“I feel like a frustrated inchworm!”
This is a line I’ll never forget. It was spoken by a friend of mine during an overnight camping experience when I was a kid attending Agape Family Camp. We were supposed to be going to sleep, but the incline of our tent meant we would inevitably slide towards the foot of the tent. My friend would try to wiggle back up into position, leading to the quote mentioned above. I couldn’t stop laughing at her (our) predicament.
Why did this become a meaningful memory for me?
At first glance, many aspects of the situation were not exactly positive for me. First of all, at that point in my life I was still on the fence about overnights, mainly because I was terrified of using “outdoor plumbing”, so I wasn’t in my comfort zone. Secondly, if we were experiencing this vertical tent problem, we had obviously not set up our tent very well at all! I doubt we got a stellar sleep that night. But the friend who made the inchworm comment was usually very reserved, and so her comment stuck with me because I suddenly felt like I was seeing a whole new side of her, and that meant something to me.
The creation of these kinds of memories has been on the forefront of my mind this summer as we implemented more overnight experiences that ever before. Other than our usual four-day-three-night camping experience that is the central feature of Wilderness, we also facilitated whole camp overnight camping excursions for Senior Girls, Senior Boys and Alpha. Agape Family Camp also had their older youth camp on the beach for one night. I have never inspected, fixed, dried and packed up so many tents in my life (and our summer staff team would probably say the same!). My goal in encouraging session directors to include an overnight in their planning was in the hopes that stretching limits, building skills and putting campers directly into creation would provide opportunities for God to speak to campers in new ways and to create openness in their hearts for each other too.
This year, 3 out of 5 camping trips had the added “benefit” of significant rain to make their experiences more memorable. I took particular offense to the 40% chance of light showers at Alpha that turned into a 100% guarantee of an hour-long downpour. I realized that rain was an excellent accountability partner for both myself and those setting up the sites; what you think you know about proper tent set-up is put to the test by water’s unrelenting search for every dry nook and cranny. Rain is a memory-maker, all right; not the kind of memory-maker I ever want to incorporate on purpose, but certainly one which created some unforgettable experiences this year. It’s my hope that, like myself, the less desirable aspects will be morphed into a connection to the week as a whole and what God was up to during that session.
This is just one of the ongoing conversations I’m having in my head (and with fellow camp staff) as we try to point eyes to creation in order to call hearts to God. I’m excited to continue improving on the logistical end so that we can create the best opportunities; the rest is up to God, and I have no worries about His end of things!