We are a couple of weeks into the off season and I feel as if I can finally begin to process the summer! We have spent the past days tying up loose ends, straightening activity areas, sending lost and found, and laughing over funny summer moments that are being re-lived through video editing. It does take a while to navigate away from focusing on details in order to consider the overall picture of the experiences we work so hard to create.
As I re-enter my off-season world, the response to “How was your summer?” has been “Fantastic… it was really great…the best yet…our staff was incredible” and so on. I began recognizing in my enthusiastic responses that I really miss camp. Like a mission trip, it is difficult to explain what goes on inside the gates of summer camp to those who weren’t present: the laughter, the energy, the stories, the friends, the structure, and the work. Yesterday, as I walked our puppy around the canoe lake, it occurred to me that one of the things I value the most about camp is the chance to be more fully present. Summer days are filled to the brim. Up early, to bed late and miles accomplished in between. But unlike the busy-ness of the off season, distractibility feels minimal. Once the summer wheels begin rolling everything is right here, inside the gates. Friends, church, nurses, food, post office – the list keeps going. Thanks to my wonderful husband and son, for ten to twelve weeks, I don’t have to worry about the details of the “outside” world. So even though I am busier in the summer, it doesn’t feel the same- I feel more present. (Gary and Ezra might not feel like I am but I try my best for them, too!)
What a gift – to go, go, go but with narrowed, yet more important, responsibilities. It is simpler in the summer and it is rewarding! Our counselors feel this, too. Less drama, fewer demands, fewer deadlines, greater acceptance (less judgement) and, go figure, SO MUCH MORE learned. (“You can find more meaning in a campfire’s glow than you’ll ever find in a year or so.“) Our primary focus is serving, loving and having fun! I think summer camp gets it right for everyone involved – campers, counselors and directors – a yearly opportunity to restart, with a glorious reminder of what is most important in life: the people, the relationships, the chance to share and to serve. Illahee is a Heavenly World, indeed!