We call it the ‘Community Code,’ but I find the final product more artistic than traditional expectations. Our code of conduct is a conglomeration of ideas, the sum of them outlining our hopes, fears, and actions.
We began by writing down our hopes for camp on a scrap of paper, crumpling our words up, and throwing them into the center of the circle we sat in. We summarized those words and wrote them down in the center of a poster-board sized piece of paper. Using the same method, we wrote down our greatest fears for the upcoming weeks. Our fears were written down along the edges of the paper. Finally, and most importantly, we brainstormed ideas on how to combat those fears, and those ideas filled the remaining space on the paper.
Our desires for camp follow two general themes: opportunities to experience the unknown and a hunger to learn. We want to explore sports, science, and art. We are eager to learn from campers and each other as well as experience a new language and culture. We are thirsty to grow, to build friendships, to laugh, and to cry.
Talk about hefty goals.
With great expectations comes great fear. Though, I think we can hardly be blamed considering the immense task we attempt to undertake. A good number of us feel some sort of trepidation when it comes to language barrier, and this particular fear translates into a worry that us counselors will be unable to connect with our campers. We are worried our preparations will lack, and there is a safety concern for both campers and staff. On top of it all, sleep deprivation appears imminent and for some of us, there is that lovely, looming possibility of traveler’s diarrhea.
After coming to this particular part of the brainstorm, our team brainstormed how to combat our greatest fears. Really, it centers on the idea that this is not a one-person-show. We depend on clear communication, practice, determination, and support for one another (we are cheerleaders for each other and the campers!).
When brainstorming solutions, the team spent a longer time exploring the idea of self-care and safe-spaces. Camp will stretch us physically, mentally, and spiritually, requiring us to take time for rejuvenation. We also need a place to speak, to ask honestly, and to answer with love. Encouragement and support for one another is integral for camp to function at its best.
Upon further reflection, I decided that Camp is not about easy. We don’t need easy; we need possible. Some of our hopes are tied up in and entirely dependent on these next two weeks being a challenge, which means we all require an immense amount of courage.
I would lie to say I don’t share the fears of my teammates. In the weeks before my coming, I found myself bemoaning my fears to various family members. One of these people was my mom, who decided with my dad and family that we would take a refugee minor into our home in January. To my mom I specifically fretted about the language barrier. I asked her, “How am I supposed to be a counselor to kids who don’t speak the same language?”
She replied, “And how am I supposed to be a mom to a daughter who doesn’t speak English?”
At this point, it appears the best option is to move forward with confidence and humility. We have our ideas and expectations, and more importantly, we have each other. Lord willing, great adventures lie ahead.