It’s the end of a long work week.
And still more to go. In fact, the most difficult work of this particular week. You’ll have to get nearly 100 people from the church parking lot to Pine Cove and back again. Over 80 of these people will be between the ages of 11 & 14.
These 11 to 14 year-olds, some of whom are staying away from home for a weekend for the time, will be responsible for their own luggage & taking medicines and learning how to respond when they don’t get to sit on the same bus with their VBFF. Some of the adults who are taking their own cars and some college student help will be meeting us at the camp because they live in the town where the camp is located.
You, on the other hand, are taking the high school work crew, pictured here, given the instruction to pose like rock stars for an album cover:
There is a lot of detail work in this, too. Check-ins with nervous moms asking 100 questions that are already written down, finding the appropriate DVD’s for the bus ride, making sure we’ve got cash for the tip for the bus driver, that we’ve got two legible lists for which kid is on which bus, last-minute payments to process, work crew luggage with tags on them because they’ve got to go separate. There’s a lot more than these…but that gives you a taste.
At the end of a long work week it’s hard to focus on details, but, in my friend Katherine’s words, “You gotta rally, man.”
Finally, the buses roll (on time this year! Way to go, parents!) and the high-school van is loaded with the teenagers’ infinite playlists being played for the two-and-a-half hour van ride. Laughs galore.
Check in with the camp staff. Ever had to get, say 46 middle school girls who all want to room with their VBFF (of which, they have 4 VBFF’s) when all the rooms have 8 bunks, but one has to be for an adult? Ever seen, say 37 middle school boys who’ve been on a bus eating Pixie Sticks for two-and-a-half hours, have a camp setting with a lake who want to explore the darkness with their flashlights, try to get them to any room with a bunk with their luggage? The high schoolers check in with the kitchen staff and get right to work to serve these middle schoolers a snack in half an hour.
I go check in with the leaders after their orientation meeting. Thank them and encourage them. Back to check on the high schoolers.
The next day it’s up an hour earlier than the rest of camp with the high schoolers getting breakfast ready to serve to 200 campers from area churches. Middle schoolers who’ve barely been to bed show up and the day begins. Club meetings where they have Bible study. Meals. Small group breakout sessions. Free time. Horseback riding. Canoes. Zip lines. Tether ball (tether ball?). War ball. Running like a banshee. 8th grade girls flirting with the oblivious 8th grade guys who determine to trounce the girl in tether ball. More meals. Food dares. More club meetings. More breakout sessions. Frisbee. More tether ball (more tether ball?). Meetings with grownups. Back to check on the high schoolers. Commando. Stories about Commando. Bed time.
Repeat process Sunday, but only for half a day.
Then repeat the process of the detail work for the bus ride home, with students who’ve been to the snack shop and gotten more Pixie Sticks and washing them down with 3 Dr. Peppers.
Always “being on.”
The attempt to be compassionate when a middle schooler is experiencing drama that’s very real to them and trying to serve them as they work through it.
The lack of time to yourself, especially when you’re a person that kind of needs a lot of time to yourself.
And then a mom who agreed to go to camp with you because she knew you needed help walks up to you and starts her sentence with, “I’d like you to meet you new sister in Christ.” And then a college student you discipled walks up a few hours later and says something similar.
And then you chuckle to yourself because you lost sight of the big picture amidst all the details.
And then you chuckle to yourself because you have the best job in the world.
And then you look forward to yet another couple of teenagers who will be in our baptismal pool and say these words into the microphone after being asked about when they really believed the idea that Christ rose from the dead and all they simply accepted His free gift:
“This one weekend at Pine Cove after the speaker talked about what the Bible said, I was talking to Mrs. Amy after my small group leader on the work crew said I should, and…”
And then you chuckle to yourself because God is at work in the lives of people you know and you sometimes forget that when you’re bogged down in some details.