Each week of summer camp, we are offering a chance for one of our Summer Staffers to write a post about their experiences. This week’s guest blogger is Annilin Severns, a first year staffer who is working as a Resident Counselor.
This was my fourth summer working DD camp and let me tell you, it’s better than Christmas. Monday marks the happiest day of the whole year, regardless of how exhausted I am—we had a nonstop week and weekend leading up to DD. Needless to say, we were all just about on empty and then the most exhausting week occurs. Although exhausting, it is rewarding, fun, funny and spiritually uplifting.
The first camper pulled up right after lunch on Monday and my heart starting beating a mile a minute and the butterflies in my stomach tried to bust out. I was so ready for my campers to be there. Slowly, but surely, familiar faces flooded the black top and new faces sprinkled themselves in, and my campers gradually entered the cabin. Bro. Paul, the dean of the camp, tries to keep the campers together and with the same counselors each year so that both parties get adjusted to each other. A few of my campers I’ve had all four years, and I had had all but one at least once before. Day one consisted of going to the pool and then “Open Mike” night. “Open Mike” night lines the front of the sunroom with campers to tell a joke or sing or do whatever they want, pretty much. Most of the time, they sang a song. Caitlyn, one of my campers, went up to sing with some of her friends, and my first year camper, Kelsie, went up and sang a couple of songs. It was just great to see all these people getting back into my life for the week. Worship that night consisted of the song “Light the Fire,” which MADE MY LIFE. I smiled so much because there was absolutely no key (the campers weren’t that familiar with the song), but it was adorable and wonderful and everything that is good in the world.
Day two I was awoken at 6 in the morning by Jamie, my camper, telling me she was getting in the shower. I was confused, but not in the least bit upset—which is super surprising because I love my sleep. That night was the beach party, which is always a lot of fun. The campers get to go on a boat ride and there’s a game of volleyball going on, and people making sand castles…and some campers trying to run into the lake… The best story from that night was when Johnny and Chris (best friends) got on the pontoon with a different cabin. They got off and came over to talk to me and a few other counselors and they said John, the waterfront director, said there was room for two so they raised their hand and hopped on the boat. Everyone got a good laugh out of it.
Day three was odd for me because I got to go to the ER! I had a camper with her cellulitis acting up, and I got to spend six and a half hours at Camden General with Nurse Joe. Although my camper had to go home, it was a fun little trip and I got to hang out with her for the day. I missed archery though, and that’s always one of my favorite things of this week. We got back in time for dinner—we didn’t get to eat lunch, so we were SO ready for dinner—and then we had skit night. Skit night is always adorable in so many ways. Most cabins will just go up and sing a song, and some will actually have some type of plot. One cabin had something planned, but it did not go as planned. Instead, a camper ended up almost running out of the door. However unplanned, it was hysterical—and something that brings me to laughter as I’m writing this. This was one of my favorite days, even though certain circumstances prevailed, because I GOT PUT IN ADAM’S JOURNAL. I FINALLY MADE IT! [Adam writes in his journal about people he’s met and their favorite movies, etc. His favorites go in the journal..]
Day four was a lot of fun, but I didn’t write a lot because I was so exhausted. I’ve already forgotten most of it… My happiest moment was at the pool, though. Hannah Montana’s “Nobody’s Perfect” was playing and I was on lazy river duty and thus singing to everyone who went by. The last line is “nobody’s perfect” and Tyler was passing by me. He looked at me and said “you’re perfect.” It made my day, and helped make this week so worth it. You pour your all into the week and the more you pour, the more you get out of it. That’s what makes it so special. Thursday night is also the dance, which is SO MUCH FUN! The Music and Drama kids dress up as clowns, the Oxley camp showed up too, and everyone hangs out and dances to the DD camp favorites—Chacha slide, Celebrate, YMCA and Wavin’ Flag. We had an appearance from JUSTIN BIEBER!…even though he might have been an inch thick and possibly the same consistency as a cereal box… The campers, and counselors, and myself, loved it! The last full day is an interesting dichotomy: exhaustion and pure delight.
Day five is THE WORST DAY OF THE ENTIRE YEAR. It’s so sad to say goodbye to all these campers that fill your heart with so much happiness, so much love. Communion is the worst. Communion is a wonderful thing, but nothing makes the entire sunroom fill with tears than the communion service on Friday. My camper Caitlyn has never been sad to leave camp, but she hugged me and started crying, saying she’d miss cabin 4. Kyle gave me a hug and I told him I loved him and he asked why I loved him so much. Ryan called my name and said “y’all know I love you don’t you.” All of those situations brought more and more tears to my eyes. The awards we give out at the end, however, make it a little less miserable. All the campers get awards at the end, from “hunger games expert” to “co-counselor,” everyone gets a unique and special award regarding their week here at Lakeshore. Then lunch happens and one by one, just as they got here, they leave. The new faces are now familiar faces, and the ones you love with all your heart go away for a year. LUCKILY, it’s just a year.
DD camp has become one of my favorite things ever. I can’t emphasize that enough. It’s so rewarding in so many ways. The campers and the counselors and Bro. Paul and Mrs. Anita help me see God’s amazing unconditional love. You get worn out, I could have slept for days after this camp ended, but every ounce of energy you put into it, it is amplified and you get so much out of it. So until next year comes around, I’ll have to hold on to the memories and the friendships I made.