Camper Story: Emma

Monday mornings can be difficult, and not just because they are the first day of the week and you don’t get to sleep in. No, Monday mornings can be difficult because you have little to no clue what to expect.

As a counselor, on Sunday evenings we would get a list of the campers on our team for the week. It was a cool opportunity to be able to pray over the campers by name before we even met them. For me, it also was an opportunity to start learning their names, so come Monday morning all I would have to do is match the pre-memorized names with their faces.

Monday morning can be difficult because you do not know what to expect from your campers. It is very telling how the camper enters the room. Some come running in, eager to start their week at camp. Some tentatively walk in the door, unsure of what to expect but excited to be there. Others (especially the youngest group) don’t want to leave their parents and/or siblings.

It was summer of 2013 and we were at HCS, my home turf. I had one of the youngest teams and was excited to start the week. Monday morning, the campers came in one by one, each with unique expressions and levels of excitement.

When one specific camper came with her mom dropping her off, she was very nervous. Emma clung to her mom tightly and didn’t want to come in the door. She was afraid that she wouldn’t make friends. After talking to her for several minutes, her fear was no longer effective as I explained to her that she already had a friend in the group – me.

I knew she needed an extra dose of love and was excited to give it to her throughout the coming week. I was eager to keep an eye on Emma and make sure that she was having an enjoyable SpringHill experience.

After several tentative mornings of being dropped off, Emma warmed up to camp. Throughout each day she had more and more fun with the activities and with the other campers.

Before long, Friday afternoon came and, after the closing ceremony took place, it was time for mini-rallies. Emma had a large crowd representing her during the mini-rally, including her mom and several other adult family members. The camper awards were given and soon the day was wrapping up. As the campers and their families were filing out of the room, Emma did not want to leave. She was in the back of the room teaching her family members a camp game, and wanted me to join them. After a little while, it was time for Emma to leave as well, and she still didn’t want to. After hugs had been given, Emma happily walked through the door that had given her so much trouble just five short days before.

It was encouraging to see how Emma’s confidence had been boosted throughout the week. At the beginning of the week, she didn’t even want to step foot in the classroom without her mom, and by the end of the week she didn’t want to leave and was teaching a camp game to the rest of her family.

Emma may have been a camper needing extra love at the beginning of the week, but by the end of the week, she was giving that love to those in her family.

Camp can transform anyone and everyone. Camp holds power, the power to both receive and then turn around and give love. Camp creates change in the lives of campers, and I am so blessed to be a part of it.


For privacy reasons, the names of the campers have been changed.

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