Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wonder Women Wednesday: Summer Camp

This week I asked Becky:  What was the first big thing you purchased with your own money?   You can read her answer HERE.

Becky asked me:  What was your first summer camp experience?  What do you remember fondly about it?

I smiled when I read this question from Becky because summer camp has played a huge role in my life.  Memories from my first summer as a camp counselor came flooding to my mind.  But then I remembered that I had actually been to summer camps with my youth group when I was in junior high and high school.

To be honest, I don't really remember very much about my very first summer camp experience.  All of those youth camps kind of blur together in my mind.  I remember the giant camp pictures we would get and how all our cabin mates would sign them like yearbooks.  And I remember french braiding my friends' hair and the goofy games we would play.  Summer camp (and Winter Retreats) were where I had some of my first experiences singing solo in front of others.  This was the age of  "special music" and accompaniment tracks on cassette tapes.   Before I graduated from high school I had amassed quite a collection of accompaniment tracks.   I'm pretty sure it was the summer after 7th grade when I sang "Our God is an Awesome God," complete with hand motions, with my friends Janelle and Teresa.  We had so much fun rehearsing during free time and then we sang it during the last chapel service of camp.  The next summer we sang "Friends are Friends Forever" and since we didn't have hand motions this time I didn't know what to do with my hands.  The camp worship leader taught us to hold the mic with one hand and the cord with the other--so helpful!

My first summer as a camp counselor is much more clear.  I made amazing friends, many of whom are still good friends to this day--both fellow counselors and campers!  I remember decorating my cabin and my first group of campers.  They were going into the 6th grade and so excited to be at a week long slumber party!  We walked all over camp singing songs and giggling.  I put my french braiding skills to good use every day.  And there were still goofy games and crazy pictures.  My first cabin and I also sang a "special music" number--a medley of Amazing Grace with each verse sung in a different familiar tune (Gilligan's Island, California Girls, etc.)

I also remember how God stretched me and used that summer to develop mothering and leadership skills in me.  I prayed with kids who wanted to give their lives to Christ for the first time and I prayed with kids who struggled hourly to believe that God was good.  So much laughter.  So many tears.  Camp is like real life intensified by a million.  I love it.  I fondly remember the twice daily worship times and all the great speakers we got to hear.  I fondly remember silly birthday songs for campers and coming up with crazy themes for our cabin clean up contests (which I won...a lot!)  And I fondly remember the Craft Hut.  :)

Mostly, I fondly remember Cindy.  She was the women's senior counselor and the most encouraging woman I have ever met.  She used to leave little notes in my mailbox and would make sure to tell me I was doing a good job.  She also asked me what I needed and supported me when I had hard days. She was smart and funny and creative and had really great handwriting.  Cindy was an amazing woman.  She still is.  I know this because when we grew up, she married one of Geary's best friends and became one of my dear friends.

I remember when it was time for Cindy to give me my end of summer review.  We sat out on the dock in the warm sun and I listened as Cindy rated me high in every area except one.  Leadership.  But then she told me about a church who had come earlier in the summer "scouting" for a counselor for the girls they would be sending.  They chose one of the more outgoing girls on our staff, but Cindy said she would have recommended me.  I was surprised...didn't she just say that she didn't give me high marks for Leadership?  She went on to explain that she had marked me lower in that area because the camp's definition of leadership was someone who was outgoing and outspoken.  The type of person that others naturally follow because they make themselves heard.  I am not that type of person at all.  But Cindy pointed out that although my leadership was quieter, it was still strong.  She talked about how I led my campers around camp singing and how she always knew she could find me in the middle of my group of girls, braiding hair and listening to their stories.  She pointed out things in me that were the very leadership skills I had admired in her.  And a deep part of my identity was brought forth that day.  I learned a truth about myself and how God made me that I can rely on to this day.  I am a leader.  A quiet, gentle, strong leader.

I spent three more summers at that camp, two of them in the role of women's senior counselor.  The last summer I worked there, Geary also worked there as the men's senior counselor.  In that real-life-intensified-by-a-million time period we lived, worked, played, and ministered together.  We got to know each other quickly and strengths and weaknesses were highlighted in a way that doesn't happen anywhere else except in a camp type setting.  Yes, I have fond memories of summer camp.  Many fond memories.

What about you?  Did you ever go to summer camp?  Was was your experience like?  Don't forget to head over to Becky's blog to read her answer to my question and tell us about your first big purchase.


  1. I went to summer camp several times throughout my childhood. My first time was the summer after second grade. I think I was too young to have been sent to camp, but that was sort of the going thing back then, and I really, really wanted to go, and my big sister was going, too. I don't have very many memories of that camp experience, but I do remember the day I came home. I ran through the garage toward the kitchen door as my daddy opened it and came down the steps. I flew into his arms and burst into tears because I had missed him so much. He held me and chuckled and said he'd missed me too. I'm pretty excited to repeat that scene someday. :)


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