I was never a camp counselor. I never did the entire summer grunging around (is that a verb? now it is) with no makeup, a ponytail, and a camp t-shirt. I never led silly campfires and prayed with little girls to receive Jesus. There was ONE week when I worked as an assistant counselor. I am insanely proud of that week. One little homesick blond girl wet her bed. I took her sheets to the laundry people to wash. Also, we won Cabin of the Week, and the little girls painted my face and did my hair in ponytails.
I loved that week. I loved it so much.
Most of my good friends have, since going away to college, worked a summer or two at a Christian camp in the midwest. They tell me stories. They gush over how amazing the community was, the stars and the lake and the cabins.
Listening to their stories, my response has always been a raised eyebrow. That’s nice. That’s good. That’s for you. Except, secretly, inside, I wish I did it too – and the only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t think I had the “gift.” It’s for the same reason I didn’t become an Elementary Education major: I don’t think I have that right blend of patience and firmness that our best teachers have, that capacity to demand excellence while also exuding confidence in the students and love for who they are.
Camp counselors need to be selfless, to not need much introverted alone time, to learn to fall asleep amidst the clamor of 16 whispering girls, and when asked “can we go get ice cream?” when all you want to do is nap, to say “yes!”
Camp counselors were my heroes, my idols as an elementary and even middle school girl. Those girls were beautiful to me, with their guitars and their eyeliner-less beauty, and their bubbly laughs, and I wanted to grow up to be just like them.
God is funny and good. I was never a camp counselor – I still could be one. But I did sign up on a whim, at the end of my junior year of college this past spring, to be an orientation leader for freshmen students at my school.
And this week I learned how to be one. And this weekend, I was one.
Have you ever done something in a burst of courage, not sure you’re up to it? Have you ever walked out of the interview and thought, holy cow, what am I getting myself into? Have you ever put yourself out there, totally, with a little mixture of fear and excitement and this-is-not-typical-me?
And I loved it.
Who knows if I did a good job – God knows. God worked with my mistakes. But I had an awesome co-leader, and together we enjoyed three grueling days of training, and a whole weekend of orientation awesome-ness. I loved everything about it, from moving in those freshmen to sitting and sharing campus resources with them in small groups, to playing weird and uncomfortable icebreaker games (maybe my least favorite part… but I legitimately enjoyed a few, really!). I loved showing them where to go, and telling them my stories, and listening to their dreams. I loved watching them walk around campus with their parents, schedules in hand, eyes wide, sometimes not even talking because they seemed in awe of the place they stood which will soon feel like home but right now feels foreign and new.
It wasn’t counseling elementary-age girls. And maybe I should leave that to the girls with more flexibility, patience, and heavy sleeping skills than I. Maybe I’m more cut out for a different group.
Instead, it was 18-year-old newcomers to higher education, 18-year-olds with excitement for their futures and eagerness to ground themselves in the soil of a new place and start fresh as college students.
It’s so inspiring!
What a week.
This post is dedicated to my friends who have worked summers at those lovely camps I mentioned. You girls rock. You are my heroes. Maybe someday I will summon the courage to do what you did. Maybe is the key word.