When you’re on senior staff at camp, you get this green car decal that you put on the window of your car so that you can come in and out of camp’s gates freely (without, hopefully, having to stop at the gate house to talk to the guard). I got mine the first day of senior staff training last summer (2013), and you’re SUPPOSED to turn it in when you leave camp property for the last time at the end of the summer. Well, I stayed an extra week after camp was over last summer and never turned mine in. Then, I got hired for this past summer, and I just kept it on. I forgot to turn it in when I left in August, and when I was at camp in September for a day, it just slipped my mind. I always forget. But, I think it’s more than that.
This sticker–this green rectangle with CCC written in white and the number 085 underneath it–represents more than just a pass into camp. To me, it represents two of the most beautiful summers I’ve ever had in my life. And taking it off, well, taking it off means that I’m saying goodbye to this place. I wasn’t ready for that. Until this weekend.
I headed to camp this weekend for the biggest retreat of the retreat season. A church from near Charlotte comes in and brings almost 300 students/youth group leaders to have their annual fall retreat. While they love coming to camp each year and growing closer to the Lord, camp staff loves this retreat because so many of us come to work (which means camp reunions all around), and we get to see camp packed out to the MAX. It’s a busy retreat, and coming off of my 5 weeks of lab, I was not looking forward to being tired/working those long camp days. I was, however, looking forward to catching up with most of my sweetest camp friends, and that was about all. I didn’t think I would go away with a peace about the fact that my season at camp is slowly but surely ending. But I did.
Through some wise conversation, I learned about retreat and how God gives us seasons in our lives where we are to rest and heal and grow in the community around us. However, these seasons don’t last forever. We weren’t called to stay in that community; we were called to go into the world and tell others about Jesus. I’ve never really thought about my summers at camp as a “retreat”, but they so were. I rested in the Lord and was healed by Him so much my first summer. I grew a lot my second summer–from relying on His strength to knowing that His plan is so perfectly detailed that I need not have a single worry–I grew. I made some incredible friends. When you spend a summer (or two) with 80+ people who are all passionately pursuing the Lord and you share a common goal (seeing campers come to Jesus + equipping staff to grow to love Him more), it’s hard to walk away from that. This place, these people, they have been my retreat for the past 18 months. I don’t want to give it up.
I spent some time in prayer Sunday morning about a lot of things, this being the main one. How was I supposed to drive away on Sunday and not know if I’ll ever come back? (Let’s be real, more than likely I’ll visit in the summer if not before then). But, this was it, in a way. This was probably one of the last times I’ll “work” at camp. I was scared; tears were streaming down my face as I looked off at my favorite view from the dining hall. And then the Lord said this,
I have plans for you.
I have a city for you.
I have a school for you.
I have a classroom for you.
Full of students who need you to love them the way you’ve been loved at camp.
Umm, wow, way to knock my socks off Jesus. What a PROMISE! What a challenge. So, I took the sticker off–reluctantly–and gave it back to Abby to give to some person who works on senior staff next year. Some other person will love my ACITs, some other person will rock my trading post and laundry room, and some other person will be equipped to go out into the world when it’s their time. For me, that time is now.