As I flip through my journal and look at what I have written about my time at Durley, I am reminded of the memories that were made, and the amazing things that God did during my time there. What a sacred place Durley has become for me. I was able to learn a lot about myself, as well as the body of Christ, and God himself.
I will do my best to describe all of the amazing things that took place, but I am still processing all of it, and allowing God to work on my heart more and more to reveal the full purpose of some of the things that took place while I was there.
I guess I should start with Operation: Beauty to the King. This was my theme for the summer. I had a completely different theme made up in my mind, but two weeks before Durley started, God began to work on my heart, and I felt as if he was calling me to speak on true beauty and a life pleasing to him during my time at camp. I came up with a mission statement that the girls would have to commit to for the week. They were to love themselves, each other, and above all their Heavenly Father. They were asked to respect themselves and others through their clothing, actions, and words. They were challenged to seek out the beauty that God has placed inside all of them, and once they find it, to let it shine to the world, and make their lives something beautiful to the king.
Almost two months before Durley started, I began to pray for the girls that would be placed in my cabin for the summer. I didn’t know their names or stories. I didn’t know how much hurt or pain was in their lives, and I didn’t know that they would be the people that would change my life forever. To see the progress go from praying for unknown people, to praying for them specifically every single night was one of the most amazing things that I have even had happen in my life.
The week before I left for camp, I was preparing my heart and mind for what would be taking place. I was asking God for patience, peace, and a clear focus for what He would be doing while I was there. I also prayed for the girls that I would be coming into contact with, and praying that God would stir their hearts and open their ears to what He would be saying to them while they were there.
The first night of staff training, I was ready to throw in the towel. I knew that there was no way that is where God wanted me. I kept thinking, how in the world did I think God was calling me here this summer? I don’t know that many people, and I am so far out of my comfort zone, that I have no idea what to do or how to feel at peace with anything. This is where Satan began to fill my head with lies. I would tell myself that I am not going to make it, that there was no way I was going to be able stay focused on God because I was out of my environment, and I would compare myself to everyone that I came into contact with. I knew that those thoughts weren’t of God, so night one, I began to pray that God would show himself to me, and remind me that I am in his will for the summer ,and Durley was in fact the place where he was calling me to serve for the summer.
I continued to trust, and I was praying God would give me a sign of peace soon, but nothing was coming to my heart after three days. Day three of my journal reads: I have no idea what is going on. I keep waiting for God to show up and give me some kind of peace, but it’s not coming. I feel like there is a monster living inside of me, keeping me from going on and doing okay at this and giving God glory through it all. I am so upset with myself. No one here knows me, and it is so easy to put on a fake face, and mask all of the emotions that are still living inside of me because of my life outside of this sacred place. (I ended that journal entry with a prayer, and then I went to sleep.)
The next morning I woke up feeling so much better about everything that was going on the night before. The kids came, and I realized that I was to set an example for them, and I needed to make sure that I set a truthful example to them. Even if they had no clue what would be the difference, I mattered to me. I began to pray for someone to confide in and talk to, and I felt like I trusted Rachel Dothager more than anyone at the time. We talked and went for a walk. I was able to share with her, and get so much off of my chest. It was much needed to have someone to go to when a hug was needed, or an encouraging word was exactly what I needed to hear.
The kids that I had at Guide Camp were awesome. They were the most adorable kids, and they really showed me about the simple things in life. One little girl Lizzy was terrified to pray out loud at the beginning of camp, but the last night, her cabin mates were able to encourage her enough to pray. It was the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. Just like I needed encouragement and love from Rachel, Lizzy needed it from her cabin mates. I started to see just how complex yet simple the body of Christ is.
The second week of camp is where my life was changed forever. It was Young Teen 1 camp. Everything was completely of God, and he placed those girls in my cabin for a specific reason. The first three girls to enter the cabin were friends, and were entering the seventh grade. They were all sweet girls, and I was really excited to get to know them all better. The next group of girls that came in were also friends from school; this group would be entering high school. The final girl that came, and completed our cabin was going into seventh grade as well. I thought to myself, how in the world was this going to work? Their ages are all different, and they are not going to connect well. But, all I could do was trust that God knew what he was doing.
I got to know these girls more and more as the day went on, and I cannot believe the way that they all got along, and bonded with each other. They were all friends within three hours. It was really awesome, and I remember standing in worship that night just praising God and thanking him for the way that he was already working in the lives of the girls in my cabin.
Things seemed to continue to get more amazing as time went on. The third night of camp was so amazing, and is so fresh in my mind, that I can remember the smallest details about that night. Shawn, the camp pastor did an alter call. He did it in a laidback way, and it had a hug response by the kids. He had them write down on a piece of paper the struggles that they wanted their counselors to pray for. He also asked them to write down if they wanted to make a commitment to Christ for the first time, or if they wanted to rededicate their lives. That night was so life changing for me. Two of my girls became Christians for the first time, and four of them recommitted their lives to Christ. I was able to pray with two girls, and be the first to welcome them into the body of Christ. I got to hold them as they cried, and give them the hope that Christ has given to me. I was able to pray with each of them individually, and I was able to pray against all the negative sin that was going on in their lives. After this service, they all began to open up to me, and began to let me see small glimpses of their hearts as the week continued to go on.
Camp tradition is that the last night of camp, the counselors have a party for the kids in their cabin. My girls wanted to have a testimony party. They wanted to get to know each other better, and learn how the body of Christ worked, and how community is built. Their only request was that I as their counselor would go first. I was all for getting to know each of my girls better, but they have now thrown me into it. I thought about it for a little bit, and I knew that God was nudging me to do it. I agreed to go first, and I couldn’t prepare myself for what was to happen next. Each girl one by one, shared their heart with me as well as the rest of the cabin. All they needed was for someone to go before them.
That time of sharing was such a sacred time for all of them. They got to see that they are not alone. After each girl shared, the rest of the cabin would come and hug her, and pray for her. It was the most amazing thing to watch. I thought about what this world would look like if the body of Christ as a whole did this. Sharing their hearts, and being real with each other. I was so blessed to get to watch their healing journeys begin. They all got to experience a truth filled night, and were able to really open up about a lot of things.
I remember the closing session of that camp. I kept thinking about what happen the night before, and the way that God was working in all of their lives. They had been calling me mom all week long, and I had formed a special bond with each of them. In a sense, they were my kids, and I was not ready to let them go. After they left, I was in tears wishing that I could keep all of them with me. My journal says: I am going to miss those girls so much. I wish I could protect them, and keep them safe from any more heartache. They all are amazing girls, who God is going to use for the advancing of his kingdom.
The next camp that we were having was Trailblazers. This was the camp that I was worried about. I knew that I was going to have a lot of girls that I already knew from home, and I was just praying that I would live up to the standards of the awesome counselors that they had in years past. They were all the best girls. They really bonded well with the two girls that weren’t from Brighton. It was really cool to watch them step out and include their new friends in everything that they did. This camp ended up being really special to me because I have seen most of the girls in that cabin grow up, and to watch them take that next step of faith was really awesome. I was so proud of them and all of the things that they are doing for God, even at their age.
A camp highlight for me would be getting to know that camp pastor better. Bethany was such an awesome person for the age group, and they really responded to what she was saying. (I feel like this deserves a spot in my reflection of Durley, because it was funny, yet awful at the same time.) After Trailblazer camp was over, I decided that I wanted to do something fun and crazy! So, we all headed to Wal Mart of an adventure that I won’t soon forget. I decided that I was going to get my ears pierced. Long story short, Bethany was my support… Holding my head and coaching me through it. (: The gun got stuck in my ear, and I had get my ear pierced twice because it didn’t go through the first time. Then on the other ear, the plastic backing got stuck and she had to push it through. I had the support of nine other people while all of this was happening. It was awful at the time and I was doing all I could to stop crying, but now I think it’s funny, and it was something that I won’t soon forget. After that crazy adventure was over, we went to watch the dragon breathe fire. It was nice to be in company with some of the most awesome people that night.
Bethany and I have continued to be in contact with each other, after her time she spent at Durley. She is such an awesome person, and I am so thankful that I got to meet her this summer. God knows that we are good for each other, and I am so excited to see how God uses our friendship for his glory. Already, she has reminded me of so many things, and I am so thankful for her.
The next camp that was on the schedule was Senior Teen. The group of girls that were in my cabin were planning it a week in advance. They stood in line for two hours to ensure their spot in my cabin. I was so glad that I was able to have all of them for a weekend. I had worked with them all summer long, but I was excited to see them have fun, and enjoy the camping experience. This camp was different than any other camp. They were in high school, and they were more like my friends than campers. Which was awesome. They are all so sweet, and I love all of them to pieces.
One night during Senior Teen, Hannah Groves and I ditched all of our duties as counselors, and we sat together and talked. It was probably one of the greatest things that took place all summer long. She didn’t pour hug inspiring words into my life, she just simply sat with me, and held me, saying few words, but making an impact that I will remember. It was something huge for me. Someone was taking time out of their life to sit with me, and just be present in my life. the things that she said to me were so profound that I am so glad that she took time out of her life for me. It meant a lot and I am so glad that I got to know her this summer.
The final camp that we had for the summer was Young Teen 2. I was looking forward to this camp, and watching God work and move again. I had such a great cabin yet again. I had the little sisters of some of the girls that I had the week before, along with all of their friends. It was such an awesome time, and I enjoyed spending time with each of them. It was during this camp, that God pushed me to make a change, and to live my life for him every single day.
I had a girl in my cabin that was a mirror image of me a year ago. She was happy and smiley and nothing was ever wrong with her. Until it came to the topic of beauty. She refused to sign the mission statement because she knew that she wasn’t going to love herself. I made her my mission for the week. I prayed for her constantly, and I asked God to give me the worlds to say. By the end of the week, I was able to see her heart, and talk to her about so many things. All of the stuff from my past I was able to talk through with her, and give her a hope that only God can give. I realized during a talk with her that a lie that so many young girls believe is that they have to be perfect and nothing should hurt them. This sweet girl had so much pain stuffed because she had been told her whole life not to let anyone or anything hurt her. We were able to talk and pray through some things, and she began to feel lighter, and have a peace towards the end of the week.
Overall, Durley was really awesome, and I got to see my girls grow so much in their faith, in just a few short days. They began to see God in a new way, and their lives were impacted in so many ways while they were there. I know that every single one of those girls that I had in my cabin throughout the summer will forever leave an impact on my life. They were so awesome, and I am so glad that God allowed me to come into their lives for a few short days, and see the work that he is going in the generations to come.
There is more change that came in my life from Durley, and I didn’t realize it until after camp was over, and I came home and started thinking about all of the memories and fun times that took place while I was there. The Durley staff this summer was filled with some of the greatest people that I know. Rachel Dothager poured into my life daily, giving me encouragement and love, and I couldn’t see just how much she loved me, for real, until I started thinking about all of the things that she would say to me. Hannah sat with me for no reason at all, but made an impact that I won’t soon forget. Jamie and Kat were always showing me love, and cared about me so much. I can’t forget to talk about the nurses at Durley this summer; they were so awesome and always loved me. And everyone else on staff was awesome, and showed me what love looks like.
I guess the theme of my summer has been love. Seeing that people have value in me, and love the person that I am, right now. I am starting to see God’s love for me. I am starting to live in that truth rather than the lie that God is disappointed in me. I am starting to feel a peace that only God can give me through forgiveness. I am also starting to see that people love me. It has been a summer that I won’t soon forget. It took leaving that sacred place and process everything before I could allow God to continue to heal me from so many things.
Thank you Durley for such an amazing summer. My heart and life is forever changed because of the stories, memories, love, and change that took place this year. I am so thankful for the staff that I got to work with, and the friendships that formed while I was there.
God is doing awesome things not just in my life, but in the lives of the staff and campers that came through Durley this summer. I stand in awe at the way that God works. What an amazing and life changing summer. (: