Choir Camp

Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

Ever since 1999, I have spent my Labor Day weekends as a camp counselor for Pure Sound, our church’s youth choir, at their annual retreat at Camp for All (near Burton, TX). When I began this journey, my daughter was in the 8th grade, and now she is a senior in college. I’m not sure when I made the decision to continue being a counselor after her graduation from high school, but I am glad that I did.  

Why? Because I have found that being a counselor is easier with other people’s children than one’s own. Not that I love them more than my daughter; I most certainly do not. But when Shannon’s not there, I can focus on the others without worrying about whether or not she is a) having fun, b) being well behaved or c) singing correctly. And I can love the other kids totally without worrying about whether or not she will mind. I can sit with them at meals without wondering if she would rather have me sit with her and her friends. It really is freeing to be able to give them my all.  

Back in 2004 when I was debating whether or not to go back, I made the decision to continue by looking at my dad’s legacy as a Boy Scout leader. For 50 years he worked with the Scouts, wherever he lived and no matter that his own sons weren’t involved. I cannot match his total years of service, but I can do this for as long as I am able (and welcome).   

Now I wouldn’t miss it for the world! I have so much fun, and get so much love back from the kids, it’s a real gift to me. This year was extra nice; I was in a cabin of 10th/11th grade girls who all got along and were very enthusiastic campers. No drama, no hissy fits, no hurt feelings. My co-counselor was a dear friend, and we laughed together as we both forgot our shampoo and had to borrow some called, ‘Brunette Goddess’ from one of our charges.  

One morning before dawn, I jogged down the country roads with a fellow runner, a 15 year old ‘hare’ to my ‘tortoise’. Whew! But we visited as we ran, and I got to hear about some of her family issues that have given me a better insight into her character.  

I had a blast playing volleyball with a mixed team of die-hard players and never-before-touched-a-ball ones. The game was evenly matched, and we lost by only one point! It was so neat to see the newbies really get into the spirit, and we really celebrated their successful shots.  

The talent show was, shall I say, ‘interesting’? It was a mix of acts, my favorite of which was the 8th grade boy who juggled lighted balls in the dark! He was amazing! Of course, there was a lot of singing, and several of the guys performed some loud, hard rock numbers that just about pierced my ears! (my taste runs more towards old fashioned fare…) Alas, my camera battery died in the middle of the show, and I’ve been saying it was a case of homicide. But then afterwards, one of our 6th graders confided in me, ‘That was the COOLEST talent show ever!’ So there you go.  

I helped the seniors make the communion bread as they planned for the service on Sunday evening. They were horsing around, but I tell you, it was the best bread ever! (Do I always say that? I think so…) But when it came time for them to step up and lead the service, they took it very seriously and did a terrific job.  

Note: one of my funniest camp memories has to do with this bread preparation. My friend Mike helped us one year, and then later introduced me to someone as his ‘bed breaking buddy’ (rather than his ‘bread baking buddy’). I’ve never let him forget that one! 

The dance is always held on the final night, and it is both loud and long. I prefer to sit outside on the porch in a rocking chair and escort singers to and from cabins as needed (they aren’t allowed to run loose during this time). It’s just nice to be outside and enjoy the fresh air and the stars (usually not visible in Houston!). One younger girl wasn’t really comfortable with the goings on, so we walked back to her cabin. She confided in me that she had wanted to go on a nature walk while at camp, so I took her by to see a praying mantis that I had spied under light earlier in the evening. And then we heard and saw a Great Horned Owl! It was the coolest sight, and she seemed genuinely awed by it. I hope it made a good memory for her.

 I returned home in great spirits, renewed and excited about the new choir year. What a delight it is for me to be able to serve in such a way that allows me to reap so many blessings as a result! Now I better understand how Dad felt, and I like to think that he would be proud that his legacy of service lives on.

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