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Lessons Learned at Summer Camp



Colleen Wait 

January 2010


"I don't see what the big deal is," groaned Keri as the group of high school girls  

filed into the camp cabin.

"Weren't you listening?" asked Ana as she bounced into the room, auburn  

ponytail swinging behind her.

"I don't believe anything I do now will have anything to do with when I grow up. It  

won't 'haunt' me," Keri groaned.

"You have no conscious," Ana rolled her eyes. Keri and Ana had debates like  

this daily. Ana was the upbeat, positive, slightly hyperactive girl while Keri mostly  


"Keri is right," added Jen, "People always say that what happens to you when  

you are a baby or growing up makes you who you are as a grown-up. I think  

that's a crock. It's just an excuse to blame your parents for your problems and  

get sympathy for stupid choices." Jen was an ordinary girl, fair skinned, blue  

eyes, light brown hair. Not pretty, but not homely either. She was quiet for the  

most part, didn't participate in group discussions.

"The past is the past," added Keri.

"All those statistics the preacher guy quoted can't possibly be true!" stated Joey  

quietly from the corner of the room. Her real name was Josephine but she dared  

anyone to call her that. Joey was a self-proclaimed tough-guy and hated every  

second of summer camp.

"The Bible," continued Keri as she applied more black eyeliner, "doesn't say  

anywhere that you can't have sex before marriage." Keri had thick black hair  

with long thick bangs and dark brown eyes. The combination gave her a very  

haunted look.

"Didn't you hear what the preacher said?" asked Ana, as her friend and  

bunkmate nodded in agreement from the top bunk. Ana continued to flit across  

the room from bunk to bunk.

"Yeah, sure, but he didn't quote any scripture, so he made it up. Besides, as  

long as you don't get pregnant, what's the big deal?" Keri groaned.

"Did you see that fine guy sitting across from us?" asked Sabrina, trying to  

change the subject.

"Ohh, yeah, he's hot,' agreed Eva, the only black girl in the room. Eva was an  

aspiring model, dressed more for summer camp in the Hampton's than in the  

woods of central Florida.

Angel listened to this banter for a few more minutes, wondering if they had just  

been in the same room for the last hour, listening to the same devotional on  

purity. Then it hit her. "You know girls, I was wondering all week why God put  

me with this particular group of girls. I always pray about the group of girls I  

would be assigned to for weeks before camp, but this year seemed different from  

the start. I've been a counselor at this summer camp for years and your group is  

the first I've questioned my abilities. Sometimes students come here thinking  

that we adults have lived perfect lives and couldn't possibly understand you and  

the things you deal with on a daily basis. Angel reached into her duffle bag,  

pulled out an old, folded piece of paper, then sat on the edge of a cot and prayed  

silently, help me God, "It is obvious to me that most of you don't want to be here.  

Some I know were sent here by their parents for specific reasons, to separate  

from a boy, to get you away from certain friends, and because your parents  

wanted a break from you. I also believe I know why you need to be here and  

why God put me in your life at this time. Gather round girls, I want to tell you a  

story- my story."

Angel slowly unfolded the yellowed paper as most of the girls begrudgingly  

moved a little closer, took a deep breath, then read the letter out loud, " Dear  

Karl, Thank you for everything you do with the youth group! I have to confess,  

your Wednesday night classes have touched me more than any preacher or  

teacher I have heard in my entire life. Sitting there listening to you talk to our  

teens, I feel like you are talking to my 16-year-old self. As a teen, I did  

everything wrong, believed all the lies. Everything you tell them not to do, I did.  

And I just want to scream Ð Why wasn't I told these things? Why didn't I know?  

Why didn't anyone care enoughÉI never thought I still had regret, thought I had  

forgiven myself, but there is so much turmoil going on right now, all stemming  

from mistakes made as a teen-ager. I will be forever grateful to you, for loving  

these kids- my kids enough to let them know not only that they should do is right,  

but why and what happens if they don't and that God loves them and will forgive

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