My phone buzzed in my hand at 2:00 am. It was time to wake my girls up to do our prank. They’d been begging me, all nine of them, to prank one of the boys’ cabins that week. I’d never participated in a camp prank, but I decided, after seeing Patience being thrown into the lake by two of the guy counselors, that a prank was in order.
As I climbed out of my sleeping bag without a sound, I brushed my fractured pointer finger, taped to my uninjured middle finger ti act as a makeshift splint, against the dresser and winced at the slight shot of pain. I had participated in a basketball tournament at the beginning of the week and had caught a pass with my finger, which of course resulted in my present injury.
Suddenly, before I could lightly shake the shoulder of the camper nearest to me, Kelly (previous BaYouCa counselor and present awesome woman of God in the business office) burst in through the door, piercing the darkness of the cabin with a blinding flashlight.
“Everybody wake up! We’re having church at the Outpost in five minutes!”
And then she was gone.
I didn’t ask questions or wonder what was going on, but obediently woke up my girls as gently but as quickly as I could manage at such an early hour of the morning. Thank the Lord all of them cooperated and obeyed even though I’m sure they were all exhausted and annoyed. I tried to hide the fact that I was really enjoying the adventure and mystery of what was going on. I grabbed an extra sweatshirt, strapped on my backpack, and set out, flashlight in hand.
It had stormed earlier in the week, so muddy was the trail leading to the Outpost and slippery was the grass leading to the trail. Monday had brought a torrential downpour and lightning that flirted with the outer walls of the cabins. But as me and my girls (all of whom I had just met only a handful of hours beforehand) sat trapped in our cabin as thunder rolled and lightning struck, we all climbed into our sweatpants and pulled out our junk food, laughing and talking about weird dreams and about our most embarrassing moments. The next day it had stormed terribly as well, trapping everyone in the Tabernacle, the building where chapel was held. As we all sat in the building, we watched “I Am Second: Lecrae,” and pretty soon after listening to the inspiring testimony of the famous Christian rap artist everyone joined in on a spontaneous worship session…it was amazing.
Wednesday brought the threat of a storm as well, but God was watching out for His kids. We were participating (the counselors, support staff, and campers) in an event called Gladiator Rugby, which is basically the drastically condensed version of a Spartan Sprint completed while carrying a football and wearing a padded helmet. The counselors were placed throughout the course, holding pool noodles to hit the campers with as they completed the course. At the very end, when our voices were gone and we were already covered in mud and water, we all did a counselor run through. When I’d finished my run through, my legs were scraped and bloody and I had myriad bruises on my arms and stomach. But oh was it worth it 🙂
Thursday afternoon was a banquet, a weird, strange event at camp when everyone gets dressed up and eats food together. I let my city girl out a little bit and wore a VanHussen dress (provided by Rebecca, of course 😛 ) and my heels. Did it feel weird dressing up while being at camp? Oh yes. Did I dislike it? No way 🙂
And now, as I walked through the woods, supplying light for the campers in front of and behind me on the darkened trail, I talked to God, thanking Him for the week and for every one of my girls, for adventure and for challenge, for His giving me time with Him and time to sleep, and for energy to spend throughout the day.
We all arrived at the Outpost soon enough and gathered around the bonfire that had been lit long before we came and was eating up logs and branches of every shape and size. I made sure my campers were warm, made sure they were there, and helped the other counselors seat everyone and give them light to see where they were walking as they filed in. Once everyone was seated, the assistant director of the camp, Mr. Dave Coy, read to us the stories of Christians across the world. One young lady had become a Christian and her father had locked her in a closet, giving her very little food and water, all because she proclaimed the name of Christ. Another young man had been disowned by his family because Turkey is a primarily Muslim country and to be a Christian was disgraceful.
This was a lesson, this waking up everyone so early, to possibly give us a minute glimpse of the difficulty that Christians in other countries experience every day, to somehow show us just how good we have it, and how little room we have to excuse lukewarmness in our walk with God. We get to go back to warm cabins, while others are running for their lives.
Soon, maybe too soon, we were sent back to our cabins and my girls soon fell asleep, not until after asking me to wake them up at four to do the prank as planned. When I woke up at four, however, I was greeted by the 100% asleep and exhausted faces of my girls. I gave into a motherly instinct that I’ve never had to exercise before, and decided that even though they’d been enthusiastic about the prank they needed sleep if they were going to enjoy their final day at Camp BaYouCa.
Throughout the week I was still Katniss Everdeen. At cabin line-up the whistle and salute came. French-braids were sure to extract comments from campers and counselors alike. And God forbid I were ever caught at the archery range! I was pranked: my cabin was Axe-bombed, a sign taped to the floor, reading “May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor.” Nearly all of the male campers were doing the whistle and the tribute by the end of the week. I was genuinely impressed by the effort of the guy counselors in keeping up with their tease 😛 I ignored most of it, but I definitely appreciated the humor when I was stressed.
I had everything from mud to macaroni salad, lake water to face paint spread throughout my hair and all over my face. The amount of sprinting, walking, cheering, and obnoxious noise-making is impossible to account for.
Throughout the week I’d been pushed, pulled, stretched, snapped, ripped apart, and tied back together again. The stories of my girls, their struggles, the testimonies of my fellow counselors, their struggles, the privilege and the responsibility of praying for every one of them weighed on my mind and heart, and there came a point when I couldn’t handle it…
But God could.
When I couldn’t speak out of love, God did. When my patience was wearing thin, He brought me into Him through prayer and the encouragement of my fellow counselors and others. When my physical state was too battered and sick to keep up with the emotions and the demand and necessity for spiritual strength, God carried me through and did not permit me to be moved, though my flesh shook me and Satan swung.
“Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never permit thr righteous to be moved.” —Psalm 55:22, ESV