For two weeks this past July, I spent two weeks as a Leader/Counselor at Lazy W Ranch Camp. This is a camp that has been a part of my life and faith formation since the 3rd grade. Over a decades worth of hikes to the crosses, meal moments, campfire songs, and talent shows have been experienced here. It is a sacred space in my life, and there are no words to describe how thankful I am to have stumbled upon it as a child. But these are all hard sentiments to remember when you are waking up at 6:45 in the morning, on a 2” thick plastic mattress, knowing that you are about to face another day of 100 degree heat with the humidity of North Carolina and no air conditioning. It was an exhausting two weeks to say the least, physically and emotionally. So why do I find myself longing to go back already?? Am I simply a masochistic minister?
Now that I have been comfortably recovering from heat exhaustion for two weeks in my air conditioned office, I am able to look back with rose colored lenses and see clearly the things that have brought me back year after year. It is the sound of 90 high schoolers singing at the top of their lungs “and heaven meets earth like a SLOPPY WET KISS” with their arms draped over one another’s shoulders. It is the sight of campers spread out over the entire camp playing ridiculous games for an activity called “Giant Olympics.” It is the smell of the dirt and the oaks as we walk to and from our cabins to the dining hall. It is singing worship songs on the volleyball steps first thing in the morning before breakfast while we groggily sip on coffee. It is witnessing deep friendships develop between campers during FOB. It is filling our water bottles with ice all day and sliding some cubes down our shirts to cool us off. It is creating a safe space for campers to ask hard questions like “do you think there is a hell?”, “why do bad things happen to good people?”, and find the bravery to say “I don’t actually know if I believe in this whole Christian thing.” It is having the privilege to hear campers say “I can be myself here because I know I will not be judged.” This type of intimacy, this type of vulnerability, and this type of community is few and far between in our everyday lives. And if you ever get the privilege to experience this type of community, you will know immediately that it is by no means easy or free from pain, but that it is indeed the Kin-dom of God. So I will take the dirt, the non-stop sweating, the hard mattresses, even rattlesnakes if it means that I get to partake in the life giving experience that is Lazy W Summer Camps. Thank you for another wonderful summer God, you never disappoint.