Crises at Kidz Kamp

I immediately feel like a pretentious smarty-pants for using the plural form of “crisis” in the title of this blog post.  What if we pretend the plurals of words ending in “-is” are actually the same as the plurals of the words ending in “-us?” Such as octopus. Let’s try again, shall we?

Crisii at Kidz Kamp.

Yeahhh. I like that much better.

Earlier this week I got to go with my church to kids camp. I was going as a newbie—not as a newbie to camps in general, but it was my first time at this particular camp and, crucially, my first time going as an adult sponsor. It sounded so fancy—adult sponsor. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I thought, “heck yeah, why not?” So I went.

It was a good half-week, and I enjoyed spending time with the kids and the other adults who went along. The biggest thing I had to deal with had nothing to do with the kids—it was all these existential “crisii” I kept inventing for myself, mostly having to do with figuring out what the heck I was supposed to be doing there. There was this great about-to-be-a-high-school-senior staffer, see, whose job was to go around with the kids to their activities and play with them. Last summer at Sky Ranch that was my job as a counselor, so I understood that job. But that wasn’t my job this time; it was hers.

So what was my job this time? Most of Monday morning I spent walking back and forth in a crisis of indecision, trying to decide whether to show up to the game I’d volunteered to help with or whether, instead, to hang around with the two girls from my church. I ended up reneging on the volunteer thing I said I’d do, and did this weird lurking in the background thing, watching my girls play and wishing I knew how to be a normal grown up/adult/person. This one little girls asked me to go down the water slide with her. Bless that child.

The girl staffer, an awesome gal named Morgan, graciously included me in her time with the girls, and eventually, I settled into a role as personal paparazzi to the Gurdon kids. As the week wore on I became more and more appreciative of the fact that I did not have to force myself to be enthusiastic about camp itself. I like camp just fine, but pretending to be SUPER EXCITED about something which just doesn’t excite you all the time is exhausting.

Enjoy, if you want to, an excerpt I wrote Tuesday morning, when I’d finally figured out, more or less, what being an adult sponsor entailed for me.

 

                        My phone battery is slowly but very surely dying, so I don’t know how far I’ll get on this, but nonetheless I’ll try. I’m holed up next to the swings, where all the other delinquent adults are using the technology that the camp is supposed to help us escape. I’ve chosen the shade over the blazing sun where the kids are listening to the game devo. That brings me to crisis number one: To skip or not to skip devotionals. I don’t think they care what I do since I’m technically here as a sponsor which means my counterparts are mostly in their thirties and forties.

Or maybe they do care. Last night there was a cabin devo and I took advantage of the fact to take my shower during it. I had the entire bathroom to myself, which should have been a clue. Finally someone came in and asked if someone was in the shower and I said “yes, ma’am.” It took her a minute to notice my obviously adult clothes hanging on the door. She chuckled and left. Apparently one does not skip cabin devos. One of my girls said they only talked about me a little. I guess that’s reassuring.

Mainly I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m too young for one job and too old for the other. I started joking around with one girl and then remembered I probably should be firm. Or something.

Just now I rescued two tadpoles and a crawdad from some cruel kid who’d put them in a water bottle in the sun. No doubt the kid had hopes of taking home a pet. I wasn’t going to bother about it until another kid knocked the bottle over and spilled the critters out. Owing to my own glorious childhood, I knew the crawdads would be fine so long as nobody stepped on them, but those tadpoles were doomed. So here was the crisis: Do I, acting in an adult capacity, renounce my sympathy for small things in favor of retaining what little dignity I may have? Do I walk away from this helpless, slimy creature slowly baking in the grass?

For two minutes I was an adult and I walked away toward the devotional, rationalizing my decision the whole way. They’re just tadpoles, Jo. You will look like a child if you pick those things up.

Friends, I couldn’t do it. I turned right back around and found the tadpole in the grass (it wasn’t even struggling anymore) and plopped it back into the bottle. Then I took the bottle to the bridge and returned them to creek, thinking all the while of the mantra of my childhood heroes, the Kratt brothers: “Living free and in the wild!”

Doubtless some kid is gonna look frantically for the tadpoles he spent hours catching. What can I say? I’m just a heartless, calloused adult.

I can’t get used to just watching kids play. What I do is I play with them. And I don’t really want to stop being that sort of person. However, I also know what a helicopter aunt I can be to my niece and especially to my nephew. Maybe it reflects some lack of trust in others, that I can’t think they’re fine without me.

Or maybe I keep making all these things into crises that really don’t have to be crises. Maybe I need to stop worrying about what my role is and just do what I can to serve God, whether that is by playing with kids or watching them play.

Thanks for reading:)

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