Nowhere will the end of summer be felt more deeply than among summer camp staff. These young people have left so much behind to enter into a community to serve. Summer programs have many elements that add to their appeal, but none is more important than the staff.
Great camp staffs put aside selfish concerns and pour themselves out into the lives of others. They forget about trying to be adults and get lost in the lives of children. Staff learn to balance their own needs with the needs of others because selfishness can destroy the community.
Staff communities who are able to do this experience absolute transformation. It moves them to tears and touches the very depths of their soul. Adults who are not a part of this community watch these emotions in bewilderment. They cannot understand because they have never experienced true community. The most gut-wrenching moment of the whole experience is that final night when it all comes to an end.
When summer ends, staff go back to their normal life. I always found this the most frustrating part of being a director. In summer, they had tasted the absolute truth of life. Profound joy is experienced when we lose ourselves into the lives of others. Isolation, frustration, fear and a feeling of being lost dominates the self absorbed life. Why could they never take the summer lessons and weave them back into their non-summer life?
Jesus says, “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life…will keep it…” (Hate is a little strong for me, but its John.) The truth of this one line is lived out every summer at camp. I’m going to tell you a secret, you don’t have to be at camp to live this way. (Jn 12: 24-26)