I've been meaning to write this post for five weeks now. And holding off on subsequent posts until this one was done because I'm all about being chronological.
It never fails. At the end of each summer, when I move back to my house in Fergus and readjust to "normal" life, I am barraged with the question, "How was the summer?", and I never, never know how to answer it. It's such a loaded question, and even if I were given the same amount of time that the summer lasted, I don't know that I could explain it all (Talk that long? Yes. Explain it all in that amount of time? No.) When the summer is over, and we are, as a staff, getting ready to leave, we always have a closing time. In my six summers, it's taken many different forms, and this year's was my favorite. The night before we all left, the sixty summer staff sat around a campfire as the sun set (cliche, I know), and finished the sentence, "I'll never forget......" So many memories flooded my mind of all the things that happened on that 23-acre peninsula in those 87 days that I will never forget. All the ways I was privileged to see God move in the lives of so many people.
And in an attempt to answer the enduring question, "How was your summer?", I offer these moments..........
I'll Never Forget when we were struck by lightning, the phone system was fried, the server shut down, and the power went out the day before 400 people (the largest crowd ever amassed at camp) would arrive to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the purchase of Inspiration Point. I'll never forget driving to Fergus that night knowing that there was nothing else we could do, and trusting the Lord to work a miracle so that everything would be up and running in less than 24 hours.
I'll Never Forget the 50th anniversary celebration of the purchase of Inspiration Point. Walking across the peninsula with one of the people who explored the land a half-century ago as he remembered and passed on to me his thoughts as he saw a cow pasture and dreamed of what it would become.
I'll Never Forget listening to the story of a woman, who 50 years earlier, took an incredible step of faith, as a young widowed mother of two, and gave half of the settlement from her husband's death to purchase the land. I've known the story for years, but to meet her and listen to the conviction in her voice as she told it was (no pun intended) inspiring.
I'll Never Forget the day I walked in to my boss's office, in tears. Our scholarship fund was out of money, and we had kids who were requesting scholarships, but we had none to give them. I had to tell kids that they couldn't come to camp. Four days later, Greg got a call letting us know that we would be receiving a grant for scholarships to send kids to camp. I'll Never Forget the joy in the voices as I gave parents the good news and the squeals from the children in the background as their parents passed it on.
I'll Never Forget the first time we had to take shelter during a storm. I was listening to the NOAA radio, and watching the radar as one storm front was coming from the north and another from the west, both scheduled to meet up and combine in Clitherall, MN. The gravity of the responsibility for twenty staffers, and sixty guests was humbling. I'll Never Forget when the storm moving north to south moved slightly east, and the storm moving west to east moved slightly south, both missing us. It was like we had a protective bubble. :-)
I'll Never Forget the second time we had to take shelter during a storm. SEVEN DAYS LATER. There were two family reunions, and they were eating dinner upstairs as the rain came pouring down, the sky became green, and clouds were moving in a very creepy swirly pattern. I sat with my friend and co-worker Josh, as we once again listened to the NOAA radio and watched the radar on his phone. When the voice said it was expected to hit Urbank, and we simultaneously watched the red blob cover Clitherall, I looked at Josh, and said, "Seriously?!" as we ran upstairs and moved the guests and staff to shelter. Again.
I'll Never Forget the third time we had to take shelter during a storm. Our video guy had been editing in the office at 4 AM, and heard the NOAA radio go off. He came and got me, and after listening for a while and watching the storm patterns (I'm now an expert at this. I'm considering adding 'Professional NOAA radio operator' to my job title), it was clear the the storm wouldn't come near us. I went back to bed, and was awaken two very short hours later by my friend and co-worker Janet. She barged into our cabin and said "There's a tornado, and we have to get the boys out of Oak Point." I sleepily and frustratingly sat up and said, "Is this a joke?" Janet, in her most serious voice, said "It is not a joke. Let's go."
I'll Never Forget waking up the little 1st and 2nd grade boys at 6 AM to move them to shelter. One boy looked at me, then looked under his covers and declared "I don't have any clothes on!" Another boy slept in his super hero underwear, and after I announced to their cabin that they needed to get shoes on quickly, he pleadingly asked, "Can I put pants on too?" All boys made it safely and with clothes on to shelter.
I'll Never Forget morning walks with Janet.
I'll Never Forget the boy who ran up to his parents on the last day of camp when they came to pick him up and answered his father's question, "Tell me about all the fun things you did this week!" by saying "I learned so much about the Bible and I can't wait to read it when I get home and learn more!"
I think these memories begin to explain how the summer was. It was filled with funny moments, with life lessons, incidences of fear, times when all I had (and needed) to depend on was faith, many, many tears, instances of hopelessness, days of reassurance. And while I couldn't describe those three months if given that same amount of time, one word resounds as I think back on the summer of 2010. Indelible.