As I prepare to enter my eighth summer as a camp staffer, I have an overwhelming abundance of memories to reflect on. From childhood weeks at Camp Moose Lake and the pubescent discoveries at Camp Koinonia, all the way to last summer, when I fell into awkwardly new territory to direct at Camp Assiniboia. I arise out of these memories with the knowledge that I have been shaped significantly by these places.
This past camp season, I went into the summer with little knowledge about Camp Assiniboia and I was directing with someone who had also never directed before. We were nervous and, although I think we pulled it off well, many days were heavy-laden with stress. I witnessed my fellow leadership staff take on new and stressful roles, I challenged myself to learn to love a new camp, and I met campers whose stories of witness were also stories of pain. I witnessed so much but struggled to be a witness.
However, I also saw beautiful glimpses of campers and staff witnessing God: a folk festival in the garden; campers chopping freshly picked vegetables while listening to staff play music on the impromptu stage; a conversation with a young camper who, while asking about the spring Adults with Disabilities Venture weeks, thanked me for the work we do at camp; and staff who reminded me through tender words and gentle actions that God was indeed dancing through the muck of camp’s chaotic glory.
This “necessary love” forced me to rely on others when I couldn’t bear to be a witness myself. It forced me to recognize the brokenness, often my own, and trust that God’s love would be shown through the people and places around me. Being a witness meant holding both the love and pain, and choosing the love day after day. This choice is one that camp makes easy, this necessary love: my life.