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Archive for the ‘camp’ Category

Camp Mail

It is a camp tradition to focus most pranks on the mail system. (There was a bit of fun had with the cabin clean-up, pushing bunks against doors and crawling out the window; or emptying even the mirrors, mattresses, and shelves along with suitcases, etc. out of the room entirely.) If you got a package, or enough letters, you had to sing for it. If you got a postcard, they read it out loud. If something was written on the outside of an envelope, that got read, too. Then there was always the question of what was inside the letters and packages.

One year I sent twenty-four letters in a box to a friend whose birthday was during the week of camp, one for every hour. The same friend received seven random letters from denture ads to a page from the encyclopedia, with letters highlighted spelling Trouble, my nickname with her used for teasing and practical jokes. I sent a mysterious forged love letter. Almost everyone was consulted for speculations on authorship.

This year I limited my letters to ten, sent to various friends, family, and my cabin girls in sets of three. On the outside of some I wrote notes, like the promise not to include denture ads or pictures of girlfriends. Inside was a benign colored collage of the history of tools used for various purposes.

I myself was the recipient of a package of cookies from my mom, and a postcard written from a boy I do not know, so I am quite content of its being a prank. In it the young man, who did not know my age, confessed his secret love while describing my beauty. I don’t think I even blushed while it was read, but I was glad that I didn’t need to make a big point of my singleness to the present company. Later I discovered that my little sister thought I was the age recorded on the postcard. I find that suspicious.

Other jokes were to send rocks, balloons, a lot of fake mushy postcards sealed with a lipstick kiss and perfumed, and maybe even a few (stolen earlier in the week) hats. One of the counselors even sent her husband a postcard, which I believe mentioned packing a teddy-bear. As postcards were read at meal time, the recipients either feigned ignorance (that looking better than appearing to have expected a love letter), suffered blushingly under the stares of the entire room, or in a few cases, leapt for the letter and tackled the camp staff who was reading the post.

The guilty senders ranged from blatantly admitting the joke to hinting that they sent the letters (as I was unwilling to engage in guessing) to complete anonymity and poker-faces. All this dissolved as soon as we were safe in the girls’ lodge, where comparing of notes and laughter over puzzled, red faces of friends exploded.

Good mail was received, as well. The cookies were good. I got notes from home. And a friend worked hard to make me a postcard so I wouldn’t feel left out among the younger friends at camp.

To God be all glory.

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“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is made, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not made. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.” from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

One of my favorite stories we studied during Bible Hour was one that I’m sure I’ve read, but never noticed. In 2 Kings 7, there is a story where the capital city of Israel was besieged by Syria. Outside the city gate lived four lepers, who were not allowed inside the city for the reason that they were “unclean” and might contaminate others with their horrible disease.

Eventually the city was in dire straits, starving for lack of access to food. That is the purpose of besieging a city. You close it up, and provisions run out.

So one day, the lepers had a council. If we stay here, they agreed, we will die of starvation. If we go into the city, where they don’t want us, and where there is still no food, we die of starvation. If we surrender to the Syrians, where they don’t want us, but they do have food, well, our chances look better over there. We won’t lose anything if they kill us.

I kept applying the sheer logic of the lepers to life at camp and afterwards. When we’re making decisions, it may do us good to consider our options. Too seldom do we consider that though one course looks good, another may be just as good or better. Though a situation looks desperate, and all courses may run ill, there may be one with hope. Captain Sparrow says the only rule you need to know is what a man can do and what a man can’t do. I think we ought to follow God’s rules and trust to divine intervention when necessary, not only to our own abilities. But it might do well to think through a situation like Captain Sparrow did (even when he appeared to be staggering about drunk or afraid or desperately greedy).

Four lepers trudged down the road to the camp of the Syrians and found it Syrian-less. The food and clothing, weapons, and riches were all still there, but no one was defending it. (This was an instance of divine intervention that the lepers had not counted on.) Samaria, the capital city of Israel, after a little convincing that the empty camp was really empty and not a trap, was saved.

To God be all glory.

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"Overall" Impressions

One of the biggest struggles I had the first few days of camp was that I kept worrying what people thought of me. Parents dropping off kids, other camp staff, the kids themselves… my imagination gave all of them sinister doubts about my competence, my enthusiasm, my age, my beauty. It was all silly. And life is not about me. I always forget.

A relief to me during camp was that I had a Sunday school class full of women at home praying for my heart to be content and not worried about boys. Camp has historically been a great place of freedom and delivery in that respect, but I was concerned a little, and my friends at home knew. Prayer matters. It really helped. So I was glad there were no guys there whom I “needed” to impress. Sounds silly. Is silly.

Don’t take this as making excuses, but in any case I don’t really want to be trying to impress someone. I don’t want to care about anyone’s impression of me except for God’s. If something had been “meant” to happen as a result of camp, I still needed to be focused on pleasing God.

1 Peter 3:3-4 – “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

There was a theme banquet the last night of camp, and the theme was Tool Time. I tried to think of something in my wardrobe that looked like Patricia Richardson from Home Improvement, but I really don’t like her style. It is so nineties-mom-tries-to-look-fashionable. So I brought overalls. I had a skirt, too, but I wanted to be a good sport. I also lost track of time and had not time to change, but did anyway. I had intended to find out what my girls were wearing. I remembered at the last second that I had agreed to do something just before the banquet that required me not to be in a skirt, so that was that. I was stuck.

Here’s the funny part: I got a lot of compliments on my theme-outfit. So I was getting attention, and it was positive. But I was so embarrassed, trying to act like a woman ought to act at a banquet, with good, elegant manners. Mixed with overalls and rolled flannel sleeves, that just looks ridiculous. I kept feeling the need to curtsey and remembering.

By the end of the night, the last thing about which I was thinking was my clothes. There were too many people to consider. And I wasn’t thinking about what others thought of me, either. There were much more important things on which to consider.

I wore a skirt the last morning.

To God be all glory.

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There were 9 girls in my narrow cabin. We ranged in age from 14 to 22. The churches represented numbered at least 5. By the end of the week two of them had been at the emergency room and one had had an asthma attack. In fact, let me tell you about the last night.

At each activity, counselors were responsible to count, ensuring that all of their cabin was present. If they weren’t, of course, they had to be found. Something might be wrong. Right after chapel, I noticed on of my girls was missing. We discovered she and one of her close friends were counseling with the other girl’s counselor. I rejoiced that God was taking care of my girls, even if it wasn’t through me. All week I kept reminding myself, “It’s not about you.”

Then one of my girls, who sprained her ankle the second day, was needing to follow doctor’s orders, but I didn’t know what the orders were, and she didn’t like the doctor’s orders (see Authority). So that was stressful. I kept trying to figure out how God was going to use her sprained ankle to make the week about Him. As far as I could see, the only thing anyone talked to her about was her ankle.

Another girl had dislocated her shoulder during a game the day before, so she had her arm in a sling and was icing it, but it was still swollen.

In the middle of the last activity of the evening my girl with asthma had an attack, which I might add, I have never witnessed before. Another girl from our cabin, who was sitting next to her, looked up at me when I came to see why the girl with asthma was crying. “I think she needs the nurse,” the healthy girl said. Thank you very much. Um, then call a nurse! Fortunately the nurse was present, and knew she was needed before I had to find her, so she and I and the girl left for the infirmary, where after a breathing treatment, she was doing much better. Her older sister (also in my cabin) joined us early on.

Leaving the infirmary, I caught up with the girl who had been with the other counselor earlier, and we chatted for a while as we walked to our cabin. She said she had a headache and needed a pain reliever from the nurse. With the help of camp leadership, we persuaded her to drink water and get some sleep.

I was half ready for bed when a friend of the girl with the shoulder injury informed me that my injured charge was at the nurse, and would be going to the ER. They would probably want to see me, she said. So I pulled on a sweater, pushed my feet back into my shoes (we wore shoes all day, and I was really tired of them), and prepared to revisit the nurse, wondering what would happen to my cabin. No worries. Wherever I needed to be, there I would be.

I didn’t have to go back to the nurse. An emissary told me what was going on and that they didn’t need to see me.

My brothers and I love magnets. The idea of levitation using magnets fascinated us at one point to where we spent hours trying to get a staple to float between two magnets. If we could get the staple exactly to the point where the forces were equal from both directions, in theory the staple would go no where. We came close to accomplishing our goal. In life, however, I’ve experienced the fate of the staple many times. That night at camp was one. I was pulled in five directions, and just stood in a room, turning in circles, trying to decide where I should go. Finally I got a hug from one of the camp leaders, took a deep breath, and went out and on, looking for my next assignment.

The awesome thing about that night is that even though I was overwhelmed, even though for a large portion of the evening I was with two of my girls and the nurse, unable to know what else was going on, I knew that God, my ONE, big God, was able to (and actually did, as well) take care of each of us. He had other counselors, leadership, friends, sisters, and nurses ready to fill in not the blanks of my ability, but the perfectly fitted puzzle of His plan.

Ephesians 4:16 – “From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

To God be all glory.

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Each camper filled out a questionnaire including checking off from a list of questions which they would most like to have discussed. Top results were how to be a better witness, how to deepen my relationship with God, and how to know God’s will for my life.

The last question stuck most in my head, and I was trying to figure out how I would answer it. I have chosen a non-conformist life by not going to college, moving out, or pursuing a career. My life goal is to fulfill Romans 12:2, as I’ve written before. And my dream is to be a wife and a mom. Whenever parents, therefore, entrust me with their kids, I get all unconfident about actually telling the kids what my choices have been lest their parents disapprove. (Most parents want their kids going to college.)

So the approach I took was definitely more how I made my decisions, and to direct them to the spiritual side. Ultimately my choices are justified by the command to trust God, and the call to do it radically. In provision for me and my family, and in waiting for a husband, as well as direction in all the ministries and ventures each day, its been a matter of submitting my anxieties and control-issues and demands to God.

Psalm 37:4-5 is precious to me: “Delight yourself in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

along with Psalm 32:8 and Isaiah 40:31.

Recently the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus commands us not to worry, because our Heavenly Father knows that we need all these things, has been important to me.

Faith needs to be radical, all-out, nothing withheld.

The truth is that God didn’t leave us hanging without concrete instructions on His will for our lives. We just don’t like the advice we’re given.

“Christianity has not so much been tried and found wanting, as it has been found difficult and left untried.” — G.K. Chesterton

God tells us who we need to be, not always what to do. But that who we are determines what we do, when submitted to the parameters of God’s word. I find Romans 12 always helpful when I despair of knowing God’s will.

Romans 12:9-21 – ‘Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’

To God be all glory.

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Clouds and Rain

Up in Estes Park where the camp was, the scenery and weather was so beautiful. There was a thunderstorm/downpour almost every day that turned the paths into rivers and the volleyball courts into ponds. One day we had hail right after lunch that still hadn’t melted by 10 that night. My favorite part was watching the clouds descend over the tops of the mountains into our bowl-like valley from all sides right before it rained. I wrote about one afternoon like that while I was there:

Thunder echoed between the mountains just as we stepped out of the chapel. Already a gentle rain was falling. We ran for our cabins and watched the grey ceiling settle lower over our camp valley. From the porch we could see shreds of cloud pouring over the peaks on all sides. Slowly the cold fingers of the sky enclosed ranks of evergreens standing bold and tall like an army meeting an oncoming foe.

We went into the dim, quiet cabin, embraced by our pillows. Vision fluttered in and out of comprehension, whispered names vibrating us awake with their resonance. The half hour was passed with rest while outside the world was rinsed with an afternoon rain, renewed for more hours’ busy trampling.

To God be all glory.

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Wearing a Hug

On the last day or two everyone is running around with a t-shirt and at least one Sharpee. People figure out odd ways to use trees, hands, backs, knees, posts, etc. as tables against which to write. The reason is: we all want a wearable hug, an autograph-shirt of memories from people at camp. Some things written can get silly. My brother can sign his name backwards and forwards. Another kid can do the same, except inverted or up-side-down (backwards every way imaginable).

I usually sign a verse that has been on my mind during the event. This year it was Romans 6:13, accompanied by an admonition to Yield Yourself and Trust God.

So many people signed my shirt, that I definitely have a keepsake there. On the last day you’ve built friendships, and you get a chance to, by reading your shirt on the way home, find out what people thought of you. I know it sounds a little self-centered, but when you’re thinking that maybe you didn’t connect enough with people, or were a bit too timid, or just not energetic enough to be considered cool at camp, it is reassuring.

So I’d like to thank everyone who signed my shirt – ever, because whenever I feel like I’m alone in the world, I have proof that I’m not.

To God be all glory.

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