Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Insights from my Mobile Front Porch

By L.A. Kohl
June 25, 2005

(published in the June 29, 2005 edition of the "Bullseye")

With our two weeks of managing youth camp over, we’re finally home again. (Well, some of us are anyway – our van and two of our teens are off to Mexico on a mission trip, and another teen is leaving today for youth camp at Windermere.) I thought I’d fill you in on some insights I learned this year, from my camping front porch.

Within the first few hours, I learned that rain can be extremely loud, whether you are sleeping in a camper or in a metal roofed cabin. So loud that it robs you of sleep and gets your week started with that “I’m all worn out” feeling right from the get go!

I found out that mothers of small children can still do the limbo…with the help of a few energetic, encouraging teenage girls! I’ve got pictures to prove it.

I saw, once again, that a man in his fifties can still relate well with teenagers. And without any effort on his part, he can even build up a fan club. (Yea, Steve!)

Here’s a cool thing we discovered at camp this year…new technology can be very useful and fun, even at a backwoods camp! The video clips each evening of the day’s activities were highly anticipated by many campers. (“Hey Jake, will I be on the video tonight???”)

I learned that today’s young Marine leader can cheat with the best of them. All in good fun, of course…but cheat all the same! I believe I can even quote him as saying, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough”. As I think about it, that train of thought may someday come in handy for him while serving in active duty…except rather than calling it “cheating”, we should call it “thinking outside the box."

I learned that the “camp nurse” position should probably be renamed the “camp mom” position. Campers away from home need someone to show their little boo-boo’s to, and someone to feel their forehead to see if they are feverish or not. Someone to say, “Ah, I’m sorry you’ve got that little bitty splinter…let me help you.” Someone to say, “You know, I think you’re going to be okay.” It was a BIG job, and I’m glad several other people helped me step in when we didn’t have a “real” nurse on site!

In closing, one of the most rewarding things I saw this week was that yesterday’s enthusiastic camper can become today’s responsible, dedicated and respected cabin leader. It is really neat, after a few years of doing this, to see former campers growing up into young adults and still wanting to come back. But now they come back to serve, rather than be served. That’s a life lesson well worth teaching to the younger generation.

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