After returning from two weeks as a counselor at Dunes Bible Camp, I hold onto mixed emotions as I look back on the experience. I did three different camps of various age groups, Jr High, primary (1st-3rd grade), and junior (4th-6th grade). I feel as though it went by so fast and at the same time, it felt like I was there forever, but returning home, it feels like I was only gone a couple days. At times the kids were frustrating and at other times they brought me the greatest joy. Much of it is a blur together and full of so many different experiences, but I’ll only share the best, the worst, the most awkward, and the greatest thing I learned.
For the worst experiences, I had the hardest times getting the campers to focus during our downtimes. Fun times were awesome, my co-counselor’s and I had a difficult time getting them to say anything serious or even pay attention when we would have cabin discussions. Next time, if the opportunity ever rises again, we will definitely need to do cabin time not in the cabin.
Other than trying to get them to be slightly serious, the other “worst” experiences came from the random times outside of cabin time that they chose to open up, and you began to here parts of their stories that utterly broke your heart. There was a moment on the last night of Junior camp, in which campers could share how they were giving something to God. The first girl to share something opened up her story with “when I was 2 days old, my father left me,” and she continued saying that she has written him letters over the years and has never gotten anything back. She’s never heard or seen from her father and my heart just sank. I was sitting next to one of my campers and that hit him hard because his parents split when he was 2 years old and he only sees his father once maybe twice a year down in Mexico. It was stories like that created the “worst” experiences of the time, which lead to the best moments.
The best moments come off of the “worst” moments, and hearing these kids stories. They are so young but to really connect with some kids is awesome. I just wish that I had a little more time with them, that these moments did not end with camp. These kids surprised me with when they would decide to open up but I loved their honesty, but they were exactly the reason why I wanted to do these camps, to hear and love in these moments of brokeness.
My other best moments came just from hanging out with all the little buggas: algae fights in the lake, dancing to silly camp songs, joking about whatever, and people-watching. It was all so good. Probably one of my favorite kids was Alex in the Junior camp because he was smart, funny, and real. It was awesome because it seemed he was actually human and not a kid. It made me wish that I had a little brother. I have no other way of explaining it, but he was a bomb diggity kid.
The Most Awkward:
There weren’t too many straight up awkward moments. It’s church camp so you learn that anything goes and ya gotta do whatcha gotta do. During junior high camp, there was a group of girls in the chapel lawn that decided to play the “penis” game, in which you progressively start saying, “penis” louder and louder. So going over there and talking to them about that was decently awkward.
Since I have been struggling so much with theology lately, “spreading the gospel” has become a difficult task and definitely awkward. Sorting through my beliefs for myself was difficult and then trying to present the basic principles of evangelical Christian was awkward, thinking I don’t know really know how I feel about this and I have to explain it to children, but this is probably the greatest thing I learned over the weeks.
Greatest Thing I Learned:
Recently, I had been so caught off guard by the various branches of belief and truth that I lost track of the basics. I mean just before camp I was listening to an audio version of Love Wins by Rob Bell, and that was getting my mind flowing. Although it was hard trying to explain to them something that I myself was slightly unsure of, Dunes helped me get back to the basics and beginning to focus on what is at the core of the Christian belief.