The day for which we have spent the vast majority of our months preparing since we closed our season of Shrine Mont Camps last summer has finally arrived. Though the mountain will not be filled with the squeals and giggles of campers for several more days, today officially begins our 2016 season of camp. Today we make the transition from theoretical to actual, from ‘we’ll be in touch closer to camp’ to ‘see you up there!’, from ‘maybe this year we should try…’ to ‘let’s revisit that again next year’. Today we tuck away those ideas which were not able to be fully realized for this summer and place them in a box, to be reconsidered and re-imagined during the fall months when we are ready to attack the following summer with a renewed vigor and excitement. Rather than feeling discouraged by those innovations which we were not able to put into effect for this year, instead we now turn our attention to the excitement, passion, love, laughter and song-filled worships that await us this summer. On this day, rather than considering the ‘might-have-been’ or the ‘why-didn’t-we’, we have nothing to do but move forward and approach each session, each child and each day with an eagerness and willingness to take whatever comes our way. The work has been done, the preparations have been made and what remains is a call for us to be supportive, be patience and be gracious with one another.
On this particular day, the counselors for Shrine Mont Camps arrive on the mountain. Though ahead of these young people lies a long week of consideration, exploration and preparation, as they arrive at camp they will feel nothing but pure and ecstatic joy. These counselors have been anticipating this day for months; they have been anxiously counting down until the moment when they could not only be reunited with dear friends (and forge new and lasting relationships) but also begin to actually consider the wonder, the challenge and the unexpected that awaits them this summer. In the same way that our campers often excitedly pack for camp long before their session begins, our counselors dream about the day when they can finally step into the role for which they have been making themselves ready. Whether these young people grew up attending Shrine Mont Camps or some equivalent thereof or whether this is their first foray into the world of camp counseling, each one of them will likely be changed forever by this summer. They have given up trips to the beach, music festivals, competitive internships or summers abroad to devote their time to the children who will be in their care throughout the summer. They have traded ‘real-world’ experience for low pay, long days and a lack of air-conditioning (despite the common misconception, however, that being a camp counselor does not necessarily qualify as ‘real work’, we would argue that time spent working at summer camp will prepare these young adults for the real world in ways that making coffee and sorting mail never could.).
As this week of staff training continues, our counselors will be transformed from individual beings into a cohesive unit, from those inexperienced with behavior management to masters of redirection and positive reinforcement, from nervous second-guessers to confident persuaders. Though the learning curve may be steep, the journey to the point of conviction for these young adults will be accompanied by awareness, humility and (perhaps) a desire to act like a 10-year-old themselves. The staff of 2016 Shrine Mont Camps that emerges at the end of the summer may appear to be the same but will, in ways, be virtually unrecognizable from those counselors who stepped foot on the mountain in mid-June. Not only will they be a bit dirtier and certainly sleep-deprived, but their hearts, spirits and minds will be changed by the experiences of their summer. They will not soon forget the camper who pushed them to their limits and yet warmed their heart with the biggest hug at closing worship; they will feel a twinge in their soul as a certain song comes on the radio and causes them to replay the funniest, hardest and most rewarding moments from their summer; they will recall the daunting feeling they had as they faced this summer and counter it with the assurance that they left everything they had on the mountain- in the love and care they offered their campers, in the patience they displayed with their fellow staff members and in the risks (big and small) they took each day with their physical, emotional and faith well-being.
It’s hard to imagine the ways in which we will all be changed by 2016 Shrine Mont Camps, but we hope that you will stick with us throughout the summer and revel in each moment, life-changing or not. There will certainly be ‘large’ moments which test us- our patience and our grace- and those which lift us higher than we thought possible; these pivotal instances will also be accompanied by ‘smaller’ moments of laughter, kindness and growth which are almost unrecognizable. Though these ‘large’ moments may define the summer, the ‘small’ ones will carry us through in the meantime. It is our hope that through the Shrine Mont Camps blog, you can experience a variety of these moments yourself, both large and small. It is our hope that you will share your personal experiences of largeness or smallness with us, as well. It is our hope that you feel the love of the mountain through our words, photos and prayers- whether you are able to join us on the mountain or not. And, ultimately, it is our hope that Shrine Mont Camps can offer to you what we have been so lucky to receive from y’all- a multitude of beautiful moments, both large and small.
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.