This morning, the gates of Camp DeSoto opened and welcomed 240 girls and their families to the summer of 2012. The squealing and hugs that continued all throughout the morning are one of my favorite things to watch. Counselors were waiting patiently for their girls to find out which cabin they're in, and they no doubt laid awake most of the night praying for these girls and their summers. Moms were making beds and unpacking their daughters things, while keeping a watchful eye on their daughter's counselor and trying to learn as much about her as possible. Dads were standing outside, not wanting to get teary-eyed about dropping their daughter off for a month... and some of them just weren't strong enough to stop those tears.
This simple place in the mountains of Alabama is what keeps some of these girls going during the year. They live for opening day when they get to return to their sanctuary and be with friends that truly love them and love Jesus. Waking up to the ringing of a bell tomorrow and heading to the dining hall for a Sunday morning breakfast is what they've been waiting on since they left the gates last July.
Being able to pack their trunks and leave the pressures of junior high and high school at home is a gift that I couldn't be more grateful to have helped to give these girls. They get to play, be children, learn and laugh for a month.
There is no air conditioners or cell phones or Facebook or boyfriends or candy or television. But it just doesn't matter.
And then there is staff.
You've never met a more incredible group of women gathered in one place serving Jesus. I am still amazed by the amount of love that I've been shown by the girls that I've laughed and cried with for just a few short months of my life. They've seen me at my best and at my worst, and they're still always there. About 75% of the things these women are asked to do during in the summer are things that they aren't comfortable or confident in doing, but they're willing to step outside their comfort zone to show these girls the love of Jesus. I thank God every day that they hired me to be a part of something so incredible.
If you're the praying type, keep this little slice of Heaven in your prayers this summer. Counselors will be asked tough questions and have to deal with tough situations. Girls will be homesick and tired. There will be illness and there will be disagreements. But God has brought this community together for the summer for a reason, and I pray that each and every girl hears what they need to hear in their month on the mountain.
Ladies, I love you all and I would do anything in the world to be there. Be expecting letters and goodies.