I felt the same way coming to work at camp as I had felt going to youth group for the first time: out of place.
It had always been hard for me to jump into new things. I really wanted to work at camp because some of my youth group friends always talked about how great it is, but I had no clue what it would be like.
The first day of staff training was so incredibly awkward and uncomfortable for me.
I had showed up late because I had to write an exam, and immediately I was put into a work group to do some cleaning. As embarrassing as it is, at 16 I had no clue how to properly clean a toilet, so I had to ask someone to help me, which was not something I wanted to do.
Between sessions of staff training, we had some free time.
What does one do when they have free time but don’t have any friends or any idea where anything is?
I followed a group of people to the gazebo, and awkwardly sat there as they all talked about their past summer camp experiences. Occasionally I laughed at the jokes people were making, but I mostly stayed silent and “who even is this girl?” probably crossed their minds at some point.
A little bit later I was hanging out with a couple of girls, and quickly learned that I would not click with everybody I met, no matter how hard I tried. And I once again questioned if I would belong here.
It’s crazy how much things like this can change, and I’m really glad I didn’t give up after the first day.
Over the past 5 years, and 5 summers, I have met some of the best people I’ll meet and some of the best friends I’ll have.
People who make me feel important, and special. Of value. Deeply cared for. Someone that matters.
I used to be terrified of the majority of the people on the Leadership team I have now joined, and never would I ever imagine that they would become some of my favourite people.
It is so nice to be a part of a team that makes you feel like you have good things to offer it. A team that cares about how you’re feeling. A team that values your opinions and ideas. A team that you belong with.
Camp has become my home, and the wonderful group of people I work with and do life with have become family to me.
I have had so much support from these people in my life, and I have received so much mentorship. I’ve come to realize that this community is so special, and rare. And something that will be so special to me throughout my entire life, even if we part ways.
I have been so blessed. The week before I came to Peru was chaotic and there were a lot of things I needed to get done. And for my dear friend Felicia, that meant driving me around to many different places to tie loose ends (I cannot thank you enough.) She has shown me exponential amounts of support.
A few days before I left for Peru, I was reminded of just how loved I am. I have friends who will actually miss me while I’m gone. People who will notice my absence. And I know that sounds like something I should already know, but sometimes I don’t believe the empty “I’ll miss you”‘s.
But the people I see every day have expressed multiple times that they will miss me, and I believe it. And I’ll miss them too, because we’re family.
In fact, Felicia called me not once, but twice after I had left for the airport. Once in the car, and once when there was 1 hour until takeoff. “I miss you already” are her words just 5 minutes after I left. And while she was obviously kidding, it made me smile really big.
It is so good to have people who will miss you when you’re not around. And so good to have people to miss. People who bring you joy and affect your atmosphere by just being there.
What a blessing it is to have somewhere to belong.