We may know the staff pretty well – but never completely. We certainly do not know the joys, struggles, and needs of each camper. And how could we possibly know where each camper was in their relationship with God when they first arrived at DL – even after 2 weeks. When a camper was assigned to a cabin with two Counselors, hopefully the camper would be able to quickly build a solid relationship with one of them. Perhaps both counselor and camper had struggled with the death of a sibling, or lived lonely lives after having moved to a new school, or had a father out of work. Perhaps both had been to Europe, loved soccer, or liked to read. In such situations, the Counselor, Section Chief, and I humbly thanked the Lord. But there were situations where neither of the cabin’s Counselors was able to get close to the camper.
I remember one young camper who seemed to prefer being left alone. Walking to instructional areas, during flex time, even at line-up, he kept to himself. Many on the staff had seen the camper. We knew he must be hurting deeply, but it is tough to relate to a camper who lives in a shell. A few days into the session we talked about him at the 7:00 a.m. staff meeting. We hurt for the boy.
A couple days later a staff member noticed that when this camper went into the camp store and saw one of the older staff girls, Heidi Naysmith, working behind the counter, he would just light up….he became a very different person!! Walk out the door and his body language became very clearly “just leave me alone!” Heidi, who had grown up at DL, became aware of the situation, and offered to take the camper on a hike up the Dugs. I told her to “Go for it”.* When asked, the camper came alive: Huge smile!
The next day was beautiful. After breakfast the two of them picked up their tripping food, went down to the lake, put on life jackets, and headed out for their great adventure! During flex time the two of them paddled back across the lake. The grin on the camper’s face was obvious! Up to the camp store they went, and Heidi gave the camper an “I Climbed the Dugs” T shirt! For the remaining days of the session, everyone experienced a very different camper.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” Matthew 25:40
When Heidi Naysmith Rekard took the camper up the Dugs, she lived/hiked In Partnership With God, and she continues to do so.
*Even as I write this, I know some of you are thinking – never take this risk!!! I hear that, but in the late 80’s there was not the level of paranoia there is today about child abuse and law suits. Would I make the same decision today? Fortunately, I am not facing the same decision.