Written by Regina 'Boots' Bettag
At camp, you are immersed in the natural world from the moment you wake up to greet the day with a cool dunk in the lake for that good ‘ol polar plunge, right up to the hush of dusk as we hold hands singing “Day is Done” beneath an unfolding bejeweled night sky. From the time spent picnicking on the sandy dirt and eating alongside the ants, to brushing through the curly ferns eagerly on the lookout for someone during “counselor hunt”, the whole day is spent basking in the glorious presence of creation.
The land of camp is like an old friend, and it has definitely taught me a lot. One of the things I have come to appreciate is her honesty, because nature never brings anything but her truest self. There are rays of sunshine that drape your shoulders warmer and lighter than the most luxurious of blankets, and stunning wild flowers that dance around the Mary statue in a beautiful, deep blue ballet, but there are also times when lightning cracks the sky and the wind lashes cold against your skin.
But I’ll tell you what...each and every one of these displays are wonderful at camp. I have life-guarded in a 60 degree rain while kids still splash about, happily frolicking in the chilly waters of Loon Lake. It has been a blazing 90 degrees out with a humidity index that makes you swelter just standing in the shade, but we guzzle water and look for frogs in the marshy wetlands of the canoe landing. There are mornings where a dozen teenagers beg me to wake up before the crack of dawn ( we’re talking 5 am here) so we can kayak on the placid, glassy waters to greet the brilliant sunrise. From the smallest little grub, to the grandest osprey, nature is celebrated and rejoiced in no matter her state, because in all of them she is honest and true. I like to think that in my time at camp she has taught me some of her truth.
And the truth is this...that you are beautifully and wonderfully made. Certainly this is the case with the stunning land that God has lavished so much beauty upon, but it is even more the case with us. We all have so much to share, enjoy, give, and delight in because God is within us. We are made in His image- beautiful and wonderful! The miracle of camp is that it is a place where you are free to be your most authentic self: the wild, loud, and the goofy, the quiet, creative, and thoughtful; all of these and many more have a place. Camp is both a refuge and a stage, a place to reflect, grow, and find encouragement, but also a place to showcase who you are, share your gifts with others, and guarantee that it will be celebrated!
And what gifts have I seen! I have seen tenderness as Cabin 1 girls braid the hair of the Little Tek campers in Cabin 9, I have heard one of the most beautiful duets ever, sung by cabin mates that were so afraid to perform on stage and then absolutely crushed it, I have been moved by the thoughtfulness of a gift, as a camper gave away a treasured photograph that meant so much, and I have been blown away by the energy and gusto that cabin 7 has cheering each other on during gaga ball!
At camp, hundreds of campers, counselors, and staff are honestly showcasing who they are, sharing what they have, and growing those gifts a hundred fold. They are displaying their genuine, true selves, and living their vocation by reveling in the awesomeness of what is around and within them! The beauty of it just wells up and is so much to handle that I like to think that when it floods and overflows our heart, the excess spills out as laughter! ( and there is a LOT of laughter at camp!)
So it’s no wonder that we spend our time outside from dawn to dusk, because you see, creation and campers have a lot in common- we are beautifully and wonderfully made, and there is no reason to hide that! We revel in it together, and THAT is a fantastic thing!