Like many Christian children, summer camp was a standard feature of my childhood. I approached camp with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. It excited me because the week featured hiking, archery, marksmanship, swimming, fishing, and, of course… snipe hunting. Every year, buses, vans, and cars arrived bursting at the seams with excited children, sleeping bags, and sunscreen. Late night bonfires with guitars and worship music formed my character and challenged my spiritual walk.
Along with the excitement came my trepidation. As a nervous and anxious skinny girl who never quite fit in, I usually spent the first two days walking around in a fog trying to navigate the social terrain and decide where I would be welcomed and which groups I should avoid.
This week, my online school hosted me at their summer camp, and not much has changed in the thirty-five years since last visiting my beloved oasis in Powhatan, VA, and yet everything has changed. Instead of arriving at camp as a nervous child, I came as a nervous adult! Even though I came as a well-loved and appreciated teacher, I felt the nerves from my childhood welling up inside me.
Those old familiar insecurities reared their ugly heads, and I had those will-they-like-me fears, just as I did so many years ago. Sharing those fears with a few colleagues revealed they too suffered the neuroses.
Now though, I have no lights out. No counselor shushes me at 10:30pm or wakes me at 7:00am. I hear the bells to calm noisy campers, but in my cabin of adult women, three student moms and me, we stay up late and share our stories. We’re quicker to accept one another and less likely to separate into cliques that leave outsiders feeling unwanted and rejected. Anxiety gives way to acceptance and peace.
Colleagues I’ve known for years in virtual meetings and through email correspondence walk around in three dimensions, with flesh to hug, and eyes to see into one another’s hearts and share one another’s hurts. We encourage one another on bleachers watching children learn horsemanship or on long walks just sharing life.
Maybe our common love for these children erased the biases of our youths. Maybe years of asking God to soften our hearts to our children and to others replaced the “mean girls” that lived among us.
Whatever the change, the fellowship is sweet, and I’ll take a bunk full of authentic moms any day.
…and that’s the view from My Front Porch.