My alarm sounds at 6:30 so that I have time to get a shower in my private cabin. I slept well because the air conditioner covered the annoying din of frogs outside and kept my cabin a pleasant 68 degrees.
For my morning devotions, I use the same text that the kids will be studying in Bible Study, so I spend time reading and praying through the text.
Campers start gathering at “The Pines,” outside of the Retreat Center. They begin with morning wake-up songs and chants. The two chaplains (myself and Brett Hoover of Huntingdon Presbyterian Church) join in. As each cabin group “earns” the right to enter the RC for breakfast, we chaplains hold the door for them and do silly high-fives as they pass. The idea is to make kids feel welcome and loved. Chaplains eat with the kids so we can get to know them and their counselors.
After Breakfast, the cabin groups spread out around camp for Bible Study. Chaplains mix it up, joining a different group each day. We participate in the sharing, and we attempt to answer the tough questions that counselors cannot. Mostly we try to affirm and encourage discussion about the Bible passage. The boys are distracted by a bug. Another boy is thirsty, while two others are flipping sticks at each other. My strong suspicion is that they are uncomfortable talking about God and they look for other things as an escape. It sets me to wondering, why boys have such trouble contemplating spiritual things or participating in self-reflection? Father Richard Rohr (Adam’s Return) has something to say about it.
After Bible Study is Morning Watch at the Amphitheater. Energizer songs with crazy dance moves wake us all up. A silly but theologically deep skit by counselors and chaplains makes for a fun message that ties into Bible Study and the message the kids will hear in the evening.
Activities start — zip line, big swing. One group walks the trail to the creek and sets up hammocks. I sit with a young man who is harnessing himself for the zip line. He is not afraid of the zip line. He is afraid of the wobbly spiral staircase that he must climb to get to the top of the zip line tower. He knows he can do it because he did it last year, but I speak words of encouragement and talk about facing fear.
Lunch seems more crowded than breakfast so it is hard to find a spot at a table. After lunch includes games of carpet-ball and sitting by the pool. I spy a counselor consoling a home-sick girl. I silently pray for the counselor to have the right words. Later that evening, that same child will be laughing and dancing wildly in the gym.
I search out the Day Campers and meet an 11-year-old young lady whose mother is being treated for brain cancer. Too many children carry such heavy burdens. The rest of the afternoon includes a visit to the Art building to see kids being creative.
After dinner, we have a dance in the gym. I join the conga line and foolishly dance away. Drenched in sweat, I’m relieved that my chaplain partner Brett will be the one giving the message in a few minutes. His Narnia suit of armor and sword are a huge hit. I love to see kids connect with the person and the message. As Brett preaches, I pray for the Holy Spirit to work inside these young souls. Afterwards girls beg to be knighted. He knights Ella, Bella and Isabella. When it’s my turn I ask to be knighted “Sir Nutella.” Brett obliges.
I always enjoy my week as a Krislund Chaplain. It is a week of fun, silliness, laughing and also listening to young folks share heavy burdens. I count it a privilege to be a part of some sacred conversations. Brett and I are looking forward to partnering as Chaplains next year. Good night. It’s 10:00 and I’m going to sleep… in my comfy bed.