by Bridges Michel, 2016 Summer Camp Counselor
Cabins are swept, tents flaps are tied, hugs are exchanged, and some tears slip. Cars depart one by one, and each takes a different exit off the interstate back into what we call real life. It seems like just yesterday we sat in a circle in the pavilion learning policies and procedures, or picked up pine cones all morning, or listened with excitement to former staff members give us advice for the upcoming summer.
Quickly those staff training days turned into the first day of campers. We met in the dining hall and felt seemingly magical emotions streaming through the room, from the directors all the way to the brand new junior counselors. The summer kicked off with a bang—a bang that continued growing larger and louder up until the very last day. Campers pushed us to strive for the very best versions of ourselves. We became quicker, funnier, braver, stronger, happier, better. With each day, we grew. Before we knew it, the long stretch of summer we thought we had in front of us turned into a mere 3 weeks.
We hit bumps along the way, but as cliché as it sounds, those bumps truly molded and bonded us into who we were as a staff. We worked together as a single unstoppable force. We reached goals and passed others all the way until the end. In the blink of an eye, we watched the last of the choreographed dances at the talent show, listened to the last Stairway to Heaven of the summer, and sat heavy-heartedly as our last beloved campers drove off on the final morning.
It's very hard to match words to the feeling of camp ending. I've always felt that it's one of those things impossible to understand until you've experienced it, but I guess many parts of our sweet summertime home are like that, too. A handful of emotions flood up and fight for the spotlight. You're so unbelievably happy with how everything turned out. You're grateful for those who stood next to you, helped you, and taught you along the way. You're proud of those campers who left camp better than they came. You're already looking forward to next summer's adventures. And on top of all of these, your heart feels like it’s breaking knowing that you're leaving the most incredible people and place for the whole year.
I noticed on a rocking chair one day--amidst after lunch sunshine, buzzing energy, and ruthless mosquitoes--a Father Byrd quote that reads, "I like me better when I'm with you all." I've never heard anything that fully encompasses Camp Gravatt better. So, along with those words, I'll say Shalom.