Camp has been a huge part of my life over the last 4 years. It has been a place where I learned the value of community and had the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to thousands of campers each summer. I accepted a year around position at camp while still in India not knowing how my transition back to the States would be, but also knowing there was no other place I would rather process my time in India.
I arrived home from Kolkata 4 months ago with huge holes in my heart as I longed to be back at Sari Bari with the women and expat community which had become like family. As I began to share about my experience with friends and family, I found myself growing bitter and angry because no one really understood. I appreciate those who walked through those hard conversations with me as I slowly started to process all the small things God did in and through me. I gave myself two short weeks to readjust before jumping full force into my new position at camp.
I stepped into the Program Ministries Assistant role not knowing what it would look like or involve. I knew it was an office job but there was freedom to roam around each camp center in order to invest in other staff members. I was nervous to have 6 different supervisors who were all so different, and I was unsure of their expectations. Camp preparation was in full swing as I walked into the office and was put to work making schedules and submitting check requests. It was not the camp life I was used to but grateful for the opportunity to experience camp through a different role.
Camp was in full swing starting the second week of June. Campers arrived by the hundreds each week. I was excited to see familiar faces and have the opportunity to be a counselor for a few churches throughout the summer. I had the opportunity to share about my time in Kolkata with 5th & 6th graders each week, and they had the opportunity to support the work of Sari Bari. I was able to create space to process through my time in Kolkata with youth pastors and friends who had been praying for me while I was in India. It was often painful to share about the difficult times and the ways my heart hurt for the women in Kolkata. I loved being able to share about the good times and the ways God is working in the red light areas. I am so grateful for those brief conversations which helped me process my time in India.
A few weeks into camp, I stepped into the counseling staff supervisor role which means I had a staff of my own. I was responsible for the well-being of 12 staff counselors. I felt inadequate in so many ways because I was unsure of my capacity to love others while I still felt so broken from my time in India. The staff counselors hesitantly welcomed me in unsure of the part I would play in their summer. Within the first few days, the girls were opening up and sharing their struggles as a staff counselor and the difficult campers they had that week. As part of my weekly routine, I would make time to check in with them as often as I could. I would hear stories of the ways God was working through them. I would hear the struggles of difficult campers or counselors. They would share bits and pieces of their life and the journey which brought them to camp. It was life-giving for me to walk through camp with this group of counselors as they loved campers well. I was able to spoil them with lots of coffee and treats throughout the summer. It was a tough learning curve for me to figure out the balance of being a boss verses being a friend. There were times I had to make hard, unpopular decisions, but it was for the greater good of the counsel. God was present each step of the way and it helped me better understand what it looks like to live openhandedly. I am so thankful for the moments I was able to spend with the counsel, and I look forward to building on the friendships that were formed.
As a side note, there is a chance I will be heading back to Kolkata for a short trip early next year. I am excited to share more about this opportunity once details are worked out.