Is this the little boy I carried? Is this the little girl at play? I absolutely, positively adore the movie Fiddler on The Roof. My parents took my younger brother and me to see it …at the drive in. Yes, drive in movie theater where everyone in our tiny community eventually ended up…parked in our cars, windows down, crickets chirping. On really warm summer nights light blankies and pillows and picnic baskets hanging out the back of the station wagon. Falling asleep in the grass after we just go, go, go till we dropped. Hundreds of kids in our jammies playing on the swings, running from car to car and the concessions by ourselves because the feeling of safety was real. As Tevye would say “tradition!” We went because it was tradition!
There were many other traditions in our home, some I carry on today with my own sons. One that I never experienced as a youth was a camp. No. Nope. Not one. Oh, there were the cutsie little day camps that Girl Scouts and Jobs Daughters and 4-H and Cheerleader Club put on, but never an away from home -out of town- over night with lots of people staying up till you drop and eating till you explode camp…until now. The kind of camp that has an activity called The Scream Swing. Hmmmm.
And do NOT be fooled by the Pamper Pole. It is NOT about pampering….it IS about screaming and testin’ what ya got. These campers could climb 40 feet in the air onto a little platform and j-u-m-p because they felt safe. They trusted the adult on the ground who was quietly giving directions and encouragement and yelling “I’m here! “. They trusted their friends who were shouting encouragement…or heckling. They knew what to expect and they felt safe…putting on the safety harness, the helmet and jumping… has become tradition.
Camp … Amazing. Awesome. Six hundred+ middle school and high schoolers and 100 or so adult staff and leaders. Incredible. Did I mention Amazing? A tradition. Walking alongside those that have never been to camp before. Teaching us the rules, the expectations, the traditions. Raising over $4,000 in an impromptu offering for the people of Haiti.
When many of you read ‘middle and high school’ what did you think? Yep. Me too. But I am here to tell you I have seen the future in action. Caring for one another. Praying over one another. Holding each other while their friend cried~ yes even ‘the tough’ guys and gals. Now, don’t get me wrong, I left my rose-colored glasses at home for this trip…there were still the cliques, the ‘cool’ kids and the ones that felt not so cool. The ones that felt they were too mature to be with the ‘younger kids’ (read their own age) the ones that gave us an opportunity to draw on all our memories of being a teenager and trying to stay one step ahead, and thankfully there were those that were totally lovely, self-less and so sweet.
In the end we were all in it together… from all over the state…to come together at Young Life Winter Camp for the Tradition…. for worship, for praise, for eating til we couldn’t eat anymore , coming under authority, pushing the rules, and realizing that when the adult says I am here for YOU…we mean it. When we say be in the cabin at 12:30 and lights out, we mean it (just had to throw that in) When your friend says ‘you have an awesome voice you should go for the talent show’ they mean it, because they love you and they really do NOT hear any cracking in your voice nor think your instrumental solo is too long.
They hear the beautiful potential . Six hundred+ kids…I have seen the potential, the beautiful Hope for the Future and the Tradition. Amazing. Tevye would be proud.
See Four Square Winter Camp 2010 photos on Facebook at Peter Van Houten’s Camp Albums