For the past twenty years, they have sat on my shelf or been packed away in boxes, reminding me of a different time and a different place. The pink and purple floral covers of these old journals surprise me. At 18 and 19 years of age, “pink” and “floral” would not have been words that anyone would have used to describe me.
These journals record my thoughts from my first two summers as a counselor at Twin Pines Camp.
While some of my words don’t surprise me at all (things like “we played hockey” and “it’s so much fun to be in this atmosphere where the love of God is so prevalent”) others are completely unexpected (like “I ironed my shorts” and “everything seems to be going wrong”).
What surprises me the most is how my journals are filled with unimportant details (like where we ate dinner and the person who drove), but are vague on the details I want to remember. I want to know how I felt in those moments when the love of God was so prevalent and why I felt that way. I want to know why I felt like everything was going wrong and how I trusted in God to get me through it.
Instead, I have pages and pages of memories that I hope no one ever reads. At the same time, they transport me to a time when my life was in many ways just beginning. There was an innocence behind my words, a simplistic trust in God.
Looking back over my life, I realize the lessons learned during my time at Twin Pines would be a huge part of the foundation God was building in my life. A foundation of trusting God no matter what. A foundation of sharing my heart with Him. A foundation of running to him with the inconsequential AND the deep heart issues.
It was as a counselor that I learned the importance of praying with and for others. At the beginning of each summer, we were paired with an adult camper who would be our prayer partner for the rest of the summer. In both of my journals, I share the names of the women who prayed faithfully for me and who I learned to pray for as well. This partnering in prayer continues to be of utmost importance in my life.
I learned to teach the Word of God in a meaningful way. It was through staff training and my camp experience that I learned how to prepare nightly devotionals that my campers would not sleep through. I learned how to make the Bible memorable. I discovered creativity and found that I have a passion for sharing God’s Word in a way that is fun and relevant.
I discovered the importance of selflessness. Being a summer camp counselor is exhausting. You don’t get to determine your schedule. Gone are the lazy days of summer. In their place are jam-packed, action filled days and often sleepless nights. In one of my journals, I wrote this- “Last night, I slept outside. It had rained all day, so I slept under the picnic table. This morning, I forgot where I was and I bumped my head when I sat up.” I slept outside, because it was a week when I was working with special needs campers and it was what we had to do. We also had to deal with bed wetting and sleep walking. I was pulled out of my comfort zone every time I had to clean up vomit. But those lessons learned prepared me for motherhood like nothing else has. I also learned to be excited and show love when all I wanted to do was take a nap and be alone. Nothing moves you beyond yourself quite like having to take care of others.
I learned how to deal with difficult personalities, discovered the joys of first love and faced rejection. A summer staff inevitably brings different personalities together and they are expected to work towards a common goal. At times, this can be the best thing ever (some of my favorite people are still friends that I worked with on summer staff), but at other times, it can be incredibly difficult. It would be lovely if we didn’t have to deal with difficult people, but the reality of life is that we do. The blessing of learning this important lesson in a safe place like Twin Pines is not lost on me. It is where God began to work on my rough edges and to teach me humility.
Summer romances can be a sweet thing and for me, they certainly were. The lessons learned from first loves prepared me to meet my husband. They forced me to discover who I was and who I wanted to be. And they showed me how easy it is to get lost in a relationship and to lose focus on God. This was a valuable lesson to learn, because as I faced rejection, I was able to depend on God to be enough and to trust the way He was leading my life. When I met my husband, I did not lose myself in him, because I had learned who my First Love really was!
I learned to crave beauty and to live with my eyes open to the wonder of God. Some of my best conversations with God happened on a wooden platform under a canopy of trees. I learned that my prayers change when I am able to open my eyes and see God’s goodness in the way the sun seeps through the leaves. To feel His presence in the silence. To know that he is God, because the complexities of nature proclaim it to be true. Twenty years later, and my soul still craves beauty. My eyes have been opened to God’s signature on the wild roses that grow outside my dining room window. I see His hand in the white tailed deer that bound across the field behind our house. I hear His heart in the laughter of my children.
Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be had I not followed God’s leading in my life and worked on summer staff at Twin Pines. God has a way of teaching us the lessons He desires for us to learn, but I am incredibly grateful for the way He chose to teach me.
Is God leading you to serve on summer staff? It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” ~Proverbs 3:5,6
Becky Daye served on summer staff in the 1990's and has continued to share with others her love for camp, her love for family, and most importantly her love of our Awesome Creator.