Blogger gets personal about summer camps
Growing up, I went from basketball camp to soccer camp to "High School Musical" camp to church camp. Almost every week of the summer, I lived out of my suitcase, was constantly sleep-deprived and hyped up on sugar, and loved every second of it.
My mother always asked when it came time for school again, "What was your favorite one this year?"
And my answer was always the same: Church camp at Egan.
My mom likes to tell the story of how nervous I was while sitting on the bus for Egan that first summer. A third-grader, I was next to our pastor’s granddaughter, and we were both very anxious about this whole sleep-away camp concept. I was just about to bolt when out came our minister to say goodbye to his granddaughter, thereby blocking the door.
Little did I know that I was off to start one of the greatest adventures I have had.
It sounds corny and stereotypical, I know. But for one week every summer, filled with silly songs, games, creek hikes, bug bites, crafts, farmer tans, friends, and Jesus, my spirit was rebooted.
There was never a summer when I left Egan not feeling rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world — even at age 8.
Camp Egan was my safe haven, my happy place. No matter what was going on in my life, I was able to put it all aside as soon as I set foot at camp. It gave me some of my favorite memories, greatest friends, and the strongest connection to my faith.
There was something about being surrounded by a bunch of sweaty, sticky kids and leaders that made my heart feel so full and alive.
This summer, after finishing Tulsa District Camp as my first time on the leader side, I find myself reflecting. I was so excited to finally get to be at Egan on the flip side.
(Although) having no running water was not exactly ideal.
When I first heard that news and thought we would all be headed home, I was crushed.
(A rural water district had supply problems, affecting Egan for several days, reported camp manager Josh Pulver.)
I was blown away by Egan’s response to the problem. Immediate plans were put in place to bring in port-a-potties, jugs of water for brushing teeth, and even a firetruck for our "shower."
As 100 kids in bathing suits were getting hosed down by firetruck and dancing to music at 10 p.m., I found my happy place in a completely new light. I realized it wasn’t just the beauty of Egan that made it so special to me.
It was the people.
On the first night of camp, at worship, we were told to take a sticky note, write on it our "Why?" question to God, then pin it to the cross. I thought about it for a while, then ended up writing, "Why did you choose for me to serve this summer?"
Just a few days later, I had my answer: I needed those kids and those experiences. I had been somewhat reluctant to even go home this summer, let alone work for the church. But through those kids I was able to, once again, find myself with an uplifted heart and spirit.
The high spirit these kids kept through the entire experience made me realize that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I found myself focusing on one of my favorite Bible verses. Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."
This year summer camp was not easy, and it was certainly not simple. But it was worth it.
I hope that I touched at least one camper’s soul half as much as they all touched mine.
After 11 summers straight, I don’t know when I will next experience Camp Egan. However, I know all the fond memories and life-changing moments that place has given me will keep me going for a long time to come.
Egan was one of the biggest shapers of my faith and my person all through my childhood.
They talk every summer about their goal to change people’s lives, and I can say confidently that they have changed mine. The spirit is certainly alive there. I am forever indebted for the opportunity to have it as a huge step in my faith journey.
(McCann, a member of Tulsa-Boston Avenue UMC, worked with children and youths this summer as one of that church’s college interns. She has begun her sophomore year at the University of Southern California.)
Being surrounded by a bunch of sweaty kids and leaders made my heart feel so full’ — M. McCann