Sunday, September 24, 2006

Summer of 1991

In the summer of 1991, right after I graduated from college and right before going to grad school that fall, I took a summer camp counselor job at Camp Shenandoah Springs in Madison, VA. It was kind of on a whim, I had spent a weekend there on a retreat and fell in love with both the place and the family that ran the camp. I applied for a position in the early spring and then suddenly, 4 weeks before camp started, they had a last minute opening and offered me the job - 8 weeks as a counselor for a Christian camp run on an old Civil War-era farm in the Shenandoah mountains of Virginia.

They had what seemed to be a pretty cool summer camping program with some very cool elements - a lake, horses and girls. About that last element... almost all of my ministry experience up to that point had been with high school guys. I felt like it would be a growing experience to work in a residential camp ministry with guys and girls at the same place. Growing it was.

We had an amazing staff team of 8, including the lead counselor, a horse whisperer, a lifeguard and three worship leaders. I taught canoeing, first aid, and crafts. I also got a reputation for driving a black 4x4 in and through Civil war farmland.

Up until that point, I had had a lot of great ministry experiences. But boil them down and they were mostly about having a lot of fun. Summer camps, high school retreats, weekend camping trips, intentionally spending time with students. They sounded right on, but this summer made me see something that was missing - someone that had passion.

I had never seen someone weep - and really weep - for the future, watching them count the days they had left with these precious students. I hadn't really experienced living with someone who gave - almost at every moment both waking and nonwaking - to the charges they had been responsible for 24x7. I had never experienced morning staff prayers like this one - where our unified team openly begged God for safety, mercy and impact. This was the summer that I saw passion embodied - it was packaged in camp counselors.

A few days ago, one of the counselors I worked with connected with me via this blog, after not being in touch for over 10 years. He told me they were having a 25 year anniversary party today and asked "So, what are you doing this weekend?" The girlies and I were able to go and it was a great time to reconnect with some great friends - friends who like to package passion in human form.

Photo: CFine, BGoins and me, 15 years after serving together.

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