I have grown up going to Camp Bountiful; this fall will start my 25th year. Throughout the years many people have come and gone. There have also been wide arrays of experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.
This summers’ experiences stick out for a number of reasons, mostly because I got to experience a different perspective of camp.
Since I started working full-time nearly seven years ago, I have dedicated nearly every minute of allotted vacation time to attending camps. In some years I commuted an hour each way from the camp to my job, just so I could take part in the evening activities of that particular camp. When I commuted I did not mind the two hour drive because I knew I was a trip or a mile closer to going back.
Over the years I have been privileged enough to form friendships with some of the campers and staff that will last a life time. With some of my friends living four hours away and some only minutes. Some of those friendships have been with people that live close to me in southern Ohio. So I started picking up and taking them to some of the events we both intended to attend. Most of those rides included trips to Camp Bountiful.
I would take two campers from my area and we would play music and talk the entire way up and back. This year one of those campers got to be on staff at a camp I was not attending. This person does not have a driver’s license so they asked if I would take them to and from the camp.
I agreed to the trip knowing it would be difficult because I could not stay.
There have been many camps and many unique experiences that I could write volumes on. But this was a perspective I had not experienced prior to this year – dropping someone off for camp and going back home on the same day.
I got him to camp unloaded his stuff and hung around for a while greeting and hanging out with old friends. Throughout the following week I texted a few times to make sure they were having a good time at camp. All indications showed that they were.
The following Saturday came and I went to camp early so I could have time to fellowship with some friends. When I got to camp they were in the midst of breakfast and cleanup of the camp before everyone went their separate ways.
During that brief time it dawned on me, these people have spent the last week together, the last thing they wanted to see or pay attention was someone like me. I represented something none wanted to face. Their time as a community was coming to an end.
After realizing this, I went outside and sat at a table until it was time to pack up and leave. It was a different perspective because prior to that, I had not been the outsider of a camp looking in.
Earlier this month (September), I was asked to help out in the kitchen at Women’s Retreat. It’s a tradition at Bountiful that men cook during Women’s Retreat and women cook at Men’s Retreat. I agreed and was assigned dishwashing for the weekend. I had only seen this perspective of camp once or twice and failed both times. Cleaning the dishes for the cooks and participants was certainly an adventure. Every time I would finish with a meal I would go to the sleeping quarters and nap until it was time to do it again.
Although the work of the weekend was rough, it was worth it knowing I could be of service.
Though this summer was unique in its own right, I would not have traded it for the world and would do it again and again. I am looking forward to the next 25 years at Camp Bountiful.