Do you remember when you were a pre-teen? Raging hormones? Questionable things happening to your body? Your voice plummeting mid conversation? Ahhh yes. The glory days of awkward meets confusing.
Well one thing I forgot about those days is how much energy comes along with it. You see, I just spent all of last week with about 80+ girls ranging in age from 8-16. And it wasn’t until I was leaving camp did I realize how absolutely and positively exhausted I was from running around after all these girls all week.
Don’t get me wrong. I had a blast. In fact, I had a blast and a half. But this coming weekend, I will be catching up on missed Z’s and enjoying every blissful moment of it.
The entire week I was thrown into running all sorts of programs. And I really forgot how much I love working with the youth. Because it was a Catholic camp, I got to talk with the girls on a different level about their faith (or lack of for some girls). I’ll admit, sometimes when I am talking with my own peers about my faith or theology in general, I tend to freeze up. In my mind I’m thinking, “What could I possible have to say that this person doesn’t already know? How could I even be of any help?” But with the younger girls, some of them don’t even know the basics of our faith.
Plus, little kids tend to not have a filter which I (almost always) love. They say whatever they are thinking, which isn’t always a good thing but when learning about their faith, it’s perfect! They were asking about the saints, the Eucharist, adoration, praying by your self, Bible stories, even the devil who some didn’t even know was real. I even got to lead several groups in learning how to start a prayer journal.
Some of my favorite parts about camp you ask?
Horse Back riding: I have never been an avid rider, going on the occasional trot when visiting Mackinac Island. But this week, I got to not only trot and canter, but gallop on a horse. Picture John Wayne in The Searchers … that was me. Flying through the wind, not a care in the world. Okay not as cliche as that but it was pretty exhilerating. And a bit scary too. But I’m kind of an adrenaline junkie, always jumping off bridges or cliffs into large bodies of water. But this was new for me. And I’m a fan!
Prayer Journaling: When I was leading the Prayer Journaling Sessions, I talked to the girls about keeping a prayer journal for your prayer life. I spoke about how it can be your personal relationship with God and a place for you to pretty much put whatever you want. I showed them my ratty old journal and all the little girls kept flipping through finding saint quotes they liked or doodles I had scribbled down. But the best part was answering their questions. They all wanted to find different stories in the bible or hear about different saints. I told them all about Maximillian Kolbe, Joan of Arc, Bernadette… but they really seemed to like the story about St. Lawrence and his cheeky remark on his deathbed “flip me over, I’m done on this side.” They LOVED those stories. And I loved telling them. Little kids are so innocent about their questions. One of the many lessons I learned at camp.
Cabin Time: Everday before lunch, we’d have “Cabin Time” where everyone would come back to the cabin and hang out after our morning programs. I loved this time because it’s when I really got to know my girls.They all had very different backgrounds, some had no father, some had 10 siblings, some were homeschooled, and some were nervous about starting new schools. Everyone had something to say, even the quieter girls. We would just hang out in the cabin, listen to some music and craft. Because girls, no matter the age I’m learning, love to decorate and make things beautiful. Even if it’s only the cabin they are staying in for a week.
^^That picture on the right… Water bottle malfunction. Not bladder Malfunction. Promise.
Baked Alaska: Being my first time at this camp, I quickly learned about all the traditions that have gone on at camp for years. One of the many being Baked Alaska. On the last night for the girls, everyone would come back to the Mess Hall later in the evening for a homemade dessert of Baked Alaska. Now I’d only heard of Baked Alaska in old movies (Desk Set anyone?!) and have always wanted to try it since. So I was only too willing to give it a try. What is it you ask? Picture a layer of cake, with a bunch of ice cream on top, another layer of cake, all covered in meringue that has been torched a little. Soooo an ice cream cake meets a meringue pie. Very delicious. A little weird but good once your taste buds get a hold of what you’re doing with the meringue… Oh and meringue is not easy to clean off I’ve learned… How did I learn? Apparently the Baked Alaska tradition was not complete with out smearing meringue all over a few people’s faces. Yes, I was one of the victims.
Gaylord, MI: If you don’t know about my love for my state by now, then you should just leave. Just kidding. Do not leave. But in all honesty, I love up North Michigan. In Michigan, when people go on vacation, they stay in state. Apparently, to some of the non local counselors this was unheard of where they come from? But there is some serious beauty all over the state. And this week I got to experience Gaylord. I’ll be honest. There isn’t much happening there. They just built a Walmart a few years ago and their biggest attraction tends to be Norman’s, a massive wearhouse for camping and hunting enthusiasts to drop in as they continue their treck up north. But it has a charm all it’s own. Once we were set away at camp, you still get the up north feeling with the lakes and the trees but you’re still not that removed from life. And the stars at night?! Who needs a flashlight when you got those babies!
Color Run: I’ve always wanted to participate in a color run. And I finally got to. Although I was geting over a cold at the time, I was NOT going to miss out on this. So I volunteered to be the caboose of the run. Just to make sure no girls got lost and everyone was accounted for. The best part of being the caboose? When I finally got around to all the color stations, because I was the last one, they just dumped all the left over color-stuff all over me. By the time I finished, everyone was wondering how I had gotten so much color on me. Thank you, I’d love to be the caboose again next year!
Last Night: Every night, before we go to bed, everyone gathers in the chapel for Night Prayers. But on the last night we were to do Night Prayers in our cabin with our girls. So Katie (the other counselor in my cabin) and I brought the girls back and quieted everyone down. There is always a scripture reading with a testimony or talk slipped into night prayer but Katie and I had no idea what to talk to them about. They had heard bits of mine and Katie’s testimony’s throughout the week, and to be honest they weren’t exciting enough to be some epic story. Neither of us had any serious life changing things happen to us. There was nothing out of the ordinary except for maybe a reversion in college. So being that it was the last night, I pulled from the Transfiguration. I told them how although many of them may want to stay here and not leave (just as Peter had wanted to pitch tents and stay on the mountain), Jesus wanted us to go home, or down the mountain, and tell everyone what we’d learned and how we’d expereinced Jesus. He wanted us to spread His love to others who may not be aware of it. There was more to it, cause let’s be honest, when I start talking, it’s hard to get me to stop ;) Thank God the Holy Spirit was all up in that cabin otherwise I’d be at a loss for words. He’s good like that. — I then had to get the girls to bed after they’d had a fare share of Baked Alaska and bags upon bags of candy… God bless all you mothers out there. You must have some serious patience.
All in all it was a successful week at camp. I’d never been to an actual camp before so I’d like to think that my first time, even if I was 24 years old, was a as good as it gets.