So my friend Christina, who is a camp director down in Texas, asked me for words of inspiration for her summer staff as they enter the last week of the summer.
I think first and foremost I'd say: Finish strong!! My old camp director always used to say, "This might be the eighth (or ninth or tenth or eleventh or whatever) week for you, but it is the first week for these campers." Put as much energy and enthusiasm into this week as you did for all of the previous weeks, the kids who come at the end of the summer deserve it just as much as the kids at the beginning of the summer did.
Remember to see each camper as a child of God. Whether they're your favorite or not (and don't lie... we shouldn't have favorites, but EVERYONE does), whether they're cute or not, whether they annoy you or not, whether they poop their pants or not, whether they call you horrible names or not, whether they require more of your attention and supervision or not... Each one of them was wonderfully made by God, and is loved by God just as much as anyone else. Looking back at my experience as a counselor, there are several situations in which it would have been good for me to remind myself of this. Perhaps I would have handled things better, been a bit more patient, not raised my voice. Maybe I would have given more attention to a camper who needed it and a little less to a camper who was easy to love. Maybe I wouldn't have been AS glad when they're parents came to pick them up on that Friday. Or, who knows, maybe I would have been just as impatient or raised my voice just as much or given just as much attention to the cute, loveable one or did an extra happy dance of joy when they left. But I would have reminded myself that even though I might not like them, that doesn't mean that God doesn't absolutely and completely and wonderfully love them just as they are.
Be proud of the work you've done and are doing. Camp is tough, hard work. It takes a special person to be able to spend week after week after week after week outside in the hot summer, spending time with large groups of kids, playing silly games and singing sillier songs, sleeping on uncomfortable beds, all for very little money. Not everyone can do that kind of work!! God sees the good work that you are doing. Your reward will be great in Heaven!
And, because the Admissions office at seminary would expect nothing less of me... Have you considered a vocation in full time ministry? Maybe a youth director or a camp director or maybe, possibly, potentially ordained ministry? Prayerfully consider using the gifts that God has given you in this way. I mean, you've already survived a summer at church camp. If you can handle homesick campers and hormonal teenagers and being stuck working with that staff member that you absolutely didn't want to work with, then I think you're more ready for the realistic demands of full time ministry than you think you are. So think about it. Talk to someone who is already doing it. Contact a seminary. Ask for more information. The church needs more leaders like you!
I'm sure that I could think of more, but it is late. If I do happen to come up with any more bits of wisdom, I will be sure to post them. And if there are any readers who have camp experience (as I know there are) feel free to add any words of inspiration and insight that you might have for their last week of the summer!!