This is the final post in our Camp Hope blog series. Our guest blogger today is Megan Montgomery, former Camp Hope director. Megan is another camp staffer I have witnessed grow from camper to summer staff to director, and she reminds me that campers are not the only ones changed by their experience. Lakeshore trains excellent leaders through summer staff. These leaders can assess a situation and adjust for the group. They can handle conflict and emergencies, and they have an out-of-this-world work ethic. Megan is one of these leaders, and this is what she has to say about her summer.
“One thing we do often at Lakeshore is refer to our “highs and lows.” Sometimes it’s at the end of every day or every week or even the summer as a whole. Throughout my time at camp, there are a few highs and lows that will always stick out to me.
I had just finished counseling the first week of Camp Hope, and I remember crying after the girls left. It was one of my personal “lows” because I felt I had failed to connect with them—especially one girl in particular—and that I had not provided an atmosphere for them to see any real truths about themselves, much less about God. I always felt uneasy on check-out days, especially working with the Camp Hope series. You never know once they walk out the door whether or not they will ever be back or if their experience was one that would hold any weight once they returned home.
The next summer I returned as the director for the Camp Hope series, and miraculously, the camper from that week showed up grinning ear to ear! Gone was the girl I knew, and before me stood a mature, intelligent, bubbly young woman (who was excited to see me, much to my surprise.) She carried herself in a way that demanded respect, much unlike the previous summer. Looking back now, that week as a whole turned out to be one of my all-time “highs.”
In my faith, I have discovered many big truths in the contrasts. How the deepest pain leads me to believe even more in God’s great love. How the guilt of my sin makes me so much more thankful for His grace. In the same way, the best part about working at camp summer after summer was having the opportunity to see change in the kids that return each year—especially in the Camp Hope program. The contrast between the girl I struggled to connect with when I was a counselor to the young woman who greeted me the next summer reminded me that God works in our lives even we can’t quite see the relevance.
While working with the Camp Hope program, I watched a girl who was scared to speak in public lead a group in song and dance. I saw a boy overcome his fear of swimming to spend his afternoon laughing on a tube at the lake. I saw anger replaced by peace in the hearts of kids who might otherwise only view themselves as a problem. I saw the look change in kids’ eyes as they realized that they are not defined by their circumstances. Time and time again, I have seen God manifested in the seemingly insignificant moments at camp.
I know there is power in all of the small things, and I believe that they build on each other to create an even bigger story. The Camp Hope program gives kids an opportunity to look at their lives—all the “highs” and all the “lows”—in relation to the magnitude of God’s love for them. I cannot speak for every kid that I met at Camp Hope, but my prayer is that they have found as much significance in their time at Lakeshore as I have merely having the opportunity to know them.”
Today, I urge you to pray for our leaders. Pray for summer staff, directors, volunteer counselors, leadership teams and permanent staff. Pray that we may be lead by the Lord to facilitate more highs and be a comfort during the lows. Pray that God will use us all in ministry to His children through their time at Lakeshore.