[note: i started this a week ago and just now finished it. all but porter’s were written a while back.]
i’ve noticed a trend in my camp related posts: it probably really sounds like i don’t like the people i work with.
seriously. i’m always saying how the campers are my reason to stay, how if i were only there for the staff i would have quit a long time ago, and all that. this makes me sad. because for the most part, that isn’t true.
i love everything about camp. how much i love the staff should show you how much i love my campers, because i’m always saying i love them even more. which i do. it’s kinda like when people think about how much they love their kids, and they try to imagine how much God loves them when it’s even more than they love them. you know?
as a camper, i thought the sun rose and shone on people like britnie reid, elizabeth teal, lucy…i could go on. i wanted to be just like them. they were like celebrities to me. getting to actually work there was my dream from the age of 13. it was like getting to be a guest star on friends or something, working among all the greats that i’d loved and looked up to for years. i remember in my interview, i told cindy that i wanted to be to my campers what my staffers had been to me.
so my first summer, the highlight was of course the people i got to be around. i got to be an equal with all my heroes. in a lot of ways, i think i still thought of myself as a camper. my view of camp got shaken up and turned upside down in the best way possible that year.
my second year, i had to get used to a lot of people being gone(the whole turnover deal, like i talked about a post or two ago), but as usual there were lots of great new people. that was the year that taught me about leading not just my girls, but also the staff in some ways. but not as many as the next.
this summer was the hardest, but that’s what made it the best. within my first few hours on the day the new staff moved in, i knew God had a challenge for me. people were looking up to me like never before. when i said things, they were listening. when they didn’t know things, they were asking me what to do. the incredible thing was, i somehow knew the answers. and i realized, that now i got to be what my old staffers were when i was new at the job.
and as each summer has gone by, i’ve learned to appreciate the whole dynamic of the staff more and more. you learn so much about a person by working closely with them for ten weeks. cindy tells us at the end of every summer(and she’s told me this a lot of times throughout the year too, i forget it a lot) “once a camp friend, always a camp friend.” i think that finally clicked for me this year. it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll always stay in touch or even that you’ll see each other again after the summer is over. but whether you’re friends for 5 days, 5 years, or the rest of your life when your time at camp is over, you become a permanent part of each other’s lives. you have a whole summer of experiences that only those people can fully understand. it’s like you’ve shared this separate little world for a time. you’ve seen God move and had your life changed in ways that no one else can quite appreciate. you don’t forget things like that.
yes, camp friends are special. people like them just don’t exist in the real world.
so while the campers are still my main focus and purpose, i still love the relationships that are such a big and important part of camp. there’s so many that i either just happily remember now, or that i’ve kept up since june 2, 2008. or there’s some that i was glad to see end, but i still learned from them.
here’s a few.
1. chasity was my cit in 2006. (in cabin 11, with amanda holliday =] ) God put his sense of humor to use and put me as her cit two years later in my first summer. we were a pretty awesome match. she was good at calming down my inner camper and showing me how to be the leader without making me feel like i was doing something wrong, and since she had been a cit before, she was GREAT at showing me how to do things, keeping me from going crazy when no one would listen to me, and getting me to breathe the day of our first mother-daughter. ;]
thanks for being such an awesome role model, “teacher”, and friend that year. i think you would have been proud of the way i ran things this summer. =]
2. hope was there from the very beginning. she was the first new person i met my first day of orientation my first summer. we were cit’s together that year. both of us had been campers before but had no clue what we were doing. we were in different units, but as cit’s get the honor of doing(and that’s only a slight exaggeration. it’s SO much fun, you get to see people you don’t ever see, and you get a break from the girls without feeling like you’re doing nothing. i always thought it was pretty great), we had fun times in the dining hall after every meal. we weren’t too too close that year(i actually thought she was shy at first. no, seriously), which surprises me now that i think about it. although. i do remember one time, it was coed week. hope was in cabin 5 and i was in 8, and cabin 10 had come to 8 for our cabin visit. it’s raining and starting to storm. hope comes crashing in right while the missionary was talking(that cool guy from india that wrote worship songs), and pulls me out to help her take the flags off our pole. so we’re trying and trying to get the string undone, but it won’t come off and there’s lightning all over the place, and we both realize we’re touching a metal pole. we both freak out and decide to just leave the flags, and we run screaming in opposite directions to get back inside. anyways, back to seriousness…
our second summer, we had both grown a lot. hope got to be a cabin leader that year, but i stayed a cit. (i’ve never been quite sure why i did that) in all honesty, i was sometimes jealous of her, because as orientation went on, i was thinking i could have handled being a cabin leader(although i disagreed at the end of the summer when i had the job for two weeks), and people kept forgetting that i had been there just as long as she had(since i was a cit, it does make sense). over the summer, God seriously humbled me.(not just about hope, that wasn’t a huge deal, but that’s who this little section is about and it’s a small example) and really, i looked up to her and would a lot of times forget that we’d worked there the same amount of time. honestly, i still think she’s better at the job than i am.
this year was the best. i wrote this in my journal the day me and the other old staff got there this year:
“we talked about how we’re all leaders, not just for the girls, but for the new staff too. i looked around the room, and i realized: all my supports, the people i used to lean on, are gone. the only person left from my first summer is hope. everyone will be looking up to us now, and when i look up, there’s no one there. that’s terrifying.”
after this, i found myself watching hope more and more. and i thought a lot about how much we had gotten to see each other grow over our first two summers. she’s become so much more important to me now. God taught me so much this year through her.
hope: to think that when i met you, i thought “we’ll never be close.” but all our near death experiences, and other awesome times together made my whole summer. thank you for being such an encouragement to me, and as you figured out when we got to live together, i’m always here for you. =]
3. in 2007, i had heard about somebody that everyone called “bean.” i had no idea of the story behind it and never actually talked to her that year, except for the first day when she read the names for adventure rec, she of course said my last name wrong(it is NOT said like “sweer”. so i corrected her, saying “swier-don’t-forget-it!” so the next day, and the rest of the week, she would read “linda swier don’t forget it?” and i’d say “here, good job.” little did i know that in a year she was about to become one of my favorite people.
while i was over in cabin 7 with chasity, bean was in cabin 6, plus i got to work with her in adventure rec(i was usually emily’s partner, but still), so we saw a whole lot of each other. and while i appreciated her awesomeness and all, it wasn’t really until the next year that we started getting close. as everyone started dropping like flies in the middle of summer ’09, i turned to her. while i was right in predicting she’d be next to go(i appreciated it being after summer was over), she kept me going. when the words “i’m not staying here one second longer than i have to” came out of my mouth, she was the one to remind me why i love camp.
i’m so glad that we’ve stuck even after our camp time is over and i’ve loved how much closer we’ve gotten since last last summer. thanks for keeping me sane, making me laugh and just being an awesome friend!
4. sarah porter…where do i start?
as a camper, i was honestly terrified of her. in not such a bad way, i loved her but i was scared to death to talk to her. once i started working with her, for the most part i thought she really didn’t like me much. but that first summer, when i was at my absolute lowest, she became the person i went to. and i found that she’s one of the most encouraging people i know. for that summer and the next, i could always look to her for a hug or a “great job” or a reminder to “rest,” or permission to be in the deep end while the girls were diving. ;]
i miss you porter. and i know you love me, even if you show it in unusual ways. =]
i’ve told stories about the others in other posts or in my facebook notes; it’s one of those days where i miss them too much to write about them, so you can go read about them somewhere else. so as much as i do love my campers, i could never survive the summer without my “family”. they’ve taught me so much and gotten me through the worst days. i’ve met some of the best friends i have because of camp.
just one more reason i have the best job in the world.