I learned a lot at Summer camps…
Face my fears. From the dark corners of the cabin and walks after dark to the risk of rejection from other campers and failure during games. I had a choice: jump in with both feet and perhaps learn something about myself that I didn’t know – or hide in my sleeping bag for a week and die of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Sure, I was embarassed when I missed the volleyball and got stuck on a log in the canoe, but, contrary to my belief at the time, I didn’t die of embarassment. And if someone is now blogging about anything stupid I did at camp…well, at least I’m providing entertaining content for someone!
Make friends. I grew up in a small town, where I knew everyone, and everyone knew me. I didn’t have to work very hard at meeting people. Camp was different. As frightening as it was to consider some people might not like me, it was an adventure to find people who had something in common with me. And since we were all at camp for the week, we at least had one thing in common! Sure, we were different in a lot of ways, too, but small groups of us could easily unite in areas like scheming (harmless) tricks against camp counselors or crushing on one counselor in particular.
Work together. Who knew we’d have to clean our cabins! We thought we’d left the cleaning responsibilities at home, but suddenly, instead of being responsible for our own space, we had to somehow cooperate in a group of 12 girls to keep our cabin clean. Seriously?! Some of my cabin-mates were slobs, and yet, by the end of the week, we (proudly) hung the Clean Cabin Award from our ceiling!
Stay connected. There are always people to miss. I was happy to go to camp, but there were moments I missed my family and wondered what they were doing. I treasured the handful of letters I received from my mom and grandmas (and enjoyed the dollars bills, too!). I tried to send at least one note home as well, although I usually beat the mail home. Once camp was over, it was fun to reconnect with some of my new friends, sharing photos and memories. When contact ends, relationships end.
Test yourself. I was a good swimmer, but I must admit, I didn’t like the camp’s swim test. For me, it wasn’t so much of a test of swimming, but a test of courage and friendship. I might be a dolphin but if my friend was a tadpole, would I hang out with her while swimming? And since I was away from home, would I stick to the basic rules and values from home, or would I let peer pressure get the best of me and cross boundaries? To be honest, a little of both.
There’s something to learn through every experience. I might not remember many details of camp, but I know I learned many lessons – at camp and in every other experience, good and bad. When I “fail,” I can learn. And when I “succeed,” I can learn. If I’m continually seeking where God wants me to be and how I can be obedient to him, I’ll grow. And that’s what learning in faith is all about.
Don’t stop listening to correction, my child, or you will forget what you have already learned. Learn the truth and never reject it. Get wisdom, self-control, and understanding. Proverbs 19:27; 23:23