Friday, July 29, 2011

Ticket has been booked!!

Newark (EWR) to London (LHR)
9:20 PM - 9:25 AM+1 day
Virgin Atlantic 2

 London (LHR) to Nairobi (Jomo Kenyatta Intl.)
9:00 PM - 7:50 AM+1 day
Virgin Atlantic 671

 Nairobi (Jomo Kenyatta Intl.) to London (LHR)
12:50 PM - 7:05 PM
Virgin Atlantic 672

 London (LHR) to Newark (EWR)
8:10 PM - 11:25 PM
Virgin Atlantic 17

It's official now.  I'm definitely going to Kenya in September.  I booked a flight last night.  I fly out of Newark, NJ on Sept. 5th, fly through London and into Nairobi on Sept. 7th.  I make the same flight back on Jan. 5th.  
Over the past couple of weeks I have been reminded a few times that I really need to get a flight soon.  Yet I was putting it off.  First my reason was that the interns were not all selected yet which meant that dates weren't set (I'm meeting the team of interns in Nairobi and traveling to Kitale with them).  So that enabled me to put off a flight.  Earlier this week a message was put up on Facebook that we will all be in Kenya in about 5 weeks.  That got me a bit!  WOW!  Saturday night my dad took me to a baseball game.  On the car ride he asked if I had a ticket yet.  He also reminded me that I need to do it soon before prices go up.  

This week I decided to get a bit more serious about it.  I needed to stop with excuses.  A big one lately has been time.  I've been busy at camp!  And I only have internet down at the office which is about a half mile from where most camp activities happen.  Still though, I have been in the office every day to do other work.  Yesterday morning I put aside my other work and looked for a flight hoping to find one I could afford.  I found one on Virgin Atlantic Airlines for $1274, including tax!  AMAZING!  That's even cheaper than my last flight in October.  I didn't book it.  My wallet was up at the other end of camp.  Everyone in the office told me to go get my wallet and book it before it's gone.  I didn't.  I saved the trip itinerary and went back to work.  It was on my mind most of the day.  

I started asking why I was so afraid to book the flight.  One reason took the top reason:  Things would be real when I book the flight.  There is no turning back anymore.  I'm not having second thoughts at all.  But still I was held captive by this fear.  This summer I have fallen back in love with camp.  I love being here and have been pouring myself out into this ministry.  I thought I could come into it with an attitude that this is a summer thing and I'm out.  I feel differently though.  I've treated this summer as so much more.  I've grown more passionate about this place.  Booking a flight means that this summer is going to end.  And I don't know when I will be back here again.  

Another reason for fear was finances.  I'm still about $1300 shy of what I need to raise.  Booking a flight means trusting that those funds will come in.  That's a hard area to trust in sometimes.  

As I thought about these fears last night and prayed over the situation it became clear what to do.  I needed to declare a victory over my fear and book the flight.  We had two campfires last night with staff speaking.  Once they finished I snuck away, took a shower and decided not to wait any more.  I got my laptop and walked the half mile to the office in the dark.  My thought was that if the flight was still open I'd book it.  It took me about three tries to confirm the flight because I kept forgetting to fill in some of the boxes.  But I finally did it.  A few moments later the e-ticket confirmation was sitting in my email box.  

So there it is.  This trip is real now.  I'm going to Kenya for 4 months.  What happens after January is still a mystery.  I don't know.  I may not know until January.  But I'm letting go of the fear.  I'm trusting that funds will be there when they need to be.  I'm trusting that things will work out.  I'm trusting.  I'm not trusting in myself either.  I'm trusting in God the Father.  The One who has my best interest in mind.  The One who will take care of me.  The One who always has.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A week of lessons

It has been an interesting week to say the least.  I'm still at camp.  This week was our girls week program.  I've never been around during this week before.  In fact, when I worked here full time I switched it from a half week, end of summer program to a full week.  I then left camp before that summer.  This week (4th of July week) was becoming difficult to fill with boys camp so it became girls week.  It's our 2nd largest week of the summer right now with about 50 girls signed up.  We have a female program director for the week who did an amazing job putting together a new spiritual theme and program.  There is a really good group of female counselors for the girls.  We sent our junior staff home for the week and just kept the senior staff.  They are older and there are fewer issues with male staff mixed with female campers and counselors of about the same age.  I love that someone made that decision; I've heard some of the stories over the last few years.  Overall, this week has been running very well, I think.  There are even a few new ideas that I might carry over to boys camp next week.  To be honest though, as well as this week has been running, it's been a difficult one for me.  I really began asking myself why I came back.  Wondering why I thought that after being away for 5 years I could come back and run a program.  I talked to my friend Liz on Tuesday night and told her how it was a really long week.  Her response was that it's only Tuesday.  Yeah, one of those kinds of weeks.  But through this week, I've learned a few lessons:

1.  Conflict. While talking to Liz I was really avoiding the rest of camp.  I had no desire to be where the rest of the campers or staff were.  Monday and Tuesday really got to me.  I had some issues with a staff person.  I wont go into details because it isn't important.  But know that I was pretty discouraged about some things.  That's when I was questioning whether or not I would last the summer.  Liz mentioned that I really must not like conflict.  I've realized she was partially correct.  I don't really go looking for it.  But I can deal with it if it comes up.  What I don't like, though, is petty conflict over nothing.  And that's what it was.  And after a day or two, it went away like nothing happened.  You may be thinking I should still talk things over and normally I would agree.  But I know well enough to leave this one go.  Things actually are okay on this one.

2.  Patience.  I don't know that this one needs more explaining right now.  There were a few other little mishaps that came up that taught me more patience too.

3.  Serving.  I really planned to be in the office most of this week working on boys camp.  Instead, I've been in the kitchen helping prepare food and cleaning up.  I'v been helping run activities and running ranges.  I've even worked the camp store.  And it's all okay.  I feel a little behind on a few things, but I'm getting it all done.  And I think that it's only fair that if I am asking my staff to serve, than I need to lead by example.  I am much happier filling in these little gaps than I would be in the office.

4.  Chivalry.  Let me explain before you judge this one.  I think that chivalry is all but dead in America.  Far too often we view chivalry as just what we do when we want to date someone.  But I think that it's more.  This week we have about 6 or 7 male staff here.  And we have 50 girls plus about 20 or so female staff.  As a man, I think that it's important to treat women with a level of respect for more than just the purpose of trying to date them.  That means helping female counselors build fires if they've never done it before.  That may mean taking some extra time to explain how to shoot the gun, or the bow and arrow.  It may mean sending an extra guy to help load and unload canoes at the lake.  I think that this week is a great opportunity to show the girls, campers and staff, what a true man is supposed to be.  One who acts in such a way and expects nothing in return.  I hope I did a good job of explaining this.  I'm exhausted right now.

5.  I can!  Through everything, I've learned that yes, I can make it through this summer.  I may have been away for a while, but things are working out.  I'm getting reacquainted to how things work.  It's going to be a great summer!

6.  Camp is a LOT different when there is a group of girls instead of a group of guys!  We hear a lot more pleases and thank yous.  And less belching and other random noises.  We hear hair dryers in the morning and more people come to breakfast with clean clothing faces.  We smell more fruity body spray and less nasty BO.  The pool has fewer campers trying to dunk the counselors or playing water polo and more people lounging at the side of the pool with their feet in the water.  Camp is very different.

Those are just a few lessons.  The bottom line is that this week is running successfully.  As much as it's been a difficult week personally, I'm thankful for what I've learned.  I look forward to many more lessons.


Friday, July 1, 2011

2 more chances to get this right...

Yesterday I blogged about what the past few weeks of camp have been like.  I left one thing out though.  Partially because of shame.  Partially because I was still processing it.  Partially because I was low on time as I wrote it.  But I think that it's important and I want to share it.  

This week we are hosting a family camp.  We have three families that are here.  One of them is our weeks nurse's family.  We have another family of 4 from a local church.  Then we have an aunt and her niece and nephew.  Here's where it gets interesting.  I knew about this family for a while.  The niece and nephew are both coming back for a full week over the summer.  The girl is here next week for our girl's week program.  The boy is back in a few weeks for boys camp.  Sounds normal so far.  Here's the thing.  The boy is from Spain.  The girl is from Columbia.  The aunt lives in the States.  The Aunt is the only one to speak English.  

As the guy running the summer program, I have some reservations on this.  There is a huge language barrier.  We have one guy on staff this summer that is also from Spain so he can interpret.  And we have a female counselor for girl's week to interpret for the girl.  But I look at a safety issue.  We have some big ranges here.  Large pool, rifles, shotguns, trips to the lake and down the Delaware River.  Archery, horses, and 200 acres to get lost on.  Okay, that aside.  The mission of the camp is to "grow boys into Godly men" (adapted to growing girls into Godly women for girl's week).  We put together a full spiritual theme with dramas and songs for the summer.  Our staff lead discussions and devotions at night.  We have a guest speaker at a campfire one night and a staff member sharing their story at another campfire later in the week.  And these two kids can't understand it.  So are we really meeting our mission?  Okay, that aside.  These two kids are isolated.  They will continue to be isolated as they cannot communicate with anyone other than one the interpreter.  We don't mix the girl's week with boys camp so they won't even have each other.  Every part of me says this is bad for the child.  You never want to isolate them.  Yet, here we are without much choice.  

All of these may seem like pretty legitimate concerns.  In fact, they probably are.  No, they definitely are.  But I missed something.  I wrote a blog a few months ago that I called a language louder than words (click this link to read it:    Click here! :)  ).  

How quickly I forget.  I wrote yesterday a bit about Peter and how he really messed up a bit.  I feel a bit more like that as I write this.  I focused so much on the language barrier.  The other night I remembered writing this blog on how much louder actions can speak.  It started to hit me as we were swimming the other night.  The girl and her aunt joined us in a 3 on 3 game of water basketball.  This girl had a great time.  She was laughing and high-fiving.  And she was better than most of us too.  Apparently back in Spain basketball is her sport.  Before that there was a staff vs LGP game of soccer.  The boy went down and played that with our staff.  Soccer is his sport.  I wasn't there but I'm told that he was the star player!  Then I started to watch them at meal time and during our dramas.  They were both laughing and enjoying it.  I'm not sure how much of the message was translated accurately, but they were having fun.  It hit me again that we don't need to speak the same language to show compassion.  These two kids seem to be having a great time.  I watched as the girl interacted with another daughter here last night as we played a game called counselor hunt.  It's basically where the staff (and parents this time) hid in the woods with candy and the kids had to tag them to get candy.  This other daughter hung around with the girl from Spain as they looked for staff and parents together.  It was awesome to see.  They found their own way to communicate.  

What gets me the most is that I could make it this long with this low of an attitude about the situation.  It's not ideal, but it's happening.  I've been striving in other areas to keep a positive outlook on other policies that I may not agree with.  But somehow this one slipped through.  The good news is that both these kids are coming back again.  For me, that means a do over.  I get two more chances to get it right.  Yes, there are still some concerns that I have with safety and such.  But my job is not to make others worry about those things.  I trust the guys that I have running ranges here.  I trust the counselors with the groups.  It will work out.  Two more tries to get it right...