Gratitude Lists at Camp
Written by: Carol Harrison; Carol’s Corner
I spent the week away from home, speaking at a children’s Bible camp. Each day I took time to jot down ten important things that happened during the day or things that soothed the soul and brought a smile to my face.
As I reflect back on the week of hanging out with children (aged eight to eleven and their teenage and young adult leaders), I realize it exhausted and energized me at the same time. The days included watching the energetic kids doing a variety of activities, telling them stories from the Bible and everyday life, listening to their concerns and their laughter.
I spent the week in a beautiful setting surrounded by trees, waking up to the sound of birds singing outside my window and enjoying the change of scenery from the city. My husband likes to tell everyone that the weeks I speak at camp are my holiday since I don’t have to plan or prepare meals or clean up. I simply need to hang out with people and tell stories which I love to do anyway.
Gratefulness for those who worked hard to keep the camp facilities working well and clean made its way to the list often. I also loved the time and effort the cooks spent to make sure we had plenty of good food to eat and even some yummy treats. Of course, free tuck time was an added bonus too.
My heart ached when I learned how difficult some of the campers’ home lives were and yet gratitude filled me that they could experience a week of camp, enjoy learning new skills and feel loved and accepted. Having a camper run up and throw her arms around me for a hug or lean their head on my shoulder as I sat beside them added to the special times during the week as did chats with staff about what they love to do or their aspirations going forward in the fall.
Speaking at camp is a special time for me each summer. One camper gave me a nickname this week – Storylady – and loved to come and chat with me. The coolness of my room after a day in the heat of the outdoors allowed me to rest. A recliner in the common room of the lodge gave me a comfortable place to relax and listen to staff chat and laugh. Cooks provided each meal and all I needed to do is show up when the bell rang. The birds provided morning wake-up music and the singing in chapel time added depth to my day.
Campfire on the last night of camp topped off the week as we sang around the fire to the accompaniment of a guitar as evening shadows fell. Then campers shared highlights from the week and things they had learned. In reality, the entire week was a highlight as it usually is when I get the opportunity to share hope with campers and staff.