Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Camp

 Last week was my week as Director of Girls’ Camp at Eagle Fern.  I feel today that I am just waking up from it, from the recovery process of a long haul of preparation and execution.  In some ways this feels like my first day of summer vacation: the first discretionary time I have had since school let out.  Today I can choose what I want to do first: shall I do laundry, or water the plants, or go out to lunch, or write, or organize my craft room jumble?  The joy of choosing is part of the summertime freedom.

If I told you about camp from a camper’s viewpoint I would tell about the skits11-07-20-20-00-22R and the s’mores, 11-07-20-20-20-19R and the counselor dress-up 11-07-21-19-25-04R  11-07-21-19-13-52R  With the judges11-07-21-19-14-47R  11-07-21-19-25-10R and the campfires11-07-20-20-11-21R 11-07-20-20-11-45R 11-07-20-20-13-05R 11-07-20-20-16-17R 11-07-20-20-40-13R and the western day11-07-19-08-40-52R 11-07-19-14-57-56R 11-07-19-18-23-09R and the crazy hair day11-07-20-08-24-23R 11-07-20-08-04-38R and the pajama breakfast and the skill sessions where we learned to sew11-07-19-16-22-04R 11-07-19-16-20-13R   or go on the challenge course or do woodworking 11-07-20-15-27-32R or dancing11-07-19-16-27-58RHip-hop class

or cheerleading or french braiding with ribbons.11-07-19-16-26-31R  I would tell you about how nice Amanda is and how her stories about Much-Afraid in that book made me think she was just like me. 11-07-20-19-43-13R I would tell you about free time11-07-18-16-39-34R and the store where we got to spend money every afternoon 11-07-19-15-32-14R and do crafts11-07-18-14-04-49R and go swimming or go on the zip line11-07-19-14-39-59R or the giant swing10-07-23-14-22-12H or the challenge course or do archery or shoot BB guns.  There were so many things to do and it was so much fun to be with my friends for a week to sleep in the same cabin and stay up late whispering and giggling.11-07-18-19-50-19R

If I told you about camp from a director’s point of view I would start in March with a sheet of names and email all of last year’s counselors.  I would tell of searching for the unknown group of 24 counselors needed to staff 12 cabins of girls, and the repeated phone calls and emails and unreturned messages left until just the right group of counselors was solidified the week before camp.  April was spent leaving phone messages so my trip with my dad in May wouldn’t interfere with camp progress.  The big worry was getting an activities person and a music person, two vital roles that eluded me until the week before camp.  I called every musical person I knew who could lead and play an instrument at the same time; you’d be surprised how many of them are otherwise employed during the summer.  Our activities person was a new-to-me recruit from Amanda’s university, and what a relief to have her!  Every morning and evening there is an all-camp activity such as the counselor dress-up for the “Miss Eagle Fern” Pageant, a scavenger hunt, etc.  Five evenings we had planned prior to the activities person coming on board: a movie night,11-07-18-19-55-45R 11-07-18-19-50-43R 11-07-18-19-51-03R a hoe-down,


Electric slide after the Virginia Reel wore out


11-07-19-18-52-00RHoe down fiddlers

2 campfire nights with s’mores,


a banquet night and the Miss Eagle Fern pageant.

So, besides recruiting, a great deal of energy before the week started went into scheduling the classes, chapel times, cabin activities and all camp activities.  Charts were made as to what was offered each day and sign-up sheets made.  Skill sessions were planned with various counselors leading them.  The girls had to be divided into their cabin groups including their requested cabin buddy and/or counselor.  And then on the day camp started new registrants walked in the door with plaintive voices “I thought my grandpa was signing me up.  Can I be in -----‘s cabin?” 

After that, the camp was in session and the momentum was rolling.  At that point, the counselors became the key players and the director’s job was mostly done,11-07-21-11-27-24R Me and my co-director, my daughter Emily

apart from time-keeping, bell-ringing for each transition,10-07-20-11-31-00H and keeping the high school and college staff apprised of our needs and paper towel shortages.

Was it a good week? Very.  That’s all you really wanted to know but I just had to say the rest of it.  On the last day as I led the line of campers to the rec center to be picked up by parents, a camper said to me, “I waited a whole year for this week and now I have to wait a nuther whole year.” Another camper said, “We never have breakfasts like this at home.  This food here is so good.”

Some of our girls come from very poor circumstances and some from financially comfortable.  Their heartaches have no economic boundaries, however.  Loss of one parent or another affects many.  Trouble with friends and self image is common.  Knowing that they are loved by us and, more importantly, by the Lord, is the real mission of the week.  In this, Amanda did a wonderful job of sharing Hinds’ Feet on High Places (Hannah Hurnard), the allegory of a young girl learning to trust the guidance of a Shepherd.  11-07-18-11-05-52R            Trying to make a team cheer

11-07-19-07-52-20RA misty flag salute


Finally, after a few wet days, blue sky


The cooks get to eat at last

11-07-19-15-21-38R 11-07-19-15-21-54RDisplaying headbands made in Crafts

11-07-19-16-30-52RLearning to crochet 11-07-19-16-32-19RLearning to play Mountain Dulcimer--she did!

11-07-20-15-37-08R 11-07-20-15-36-56R

New Friend

11-07-20-19-00-44ROld friend

11-07-20-15-56-39RHangin’ out in the plaza, waitin’ for the bell to ring    11-07-20-19-39-48RThis cabin’s counselors made matching book bags and tie-dyed shirts for their campers!

11-07-21-07-53-55R          11-07-20-19-56-55R      Ezekiel entertains at campfire11-07-20-20-11-13R 11-07-20-20-11-21R        11-07-21-07-54-02R 11-07-21-08-47-19HChapel

11-07-21-13-43-12RA Happy Camper  

and a happy director!  But I don’t mean to give the impression that it is our doing which made the camp successful.  Everything was prayed over and our prayers were answered.  We had so many last minute personnel changes and the Lord supplied our needs.  The books which were to be the big prize on Friday night arrived on Thursday via UPS at camp.  The flu which was going around from the previous week didn’t spread to our campers (however, I came home with it).  We had no accidents or injury except a bee sting and some homesick tummy aches.  No behavioral problems.  No whining or grumbling about the weather or anything!  Everyone did what she was supposed to do and the staff genuinely cared for the campers!

Yes, it was a great week!


Connie said...

Wow! What an amazing time, and oh, so much work and so many wonderful results. My hat off to you and all your hard work. It took a lot to pull off all of that and you are to be commended for a job well done.

May God continue to work in all those impressionable youth and give you a much deserved rest.

ellen b. said...

Happy to hear that camp went well. I bet you were exhausted. Glad you are coming up for air, now. My son reported an awesome week, too. I'm glad the weather didn't get everyone down and that the sun broke through here and there. I'm real familiar with the lead up work for camp as I watch my son and daughter in law at it. Week after next the two of them direct Junior High Camp. Lakeside Bible Camp on Whidbey Island...