As I relax in front of a fan in Odessa, TX, enjoying a few moments of peace and quiet, I reflect on an amazing first week of camp!
Full of campfire songs, family group discussions, canoeing, swimming, morning energizers (including Star Trekin!), silly skits, and vespers down by the river, the 19 campers I worked with this week have left quite an impression on me.
Being involved in such a small tight-knit group was an amazing introduction to my summer. It was intimidating coming in as an outsider, but I was amazed by the ways they welcomed me into their community and their family. Those kids have an incredible way of looking out for one another and making sure everyone felt included despite individual learning abilities and quirky personalities. As we spent all week learning about what it means to be covered in the dust of Jesus, I don’t think those kids fully realized how much they were living out their faith with one another.
Being a Peace Intern is emotionally exhausting. I never knew what it felt like to view every moment through the lens of justice – God’s desire for how the world should be – until that became my role at camp. From making sure the lights were turned off when we left the building and talking about energy justice, to processing the fact that we had a food fight and how to talk about food justice and nutrition, to encouraging kids to recycle and drink less soda, to talking about water justice as we swam in the swimming pool, and pollution as I learned about a soap factory dumping its waste into the river. There are SO many aspects of life that have simply become cotidiana – daily practices we don’t even think twice about.
As followers of Christ we are called to stir things up. Jesus was continually challenging the status quo and calling his disciples to participate in the creation of a better world – God’s kingdom here on earth. It’s tough being the one who is continually breaking the comfort bubble and calling people to wrestle with difficult topics, but it is so very rewarding to see kids really think about these things and come to understand their role in the world differently.
In Peace Lab I led them on an imaginary journey of what it is like for a family to become homeless. We talked about the stereotypes of homelessness and how poverty exists in our own communities right under our noses. We talked about the importance of building relationships with people and going farther than donating money or time at shelter. We talked about how Jesus didn’t do charity but rather built relationships.
It was INCREDIBLE to see the confidence and compassion with which the kids interacted with residents at a nursing home on Thursday. THEY GET IT. In their own way, I saw campers understand Jesus’ radical call to love the world. Everyone had a God moment they wanted to share that day, and I was thrilled to use my Spanish with one of the residents.
I realized that this summer is about planting seeds, but more than anything it’s about loving these kids and hoping to be an example of what it means to live in justice, love in mercy, and walk humbly with God. Thank you Black River for being an amazing introduction to my summer of Peace Interning! Off to Athens, TX tonight!