Thursday, July 5, 2012
First day at camp got off to a pretty rough start. My stomach was a ball of nerves and my lungs were not seeming to cooperate with the whole breathing thing. And this was before we even left the house. Having packed our bags the night before, I was busy getting the kids dressed and fed, setting up some ground rules and expectations before we headed out as well as double and triple checking the packing list to make sure we didn't forget anything. We got everyone loaded up in the car and had a relatively uneventful drive in. The area is beautiful, but as we got deeper and deeper into the woods and the road kept narrowing, I started worrying that we were somewhere way off course. Then, the Camp Hamilton sign appeared and instantaneously I wanted to upchuck. I put on a brave face (or at least what I thought was a brave face, but probably had more panic than bravado), we unloaded and headed in to begin the day. This being the first year that there will be families at camp for the entirety of the summer (ours and the always amazing Ross family), I don't know that anyone had really figured out the logistics of what to do with the littles yet. So, I spent the morning feeling like a distraction and a bad mother with out of control kids. While we probably were a distraction, the kids were in actuality very well behaved. After the initial gathering session, my kids were taken on a walk by one of the staff leaders so I could join in some icebreakers and a camp tour. I was already feeling overwhelmed and on the brink of tears, so I was very happy to be outside in the sun where my sunglasses could hide the tears threatening to overflow onto my cheeks. While we were hiking around the camp, it became clear to me that I am about 10 years older than nearly everyone here. And that while I had been busily trying to occupy my kids earlier, everyone else had already found friends. So, I was walking by myself, trying to will myself to talk to someone while simultaneous wondering if they would notice if I slipped away. I came precariously close to losing my grip on myself at least 3 times in the hour we were gone. I also realized that I had forgot my running shoes, which is inevitable when you are trying to herd 4 kids out the door, but really stinks when all you have are some flip flops to wear while hiking. That was pretty much the last time I was able to participate in the training sessions all day, too. I spent the rest of the day trying to wrangle the kids and get as much integration with other staffers as possible. read:none. At one point, I took the kids down to the beach to play and run around until mass, only no one let us know when they headed up to the chapel. Again, I felt the all too familiar burn in my chest and eyes as I wondered why I had ever thought that this would be a good way to spend our summer. I tried to hurry everyone along, since I didn't know how long ago they had left and If we would make it to mass at all. It is about 1/2 mile from the lodge to the chapel, but it seemed much, much further. We passed our cabin on the way and I thought about just getting everyone in their pjs and tucked in. But we continued on. As we worked our way up the slightly overgrown trail to the chapel, you could see the light of the evening sun radiating up ahead and then the trees opened up and we were there. We made it just as the first reading was starting. I tried keeping the kids quiet as we found a place to sit along the walls, but the boys ran to the front to sit as close as possible. And then an amazing thing happened. The kids were engrossed in what was happening. They were watching the priest and the lectors, taking in everything around them. As I watched them from my position further down the wall, my eyes filled again, but this time from a place of peace, not turmoil. I was so overwhelmed by the love and reverence my children were showing for our Savior. They sang and prayed along with the rest of us with no prompting to participate from me. Their eyes filled with wonder during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. As I watched my children, I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to spend this summer with my family growing closer to Him. I asked forgiveness for doubting myself and Him. I felt at peace there in that chapel in the woods. And as I walked down the aisle to receive my Jesus in the Eucharist, tears streaming down my cheeks, my soul was renewed.