There is something especially magical about summer camp. Away from the noise of everyday life, surrounded by nature, feeling especially close to God-- I first fell in love with summer camp in 3rd grade. I loved the bunkbeds and writing letters with flashlights late at night. I loved being constantly surrounded by trees and sunshine and just plain dirt. I loved the wild freedom of being 9 with no parents around.
Eventually, in college, I became a camp counselor and the magic was deeper and wider. Ir was worship songs in a wooden chapel late at night and fashion shows on your cabin porch instead of napping and laughing at how bad you smelled surrounded by some of your dearest friends in the world.
The essence of camp for me will always be that it is magical because it emulates Heaven. It is freedom and joy and stars and moon all mixed up.
After four years of college full of summer camp and then YoungLife camp, I stepped into adulthood and teaching and thought the next time I rolled up at a camp it would be to drop my own kids off into the magic.
But grace is sweet. And Jesus is kind.
The past few years, while teaching and coaching at Brookwood, I've attempted to be a YoungLife leader at Brookwood and Parkview as well. I say attempted because while I've been there, I feel that I've failed in a lot of ways. It hasn't been as easy as I thought and I had to suck it up and realize the hard way that you can't be physically and mentally present for everyone, always.
But back to grace.
A few weeks before school ended, I got asked if I could go to YoungLife camp in Colorado last minute. I said yes and as soon as I got on that 30 hour bus ride at 26 weeks pregnant and nausea set in, I started to regret that decision. You can't do this pregnant, said the voices in my head. You are past this stage in your life-- what on earth are you doing? That bus ride was rough... but the redemption ahead even in the ups and downs of the next week was a sweet kiss from Jesus.
Being pregnant has been a lot of things and there have been a lot of emotions-- but more than anything-- it is the finality of a chapter of your life-- even more so than I ever felt about getting married. Even at 26-- it is hard to say goodbye to being the kid and having one. I don't mean that in a negative way-- more of nostalgia. And for one week, while yes camp is hard pregnant, I got to feel that freedom and joy and sun and moon mixture rinsed over me again.
I got to hang out with 17 incredible high school girls and remind them how worthy and loved they are!! I mean, what a privilege. I was given renewed confidence in my own calling on my life-- to love these girls wildly, even when it's hard and you are tired. And I was given sweet friendship and laughter for 10 straight days.
I love these girls and I truly hope they felt the love of Jesus on them that week. It was about them after all. But still, I can't get over how sweet of a gift it was to go to camp. Pregnant. Impending new journey wrapped into a sweet kiss with the familiar of summer camp magic.
It felt like a kiss of grace. And with that sweetness holding my hand, I feel a little more ready for this next adventure. It will certainly have moments that feel like a 30 hour bus ride-- but the moments of mountains and laughter and sunshine will be there to remind me daily of grace.