Camp Allen summer camp is a team effort. People from all over the Diocese, the state, and beyond contribute to make it an incredible experience for each and every camper. Directors are a huge part of this team. These directors consist of men and women within the Diocese who are priests, youth ministers, or former staffers who come to camp and stay in each campsite to do spiritual programming for campers and counselors. Bible studies, curriculums, group times of prayer and nightly church services are all made possible by these directors who lead with the desire to inspire all in their journey of faith. Here are the thoughts of one director, KariAnn Lessner of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, as she reflects upon her time as a director earlier this summer.
In her book, Cold Tangerines, Shauna Niequist, tells a story of being a camp counselor. She shares about one of her campers struggling in a swim race and how she, as a young adult, jumped into the water fully clothed and came alongside that camper to encourage and cheer the young swimmer toward the finish line. At the end of the race, the camper’s mom found young Shauna and said, “Until you have kids of your own, you will never know what this is like. As a mom, all I wanted to do was to run down the bleachers and jump in with my clothes on to finish that race with my daughter, and I’m so glad you did. Thank you for caring about my child the way I would have if I was right there.”
As a session director, I cannot tell you the number of times I witness stories, just like Shauna’s. Counselors who braid ten little heads of hair each morning, so that every little girl in their cabin feels special and beautiful (say nothing of the fact that one head of hair is super short and others are long or curly!). Or guy counselors who create secret handshakes, play endless games of Gagaball and do super awesome boy stuff; all in an effort to include every camper from their cabin. And then there are those who sit on the side of the pool, the edge of the blob or the sidelines of the dance, praying, waiting and listening.
This was my first year to be both mom AND director. As I sent my youngest off for her first week without me, I filled in every blank for the online form. I told them that she needs help keeping track of her glasses, that her dad has a food truck and that she LOVES tigers. I wanted the counselors for her session to KNOW her. To have things to talk with her about in the event that she got homesick. For the first time I was the one asking them to take care of my heart as it walked around outside my body and did all sorts of “campy” things. I wanted them to have everything they needed to care for her the way I would have if I had been right there.
My planning and praying for NEXT year’s session begins the week after I finish THIS year’s camp. I can’t wait to see what God will grow in the staff, campers and in me over this next year. And as I trust Him more and more with the things that are just out of my reach, I pray that you know we place this job, the care and keeping of your campers, in the best hands possible; God’s hands. God knows the exact counselor, director, senior staff and session that your camper needs. And we are honored to be there to bear witness to your amazing camper’s story!