Posted by Christine Szekeres in Summer Camp on August 15, 2014
Last week, I had the neat privilege to serve as an overnight counselor for sixth grade girls. This role is very different from my usual role as the summer office assistant. I thought I had all the preparation I needed to be a counselor: former ELITE Mentor, Senior High girls youth sponsor, a once-upon-a-time sixth grade girl. I sat through counselor training at the beginning of the summer. I knew everything I needed to know, right? WRONG!
Before you get the wrong idea, the girls I counseled last week were great. I enjoyed watching them as they sang and danced in Rally time, made new friends, and as they had silly and serious discussions with me and with each other. They weren’t worried about makeup or their hair. They didn’t talk about boys. They didn’t really care about how they dressed or the fact that they wore the same clothes multiple times during the week. They were just girls, having fun with new and old friends while learning about Jesus in a fun, new way.
So what was the issue with last week? Well, the issue was me. I wasn’t prepared like I thought I was. I took the experience I had with other campers and with youth group and tried to apply it to my work with these girls. But these girls were different. They weren’t just younger but they were also very unique. They each came with different stories and they all had very different personalities. They had different emotional triggers and ways of handling their feelings. But one things they all had in common. They needed love. They needed someone to teach them simple life lessons in a loving way. They needed someone to be patient with them when they were late to every activity. They needed someone who would listen to every tearful complaint about their feelings being hurt and someone who would offer biblical wisdom to their situation. What they needed was a counselor who could display all these qualities at all times, and I was not that counselor. I missed the mark many times with my girls and I did not always handle every situation like I should have. I didn’t take the time to prepare thoroughly for my time with these girls.
Although I fell short time and time again, I was abundantly blessed to have a wonderful team come alongside me and my girls to give each of us just what we needed at the right times. One time specifically, my girls jumped off the banana boat when they were told not to. They had to sit and talk to Mr. Cress, our waterfront director. Before he came and since I was not on the boat, I tried to listen to each story and figure out what had happened. Two of my girls were in tears and the rest were pointing fingers at each other. When Mr. Cress arrived, he spoke with the girls about what they did and told them why it was wrong. He then went on to tell them that they would not be able to ride the boats any more that day, but when they arrived the next day he would forget it ever happened. They were forgiven. He then proceeded to tell them that in situations like this, he can forgive them because Jesus died for them all and forgave all sins. Even when we mess up, Jesus can forgive us because he loves us. What a beautiful moment it was to see Mr. Cress share the love of Jesus with my girls.
Overall, my week as a counselor was greatly enjoyed. There were many joyful times. We laughed and played together. We tried new things and conquered fears. We each learned something new about ourselves and about each other. There were times of frustration and sadness, but it was in those times that God showed himself in the form of other staff members and counselors.
Even when I thought I was prepared for it all, I fell short many times throughout the week and it was a hard but humbling lesson. No matter what we do, we will fall short. We are human and it’s in our nature. It’s in those moments we can trust that God is still working. Counseling is not a job for the proud. It is for those who are humbled enough to depend on God for their patience and their strength.
Written by Kristen “Infiniti” Gainey