I know, I’m terribly behind on Project 365. Maybe I’ll get to it tomorrow. Maybe.
I just had the opportunity to help my dad with his associational children’s camp. For those of you who may not be of the same denominational ilk, Southern Baptists (and maybe other Baptists, I don’t know!) are organized a little different than other denominations in the fact that the local church is at the top of the chain instead of the bottom. So the organization works out this way: first there is the church, then there is the association, which is a group local churches put together so that they can pool their resources and work together on things that are a little more than they can handle by themselves, then there is the State Convention, and then there is the actual national Southern Baptist Convention. Because of our “upside down” structure, the national convention cannot tell the churches what to do; through selected delegates from each church meeting together once a year, the churches tells the convention what to do! The flow of money works the same way with what we call the Cooperative Program; it starts in the church, then goes to the association, then the association gives to the state convention, which gives to the national convention. The churches can choose what percentage of their tithes they send, and they don’t have to send any to be Southern Baptist affiliated. I have no idea why I just wrote a lesson in Baptist polity, but there you go!
ANYWAY, my Dad is the Director of Missions for his association. One ministry that this association does that I have not seen any other association do is hold camps for children every year during the summer. They have a day camp for younger children and an overnight camp for older children. I think this is the perfect ministry for this area; it’s in a rural area, and may parents simply cannot afford to send their kids off to Christian summer camps. Because the churches in the association donate their time and food to making camp happen, this camp is offered at an extremely affordable rate, and a lot of churches will help sponsor children to go whose families can’t afford it. Since most of these churches are small, the kids don’t get to interact with that many other kids while they are at church, and this gives them an opportunity to meet other church-going kids.
For several years I have (and don’t ask me how this started happening, because I’m not sure) been picking the theme for camp, designing the logo that goes on the T-shirt, and writing the curriculum for the camp’s Bible studies. (During all of this I do a great deal of collaborating with my dad, and we really aren’t that bad of a team!) I also, when I can, come and help with the overnight camp. We typically have the camp at a local state park which has a group camp facility, but because of budget cuts this year our state parks have shut down the pools, which is pretty much a camp essential in south Georgia in July. So it was decided to hold the camp at a local Girl Scout facility instead. I enjoyed it because it was a lot more wooded and camp-like…but I also enjoyed it because the dining hall and classrooms were air conditioned, and although time spent in those places was minimal, in the grand scheme of things, it was a life saver!
This year, I was a leader for three cabins (the cabins held 4 girls each), and I also taught the 3rd grade Bible study group. This was the first time that I’ve actually taught the lessons that I’ve written, which was pretty cool! (And please don’t think I am trying to be cocky about writing these lessons, because I know that they were a blessing from God and that I could never, on my own, write a quality Bible study!)
OK, so that was rather a long introduction for what I wanted to do in this blog: make a list that will hopefully help you if you ever work at camp!
Kara’s Top Ten Tips for City Girls Working at Church Camp
10. If you forget to bring something, hope that is your shampoo. Just rinse your hair out with a little shower gel to keep it from getting too greasy, and put it right back into the pony tail! Nobody cares in 105 degree weather. I mean really.
9. Tennis shoes = smart. Flip flops = not so smart. However, you will fantasize about slipping into those not so smart shoes when your feet feel like they are 20 degrees hotter than the rest of your body. Resist. the. urge. if. possible.
8. You are going to have a camper that wants to hang all over you while you teach a Bible study. Then you will find out that she has a rough life at home and feel guilty for resenting her for trying to hang all over you during Bible study. But you will still think of creative ways to keep her from hanging all over you during Bible study.
7. Girls of all ages are going to squeal and scream at critters of all shapes and sizes. You will be killing spiders the size of your hand. They will not die the first time you step on them. Try again, and sometimes a third time.
6. Your cabin’s broom is the best tool for getting a spider as big as your hand in position for squashing.
5. Just when you are feeling really good about yourself for squashing several spiders in a row without fear, another cabin leader will kill a copperhead [snake] with a broom handle. And yes, that really happened.
4. Right before lights out on the first night, a child will remember that she can’t sleep on the top bunk because she might fall off. And you will end up sleeping on that top bunk. And I use the word “sleeping” losely, because there will not be any circulation up there since your fan is pointed at your old bunk and the windows are only screened halfway down, and you will get collectively about 7 hours of sleep over 3 nights.
3. The girls will get super excited about the annual shaving cream fight that takes place between the boys and girls on the last night of camp. You will tell them to wear goggles and warn them that shaving cream in the eyes hurts A LOT. You will tell them that, even though there is a rule in place to keep children from shooting it in each other’s faces, people always end up with it in their eyes. But they are OK with that. By the end of the fight, 70% of your girls will be mad and miserable because the boys “broke the rules” and got shaving cream in their eyes. The boys will always say that they won, although we do not know how to determine the winner to a fight in which everyone ends up covered in shaving cream. And even though everyone ends up with it in their eyes, they will want to do it again next year.
2. Make your girls shower at night, but get up early and take your own shower in the morning. That way, you can be more selective about the bugs that you shower with. I prefer to shower with mosquito hawks, since their presence tells me that the likelihood of me being bitten by mosquitos while in the shower are slimmer. However, daddy longlegs, moths, and roaches are all OK. Spiders are not quite as cool.
1. You will be hot, tired, and sick to your stomach by the end of camp. But having the privilege of working with impressionable children and teach them about Jesus, and seeing six of them make decisions for Christ, makes it totally worth it. And, yes, you will want to do it next year.