Monday, June 29, 2009


I’m not sure camp counseling is my thing. Some of the counselors at ICC look one step away from motherhood with their endearing smiles and warm, affectionate nature. They sweep up crying campers in arms of love and herd them to safety. They sympathize, they sing sweet songs, they play duck-duck-goose. They are good counselors.
I don’t think I’m necessarily a “bad” counselor. Let’s just say it is not my spiritual gift.
Last night, as the staff party began down at the pool, I was coaxing 11 year-olds to brush their teeth and climb into bed. They had mostly ignored my 45, 30, 20, 15, and 5 minute warnings that lights out was approaching. Then when the time came they seemed mortified that I would be disappointed in them. I’m not a yeller. I don’t have a temper. I did my best to remain clam when I wanted to scream. The lights went out and they continued talking through my sshhhhhh’s and “Alright girls. Let’s quiet down.” The longer it went on and I tried to calm them down from their giggles, the more frustrated I became.
“Okay, worship is over. We are all going to go to bed. If anyone is talking from now on, you will go outside and stand at line call, alone, in the dark.”
It was quiet. Kinda. Clicking sounds from a bunk on the right. Feet pushing under someone’s bunk. Giggles from a top bunk to my left. Quiet. A dropped flashlight. A snapped photo, the flash blinds us all.
“Shhh, girls.”
Quiet. Pretend snoring. The crinkle of a potato chips bag. Sniffle, sniffle. Quiet. Hacking cough. Wrestling legs in slippery sleeping bag. Quiet. Quiet.
When I can’t tell exactly who is making the noise, it’s difficult to enforce punishment. These kids are pros.
By the time the bathroom runs were over, everyone was again hydrated, and cell phones were officially turned off, the staff party was over and I was exhausted.
At 6am I am waking up girls. I am helping to clean the cabin, slathering sunscreen, getting campers out the door, teaching basketball, applying Band-aids, and keeping 9 crazy girls together and happy. Last night I was burnt out and not quite feeling the love for these girls. This morning at breakfast I was fetching “Fruit Loops, not Special K. No I guess I do want Fruit Loops”, butter, orange juice, napkins, bowls, and such. Not a single thank you. Later I was fetching black shirts, borrowing sunglasses, finding James Bond theme song music and radios to organize our campers turn at flag raising. Not a single thank you. During rest period I took them outside and we told stories and ate popsicles on blankets. Not a single thank you.
I seem to be craving affirmation. A “Hey, you’re doing okay.” I feel it. I realize it. But I can’t force 11 year-olds to care or recognize how hard I am working for them. Why do I need it so badly? They are kids. They are selfish, impatient, whiny, reckless, messy, careless, and argumentative.
I wanted to write a blog about the devils in my cabin and horribly spoiled kids at camp this summer, but really, I was probably much the same. They are kids. Heather, they are just kids.
I remember making my piano teacher cry. Her name was Gabby. She was a college student, probably just trying to pay her heating bill and surviving on Ramen Noodles. Now I see.
I remember a librarian at my school, Debbie. My friend and I would bicker and fight and pull each other’s hair. She’d smile, joke with us, play with us, be with us. Now I see.
I remember in Pathfinders we despised marching, so thus the teacher, Mr. Baker was despised as well. He’d say “Left face,” we’d go right. He’d say, “Halt” and we’d keep right on marching. Now I see.
As I exhaustedly watch campers lie and cheat during dodge ball when I tell them they are out, they say, “Nuh uh, it didn’t hit me!” I remember a youth pastor who would come play kick ball with us during recess. I remember lying about getting out one day and when he confronted me about it I was so mad I started crying and ran away. Yup, now I see.
At supper the girls will be in charge of their own cleaning.. Lights out tonight is 9:15 instead of 9:45. We will be quiet at 10. If I hear a sound, EVERYONE will be standing at line call outside. I cannot resolve every argument. I cannot guarantee each of them will love me by Sunday morning when there parents come. I cannot make everyone happy. I cannot be like the counselor up the hill.
I just won’t go into camp counseling full-time. Lesson learned.
Thank you fate. Moving on.