From the time I signed up to work at Kawkawa for a week as a cabin leader, I was open to the possibility that things would be very different than what I had remembered. I was open to change, to something new. And when my friends dropped me off after our camping trip, I didn't really know what to expect.
I was nervous, actually. Overwhelmingly happy to be at camp - with kids, not just for work days!!! - don't get me wrong, but nervous. I hadn't worked at camp since I had become a teacher. What if I couldn't put the "teachery" me away and just be a camp counselor again? And really. I remember going to camp as a kid. There was always one counselor who was significantly older than everybody else, and I always prayed I wouldn't end up in the "old counselor's" cabin. And now? I WOULD BE THAT GIRL! hahaha! Seriously! Most of the staff were aged 16-20! Gak! (They were awesome!)
The age thing really wasn't an issue, and I found it was good to have a few teacher tricks in my pocket for one or two little monkeys. When their sixteen year old counselor was having no success in getting Mr Monkey to comply and he was at the end of his rope, I whipped out the teacher voice. "Mr. Monkey... that's ONE. " He looked at the counselor, looked at me, and did as he was told immediately. Is it wrong that I totally loved the fact that the counselor, poor kid, just looked at me like I was magic or something? Tee hee hee!
Ah, but I digress. I was prepared for new, for different. But what there was was the same Kawkawa I had always known - new faces, updated songs, yes, but it was so very recognizable as CAMP. It was still Kawkawa. The same schedule, the same traditions, the same games and shenanigans... the same God continuing to work in all kids of amazing ways. It felt so very good to be there.
I had five girls in my cabin - three aged 7 and two aged 9 - and they were awesome! I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls. We swam and ate and played and kayaked and sang and shot rifles and did crafts and giggled and caught frogs... and learned one more time about how deep God's love runs.
* The first night at campfire, I stood there, in that place I never thought I'd be in again, singing, doing all manner of goofy actions, watching the campers, and working so very hard at not bawling my eyes out as joy welled up inside me.
* My girls rising to every challenge and pushing themselves farther than they thought they could go - from extreme homesickness to maneuvering a kayak to holding a snake to sticking with a friend in a hard time to getting up in front of a group to do drama for the first time... they were so brave, and I was so proud of them!
* Singing with "Tang" our junior counselor in the cabin and one of my girls asking if we could sing the song (a version of Amazing Grace) at campfire. "Tang" played the guitar and all five girls sang in front of everyone. They were amazing! ... And I'm not just saying that - I know how off key kids can sing, but these girls sang together, on pitch, beautifully! All I did was hold the flashlight for them. They sounded like angels!
* Surprising my girls with a sleep-out on the last night of camp. I set up a tarp and after campfire and the outdoor movie, we dragged our sleeping bags, pillows and all-important stuffies down to the beach for a night of star-gazing and outdoor awesomeness. Being the beginning of August, there were lots of shooting stars, and it was SO much fun to hear the girls get all excited as they watched. A few of them had never seen a shooting start before! We lay there, watched, and talked about how amazing God's creation is. Falling asleep under the stars... there's not much better!
* Waking up around 4:30am on the beach to very VERY loud rumbling: a thunder storm was rolling in. I lay there for a moment, waiting for the rain, but there was none. Lightning came, far away at first, but I could tell the storm was coming closer. Do I wake the girls, or will it stay away? Gradually I began to feel a drip......................... drip......................... drip............... drip........... drip..... drip.... drip... drip.. drip. Faster and faster the drops began to fall so I sprang to my feet to wake the girls up. Not wanting to scare them (how on EARTH were they still sleeping through this thunder???), but also needing to wake them and get back to the cabin quickly, I began to call, "Girls! Wake up! It's starting to rain! We need to go inside. Giiiiirllllls... Wake up!" Once they realized there was a crazy storm going on - it was L-O-U-D and RIGHT on top of us: bolts of lightning shot through the sky and cracks of thunder sounded simultaneously with light that lit up the whole beach - they got a little nervous, but I just laughed and told them, "What an ADVENTURE!!!" Uhhhh.... yeah... an advennnnnture! We wrapped our stuff around us and scurried up the hill to the cabin. The storm was right on top of us, and it was by far the loudest thunder storm I have ever heard in my entire life. One crack of thunder sounded like an explosion - just one big, err.... thunderous BANG! We got back into the cabin JUST in time for the skies to open and it started to absolutely MONSOON. The rain on the tin roof was nearly deafening, not to mention the continuing thunder and blazing lightning. After about a half an hour, the rain had eased and the storm was fading farther and farther away. The girls had calmed down and fallen back asleep around 5:30am. We woke up a very few short hours later to blue skies, the soaking wet ground and drip-drip-dripping trees the only evidence of the insanity that had passed through earlier that night.
At camp, there's always SOMETHING!
It was such a privilege to be there - to be there for Kawkawa's first summer back, to have such fantastic girls in my cabin, to get to be a part of this ministry that I love with all my heart.
Kawkawa is alive once more! I can't wait to see what God will do there in the years to come.
View the full photo set here.