Thursday, May 20, 2010

Camp...Part 3

After returning home from camp in 2005, I moved to Nashville to take the job with LifeWay as a Program Specialist for Crosspoint and Centrikid camps. Now this thing called camp was a part of my daily life. Everything seemed to be new...I had a new job, I was living by myself for the first time, I was making new friends, and Brad and I were beginning a new relationship. It was both exciting and scary. It was definitely a new challenge and God was stretching me. I was learning a lot about what went into planning a summer of camp. I was also learning a lot about myself, as it was the first time I was really living on my own as a "grown up."

I had planned to stay in the job at LifeWay for two years, as that was the usual term for my position, but as things became more serious between Brad & I, we talked more and more about me moving to Birmingham, AL so we could live and date in the same city (he was in seminary at Beeson Divinity school at the time). As I considered and prayed about this possibility, I was excited but scared as well. I thought I had these two years "planned out" and I thought that I knew where I was going to live and work. If I moved to Birmingham, all these things would be up in the air again. As I was pondering these things, a coworker and friend reminded me that God had always provided for me. That it may not have always been on my time table, but that I could look back on my life and very clearly see that God had a plan in everything he had done and that He had always taken care of me and my needs. So I made the difficult decision that after I completed my 2006 summer of camp, I would leave Nashville and move to Birmingham.
2006- I had the opportunity this summer to serve alongside a great friend, Derek, who would be the director of the team with me as the assistant director. We began working together in 2003 and we had been friends ever since. This would be our 3rd summer out of the 4 that we worked, to work together. Our team was great and we made many memories as we traveled the country together. It was bittersweet knowing that it would be my last summer with Crosspoint. It was also difficult at times that Brad was leading another team and this was the longest we had been apart since we began dating. In the end, it strengthened our relationship, and it helped that we both fully understood what the other was going through during the summer.

As my summer began to come to a close, I was nervous and scared about what was to come. I wanted to trust in God's faithfulness, but it was hard to be patient to see how His plan would play out. I had been in conversations with someone named Roger about a camp called Student Life, but I had no idea how that would turn out. I didn't even know if they were seriously considering me for the position. I just knew that either way, I had a peace that I was supposed to move to Birmingham, even if that meant I couldn't see the whole picture yet. So, 2006 was the end of my time with Crosspoint. I am so thankful for all the experiences that I had there and the friends I made. I am most definitely a different person because of those 4 years. Maybe I will get to the next four before I leave on Sunday!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Camp...Part 2

I'm not sure how many years of camp I will get through tonight, but last night I left you hanging at the end of my 1st summer of camp in 2003. So here goes...

2004- When I returned home from camp to begin grad school, I admit that I had a bit of a rough time. I moved back home and began one of the most challenging semesters of my life. I was overwhelmed by loneliness and I missed the community I had found at camp. One night, one of my teammates finally explained to me what my problem was...I had the "camp funk" as he put it. Basically the time in which you are in detox from missing the experiences and the people you have lived life with for the last three months. Fortunately, I did make good friends that summer, who spent many nights during the fall on the phone with me "talking me off the ledge" persay in regards to grad school. I suddenly couldn't wait until I would leave again for another summer of camp. I waited not so patiently to find out what team I would be on and who my new teammates would be (and who I would get to spend another summer with).

In May of that year I left again for my second summer of camp on the Crosspoint Green team. It is honestly still one of my favorite summers of camp and one of my favorite teams of people. It is also true that your second summer is the best. You have been around just long enough for people to look up to you as a leader, but you are still "cool enough" to be "one of them." It was a few weeks into this summer that my director pulled me aside and told me that he "needed me to step it up." I admit I was a little taken aback and maybe even slightly offended. Me, ever the overachiever and people pleaser needed to "step it up?" But he was right. He pushed me to push myself and my leadership abilities. He taught me about what it meant to replicate leadership. He helped me to begin to put leadership theories I had learned in college into practice. He also became a great friend. (Here's a bit of hint, he later became more than that!) It really was a wonderful summer of fun new locations and great memories with great people. Again, I had convinced myself that of course THIS summer would be the last. After all, I would be graduating from Grad School and I would definitely have to find a "real job" after that, right? Of course again God had different plans than I did. He used some convincing from a certain director that I could give one more summer and that I should take a step to increase my leadership and apply to be an Assistant Director. So, I did.

2005- I was hired as an Assistant Director for the summer of 2005. I was also paired with my director from the previous year. We spent a lot of time that year talking about camp and how we planned to lead our team. I admit that I found myself worried more than a few times that year that maybe, even as excited as I was, that I may have made the wrong decision to come back for another summer of camp. I had no idea what I was going to do after graduation and that was more than a little stressful. Of course God had a plan for that too. Before I even left for the summer I heard that a position as an intern was opening at LifeWay in the fall with their children's camps. I applied, and a week before I graduated, was offered and accepted the job. Once again, God had shown himself as provider in my life.

As I left that summer I was excited about the new challenges. It was difficult being in leadership for the first time. I didn't understand why suddenly the girls on my team weren't rushing to tell me everything that was going on. I was now "in charge" and that sometimes meant feeling isolated in my leadership. But I worked through those growing pains and the experience continued to stretch me and challenge me. I was able to begin to understand what it meant to pour into and invest in the people who had been placed in my care on my team that summer. I would make another great friend who would later become my roommate and would also be one of my bridesmaids.

I also discovered that I may have more than feelings of friendship for that director who had been in my life. We were both facing times of transition in our lives after camp, but we both admitted that there were feelings present. So, that was a possibility that was awaiting me after camp. This was also the first summer I was leaving that I knew I would be back again the next summer, which was part of my fulfilling my new job at LifeWay. This was a new feeling of security that I had not previously experienced. I was also looking forward to the experiences I would have in my new job, as I would be able to see "the other side" of camp and all the preparation that would go into it. I was excited about moving to Nashville and I felt blessed that this "camp thing" that I loved so much was developing into something that looked a little more like a "real job." But to hear more about that, you'll once again, have to wait until tomorrow. Enough writing for tonight.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Camp's a word that has defined my summers for the last 8 years and pretty much my life for the last five. I never would have guessed when I showed up to work Crosspoint in 2003 that 8 years later, I would still be packing up to go to camp in the summer. I figured I would be a "grown up" by now. Funny how God always seems to have different plans. This summer is probably the last. Mainly because God has placed a new calling of teaching on my life that is bringing this camp journey to an end. I've thought a lot lately about the last 8 years of my life, about this journey that I have been on. So, I figured it might be cathartic to share it here. So here goes...

2003...A little background, the winter before I had traveled to the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City to be a volunteer. This journey opened my eyes and heart to the desire to travel more than I ever had before. Suddenly, my world was much larger than the state of SC that I had spent most of my life in. In October of my senior year of college I attended a global missions conference and it was there that I distinctly felt God calling me to give over my summer to him. That seemed strange. I was supposed to be a grown up, and get a "real job" so I wondered how me giving my summer to him would affect that plan. But I was open to surrendering that time to him. I heard about Crosspoint from a friend I was in the Sport Management degree program with and it seemed like a perfect fit. So, I turned in my application and references and waited...and waited...until I got a call that February letting me know that LifeWay camps wanted me to come be a Bible Study Leader and gymnastics coach for the summer.

I showed up to training week a day late because of my sister's graduation and I was more than a little overwhelmed when I arrived. Here was this team of people that were so excited I was finally there. Honestly, I was intimidated and I was nervous. But I was also excited all at the same time. By the end of Training Week I had been broken over bitterness and hurt that I had been holding onto from a past relationship. I began to truly understand God's grace in my life. And I had found a friend named MB who let me cry in her hoodie and would eventually stand by me as a bridesmaid in my wedding years later.

That summer I learned a ton and had a multitude of experiences. I learned about the simplicity of faith from the children I spent each day of camp with. I learned more about growing as a woman of faith from my female teammates. I learned that there were good, godly guys out there from the guys on my team. I went to states I had never been to. I taught little girls in gymnastics about self acceptance and I tried to help them understand how much God loved them just the way they were. I was able to pray with students who had accepted Christ as their savior. I felt as if I was exactly where God wanted me to be. Right in the middle of His will for my life. I loved it. I loved every minute of it.

I thought I would be a "one and done" aka a person who works one summer and then never works camp again. I thought that was the only summer I would possibly have to give since I was going to have to find a "real job" when all this fun camp stuff was over. I had no idea the plans God would have for me and how he would intricately weave this thing called camp into my life journey through the years. So, God closed the doors for all those "real jobs" I had been thinking about. And he left open the door to go back and go to Grad school at Clemson University. looked like I might have one more summer after all. And to hear about that story...I guess you'll have to wait until tomorrow.