Is This Real Life?

When I attended day camp at Camp Bethel in 1998 with my younger sister, Katherine (who is infinitely cuter than me in this picture, I'm aware), I had no idea that I would be the Summer Program Coordinator thirteen years later. All I knew was that Julie Sink was the coolest girl I had ever met, and I spent my elementary school years convinced that the most perfect outfit in the world was a solid red shirt with a pair of jean shorts. No lie.

I spent every summer of my childhood at Camp Bethel, a Brethren camp just outside of Roanoke, Virginia. To this day, I can tell you the names of every counselor I ever had --- counselors who I looked up to and wanted to be like more than anything. Counselors who impacted my life more than they'll ever know.

(My first Tenderfoot camp in 1997. Can we all please notice that I am wearing a skort? Awesome.)

As I grew older, I got the opportunity to be a counselor. I taught countless of girls how to make friendship bracelets and made them believe that the shaky bridge was the coolest place on camp property---the same way Julie Ann Harmon taught me. I rocked the all girls' units and showed them that we don't need boys to build a fire or survive a night in the woods---the same way Emily Webb showed me. I sang more than I spoke and let campers tag along on my morning run around camp---the same way Chelsea Goss let me. And at the end of the week, I looked my campers in the eye and told them that they were amazing---the same way Megan Forbes told me.

And now, that little blonde-headed girl who grew up at Camp Bethel and spent many summers as a CIT / junior counselor / senior counselor is about to be the summer program coordinator.

Is this real life?

Junior High Camp with Stephanie (2004) and Hannah (2002). We've come a longgg way!

I don't think I'm the only one who has asked myself this question repeatedly throughout the past week. During this time, I've been at leadership training with two of my dearest friends, Stephanie and Hannah. We've all grown up at camp. We've all had counselors and units and summer experiences that have undoubtedly changed our lives. We've all worked as CITs and counselors over the years. And to be honest, we all thought we were done with camp, as did many other individuals on the leadership staff. We were "grown up." It was time to be big girls and get "real" jobs and internships.

Or was it?

As it turns out, we all have one more summer in us after all. And by being on leadership team, we not only have the chance to positively impact hundreds of kids---but also the chance to positively impact dozens of counselors. Counselors who teach campers how to make friendship bracelets and build fires. Counselors who give kids the confidence to be ridiculous and sing silly songs and perform crazy skits. Counselors who look children in the eye and make them believe that they truly are amazing. And counselors who will have the opportunity to reflect God's love to every camper they encounter over the course of the summer.

Staff training begins on Tuesday. And as life would have it, some of these counselors and CITs who we'll be leading in training were some of my elementary campers back in the day! I still can't wrap my head around that. It's so cyclical, so perfect---and I'm so humbled to be in this position. I'm excited for one more opportunity to make a difference with the realization that it's possible for my impact to transcend far beyond this summer. Because, trust me, there are still many former summer staff members who are influencing my life and the lives of countless others... even a dozen years after their carefree summers at Camp Bethel.

"Get around people who have something of value to share with you.
Their impact will continue to have a significant effect on your life long after they have departed."
- Jim Rohn