(Names are changed in this post.)
I struggle so with a rebellious spirit. I’m not proud of it. But here’s just a recent, unfiltered example. A little bit of the “naked” for you.
I signed up, with my sister, to be a camp counselor at a Christian camp for abused kids: The Noble Kids Camp. Seemed like a good idea at the time. That is, until I endured the 5 – and – a – half hour orientation session for new counselors.
Now, there is only so much sitting and listening a butt can take. I know this because somehere in that third hour, butt and ears on overload, I snapped. Choked in the grip of the deathless tedium and unhinged by the smell of warm potato salad, the “good Christian me” who signed up for this quietly morphed into the “bad Christian me” who wanted to slither unnoticed out the door.
So this is my confessional.
I longed to hear about the kids, how their lives might be touched and transformed. I longed to hear how we might be used by the Lord, how the work, though draining, would be joyous and blessed. I longed to hear stories of God being in the small moments, using our strengths, using even our weaknesses, for His purposes.
I guess I was naive. I just wanted to be inspired.
Not anxious. Not scared. Sigh ….
But, alas, the all-consuming topic seemed to be “The Rules”:
Don’t hug the children front to front, only sideways hugs are allowed. That is the “Noble Kids Way.”
Don’t let them ride on your shoulders.
Don’t touch them in the pool or let them touch you.
Don’t give them snacks or candy; they eat at meal times only.
Don’t call crafts “crafts;” they must be called “activities” because some kids have a bad association with crafts.
Don’t say “Good girl” or “Good boy;” we don’t want to qualify them in any way.
Don’t ever let your two campers out of your sight; stay within one foot of them at all times.
(Seems it would be easier just to tether us together.)
No cell phones allowed; (Oh, they don’t “work” here anyway); you may only call your loved ones from the pay phone on your breaks.
But we prefer you don’t make calls at all during the week of camp; it distracts you from your purpose.
No incoming calls allowed, unless it’s an emergency. Someone needs to be “dead or bleeding and on his way to the hospital before we will take the call.”
I sincerely hope I get no calls, not a one.
No sandals allowed; everyone must wear tennis shoes only. Because “if you wear sandals and twist your ankle, you’re useless to us and we’ll have to replace you.”
And, ladies, we were told, we don’t want to see your ‘girls.’
I was confused for a split second, then realized, “Ohhhh, those girls.” Then came the droning instructions on how to hide “the girls.” Minutes dragged by. I started to hate “the girls.” Not “my girls,” understand, just that cutesy, cloying phrase: “the girls.” I was overcome with a nearly irrestible desire to rip my top off right then and there, brazenly flashing “my girls” in front of the potato and macaroni salads.
And, men, no one wants to see your chest hair, so cover up at all times.
You are not to leave the area of the camp during your breaks. You may not hike or run on the trails during your breaks.
If we see you doing that, you will be sent home.
This was The Mantra for the orientation: “If we see you doing that, you will be sent home.” Each time they said it, I felt the certain doom of a sweaty 8 year old with the principal’s office yawning wide and dark before her. I knew I couldn’t possibly remember all the things that would get me sent home. Guess I’ll
pack light …
After a Time Out, say to the child: “Okay. Now please tell me what you think is the ‘Noble Kids Way.'”
My Beloved told me if I want to stay in this marriage, I am not allowed to say that. Period. (Sheesh. Another rule.)
The kids are watching and listening to everything you say.
You will most likely not get any sleep.
But it’s not about you.
Well, okay. I do understand that. But the counselors are still there, right? As human beings, correct? (Unless I’ve been sent home for showin’ “my girls” or allowing that bad word “good” to slip out.)
Don’t question any of the rules. There’s a reason for everything, even if you don’t see it.
Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.
(I swear I heard them say this somewhere in that carbo-soaked 5th hour.)
So I feel scared and anxious. And not about the kids. I’ve worked with kids a lot. I run a kids drama camp every summer and I’m a Performing Arts teacher. A damn good one, frankly. So, no, it’s not the kids.
It’s the adults. It’s all these rules and restrictions that make me feel I cannot possibly be myself for fear of looming punishment. It’s the incessant “don’t, don’t, don’t” that makes me want to tear about, caterwauling, wearing sandals, showing my chest hair, and “do, do, doing” everything else I’m not “supposed” to do. It’s the lack of acknowledgement that we counselors, as human beings, have some small needs, too, like the need to feel appreciated, perhaps.
I guess, at a gut level, it’s the feeling of being trapped.
And I’m ashamed of feeling all this because it speaks of an immaturity on my part, rampant and rebellious.
But no, I’m not changing my mind because it is about the kids and I want to see if I can rise to the occasion. I do think many of these rules are somewhat ridiculous and confining. I do think the manner of the presentation was less rallying cry and more Emergency Alert. But I mustn’t allow that to take supremacy in my heart. Or rather: I need to stop allowing that to take supremacy in my heart.
So, peeps, on June 26th, I’m going to camp. Please pray for me. My attitude, as you can see, is abominable and, I’m certain, displeasing to the Lord, whose Word says:
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe.
And especially, pray for the kids that the Lord will be bringing to the camp.
Pray that He would tremendously bless them, even through the likes of me.