How we finished our summer

A bullet point flashback for the last half of our summer. In no particular order here are some of the things that kept us busy and living life.

  • Grace and I went to the Chicago area to drop off and then pick up Mary Emma from her ballet intensive there. This is the second summer we have taken her to a far away dance program, and it now feels like it should be tradition. To leave home in the north woods, drive and drive, make random stops as needed, or not, depending on how short on time we are, in which case drive and drive and make no stops whatsoever regardless of how badly anyone needs to stop. We of course have no experience with that last thing.
  • At camp on July 17, one year after the fire that burned the carpenter shop, we had a dedication for the two new Maintenance Area buildings that have been constructed since the fire. Amazing to reflect on God’s goodness and provision. In just one year he provided for two new buildings to go up, totaling the 8,000 square feet of space that was lost in the fire.
  • I played piano for two more weeks of camp. Still a blessing, and I am so thankful to have served in this way.
  • Mary Emma and Lydia were able to go on a camping trip to the Upper Peninsula with the youth group from our sending church. We are so thankful for their ability to still stay connected to this group, and for the friendships that just pick up where they left off.
  • Jim drove a bus for multiple more weeks of camp either picking up or dropping off campers. He now has some experience under his belt with the routines and traditions of bus driving. And I suppose he could tell you about things like nervous young campers with questions about camp or the singing of the camp song when the buses pull on to the property. He seemed to enjoy this role.
  • Jim wrote some policy documents for our state licensing consultant. His favorite task has always been writing. 😉
  • Grace and I got some experience being the ones to be quarantined away from camp. Not a huge thing for me, since it did happen during a week I wasn’t scheduled to be playing piano. But a pretty big thing for Grace as she was wearing many hats this summer, and in her particular roles she had constant contact with many summer staff. At the end of July, on a Monday as campers were arriving, she exhibited enough symptoms to require a Covid test. Unfortunately she was positive, which led to a significant round of required contact tracing, which led to a significant shortage in summer staff. She was, of course, not the only one to have this struggle this summer, but it was a challenge for her to walk through. 
  • Jim (and several other staff members here) got pretty good at some things they didn’t want to be good at. In the new world of Covid and contact tracing and health department requirements, there was more than one occasion when our staff had to contact parents with the sad news that they needed to come pick up their camper. This is never something we wish to do and it was a heavy thing for all who were involved, and even all who were just around watching it happen. But it was, even so, part of the summer that God ordained for us and we saw signs of His goodness through it. There was ample opportunity to extend and receive grace, and both happened regularly.
  • Toward the end of the summer, Jim (and helpers) began removing many, many old phone line pedestals from around camp’s property. This was physical work and he was glad for the young summer staff helpers who could share the load. And 54 phone pedestals are quite a load!
  • Mary Emma camped as a high school camper in August, and followed that by working as a technician (high school volunteer) during cleaning week. This was her last year as a camper and a tech. She was blessed by a great experience with both.
  • We hosted several movie nights in our home for the summer staff group referred to as YAPS (young adult program staff). These are the young people who are running all manner of things during a week of camp, but not counseling. They were one group that Grace oversaw this summer, so she took advantage of having a home at camp to bring them to. We packed out our little living room with the group of varying size depending on the week and who was free. It was a fun way to get to know some of them better.
  • As staff we had two cleaning weeks at the end of the summer this year rather than one. We spread it out over two weeks because during the last high school week we didn’t have campers on the other side of the lake. So we spread out the work and had some high school aged helpers pitch in to start cleaning the West Side one week, followed by cleaning the East Side the next week. Lots of cleaning in lots of places you might not normally think about. Two areas I helped clean that I never had before: the sound booth in the West Side Chapel, and the museum in the West Side Chapel. Did you know there is a museum at camp? There are a lot of items on display there and they allllll need to be cleaned (and cleaned around) from time to time. I was thankful for a couple of high school techs who worked with me.
  • We got Grace moved back to Hillsdale, which also happened to fall during the busyness of cleaning week. It was a little more of a task to move her back this year because she had changed dorms which meant all of her college belongings had moved home, and all of them had to be moved back. Not something she could do on her own in her little VW Bug! So down we all went with our big SUV to help.
  • At the end of August, after all the weeks of camp and cleaning, the staff has a week off. We were thankful for that, and enjoyed it at one of our favorite places to vacation, Door County, Wisconsin. My parents came with us and we enjoyed the time with them as well. Since Grace was already back on campus this was our first glimpse into a family vacation without all of our kids, so that was weird. A natural part of life, but still weird.

You may wonder why bother revisiting all of this summer detail now. Clearly time got away from me a bit and these things are faded into the past already. But I will end with this thought. SUMMER IS COMING! Yep, even in the fall around here, talks and trainings and preparations are happening for the summer of 2022. One of our most urgent matters of work and prayer, even already, is that of the summer staff. Every week of summer camp there is a need for around 70 college aged summer staff, and another 30 or so high schoolers. Every week. These blessed volunteers come and work directly with campers as counselors; they work to run program areas like the archery range, riflery range, or waterfront; they work in the kitchen; they play piano; they do laundry; and they do many more things than I can list here. Without them we simply cannot run camp. And this past summer, because we were at times without enough of them, we did not run camp, at least not at all to our full capacity. So the effort has already begun to seek staff for next summer. Pray with us for this important provision. Do you know someone who could be a good fit for a summer role here? Get us connected so we can tell them more about it!

Rachel, for the Bennetts

From the building dedication at the Maintenance Area
An attractive view of some of the pedestals that were removed from around camp
The theme for the high school weeks this year was Barakel Goes West! Our girls had fun with that. Mary Emma has been ready for this one for a while with her Canjo! Canjo?? Yes. Like a banjo but with a tin cup on the end and only one string. So, a bit more simple than a banjo.
Nothing like getting caught behind the covered wagons on the camp road!
During the second and third high school weeks Grace led square dancing during the banquet at the end of the week. This was also held in the newest maintenance building. I’m not sure who had more fun, the campers participating or Grace calling it out!
More square dancing!
Grace planned group activities for the YAPS each week. One week she planned an Amazing Race challenge around camp. We did have fun helping her come up with ideas for this and running a couple of the tasks they had to complete. Here she is getting it started. Grace is often at her happiest when she is explaining games to people. (Why has she never been a camp programmer???)
Our cozy living room filled up with summer staff for a movie night. These were really fun. A simple movie and some popcorn and you have some very appreciative young people!
Move in day for Grace. She is an RA in a dorm she hasn’t lived in previously, so it was back to a traditional dorm room for her this year. She does have her own room, however, so that is nice.