As I drove steadily down the 3 mile gravel road to Camp, thankful that the night's rain was keeping the dust at bay, I realized that this was the last week of summer camp. For the counselors we call it week 1.8 as to help set their hearts and minds back to week 1 when their energy and excitement are the highest. Driving past the first turn, I stopped to say good morning to the two counselors who were literally jumping for joy as I pulled up. They had strategically positioned themselves so that parents making the drive to drop their kids off would see which way to turn. It was very apparent that the two jumping girls had not lost their excitement one bit from week 1. If anything, I would say it had only increased. I asked them how they were feeling about it being the last week of camp. The response I heard from each one of them was that of immense gratitude, and it was very apparent.
Making my way up to the front gate, I slowed to fall in line with the few cars in front of me. There were 5 more counselors at the gate welcoming each car load full of excited kids who were eagerly waiting to hear their cabin assignments and the coveted names of their two counselors. When it became my turn I was greeted with the same level of enthusiasm as if I were a camper. We joked about which cabin I would be in and how I forgot my extra underwear at home!
I proceeded to head down the hill and then back up to the lodge where I was greeted yet again by huge smiles and unending kindness. I pulled to the side of the building away from the unloading cars and made my way into the mass of families anxiously making their way through registration, the nurses station, and the camp store. At the loud ring of the bell, people began funneling their way into the gym for the official welcome. Everyone gathered to witness a very theatrical performance by the counselors who have clearly done this many times, yet it seemed to get better and better each time. "This is the moment you've all been waiting for!" Week 1.8 had now officially begun!
Kids made their way to their respective cabins for ice breaker and introduction games, while parents trickled to their cars to make the long journey back home. The day continued as planned while much of the rest of my time was spent with a close friend who happens to also be the founder of Camp Highland. In typical Monday fashion we discussed all of the activities on the agenda: the upcoming board meeting, the many fall programs on the calendar, the bordering land that is for sale, the swimming pool and dinning facilities that will one day be built, and the unmeasurable amount of lives that have been influenced in a way unlike any other! From the window of his office we sat back and watched the different interactions unfold between the counselors and campers as each cabin came together to create a huge circle in the center of camp. Kids who were nervous about this being their first time at overnight camp quickly became engaged and bought into what was being offered to them - Belonging, acceptance, freedom, love, an opportunity to unplug from the many distractions and temptations of the world, and a chance to really be a kid and not feel judged or mocked. A chance at hearing truth in a way that has never been told to them before...THIS is what it is all about!
In our world of immediate gratification, instant response, and acceptance based on our social media status, we often times begin believing the lie about where our real value comes from. The truth is that it can only come from above. The Father loves us beyond what we can ever fathom, and His acceptance is all that really matters. Working hard and achieving rewards or accolades is not a bad thing, but we should be reminded of our reasons for seeking these things. It comes downs to matters of the heart. Galatians 1:10 says, "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." This is the heartbeat of Camp Highland and it's being played out every day! Our incredible counselors have bought into the truth that God has a plan and purpose for their life, and they've chosen to share that message with every kid they meet this summer.
As the summer comes to close, I'm so grateful to get to work with so many amazing people who are all examples of living for what really matters. They've given their entire summer to walk alongside hundreds of kids to meet them right where they are in life. These moments are life changing and will forever help shape the trajectory of these kids' lives. In closing, remember that your time here on earth is only a vapor, so make it count for something!
Engage the heart!
Zach - Director of Development & Donor Relations