Thursday, March 7, 2013

PYC Summer

The Summer of 2005 I was a camp counselor at Penn York Camp.  It's really not as glamorous as it sounds.  Watching Salute Your Shorts when I was younger gave me false hopes of leisurely days spent by the pool.  In reality, I was a  babysitter most of the summer.  One week in particular was the most grueling. 

I was without a CIT (basically a helper) for the first 3 and a half days of camp.  This left me responsibly for 9 little girls ages 6-8 all by my lonesome.  To say it was a challenge would be an understatement.  On day one, I went to get that evenings snack.  I told them not to leave the cabin under any circumstance, and if there was an emergency to get help at the cabin next door.  I was gone for may 5 min max.  When I can back, they had toilet papered the inside of the cabin.  Not just with toilet paper, but with gauze from the first aid kit, and ribbon and yarn from the craft bin.  It was a mess, not even a hot mess, just a mess. That night one of my girls begged me to let her sleep in my bed, I eventually caved.  It was the night she wet the bed.  Awesome.

This event was followed by one of the campers attempting to put pudding in another camper's hair at lunch.  This still wasn't as bad as our attempted to go canoeing.  That was a nightmare.  We had the option of canoes or peddle boats.  The canoes had a limit of 3 people, and the peddle boats were maxed out at 4.  This poses a problem for a group of 6 that would like to boat together.  Their solution?  Act like they were obeying their counselor at first by taking a boat of four and a boat of two out to the middle of the pond.  Then, jump out of the two person canoe and into the peddle boat.  The thing about children is that they often times don't understand why the rules are they way they are.  These girls learned quickly when their boat started sinking because they had to many people in it.  Another counselor and I had to swim out and get it.  Let's just say that we didn't go boating anymore that week. 

That still doesn't top what happen during my hour long break that week.  I was on my way to the counselor's  area to get some laundry done.  All of the sudden I see this camper come running out of the woods, down a path that no one ever really used.  He looked at me with terror in his eyes and said "where's the nurses station?!"  I pointed him in the right direction and he grabs my arm and says "come on we have to hurry!!"  I drop my laundry (thankfully it wasn't clean yet) and take off running towards the nurses station.  When we get there he, very hurriedly, spits out "we need you at the cedar cabin stat!"  The nurse glaces at me expecting some sort of explanation. Don't look at me, "I was just trying to get some laundry done".  I end up staying at the nurses station while she took care of the situation.  About 4 min later a CIT comes running in shouting "I need pepto bismol!  I need Pepto, now!"  I hand it to him, a little confused about an emergency needing pepto.  I was even more confused about 3 min later when his counselor came running in need of neosporin.   Long story short, the kid that needed the nurse apparently had a bit if a tummy bug and didn't tell anyone all week.  His, uh... cheeks were raw because of it, and to top it all of, he got the other side stuck in his zipper.  Poor kid, he went home that night.

It was one of the most challenging summers of my life, but I would never ever trade it for anything. It was that summer that God showed me that I did have something to offer. I will never forget the sweet tears of one of my campers as she poured out her heart to me. A puddle formed in the dirt beneath us as she told me about her father. For the first time in my life I was able to use my hurtful experience with my Father to encourage a child going through the same things I struggled with. I started to see that I had not experienced disappointment in vain, but that I could use my experiences to encourage others. To see the relief and peace fall on the child during the week was priceless, a gift that only God could bless me with. 

It was also that summer that God romanced me. I discovered that I was beautiful. I remember one evening that I could not sleep. I was feeling discouraged and I decided to go for a walk to talk with Jesus. I walked through the woods in a skirt and flip flops. In was warm but a cool breeze was gently blowing, and I could hear it rustling the tree tops above me. I made my way up the path to the open field. The camp ground is in a very rural county in Northern Pa, so there was almost zero light pollution. The stars seemed to go on forever. I stood on the hill top, under the huge full moon, with the wind gently blowing my skirt and hair. I was in awe of the beauty of God's creation. I stood there gazing for a while and then I felt the Lord speak to me and tell me that I was not just looking at it, not just surrounded by it, but I was apart of it. I was apart of his beautiful creation. It was that summer that I learned that I was captivating. 

Would I ever do it again?  Absolutely not!  Was it worth ever bug bite, sun burn, mud filled sneaker, sleepless night, and head cold?  More than you know.  

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha what an awesome story!! I don't know how on earth you worked at a camp, but props to you. I went to church camp twice in high school, and I half hated it half loved it. I learned so much about God and had such amazing fellowship with other people, but MAN I am not cut out for the camp life!