This week, there was a chill in the mornings and evenings with a few hours warm enough in the middle to encourage you to shed your long sleeves. This first week of June on the coast is such a foreign feeling. It’s been sunny enough for me to burn, but never warm enough to be in short sleeves all day, especially going from sun to shade. The heat and humidity of the South is a memory now, and it reminds me that chilly evenings next to the beach are pretty great. Remembering is a good way to find perspective for the present.
On Thursday of this week the summer staff began to arrive at camp, and Hope and I spent the prior weekdays planning lessons, activities, role plays, and worships. In all, we planned 9 worships in a little over 3 days. It was a hectic week of planning one thing, then moving right into something else. Eventually the creative juices begin to dry up and you feel like everything you suggest is lame. Being creative is full of unpredictability. It makes it hard to judge how much time you need to prepare something. Sometimes you have to drag it out of yourself, sometimes it pours out of you like your most basic thoughts.
Wednesday night, Hope and I had our final dinner of freedom before staff training and the first few weeks of camp would occupy most of our waking moments. We decided to walk the beach to Rockaway and eat at the Sand Dollar. Hope had the crab cake burger and I had the sand dollar burger (made from beef not sand dollars). As we ate out on the deck, the sun went down into purple gray clouds above the ocean. This was the calm before the storm. Questions are constantly cycling through my head: Will we be ready? Will this work be well received? How exhausted will we be at the end of this? Knowing I’m walking through this with someone I trust so much gives me some comfort that we’ll do what we need to do.
It’s been two years since I’ve done a staff training. It was always one of the most meaningful parts of my year at Lakeshore. It also obliterated any chances of getting a reasonable amount of sleep. I remember the two summers away from camp, knowing the week training was going on. Part of me missed it desperately, but it was comforted by another part of me that reminded me how much more rest I was able to get. Now I’ve plunged back into camp work, and I’m leading a totally new staff at a totally new camp. There is so much to catch up on and so little time to do it. I have not been stretched this far in a training since some very early years when I didn’t have my system in place very well.
On Saturday, I drove to Portland to pick up one of our staff members, Savanah. It was a clear, sunny day, and I could see Mount Hood as soon as I merged onto Highway 26. As we drove back, the sun sat over the mountains, and we winded through the Tilamook State Forest. I pointed out beautiful views to Savanah, and she was as blown away as everyone who has come to visit. We got to the ocean just as the last bits of daylight were fading. As we pulled into camp, we were met by the rest of our staff, walking down the road just after worship. They ran up to Savanah and greeted her, and demanded she go with them to Dairy Queen. They were welcoming her into this family we are beginning to build. I helped with luggage and made small talk with the staff in their cabin, asking how the night had gone. We laughed together and goofed around, and they went out on their quest for ice cream.
Peter, one of our chefs in the kitchen, stayed back, and we talked about the summer, about the staff. I invited him to our events. To our recreation time, to our worships. He said he had been hanging back, because he didn’t want to barge in our time. I told him I want us to be a family. I want us to all understand that we are all pushing for the same thing, we just have different responsibilities to get there. As we talked, I felt this great feeling of confidence go over me. It was this feeling that I remember now, from when I was at camp before. This trust in what I was doing, in what I needed to say to people. It was invigorating.
I spent the last two years in such uncertainty, testing new waters, stepping out of my comfort zone. In some ways, I stepped back–I took lower level jobs, I put my self into places where I had to work my way back up. This was a time of many questions for myself, a time to cultivate and wonder. Now it feels a time of doing is coming on. The summer is coming. Camp Magruder’s summer staff is here. They are wonderful, and it already feels like these people will share in something great, something profound this summer. I remember this feeling. I have missed it.