(Originally emailed 8/8/2022)
Today we welcomed the last group of summer campers. It’s what we refer to around here as “Week 12.” The first group of youth campers came Week 4. Before that we had two weeks of summer staff training and one week of disabled adult campers. Since Week 4 we have hosted 7 weeks of junior campers, 1 week of middle school campers, 6 weeks of junior high campers, and 2 weeks (plus 1 more this week) of high school campers. All of those campers have sung of God’s greatness, heard the gospel of Christ, and discussed many other truths from God’s Word. It’s why we do what we do at Camp Barakel. In fact, we’ve been so tied up in the work of summer camp that it has been 4 months since our last update! The more time that passed, the harder it was to figure out what to share in an update. In order to catch you up on what has been happening, this week I am going to send a short update each day, each one about a different piece of what has occupied our time and efforts.
Today, besides just the general update, I’m going to use something we’ve made use of throughout the summer. One of our roles this summer has been to work with a group of the summer staff called the YAPS: Young Adult Program Staff. Every Monday night we have a meeting with the YAPS covering the many details of the week. Many weeks we would begin that meeting by sharing highs and lows from throughout the previous week. It was a great way to build connections in the group; to hear the various joys and struggles that each one had as they served in their individual jobs. So today we each share several highs and lows from our summer. These aren’t necessarily the highest of the highs or the lowest of the lows. In a rather public ministry, sometimes the highest and lowest points are things that we can’t even share publicly, which is something I do struggle with when it comes to writing updates. But these things are some simple joys and challenges we have met along the way during the last 12 weeks.
– Running the YAPS program, especially working with the young people who were part of the program this year.
– Building a way to send personalized emails to parents for each camper the week before they come; those emails now include all the important information, customized for each camper
– Watching the YAPS grow spiritually throughout the summer. It was a privilege to be a part of that.
– The scheduling struggles that came along with trying to corral such a large group of young people! It was surprisingly cumbersome all of the summer trying to keep track of who was coming and going when.
– Mondays we’re especially long days, in particular when driving a bus. The day starts at 4:30am, then I’m driving and on the go until the YAP meeting at night which sometimes starts as late as 9:15pm.
– Having to get out of bed at 12:30 one night to fight a bat with a piano book and a broken down cardboard box.
– Playing piano in chapels some weeks. Like last year, a top favorite of that was Hisability week. What a fun group to be involved with.
– Having all 3 of our girls home, coming and going some, everyone busy with slightly different things, but all here together and overlapping some. That was how we enjoyed it until late July.
– Having people we know come here for camp weeks. Teens from our sending church, family, supporters we enjoyed visiting with, volunteer staff we don’t get to see very often. Visiting with people we know and love has been an encouragement.
– There was this one weekend where everything seemed to go wrong. Lots of ridiculous things all piled up, like an overflowing toilet, mice getting into my cleaning assignment building, and wasted time doing things I later found out didn’t need to be done.
– Conflicts with people. I wish this wasn’t in my lows, but we live in a fallen world, so sadly conflicts happen no matter where we are.
– Toward the end of July, Grace loaded up as many belongings as she could into her car and headed off toward the next season of life. I marvel at how things in life can simultaneously seem heartbreaking and the most natural thing in the world, all at the same time. Having our oldest move out was one of those things.
It seems simplistic to say the last four months have been busy. Of course it has been busy, but so has your life, and most lives everywhere. I think sometimes if there’s one thing we reliably share it is our busy-ness. Partway through the summer I started trying to avoid using the word “busy” to answer the question, “how is your family?” Or “how is camp going?” Or “how are you doing?” Of course it has been busy. But it has been many other things as well, and frequently many of the things have opposites that have been equally true. It has been exciting, but sometimes mundane. It has been encouraging, but sometimes discouraging. It has been challenging, but mostly manageable. It has been fast paced, but some days slower paced. It has been people-filled, but sometimes lonely. Highs and lows. The good with the bad. The bitter with the sweet.
We thank you so much for any part you have played in keeping us here, sustaining us, supporting us, caring for us. Your care and provision has meant so much to us as we have journeyed through this summer. I hope you will enjoy our updates this week as we share about the various things that have kept us…busy?…no…how about some synonyms…engaged, occupied, knee-deep, industrious, flourishing, absorbed, immersed, bustling.
Thank you again,
Rachel, for the Bennetts