When I was 8 years old, my mother was invited to be a speaker at a Baptist church camp for girls during one of our summer furloughs to the USA. We were all really excited because this meant that my sister and I got to go along for free (which was a big deal for our meager-waged missionary family). My dream of becoming infiltrated with regular American girls doing regular American girls things like eating fruit roll-ups, wearing clothes from the County Seat, and watching Saved by the Bell would finally come true. I still remember spying on Mom's end of the telephone conversation where she made all the arrangements for us. It was going to change my life.
Well, the greatly anticipated week of bliss turned into a week of hell. The camp was dirty, un-airconditioned, and bug-ridden. The girls there hated us for being new, different, and the speaker's daughters. Our counselors spent most of their time applying lipstick while staring into their hand-mirrors, and on the last night at chapel when we were all supposed to cry and tell everyone that we got a holy call to the mission field, my sister and I stayed in our chairs because we'd already been there, done that.
We hated it. Mom hated it too. There was no greater childhood disappointment than camp.
I begged my parents to never send me back, and they swore they wouldn't. I stayed away from camp for 16 years.
Then I applied to be a counselor at a local day camp for kids with cancer and their siblings. The reasons for this were as follows: I wanted my first week in Wheaton to be as busy as possible (because that's how I deal with major life transitions), and I still think that sick kids are the coolest people on earth. I was pretty nervous going into the whole experience because no one hates camp more than me.
I got hooked about twelve minutes into day 1 when I met the campers in my group; four 8 year olds who will likely grow up to develop a cure to their disease while achieving world peace as a side project. They were awesome. We spent the week dancing, singing, playing, swinging, bowling, jumping, laser-tagging, swimming, carnival-ing, movie-watching, and bus riding. It was wonderful and exhausting and hilarious and fun.
You do not know what hard work and determination really means until you watch a sick kid try to play. Each slow step and stop for breath checked my heart for all that I take for granted and impressed me beyond belief at the strength of character these little ones possess. It was an incredibly humbling experience. I loved it. Have some pictures.