There are lots of feelings going on when you know you are at the end of something. It changes how you approach life. You begin pondering all that has been. Sometimes you start to try to make something happen that would be fitting of the last whatever. “Oh, I need to make sure this last lunch is a memorable one…I really don’t need to squandor this last time to put on deordorant…Let’s make sure and relish this last bathroom break.” We want things to be memorable and to mean something–and these feelings of urgency get kicked into hyper-drive as we see “the end,” approaching. It is the reason you see all those signs about the end being near. “Do you know the status of your soul?” “Jesus is coming soon, are you ready?” I wonder what the signmakers have in mind when they say “soon.” Are we talking 5 years, 100 years, 1000 years? Are the signmakers disappointed when they get 6 months down the road and what they hoped would happen didn’t?
We want the inevitability of the end to motivate us and stir something inside that we may have been missing. As a staff, we try to remind ourselves in this way, when our time with campers is nearer it’s end. We remind each other to treat it like the first week, to go out on a good note. To leave it all on the field. But, we can’t help but look up at the calendar and see that there are a few days remaining. It affects everyone in different ways, so you see people outwardly expressing their feelings and people who seem to be at business as usual. The most normal part of the process is the campers, who have no idea what week it is–just that it’s their week of camp. Our campers this week were a fantastic group of kids. I had about the most fun at an activity period all summer, playing at recreation with a group of campers. We played a game called, “clothespin ninja,” where a counselor is blindfolded and has clothespins clipped all over his/her clothing. The counselor has a foam noodle and must guard against having his/her clothespins pulled off by campers. If he/she hits you with the foam noodle, you’re out for the round. In one great moment, Travis, one of our maintenance workers was passing through and snagged a clothespin off of Josh Story, and he hardly even felt it.
At the end of the week, we had the third annual adventure race. It raises money for Lakeshore scholarships and makes participants very sore the next day. It begins with a run from camp to Pilot’s Knob (about 3 miles), then biking (4.5 miles), canoeing (1 mile), and map reading/trail running (3.5 miles). You run the race with a teammate and get to choose, for the most part, the order you do the events. It has become very popular with staff and former staff over the years. Some come just to participate and experience the activity, while others come to try to win. In any race, I’m sure, there is that time as the end nears that you find that sense of urgency and the adrenaline rush. You feel the need to speed up, to finish strong, to drink some water, to colapse, something changes. And if you prepared youself better and paced yourself, you’re likely feeling much better towards the end. But, no matter if you finish first or second or last, something that most of us experience when it passes, eventually, is the peace. That sound of silence as the last car pulls away. That feeling in your legs, knowing you are finished running for now. The time after the storm when all is still and you step out into the mist to breathe in what is left. The time when you are left with your thoughts and memories, and you get to try to make some sense out of it all.
There is no doubt the end can be sad. But we will wake from it. We will shake out the soreness and, hopefully, have some glory to hold on to. As the sun of the next day rises, the refrain may sneak into our minds:
Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day
May this be our prayer.