A Counselor’s Experience at BBC

This summer was the most attended summer in the history of BBC. Praise God! We had well over 400 camper weeks throughout the seven weeks of summer. These high numbers required that we also have one of the largest staff teams in the camp’s history. Many different marketing events, individuals, and advertisements helped to make this summer’s registration so momentous, but I also believe that campers wouldn’t come (and keep coming!) if it weren’t for the ways camp impacts them.

Camp is uniquely powerful in the lives of children for many different reasons. One of the most important reasons, I believe, is the connection between camper and counselor. During the school year children spend 99% of their time with peers (fellow students) and with older adults (parents/teachers). Peers are easy for them to connect with, but often not much of a role model. Adults can be a great role model, but difficult to make powerful connections with. Young, maturing, 20-something counselors help bridge that gap. They are fun to be with and someone the campers can look up to. Many campers, in fact, realize that they too can grow up to be like these counselors some day. Liesl was an excellent example of that this summer. In the paragraphs that follow she shares her experiences this summer and you can see that while she made a real impact in the lives of her campers God also used BBC to make a real impact in her own life. – Dan “Chick” Laubach, Program Director

Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Working at camp involves a lot of repetition, and as someone who generally revolts against rigid routines, sometimes I felt like I was going crazy. But somehow, beyond all my expectations, God met me in the repetition.

I came to camp expecting that I would meet God in some life-redefining way. In fact, that was one big reason I initially hesitated about working at BBC this summer ― I expected that I would meet God in some big way, and I was afraid of finding him like that. Because finding God meant that I would have to own up to a lot of things, and I did not want to spend the emotional energy, I guess. But I did not meet God, not in the way I thought, anyway, which fit in so well with our theme of “Expect the Unexpected.” No, he did not revealed himself to me in some flashy Damascus road moment. Instead, he pulled me gently back to him, one small moment at a time.

Every week, I repeated the same advice to my campers, heard the same Bible stories, sang the same songs, cooked the same food, did the same activities.

I knew what was coming next. In the logistical sense, I knew exactly what to expect.

Now, when you do something over and over again, and know you will keep doing it over and over again, you have two choices: you can either jade yourself to what you are doing, or you can look for new threads of meaning within the repetition.

I found myself handing out the same advice to my girls this summer, different campers, different ages, different situations. I told them how important it is to learn to love yourself, because if you dislike yourself, then loving your neighbor as you love yourself quickly derails into a nightmare. And by the fifth or sixth time that I heard those words coming out of my mouth, I realized, hey, maybe I should give my own advice a try.

And maybe after the 50th morning of singing that all God’s critters got a place in the choir, I could remember that that meant me, someone who has felt on the outside for a while, not sure of her place in the choir or if she wants to sing at all.

And maybe by the seventh time hearing that God’s best friend Moses killed a man would it actually sink in that, hey, God might want to be best friends with me, too, someone who has not killed anything but maybe some mosquitos.

I usually look for God in the strange, unfamiliar places. I can see him working best when I am outside of my comfort zone. I like to go on adventures, push myself, find weird new places to explore, and hope to bump into God along the way.

But this summer, I learned to look for him in the small, quiet moments, in the spider crawling up my leg, in the curious eyes of children, in the encouragement of fellow staff, in the silly song lyrics.

God knows what we need more than we know for ourselves. He knows I can be skittish, he knows I am stubborn, but he also knows how much I delight in small moments of beauty, and he used that understanding to give me what I needed: a gentle push in a better direction that, with enough encouragement, will eventually lead me home.

As I have settled back into the repetition of my life away from camp, into my college routine, I catch myself thinking about camp a lot. I find I am craving the outdoors, craving rain showers and cast-iron griddles and grease fires and charcoal hand prints on my legs, craving the company of children, craving the peace I found on the hill ― these things that separately I can replicate anywhere, but that all together create something beautiful, something powerful, something unique to Bethany Birches.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to work at Bethany Birches, and I am looking forward to returning next summer, ready to embrace the unexpected from day one.

Liesl “Kiki” Graber

2017 BBC Summer Counselor

 

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