I know that most of my readers have come to expect to see a serious, insightful post. But in anticipation of Summer Youth Camp (which begins in 30 days!!) I have decided to go a slightly different direction…
I’m sure that when a lot of adults think back on their summer youth camp experiences, they remember sunburn and chiggers and really bad food cooked over a campfire. Well, my camp experiences were nothing like that! (Except that one year… Remember, Joell? Slightly traumatic memory. We won’t go there.)
For my brother and I, camp was something that we looked forward to all year long. It was the highlight of the year. When I “aged out” of camp, I was pretty sad. So, when I took my current job and found out that part of my job is to help run our denominational Summer Youth Camp for five weeks each summer, I could’ve turned back flips! I was elated!
One of the first things I learned at Youth Camp was that new people (like me) are considered ripe targets for pranks. But I figured that since I’m a respectable young lady (and since I write the checks!) that maybe they would show a little restraint. Um. No.
During about the second week of camp, I was innocently working in my office one day when Reggie (Dean of Camp), Bobby (Dean of Boys), Doug (Boys Counselor), and Josh (Videographer) ran into my office, slammed the door behind them, and stuck a video camera into my face. Reggie used a Dr. Pepper bottle as a microphone and began to interview me for the camp video:
Reggie: Miss Sarah, this is your first year here at our Summer Youth Camp. Are you enjoying it?
Sarah: Yes, I’m loving it!
Reggie: Miss Sarah, what do you think of the Camp Salute?
Sarah: Camp Salute?
Reggie: Would you like to see the Camp Salute?
And then, before I could think or react, Reggie reached across and slapped me swiftly across the forehead!
As I stood, stunned speechless, Doug and Bobby fell on the floor laughing. Then, they popped up and quickly ran out of the office. The incident is immortalized in that year’s Camp Video.
A couple of days later, they decided to “apologize” by singing, ”Kumbyah” to me in the middle of the salad bar at Western Sizzlin’. (You know, it’s not really apologizing when you’re embarrassing the life out of someone!) But what can I expect from a group of men who thrive off of stunts like dressing like Chester Cheetah and “kidnapping” the Camp Director for the camp video the next year? Or who make teenagers eat disgusting, inedible-looking substances for prizes? Some days it’s hard to discern the adults from the kids!
Some years, the pranks begin before the campers even arrive.
It’s normal for me to get anywhere from 20 to 50 calls a day from parents/grandparents regarding camp. Some of the questions have common sense answers and some of them would be answered if people would just read the information that we send to them. Needless to say, although some of the questions are valid, many of them aren’t.
One afternoon about ten days before camp two years ago, I answered the phone and there was an elderly black woman on the other end of the line.
“Miss Sarah, my Raekwon is coming to Youth Camp and I have some questions.”
I turned on my most professional demeanor and began to answer the lady’s questions about times and dates and schedule issues. When I thought we had exhausted her questions, she said, “I’ve registered to work on staff at Youth Camp. I carry a gun for my protection. I have a license to conceal and carry. Is that going to be okay?”
I stopped breathing for a second, thinking, Oh, Lord help! Who IS this person and WHY are we letting them work at Camp?! But I calmly responded, “No, I’m sorry. We don’t allow guns.”
She handled that okay and said, “I have one more question. I use marijuana for my glaucoma. Can I bring that with me?”
I (slightly hysterical) answered, “No, I’m sorry!”
“But it’s legal in California!”
“But it’s not legal at Youth Camp!”
And then, the laughing on the other end of the line began…
It was one of my youth pastors! He totally had me snowed!
And now, for the serious, insightful twist that you knew was coming… As light-hearted as we keep things during Youth Camp, we take our ministry seriously. We know that we have around 1,000 kids coming and that they all have needs that only Jesus can meet. Please be in prayer that we leaders will be sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit and that these kids will come with open hearts so that they can be changed. I believe that they will be!