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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

Camp Can Change [Fill in the Blank]

By the title you may have some ideas as to what it is that I am going to be discussing in this blog post. I know this doesn’t really have anything to do with my journey in becoming a published author, but let me assure you it does because it is through camp that I have some of the ideas that I do for the stories I wish to share.

I attended this one particular church camp from 3rd – 6th grade and it was fantastic! It was an environment that was created for me to enjoy myself and to make friends. Once I aged out of that camp I went to a different one for four of the possible six years I could have attended it. Something that both of these camps provided was a visual of how a relationship with God can be this exciting thing. I could be completely stoked about God on a daily basis and my life could essentially look like the visual I saw at camp. Because of the things I was dealing with in my own life, I allowed myself to only experience what is known as the “spiritual high” instead of allowing it to completely ratify my view. Something that was different between the two camps was that one provided someone whom I could talk to that was not affiliated with my church or even a member of my family. It was a college student that I could look up to and ask anything I wanted to about faith. That particular camp was for my 3rd – 6th grade years – more specifically the summers after I completely those grades. I remember one of the conversations I had with one of my counselors – she was one of the group leaders for the small group I had been placed in for the week. It’s a conversation that has stuck with me and it happened my last year at that camp (so I was like eleven or twelve).

Since I have started college, I have worked at a different camp every summer. Each camp has provided an experience that has truly changed me for the better. I learned something about myself each year and it has helped me grow as a person.

The summer after my Freshman year of college (Summer 2012) I worked at a day camp that was about thirty – forty minutes from my house. I would wake up at five every morning and would not get to go to bed until about eleven that night. It was not easy doing that every day, but it was completely worth it though. I struggled in the beginning in finding how I can connect with the kids I was given each week, but I eventually found a way that worked. I also came away with friendships with my fellow counselors that have been such a blessing to me (you know who all of you beautiful people are). I had so much fun with that job and loved the people I worked with. Needless to say, it was (and still is I see from the pictures that are posted) always a party and a good time. It never mattered if we were on the clock or off the clock, the time spent with the staff was always time well spent. The big thing that I took away from that summer is that I can push through anything as long as I put my complete faith in God. Even though I became super exhausted from my long days and short nights, God provided the strength I needed to push through and make each week fun for the campers.

I have to say though, my favorite week was probably the week that I was taken out of my set age group and give a group of six six-year-old boys. I had so much fun with them! I think the best camp “gag” was convincing them that I was Jedi and that everyone in my area were also Jedi and the CORE leaders were the Jedi Masters. The force was typically expressed through the tickle monster. Whenever we would run in to other people in my area, the boys would ask and the counselors would tell them that it was all true. I have a Yoda attached to my backpack that summer (still attached to it and people ask about him all the time). Those boys tired him out. So I promise at one point in time he spoke, but those boys exhausted him to the point of silence (the batteries died and I can’t replace them). They were all so precious! It’s kind of funny to think that I was rather nervous when I found out that they were going to move me from my typical 3rd – 5th group to the youngest group for a week. It was most definitely the most fun I had all summer.

In between my Sophomore and Junior years of college (Summer 2013) I decided to give the camp that my older brother worked at for multiple summers a shot. So I went from working a day camp to sharing a living space with the campers that were assigned to me. Instead of the go to bed at eleven and wake up at five sleep schedule, it was fairly typical that I would end up being able to sleep around midnight and I woke up between six and seven to make sure I had myself together before I woke up my campers. Again, I struggled with finding a way to connect with my campers, but I did find a way and I had a lot of fun. Something that I learned though was how to rely on other people. While relying on God is super important, He places certain people in our lives for us to rely on. I have never been a big fan of relying on other people when I know that I am fully capable of completing whatever is asked of me. I was placed in a situation where I had to rely on others in order to survive, therefore I learned that it isn’t such a bad thing to rely on other people even when you think you may not need it.

For some fun memories from that summer… My most fond memories were from two separate weeks. Honestly, each week had some super awesome memories attached to them. The groups of girls I had were an absolute blast! One of them gave me a rather extensive education in all things One Direction. They even came up with a parody of one of their [One Direction] songs that they [the girls] sang every day when we were cleaning the room. It was quite entertaining. It was never a dull moment with those girls. They were so chill and were up for just about anything that included the word ‘fun’. Another funny memory was when I pretended to be trapped in a snowglobe and the way that my girls could help me break out was through a giant group hug. It was quite amusing watching the confusion on everyone’s face. There are so many memories that I could write down, but then we would be here for hours. So I’ll make videos about it instead (look out for those to come soon).

I am currently working in an administrative-type of position at my university to help with all of the camps that come and use our campus. So I can’t exactly say that this is an experience that will change me for the better, but who knows it might. It’s only the beginning of the summer. I still have two more months of this job. I intend to make it a fun two months (yes, paperwork will become fun – not exactly sure how it will be but I am determined to make it so).

I hope my point was clear, but on the chance that it wasn’t – Camp can change [fill in the blank]. It can change a person. It can change a heart. It can change a life. There really is no end to what camp can do for a person. It can connect people together and create a bond that cannot be explained to anyone who has never been to camp. Okay… I’m done.

Until next time… Kara

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