Last week I was transformed into a camp counselor - a hat I have never before worn. Camp Lutherhaven is a Christian camp located in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho which has received several grants from Murdock. I met the executive director, Bob Baker, a few months ago at a Murdock conference and he said if I ever wanted to have the camp experience I was more than welcome to visit Lutherhaven. So I took a week away from the office, packed up my sunscreen and Chacos, and headed to Northern Idaho. Being a part of the Murdock Trust, I was given the best cabin at the camp - the "Guest Cottage". It was a quaint and cozy cabin with a wonderful back patio overlooking Lake Coeur d'Alene.
Although I was a guest, I jumped right into the responsibilities of a camp counselor. On Monday, we hosted a group of fourth graders. I joined Alisa and took the kids out on the lake in large canoes called Voyagers. The weather was perfect and it was glorious being out on the lake all day. On Tuesday, I helped out with the challenge courses and the camp fire in the evening. The counselors asked me to join in on the silly songs and skits. That's not really my thing (being goofy and overly expressive), so I was pretty akward and uncomfortable. Wednesday morning I woke up and drove to Lutherhaven's sister campus, Shoshone Base Camp in Prichard, Idaho. The staff was a little short handed and needed me to help out with a group of 75 sixth graders. Little did I know that "helping out" meant taking on the Orienteering Course - all by myself! "What is orienteering?" you ask. I had the exact same question. Orienteering is a sport which requires navigational skills using a compass. Sounds like fun except for one small detail - I didn't even know how to use a compass! How am I supposed to teach orienteering to sixth graders? One of the camp counselors gave me an orienteering crash course and from then on I just acted like I knew what I was talking about. (I might have even been mistaken for an old girl scout a time or two!)
One evening after camp fire, I even led a night hike. I led the kids into a dark cove in the forest surrounded by tall pine trees and taught them about night vision. Here's something interesting that I learned on that night hike: Did you know that if you chew a wintergreen LifeSaver with your mouth open in the dark, you will be able to see sparks in your mouth!? I handed out LifeSavers to each of the kids and they laughed as we all chewed them with our mouths open - it was like a fireworks show in our mouths! Overall, I really enjoyed my time at camp. I realized that I am not exactly the camp counselor type (it was tough not knowing what the daily schedule was until 8am that morning, and sometimes working until camp fire was over at 10pm), but its definitely a job that is always exciting and will keep you youthful.
What I enjoyed most about my time at camp:
- being outdoors in God's creation
- not dealing with phone, computers and ipods
- remembering the simplicity of being an elementary school kid
- cleaning the mess hall after dinner with the kids as we all sang along to the Sound of Music soundtrack
- late night smores
- learning that I was the talk of the boy's cabin because of my "awesome LifeSavers spark trick"
- playing with the program director's 7-month-old twins