Summer = Camp and while it may not mean a full on experience of sleep away for a week or more, camp is pretty serious business in many people's lives from June 'til August. This year, Bear joined the masses and because a Vacation Bible School camper.
See how he loved it? What 3 year old doesn't love being thrown into basically a group of strangers by his usually thoughtful and understanding Mama? I wouldn't say Bear's first camp experience was a piece of cake, but we had growth, oh we had growth.
I have fond memories of my own Vacation Bible School days. They come and go like a slide show in my mind: colorful camp tee shirts, an owl made out of a tin can, a glow in the dark necklace I was so proud to make that I still own the thing (somewhere). There was a church basement with a particular smell; not good, not bad, and a wide sprawling lawn where we sang songs I can't now remember. I wish I could say I recall talking about Jesus and His great love for me, but I don't, that came years later.
By Wednesday, I could coax a fake smile from my boy before drop-off and noticed a developing courage that saw him through his camp mornings. Or maybe it was that I allowed his beloved "bear" to attend camp on Wednesday if the plush promised to behave himself.
Bear began to round the corner and I was pleased. No, that's wrong. Supportive, proud, maybe. I hoped that he was beginning to develop his own slideshow in his mind, a spirit of optimism and tenacity in his soul.
That may be asking a bit too much of my child's first camp experience, but I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit it.
By Friday, it was clear to me he had grown. No, he wasn't front and center for the closing program and he didn't enthusiastically sing the songs with the other campers, but he was part of their whole. He was a camper.
I listened to the songs, watched the literal slideshow of their camp days and was practically moved to tears by it all. My son had just turned the big 3, I am a raging pregnant hormonal beast and the sum total of camp week amounted to more than I could have hoped for. All this, sitting on a folding chair one Friday at camp.
Now that it's over, Bear talks fondly of his camp experiences. He sings along with the CD they sent and even occasionally does hand motions to his favorite tune "Amazing Love". If I ask him about the lyrics he sings "Amazing love, it blows you away!" and that pretty much sums up MY most recent experience with Bible camp.
We came in to camp week focused on Bear learning about the great love of Jesus. Whether or not he grasped that, I most certainly got a jolting reminder- a camp gift even greater than the goldfish and juice offered.