It's the first day of camp.
Energy and nerves are high.
Reunions are sweet and newcomers to camp are slowly warming up to those that will become their new best friends.
We've spent the last 10 months planning, training, preparing, shopping, and praying for this day the 34 days of camp that will follow. It's a brief season of time, but it's sweet. We build relationships that will last beyond the summer. We will celebrate together, play together, learn together, and grow together as we bear the heat.
The first day of camp is surreal. You sit on the edge of your seat waiting to see if it all works. Is the food plan good enough? Do staff understand their roles? Will the shade tents hold up? Will the kids follow the rules? Will everyone get picked up by the van? Did we think of everything?
While I stood there taking it all in, evaluating how we are doing and trying to anticipate any curve balls, up comes a third-grade camper. It's her third year and she's excited to be back.
"Ms. Emily! Come do chalk with us like you always do!"
Then everything else fades away and I'm reminded that camp is for the campers. We can program and schedule and plan all we want, but none of it matters if the campers don't feel loved, heard, cared for, and safe.
As the two of us start a design, more and more come to join us. Artwork starts to run together as space fills with hearts, flowers, names, and other designs. One complains that someone has messed up her piece.
"'There are no mistakes in art.' That's a quote from a famous artist."
And with that, the little girl goes back to work and I am amazed at the wisdom of our young campers.
Camp is an art. Nothing will ever go as perfectly as we plan. The weather will not always cooperate. We will not always be able to anticipate the curve balls. Bee stings and scraped knees will occasionally happen. This doesn't mean we have failed. In a lot of ways, the unpredictable is what makes camp beautiful and fun.
I'm so thankful to work with people who, however young, constantly teach me and challenge me to grow.
It's going to be a spectacular summer at Summer Spectacular.