Monday, August 1, 2011

A scary adventure

I wrote this last night but couldn't post it until this morning...


Have you ever had that feeling deep down?  You know the one.  The one where you realize suddenly that something bad happened?  Someone could be hurt?  Or worse?  That was tonight for me.  

Today began the last week of our core program at camp.  Things were going great.  We had the kids playing some sports outside after dinner.  We lined everyone up to do a head count as we usually do.  We had everyone and then moved the 61 kids to an outdoor pavilion for a quick puppet show to kick off the spiritual theme for the week.  I took a moment to grab a drink and sit down outside of the dining hall to take a quick break.  Also, I've seen the puppet show a few times already.  Then I saw a couple of counselors come back as they were looking for a camper.  They said that one from a group was missing.  This actually happens often as campers stop to use the bathroom or get something to drink.  Sometimes they go back to their cabin to grab a flashlight.  It's usually not a big deal.  So I told them to check the cabins and bathrooms and get back to me.  

Then it happened.  The words that I was hoping not to hear: "he's not here".  I had the kids' counselor check the pavilion a few more times.  I watched as he looked every single kid in the face and reported back that he wasn't there.  Then the search began.  We rechecked the cabins, the bathrooms, the nurse's station, everywhere at upper camp.  No sign from him as we looked and called his name.  We started checking under buildings and inside of staff buildings.  I checked the pool about 3 times to make sure he didn't sneak there and climb the fence.  Nothing.  No sign of him and it was getting dark.  Our search party slowly grew as a few others who didn't have campers started to help.  We spent about an hour and a half running all over camp looking for this camper.  We searched the ranges, the staff houses and office on the lower camp, the woods around our lean-to sites.  We even had someone out on the roads driving around looking for him.  The puppet show ended and was being stalled to keep everyone else in one area.  The sinking feeling in my gut grew more intense the more we searched and came up empty handed.  Finally, the kid was found.  As it turns out, he was in the pavilion the entire time.  In the front row, actually.  

After an hour and a half of searching for a kid that isn't really missing, I was pretty ticked off that the kid's counselor didn't see him sitting in the front row.  But at the same time I was also very relieved.  Relieved that the kid wasn't missing and wasn't ever missing.  I was also proud.  I was, and still am, very proud of the way that the staff responded.  Our cook asked me what the plan is for something like this.  I was able to answer that our plan was exactly what we just did.  Our next step was to call the parents and police.  Luckily we found him before this.  The staff here responded the exact way that they should have.  The counselors with groups stayed with their groups and carried on.  Chris, the director of camp, was performing the puppet show and he carried on and allowed the rest of us to search as he kept the rest of the kids occupied and in one area.  We split into teams and searched everywhere we needed to.  It was a job very well done by the staff here and I am so proud of them!  

Something else hit me too.  After an hour and a half of running there was a bit of sweat on my shirt (it's pretty hot here!).  Someone pointed out to me that the front of my shirt had a heart shaped sweat stain.  I found that interesting as I joked that I sweat pure love.  It reminds me of how God the Father dropped everything to find us when we were lost.  He is all over searching for us and calling out to us.  Desiring to find us.  In that hour and a half my sole desire was to find this kid.  Not to yell at him, but to find him and make sure he was safe.  That's God right there!  His sole desire is to rescue us.  He's not looking to yell and punish us.  His heart shaped sweat stain looked more like a bloody Roman cross.  That's how passionate He is for us!  

This was a scary experience.  But how awesome it is to look back now and see God's grace on the situation.  This could have been so much worse.  This kid could have been really missing or even worse.  But he wasn't.  He was still safely where he was supposed to be.  And our staff got to practice our emergency action plan.  It's good to know that if this had been real we did the right thing.

"Be still and know that I am God".  Psalm 46:10  

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