Camp director—well, assistant camp director. That was a new title for me this summer. Even though I have helped direct Summer English Camp for the last two summers, this was the first year it was really in my title. This was the first year I helped with discipline issues and housing logistics. These new challenges made me realize that I still have a lot to learn. However, the most important thing I picked up from this summer in this new role, was the importance of intentionality in connecting with staff and students.
Every year that I have been at camp, I have led a conversation group. These groups are a small group of students that you lead with another staff member. You meet together twice a day to discuss certain topics and you participate in things like the camp Olympics and variety show together. It is a built-in time to connect. This year, due to my other responsibilities and our abundant and capable staff, I had no conversation group. While this made my life at camp significantly less crazy (I actually had time to go to the bathroom without being late for something. Hoorah!) it also gave me less connection with the kids and camaraderie—or rivalry if you are talking about Olympics day—with our staff. Though luckily I knew many of the kids at the first camp and a few at the second, there were still a lot that I had never met.
The first night of the first camp, when I finally got to my room, everyone was in their own bed, not talking too much, and the whole girls’ hall was pretty quiet. I wasn’t sure that night how I could connect to my girls or connect other new staff who didn’t know any Hungarian to their girls. For me, one of the best ways to break the ice with people is to play games. Thus began “Snacks and Games.” I and the other women leaders bought snacks and card games to play with the girls once they were in their dorms. The first night, we went through the hall yelling, “Snacks and games!” We had quite a big turn out that night. After that, the attendance waned, but the ice was broken.
As the week went on, I realized that when you are looking, and are willing to serve, there are many opportunities to connect with the kids in a variety of ways. I played rugby a few days when there weren’t enough people, I joined the water games and Olympics when some teams needed extra players, I sat with lots of different people at lunch and dinner, I joined in the songs and games in our evening program, and whatever else I could do to foster those relationships.
Being a director sometimes means being a bit removed from the students and staff at camp, but while I may not be able to facilitate and be present in all the deeper conversations that take place in conversation group, I still hope I was able to make many kids feel seen, noticed, heard, and valued. That’s the passion God has given me—to help people feel noticed, understood, and loved so that they would get a glimpse of the love that Christ has for them. I am thankful for a position where I can help and empower others to do that while also being able to do so myself.