This week is one of my biggest of the year. It is a week that can make or break the next two months. It is a week of long hours, hard work, and little time off. It is also a time of play and fun with intense bonding in a short amount of time. It is the week of Summer Staff orientation. We welcomed our Summer Staff Friday of last week, and it has been pretty well non-stop activity with a few breaks for short sleep in between. We have trained for boats and ropes course. We have played and learned games. We have dialoged about faith sharing, worship, and safe sanctuaries. We have worshiped and read scripture together. We have broken bread and folded a lot of T-shirts. And now, we are at the doorstep, just about to welcome our first campers to Lakeshore for the summer.
Who knows what will be remembered years from now when we all look back on this week spent together. When you have a week where so much is crammed into a small amount of time, your brain could pick up anything and discard anything else. I talked to my friend Randall, just today, about one Summer Staff orientation that we arrived to late because of separate physical ailments. Randall had shingles on his face, and I had had a cyst surgically removed from my tailbone. We were both instructed by doctors to miss the first few days of staff orientation, so our arrival was at a cook-out by Anna Tucker’s family in New Johnsonville, just across the river. I remember us both walking up, Randall with a scabby face and the pupils of one of his eyes completely red, and I limping, with a cushion of gauze on my backside and a very slow descent into any chair. The two of us slinked up to the cook-out, like the walking dead to the cook-out, already in progress, and we began our summer with a staff that had already been trained on the high ropes course and was two days of inside jokes ahead of us.
With this level of intense bonding, inside jokes develop in a matter of minutes. By the time you’ve ended Summer Staff orientation, you are almost speaking a separate language. Who knows what phrases, songs, and activities will be present throughout this summer. I can remember summers of home-run derbies, of trips to harmon’s creek, of boy band anthems, and of snake hunts. There isn’t always much logic involved in these things. Something catches fire, and it’s hard to put out.
On our last evening, we took the two new boats across the river to the Marina that has a restaurant with an outdoor deck. Lots of people dressed up, and we sat out next to the water of the river we will spend so much time on this summer. Lots of pictures were taken, and lots of french fries were tossed to the fish who had gathered around the dock as if something like this had happened before. The sun set over Pilot’s Knob, in the distance, and the sky turned a light shade of blue and purple. There was a slight breeze, and the air felt pretty close to perfect. On the ride back, you could see the moon and a few stars, beginning to show up in the sky. Feeling that air in your face, watching the waves stirred up behind the boat as the daytime fades, you feel like you’ve spent this day well.
One day early in the week, I walked outside the office to get service for a phone call, when I saw a turtle (a Red-Eared Slider) out on the side of the hill. After a closer look, I realized she was laying eggs. With her back legs, she had made a muddy hole and dropped her eggs off there. I got Vickie and Dian to come out and see as well. We watched as she began covering the hole with her back legs, stuffing dirt down into the hole to seal off her eggs until they hatch. The next time I went out, she was long gone, and just a little spot of dirt was left. Sometime in late August or early September, I believe, some silver dollar sized turtles will tear out of their shells then dig through the ceiling made by their mother. They will make their way to the river, somehow knowing right where the water is. Then, they will swim out into their new life.
I wonder, how many eggs were laid this week and will be next week. Some that maybe were planted way back in our memories that we might not even recalled when asked about our week of Summer Staff orientation. Some that will wait patiently until it is the right time. It will hatch within us, and we will know exactly where to go next.
Keep our staff, volunteers, and campers in your prayers this week. We start very soon.