On the way back to LFR during the first morning of Kids Camp A, I prayed that the Lord would teach me to depend on Him for the week ahead. Coming into my very first camp as a counselor, I was terribly aware of my fears and insufficiency. Thus, I asked that the Lord would bring me through any of the challenges ahead, secretly hoping that these challenges would amount to nothing more severe than spilled drinks. But it was not so. The very second I walked through my cabin doors, the counselor who had filled my place for the night pulled me onto the porch. Exhaustion and frustration were the emotions I saw on his face as he informed me of my campers: eight Tribe kids ranging from 7 to 9 years old. Most of them had come from broken homes and probably had little experience with familial love. Thus, I made it my goal to show them the love of Christ throughout any and every interaction with them that week.
Yet I had greatly underestimated the capability of wanton destruction that 7-year-olds possess. After two seemingly unending days of herding hyperactive boys around the camp, I was emotionally battered and physically bruised. Having lost my voice and patience on several occasions, I felt burdened by the weight of despair, feeling utterly inadequate as a counselor and useless as a vessel for the Lord. Were it not for the patient aid of my tribe leader, Kody, I would have lost hope completely. As things stood on that particular night, I had ended a long afternoon of paddle-boating with campers. The conversations of these one-on-ones generally ranged from the dinner menu to curt answers when venturing into more spiritual topics. After a dinner characterized by campers’ vain attempts to pour their own drinks without causing a mess and a powwow marked with distracting side-conversations, I had only sleep on my mind. Yet one of my campers asked to talk with me on our porch swing. I obliged, thinking that this conversation would probably be as superficial as the rest of my one-on-ones. God proved me awfully wrong.
As we sat on the porch swing, he took the initiative to open up about the difficulties of his family life and how Christ has met him amidst his struggles. Hearing this from the mouth of a first-grader utterly shocked me. Discussing the Gospel with him felt like a conversation with an old friend as we experienced the sweetness of our common salvation in Christ. He understood Christ so well that the Lord used him that night to profoundly encourage and heal. I had never felt as completely drained as I had before that talk, but I also had never been as aware of the Lord’s goodness as I experienced when conversing with him. Week One was a crucible in many ways, but the Lord proved a faithful refuge in the trials, sending encouragement from surprising sources. The Lord is good.