Point Of View

Camp offers the time and space to stop and change your point of view. Your perspective. Removing yourself from everyday life and taking a break lets you stop and evaluate. We all get so caught up in the crazy schedules we create that we often forget to just stop and shift our point of view on a regular basis outside of this kind of setting.

My great-grandmother passed away this past spring. She would be 99 years old soon. I often wonder what it would be like to have her perspective. Being retired and just enjoying family, it probably allows for a lot of retrospective learning. My grandma lived such a long and joyful life, I imagine she looked back and had few regrets. She was surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who loved her dearly. Her big Irish family took care of her and always checked in. Unfortunately, my grandma’s mind was not what it used to be when she was near the end of her life, so I could never ask her about this. But wow, would 99 years of life┬ábe something great to look back on.

The thing is, we can’t all wait until the end of our lives to look back and learn. We have to remember that life isn’t about the craziness. Life is about people and moments. It’s about taking time to appreciate those things. Too often we forget this. Our society is one of busy bodies that need to constantly be doing something. We stuff our time outside of school/work with sports, clubs, concerts, gatherings and so much more. This past week I barely had time to breathe between all the appointments and study hours I had to fit in. That’s not okay.

I like to make it a goal of mine to take some time to stop and reflect. To stop and learn. And sometimes that is so very hard. We often don’t give ourselves enough time to sit in our own thoughts, uninterrupted. This is the space in which we learn the most about ourselves and life. This is where we grow.

We are all so focused on the next step, high school to college to a career to a family to retirement that I don’t think we know what to do when we make it through them all. We need to stop hurrying through life and enjoy the small time we have. God gave us people here to love and experiences to shape us, so we need to allow the love and growth.

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I am an introspective person. It’s part of being an introvert. I need that time for myself, but I am often so consumed by my busy schedule that it becomes what I think about in my quiet moments.

Here is my challenge (to myself and others): Take 10 minutes each day. Sit alone and in the silence. Think about the happy memories of the day. Think about the hard moments and what you can learn from them. Think about the people you are grateful for and what they’re doing in your life.

I think if more people took time to do this we would have a less stressed and more joyful world. We are often told to get our priorities straight, usually insinuating work or school. I think personal reflection and the people in our lives should be our priorities. So, get your priorities straight. Love yourself and others the way we were intended to do.

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Firm Foundations

They don’t tell you this when you’re little, but a lot of the purpose of camp is to help you build firm foundations for your life. The goal is to give you the tools to grow into a stellar person, and to have some people who will help you get there.

You can’t build any structure without a foundation. That’s common sense. The same goes for building yourself as a person. There must be solid ground that will last a long time in order for you to grow. This usually means good morals, goals for life, strong character, and many other tools.

Most of what adults do while you’re growing up is secretly shaping you into a better person, secretly preparing you to be an adult. It’s a hidden instinct humans have. We want to make each other better humans without even realizing it sometimes.

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Camps, retreats, clubs, and so many other activities are just more obvious ways to try to make other people into better humans. To give them firm foundations.

Something people don’t teach you is that along the way, you build other people into that foundation. It’s not always purposeful, but sometimes it is. Your family is usually purposefully in that foundation. Often a best friend or a few make the foundation as well. The question is, can you really allow yourself to build people into your foundation?

During my time at camp this summer, I had a friend talk to me about building people into foundations. She made me think about relationships in a way I never have, and probably should have before. She told me you can’t build people into your foundation. People aren’t as dependable.

Now in the context of Christianity, Christ should be the firm foundation. This is what she was reminding me of. Was Christ really my foundation? A tough question for anyone to answer.

But, I don’t think it’s totally true that people shouldn’t be built in our foundations. I have been reflecting on this for several months now. We have been given other people to do life with, so why shouldn’t we depend on them every now and then? People can push you to build better foundations.

There’s one thing that’s right though. It’s something I’ve learned the hard way. You have to be careful who you allow to be built into your foundation.

Family is always a good answer to who is right or wrong to build yourself up on. Family loves you relentlessly and won’t leave you. Family will push you to be a better person and help strengthen your foundation.

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Friends are harder to think about. Even best friends don’t stay best friends a lot of the time. Friends come and go as seasons of life change. This can be hard when looking for people to support you through life. But I think it’s important to have friends in your foundation. However, going along with the building metaphor, it’s important to decide how much weight you allow them to support. You have to judge which friends are in your life for a season, and which are there to walk the whole way.

We all make mistakes. We all put too much weight on certain people sometimes. We all get let down. We all let people down. Here’s the best thing though: we get to rebuild. It may be hard. Our foundations may have some cracks or holes for a while, but that can be fixed. Other people are there just waiting to help you fill it back in.

That’s where I’m at right now. Seasons of life are changing, and I’m growing up. There are several people who I have realized have worked their way out of my foundation. And that’s a hard realization. But it’s also incredible to see who has stuck around to hold me up. I am so very grateful for my family and the others who have stuck around.

In life, other people are going to give you the tools to build a stronger foundation for yourself. And it’s okay to build them in every once in a while too. Other people are placed in your life for a reason, so let them make you a better person, and help them out some too.

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Hold On Tight

My favorite thing about going to camp is the relationships you either make there, or ones you came in with that you strengthen. Camp friends are the best kind of friends. They see you when you’re out of your element and have your guard down. You are the best version of yourself at camp, and so you get to know really incredible people.

The last night of Student Council camp was always hard emotionally. For some reason your council for the week became family. Everyone gathered around the pond and lit candles and shared stories and memories. Then we put arms around each other and sang camp songs like Stand By Me and Tiny Bubbles. The whole night was about reflecting on the week and how we grew. It was also about realizing that it’s people who make you grow, not camp.

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My last church camp as a camper was shortly after graduation. We had a senior class at our church that numbered close to 60 people, but we were all each others’ closest friends. We had been through several years of camp and community groups together. We had dated each other, gone on road trips with each other, and been there for each other on a daily basis. The last night of camp was the seniors’ gift to the kids below us. Every year they present the Gospel in a different way. We walked them through stations that resembled the last hours of Jesus’ life. This was really special because it was our final thing together.We all gathered together before hand to have communion as a class with the leaders who had been with us from the beginning. There were lots of tears. They were for joyful memories but also for the pain of splitting up. This was the last time we were all in the same place.

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As my school year is coming to an end I can’t help but compare it to the end of camp.This semester was the hardest semester I will have to go through they say. I had a class that took all of my time and energy. I got physically ill from how much stress this class put on me. I have always found success pretty easily in life, and this semester knocked all of that confidence right out of me.

Something spectacular did come out of the semester though. I gained some phenomenal friendships. I went through a very difficult class, and so did a lot of other amazing people. We saw each other at our most stressed out and messed up. We also celebrated together because though our victories seemed small to others, we understood how big they were. These are the people I am going to be with for the rest of my undergraduate career, and I don’t mind one bit.

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I also figured out what people in my life really care about me and are in it for the long haul. I was a disaster this semester, both physically and mentally. I struggled to find joy in every day. The people who were by my side through this and encouraged me are the people I want by my side through the rest of my life. I am incredibly thankful for my family and the friends that kept me from completely falling to pieces.

What I’ve learned from camp (some of my happiest and most victorious memories) and from this semester (some of my hardest and most discouraging memories) is that you’ve got to hold on tight to the people who were there. Hold on to the people who will celebrate with you and also the ones that will sit silently by you while you’re sad.

And if you’re lucky enough to have people who can do both, keep them around forever.

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