and trust. Such carefree bravery, and you just want to pause time and let it stay like that. You want them to always be this brave and always feel this safe with the people around them. You wish you could hold off fatigue and sleep just a little longer to hold onto this.
But sleep is coming. And we know that it must. For us to do this again tomorrow, we must give in, when the time comes. As much as we’d like to freeze certain moments for ourselves, we know that we do not serve a static God. We know that our lives will move and change. We will leave things behind and find new things. We will hold on to some things and let go of others. But, for these periods of time now we can stop for just a moment and watch it all. We can watch it unfold in front of us, before we have to go back to school or get older or go to sleep for the night. We can watch it happen and thank God that in this moment we see him at work, and even though it scares us a little, this encourages us that there is still work to be done.
Be in prayer for all our campers this week. For Elementary 3, Junior High Music and Drama, Senior High Watersports, and Camp Peace 4. It’s hot, but we’re making it.