At dinner it was time for Jane’s issues to show up. She began to droop before Chapel, but she perked up during the praise and worship time. However, by the time she finished eating, she was zoned out, sitting with her hands in her lap, staring into space. When I asked if she was okay, she said she was, but her eyes said otherwise.
“Let’s go over there and sit together for a minute,” I said.
With the “two-deep rule” in mind, the rule that said a camper must be in the presence of at least two counselors at all times, we stayed in the dining room, but we sat on the edge of a raised platform at one end of the room. She sat with her head down, tears running silently down her cheeks.
“I’m here for you, Jane. I will listen to anything you want to tell me if you want to talk, or we can just sit together if you’d rather be quiet.”
She told me that, like many first-time campers, she missed her mom, or in her case, her foster mom. And she was also hurt because her friends seemed to be favoring her sister. As the week went on, we learned there were lots of siblings at camp. Relationships are very complicated and sibling rivalry is magnified when there are full siblings, half siblings, step siblings, and foster siblings, all mixed together. I hugged her protectively, sideways of course, and did my best to sooth and reassure her. After a few minutes, her sweet smile returned, and she was ready to rejoin the group. There was too much excitement on the horizon to waste time feeling down.
Mail, Chapel, and Games
Judi and I showed our girls their camp mail boxes that were already filled with welcome notes from camp aunts, uncles, and grandparents. They were wide-eyed at the attention that was being showered on them and excitedly shared and compared their notes. Then we herded them back to the Chapel for a few more songs, another act of the ongoing drama, and introductions of the three game coaches. Each coach had a game set up, so when Chapel was dismissed small, energetic bodies flew out the door. The different genders and age groups rotated through all three games. One required carrying cups of water on a Frisbee placed in the center of a parachute, one involved bowling with a Nerf ball and hollow pins, and one was a relay race that included cup stacking. I tried to participate, but my arthritic hip convinced me I needed to be a cheerleader this time.
Bedtime for Campers
Hoping our kids were tired enough to sleep through the night, we headed back to the dorm to get them showered and into bed. I had requested sheets for both my girls, but all I got was one sleeping bag. Jane was excited about the sleeping bag, but Sue needed sheets. Both girls were old enough to get themselves ready for bed, so I made a mad dash to Camp Central. During training we were told over and over that the staff was there to provide whatever the counselors needed – all we had to do was ask – and I discovered how serious they were. I walked into the middle of a staff meeting, but instead of being upset, the Camp Director asked what I needed, and the Dean of Women helped me find a set sheets.
Back in the dorm, the girls were bedded down, the lights were dimmed, and quiet whispers were heard as counselors shared a brief word of devotion and prayer with their campers. Jane and Sue were in an upper and a lower bunk, so I spent a little time with them individually. I gave each of them a card with John 3:16 on it and encouraged them to personalize it:
For God so loved __[your name]_ that he gave his one and only Son, that [if] __[your name]__ believes in him [she] shall not perish but have eternal life.
Then I prayed with them, and the smiles of gratitude were almost blinding.
Break Time for Counselors
Bedtime for the campers was followed by break time for the counselors. We straggled to Camp Central to check out the photos of the day and have a snack. I trimmed a few photos and wrote a couple of notes to drop in my girls’ mail boxes, but my feet hurt, and I soon hit a brick wall of exhaustion. Judi had already gone back, so I walked to the dorm alone, admiring the full moon. I took a cold shower – 3 dozen campers, half as many counselors and a roomful of teen helpers tend to drain the hot water tanks – and climbed up onto my bunk. I intended to pray for a while, but all I managed before I fell asleep was a quick request for a good Tuesday. It was going to be a full day, starting early and ending with root beer floats and a huge Slip ‘n’ Slide.
For more information, go to the Royal Family Kids website.