I pray the day has found you well.
It is that time of year again.
Every year Camp Collins, the YMCA camp in our association has a fundraising dinner to raise money so that it can continue to provide a positive place for kids to go in the summer and learn “Y” values. The past few years I have been asked to speak at this fundraising dinner. I always say yes when asked, it gives me the opportunity to tell a good “Y” story.
I like to tell people that camp is where the magic happens and friends last forever.
As chaplain, I go out to camp at least twice a month. I try to make it every week, but schedules being what they are sometimes I miss a week. I am always on the lookout for a chaplain that has a heart for camp, someone who can spend more time with the staff and kids. I usually make it out to camp on either a Wednesday, or a Friday; these are the days that campfire is going on. Campfire is a time when all the campers come together and yes, there is a campfire. There is a lot of singing, skits, and general fun going on at campfire. I usually drag my wife with me and we make it a date.
Something about Mary.
Laurie, my wife and I went to campfire last summer on a Wednesday. Campfire, if you are wondering, is a place at Camp Collins down by the Sandy River with a stage and benches set in a semi-circle around the stage. Laurie, and I were sitting in the back row waiting for campfire to start. All the campers started to come to campfire and take their seats on the benches.
Mary came and sat next to me.
I noticed something about Mary right away.
I noticed that Mary only had one leg.
Mary is not her real name, but a story always goes better with a name attached.
As Mary was watching campfire, I was watching Mary.
I watched, as she sang songs.
I watched, as she was part of a skit.
I watched, as her camp counselor interacted with her.
I watched Mary laughed.
I watched as Mary’s camp counselor looked at her. She looked at Mary and her eyes said, “I see you.”
The counselor did not see Mary as a little girl missing a leg. No, she saw Mary as completely whole, well, and strong.
Her counselor saw Mary as perfect.
It was a beautiful night.
I have often thought about Mary and her counselor, as I think about that campfire. I think, how Mary was missing a part of herself, she was missing a leg. It was easy to see Mary’s hurt, her missing part. If we are to be honest though, we are all hurting and missing a part of ourselves; most of the time we do not have the courage to look that deeply into ourselves and see the pain of our missing parts. But, when we do have the courage to go there, we see it and the pain that goes along with it.
What makes camp so special are the counselors. Yes, there are a lot of really cool things to do, like horseback riding, archery, Rockwall climbing, high-ropes…, but the counselors that do all the heavy lifting. They work with these kids. Many of whom, have invisible missing parts already in their young lives. What makes camp so special is after these kids leave camp, and are confronted with their pain and their missing parts, when they go to that scary place. They will not only see their pain, they will not only see their missing parts, they will see their counselor there with them. A counselor that is looking at them, their eyes saying, “I see you. I see you well, whole, and strong.” The counselor will help this kid come out of that dark scary place and back into the light and laugh.
Camp is a place, where the magic happens and friends are made forever.
Something about Mary.
Father, it is that time of year again, a time when we are raising money for a camp, a camp that helps kids. Please, touch the hearts of those attending the dinner so that camp can continue to do the work it does. You know Father that we are all missing parts of ourselves, many times unseen, but missing non-the-less. I thank you for these counselors. For when a kid has the courage to go that dark place and they see their counselor there with them who they are really seeing is You. Help us Lord be Your hands and feet.