Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to go to camp as the evening chapel speaker. I love this camp- I went there as a kid, worked as a counselor for a summer, and was a speaker last year too. I hope that the kids (2-4th grade) learned something from me, but I know that I learned things from them. Let me share what I learned:

-I got reminded of the power of doing little things for someone. One day at lunch, one of the staff members found out we were having corn dogs for lunch. She didn’t find it all the appealing, and since I didn’t either, I offered to go get us Culver’s. It was a small gesture on my part, but I could tell that it helped her to feel valued.

On Tuesday I was having a conversation with some campers, and they asked me what my favorite candy was. I told them, figuring it was just a throwaway question about me. When they came up to me on Friday with a handful of Reese’s for me, I realized that this had been their plot all along. That tiny gesture was more than enough for me to see that they appreciated having me around- more than they could say with words.

-Having a support system is crucial. It was the first week of camp, so some of the counselors were leading cabins for the first time- but you couldn’t tell. The rest of the staff was so encouraging and supportive that the new counselors were confident that everyone had their back. It was incredible to watch them work so well together after knowing each other for such a short time.

-Every job is just doing someone else’s chores for money (as explained by a 4 year-old digging a hole). Mind blown.

-Camp remains a magical place. As fun as it was to hang out with the campers and see them engage in all the activities they had at their disposal, it was amazing to see the way the campers encountered God. Where else do kids actually get excited about memorizing a Bible verse? The true power of camp comes in those moments where campers see God in new ways. It’s why I was thrilled to go back, and why I’ll continue to endorse camp as an experience that every child needs.