Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Devil's Rejects

(That was my secret name for my small group at camp...11 eighth graders, and while they weren't a family of serial killers by any means, singing that Rob Zombie song on the way to small group always made me smile.)

Oh camp. It's always such a great experience, but never one that can accurately be communicated in any medium. You really do just have to be there. I'm about to attempt the impossible.

I spent last week at the Disciples Center at Camp Tawakoni with 45 eighth graders and a great group of counselors. This was the camp I interned at the two previous summers, but this was my first time counseling what we call "Pre-High". It's always strange having that many eighth graders in one place, especially since I'd known them since they were only Chi Rhoers in sixth grade. The hormones are flying, the anticipation of high school is present but at the same time, they're really just looking for someone to look up to and someone to tell them what to do.

I, being the religious mutt (to borrow a term from Mark) that I am, knew that I wouldn't be a great source of spiritual guidance for these kids but I made it my goal to try and reach them somehow. I wanted them to leave camp ready for high school, with a good sense of who they are.

We had a lot of fun playing all sorts of great camp games and cheating at them every chance we could. I am the Queen of The Mighty Mighty Scoop Noodle Challenge...and by that I mean I know a dozen different ways to cheat. We got in trouble for setting a bad example for the kids, but I still loved K.C.'s (a fellow counselor) motto of "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin' hard enough".

Hopefully the worship experience were meaningful for the campers. Director Jolly did a great job of putting a lot of thought into what she shared with them each night, and the last night we had communion and a really great candlelighting ceremony.

My cabin was a lot of fun- 20 loud obnoxious girls with more eyeliner than a drag show. Every morning (much to their dismay) I woke them up with the Beatles. I was especially proud of the rainy morning when I woke them up with every Beatles song that has the word "sun" in it. They complained that they didn't like my taste in music one night, so the next morning I woke them up to the finale of the 1812 Overture at full volume. The complaining quickly ceased.

My small group posed a challenge for me. I'm great at large group stuff- leading games, songs...whatever. But when it comes to small group discussions and activities I'll admit- it's my weakness. Everyday was a struggle with these kids. They wouldn't focus, at least not on the right things and heaven forbid I brought up God...then the conversation was over.

But there was one evening where I feel like I finally imparted some tiny bit of knowledge on them. We were talking about the story of Ruth and Naomi and survival. We'd played a game dealing with the food chain and animals depending on one another. I had their attention for a moment so I started teaching them about the Buddhist idea of interdependent arising. How everything is part of everything else. I watched their little minds blow as we talked about all the things and people that are present in the food we eat. We went on to talk about mindfulness and my vegetarianism and being thankful for the lives of the animals we eat. It was a great discussion.

It was little moments like those that kept me going through the week. Little glimpses that I had broken through to them, that they were actually thinking for themselves. It was pretty awesome.

These kids are the future. I hope that I made some sort of difference in their lives.
I'm constantly amazed by the potential they have, and it's sad that most older people write them off as no good.

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have worked with these is such a powerful experience and I'm glad I could be a part of it.

Like I said, words just never do it justice...

No comments: