Written by Maci Hughlett
Camp: kamp (noun, verb, adjective) a place where an army or other group of persons or an individual is lodged in a tent or tents or other temporary means of shelter; army life; to settle down securely and comfortably; become ensconced; to take up a position stubbornly; to speak or behave in a coquettishly playful or extravagantly theatrical manner.
Listed above are a few definitions given by dictionary.com on what is camp. To an extent, the idea of a makeshift temporary shelter in an army-like environment with an air of amusement is exactly what camp is like in the common usage of the word. On the other side of the coin though, this definition is completely and utterly wrong. Camp is more than this – it is a place where dreams come alive and lives are changed. Camp is a place of freedom, expression, imagination, and safety. Camp is the sound of laughter and victory and stories of a prodigal son. Camp is a lifestyle. Camp is home.
I have been blessed with a life that has had splotches of camp throughout my childhood and even some in time spent at camps in my high school years. Summer of 2014 and now half of Summer 2015 has been spent as a camp counselor for one of the best day camps in the state – in my biased opinion, it is the greatest day camp in the world but we will leave that alone for now. As a full-time counselor for the four-year-old age group I have had my fair share of ups and downs throughout the ten weeks that summer camp lasts. For eight beautiful hours in the day, I am responsible for twelve campers and their success at camp. This is the greatest job that I could have ever asked for in my entire life. This job is not a job to me – it is a dedicated lifestyle of being a camp counselor on paperwork, but a camper at heart who is surprised when she receives a paycheck simply for having the time of her life. Camp is home.
Due to the waves of life, I will not be able to continue my summer as a camp counselor.
And this is the single-handed most difficult thing for me to write at the moment.
Because of the current circumstances and the ticking clock counting down my remaining time as a camp counselor this summer, I am sharing a very special list with you all that I had not planned on sharing until the end of this summer. Below is a list that I like to call “Confessions of a Camp Counselor” and it is a compilation of the things that camp life has taught me these past two summers. This is not nearly an exhaustive list as that would take hours to explain, but simply the highlights of the things that God has blessed me with the knowledge of while working as a camp counselor.
Confessions of a Camp Counselor
- Camp has taught me how to carry every single bottle of sunscreen that all twelve of my campers brought at one time and that you need to ask for help before things all fall apart.
- Camp has taught me how to love and accept everyone – you never know what someone’s story is and it is that very story that makes everyone beautifully unique.
- Camp has taught me that life is messy and that it is in the dirt that joy is found.
- Camp has taught me that at some point in your life you will have to break a worm in half just to make your kids have a great day at camp by feeding Catfish Woopdeedoo. You do what you have to do to make a child feel significant.
- Camp has taught me that an imaginary talking squirrel that is the head of every story we tell the kids at camp will always have more adventures than I ever will in my lifetime but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t attempt to reach the impossible.
- Camp has taught me that every person is different and the way you encourage and sharpen iron with one person is not how you speak with the next person. Get to know the real person underneath the surface and you will be the one with a life changed for the best.
- Camp has taught me that you can always be more selfless, understanding, corrective, loving, joyful, encouraging, respectful, and sympathetic – make this your goal each and every day.
- Camp has taught me that putting your head underwater for the first time is single-handedly one of the scariest things you will ever do in your life so do not judge those that are afraid to take giant leaps of faith throughout life.
- Camp has taught me how to laugh at the little things and that sometimes a tree that you pass everyday can be the most exciting moment of your day – there is joy from the Lord to be found everywhere if you only keep your eyes clear and your heart open. You will have bad days, but you must learn how to laugh through them if you ever want to survive.
- Camp has taught me what family and unconditional love truly means.
I may be apart from camp for the present time, but my heart will always be among the trees, smiles, mermaid tales, talking squirrels, snacks, naps, laughter, tears, and life-changing atmosphere that is – camp.
Keep calm and camp on.
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”