emma paramore

senior cook

As a cook, I don’t get to have many interactions with the campers throughout the summer except for the few campers with allergies or special dietary restrictions or the handful of times the kitchen staff takes trips to the pool for the afternoon. I do, however, get to have a lot of interactions with the summer staff and the year-round staff families, and that is where I’ve found my place in the ministry of Lake Forest. Getting to check in on counselors, workstaffers, and other support staffers throughout the summer and getting to serve them and pour into them has always been my favorite part about support staff, but this year I’ve been blessed to be intentionally poured into in return by the year-round staff ladies—or the “camp moms” as the staff lovingly refers to the four of them. They have each loved me so well in their ways, be it cooking me food, stopping by the kitchen to ask how I’m doing, cracking jokes with me, or even taking the time to have one-on-one conversations with me about what’s going on in my world. Right after one of those conversations, the Lord put it on my heart to seek out one-on-one time with one of the camp kids in whom I see a lot of my younger self, and with the approval of her mom, the two of us set a time to hang out.

In typical Lake Forest fashion, our one-on-one began with a trip to the Snack Shop for snowcones—a delicacy here in the forest. Then, the two of us headed out to the Lakeview swings and sat down, talking about everything from the baby birds being fed in a nearby nest to what color our tails would be if we were mermaids. After a while, though, she began to share her heart. She told me about her experiences visiting the kids camp locations with her dad during Camp Macon and the lessons he’d taught her about being grateful for the things she has that many others might not. It stuck with her, that concept of people being less privileged than her, and her immediate reaction was not pity but rather a desire to help. She ended that part of the conversation saying, “I’m excited to see what Jesus wants to do with my life.”

Her 11-year-old faith was inspiring to me; the way she felt so deeply for these things that truly mattered to her gave me hope and made me excited for all the ways the Father is going to use her—both now and in the future. Though she might not have known it, the Lord used that conversation to remind me to trust Him fully and completely, to never lose that childlike wonder that makes you stop and notice the little things in creation like baby birds and butterflies. Through her, the Lord reminded me of his goodness, and while I originally went in praying that she would get something out of the one-on-one—that she’d feel seen and known and understood—I was reminded of the God who sees, knows, and understands. I walked away seeing the world with new eyes and with a newfound deep respect for a little girl who will one day do some major work for the Kingdom.