You need to be warned, dear reader, these entries are only going to get longer and more detailed because the nature of camp is to have more and more amazing moments to write about as the week goes on. As for today's entry...
Last night around dinner time, I was soaked in sweat. Concerned, I mentioned my plight to senior counselors Emily and Maggie who said it was a good thing - I was breaking my fever and the antibiotics were kicking in. I can't tell you what a blessing this was. I had enough energy to lead classic songs like "The Yoddler" and "Down Bythe Bay" at campfire, as well as concentrate on the ability to function as opposed to collapse in sleep. Robert, too, is feeling well, so the senior counselor (SC) staff is operating at 100% again.
Well, nearly 100%. Kent Johnson had to head home early this morning to attend to two funerals from Excelsior UMC. He gave brief life stories about Kenny and Grace at worship last night and it really touched many people. After running a few thousand errands early this morning, Kent is on the road back to Excelsior. Lucky for us, Robert is an ordained UMC minister and will be able to provide services such as communion and, if necessary, baptism. Kent has played an invaluable role as an active and approachable Chaplin for the last three years, and the SCs took a moment to affirm him at SC Night Out.
Word on the street is "Ratatouille" was enjoyed by most everyone in attendance. I cannot personally vouch for this, as the SCs were in Spear cabin attending to details for the rest of the week. Our trusty junior counselors (JCs) were on the scene, however, making sure things flowed smoothly.
As for serenades, I can tell you Kent and my cabin, Spear, trooped our way out to Central Front. Dylan and I played a guitar / ukulele duet of "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees (but written by Neil Diamond - did you know that?!) while the rest of the guys sang along. The girls were pretty impressed, I must say; many of them were new campers and weren't sure what to expect, and I was proud of my guys for stepping up and saying yeah, we'll serenade the new girls. I heard other serenades went quite well, too.
Last night was my first night on Meditation Hill since arriving on Saturday night. I missed the hill on Sunday because I was correcting a mistake in which snack we were preparing that night (it may not seem like a big deal, but tradition calls for nachos on Sunday and not popcorn - that way, we get popcorn on Tuesday during the movie!), and Monday, well, I was in bed, remember? But last night I got to lead the camp up the hill and assume my regular spot at the very back where I'm able to observe most everyone there.
Before I go too much further, I should explain Meditation Hill is a place we encourage youth to remain quiet and at peace, to pray and literally meditate on their lives and camp experiences. You've likely seen Decision Hill's iconic triple crosses - this is from Meditation Hill. Some campers get more out of it than others, but we ask everyone to be quiet so those who wish to use it to its fullest capacity may do so.
Anyway, last night I observed connections beginning to really show. Hugs were exchanged, a few tears were shed. Often, but not every time, I am one of the last on the hill. One group who stayed longer than me was a group of four or five young women rallying to one girl crying - what a wonderful thing to see this positive connection. On my way down I spoke with a JC and SC who were at the very back of the hill. The JC was crying a little and remarked to me how upset they were that they needed to go to a place like this to experience God, that it's so easy to get caught up in other things back home and forget how important a place like this can be. With the SC's help, I reminded this JC that what they're talking about is the exact reason we have LYFE Camp - to truly find a way to live our faith every day and to honestly not judge each other for what's going on in our lives but to support each other. I think this JC in particular is doing an amazing job this week and they shouldn't be upset with themselves because they need camp, but rather be excited for the ways they get to contribute to camp (trust me - this JC and all of the JCs are!).
I've encouraged SCs and JCs to get small group conversation deeper today, which is important with larger small groups than in the past, so that all those people who have something to share have time to do so before the week ends. I've received personal reports and witness enough group hug prayer circles in the last hour to know this sort of thing is happening. The emotional level of camp is rising, for sure.
This morning has plenty of rain, moving volleyball indoors. We'll have to gauge how the rest of the day goes, in terms of traditions like the dress-up dinner and taking group photos. Tonight we have the all-camp dance - a brilliant mix of rock, hip-hop, techno, limbo, and 100% irony (Backstreet Boys, anyone?)
Some funny highlights in the last day include a dance party on the porch of Bent Twig cabin, a running gag in which I claim Alex T. hit me even if he's all the way across the room (no worries - we're both in on the joke), camp director Paula getting her name "put on the board" for saying the word "Announcements" on purpose to trigger an automatic song from the campers denouncing announcements, and the reappearance of a certain painting of Jesus which, while painstakingly rendered, has freaked several people out over the years in its original space above the fireplace in Homewood cabin where it sat - seemingly watching you no matter where you went! Trust me - you have to see it to believe it.
That's plenty for today don't you think, dear reader?