13 December 2015

Going to Camp (When You're Not a Teenager Anymore)

This past week, we took a 5-day break from internet access as we traveled to Negeri Sembilan to attend TeenStreet, a camp which is, unsurprisingly, intended for teenagers. The entire theme of the camp was based around the idea that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (The "Fruit of the Spirit" for those of you who know Galations 5) should be fundamental aspects of our individual identities.

Note, I am no longer a teenager, and, in spite of appearances, neither is Angel, so we were attending the camp as coaches/small group leaders/chaperones instead of as participants. How did I ever end up old enough to chaperone at camp?

What I've learned this week is that camp is a totally different experience when you are a teenager versus when you're no longer a teenager and now have real-world responsibilities and have to make sure that everyone comes out the other side of camp safe and in one piece and having received the most from the experience.

 Auditoriums with aircon are really, really cold.

Rebekah was awesome at human bowling.

Some things are the same, though. Homeschooled me found the strict rules and timed schedule of camp a bit chafing when I was a teen, and I feel pretty much the same now about having to both follow and help enforce the guidelines...although perhaps as an adult I have at least some appreciation for why all the rules exist. Since we were all sleeping in girls' and guys' dorms, I missed my usual sleeping buddy. There were several times throughout the week, during the tougher moments of my time as a coach, when the responsibility of being a leader for these teens felt especially heavy on my shoulders, but it was a good "growing" experience, and a worthwhile one. I got to see teens I've known since they were barely more than toddlers get to experience something totally outside their comfort zone and thrive in that experience...and that made the whole week worthwhile.

The main speakers at the camp were "Duzie" Potter, and I thought they did an excellent job of challenging the teens in their faith and engaging them. The camp ended up raising about 35,000 RM to donate to aid efforts for Syrian refugees.

 Samuel was 'volunteered' to be part of a soft-boiled egg eating competition...and won it. Fastest soft-boiled egg eater in the whole camp!

 MaryGrace really enjoyed art class.

My tiny masterpiece.

This camp involved a lot of "firsts" for us and experiences that aren't a part of our normal everyday life. Angel had his first experience driving through Kuala Lumpur, and said that the traffic compared unfavorably with LA, Chicago, and Dallas, the three big cities that he previously thought were difficult to drive around in. He also managed to spy the famous Petronas Towers (his first time) from a distance, though we didn't stop to see them (remember the traffic?). There were a total of 350 people at the camp, and we were able to meet both teens and adults from all over Malaysia, which was especially fun, because, living on an island, we sometimes feel a little cut off from the rest of the country. I enjoyed the fact that, in the midst of the busy camp schedule, there were fun creative sessions planned. I mean, when else in adult life do you get a chance to sit down and paint for an hour without thinking that there's other, more useful, things you really ought to be doing?

This was the longest drive we've taken in our little car, and I must admit it felt especially 'compact' as we traveled hours with 5 adult-sized individuals in the car. In spite of (or is it because of?) the cramped quarters, we ended up filming a Youtube video all about our road trip hijinks. Enjoy, and enjoy the views of the Malaysian countryside along the way!

p.s. One more big difference: When I attended camp as a teenager, I didn't appreciate the "Lights Out" time. On this occasion...I thought that "Lights Out" at 11:30 was excessively late and was usually fast asleep well before the girls in my group.

Did you ever go to camp when you were growing up? Have you ever gone back to volunteer as an adult? What was your experience like?

Also, what do you do to keep road trips from getting too tedious?
Unknown said...

This looks like such a fun time! I was a camp counselor a while back and it was a blast!

Sheryl at How to Make a Life said...

A few counselors and I keep talking about creating a camp for adults. It is a different experience as we get older.

Farrah said...

Aww, this looks like a lot of fun! I used to volunteer in high school and college as a science camp counselor and I miss that a lot! It was so much fun!

I schedule little breaks in between on road trips to visit cool places or eat delicious things to kinda try to break up the monotony of driving!

Unknown said...

Sounds like fun!

Laura said...

Oh, I love camp/retreats! We're youth leaders in our church, so we go a lot. Throw a baby in the dynamic, and it's really wild, but still so fun and lots of learning and growing still happens even as an adult!

Donna said...

Love this! I did a Fruits of the Spirit camp a few years ago and it remains my second favourite themed camp (the first one is the Lord's Prayer). I'd love to experience camp in a different country, it's something that is on my bucket list for sure!

Unknown said...

I was a girl guide leader for 13 years. I used to work at camp and also take girls to camp as a leader. It's a blast! I hated working at the camp though, I loved them as a girl but not a councillor.

I would love it if you came to link up at our party:

It's a link party and pin-up party, two parties in one! All posts will get pinned to our group pinterest board.

Anonymous said...

It's definitely a lot more work to go to camp as an adult, but it's still fun!

Unknown said...

Found you through Peony Project! I know just what you mean about it being a strange experience going from camper to leader. I'm a youth minister now, but transitioning from teen to adult was weird! It is go great you are continuing to be involved!

Charlene Maugeri said...

I love this. It was always interesting going back to camps and youth rallies as a chaperone. It was weird but always fun to remember times as a teen. Also, I ALWAYS sing along with Taylor on road trips. Always.

Natalie said...

This sounds like so much fun! I've been a camp counselor several times, and it's fun to see the experience from the other side. I totally agree with you about the lights out thing--why wasn't I more excited about it as a kid?!! I'm also glad you had an easy road trip--no more travel fails this time! :)

elle jo said...

Looks like sooo much fun! It's nice to be at a place for a moment to not be focusing on technology and creating things too. I've never been camping at all! Not even stay away camp ever.

liz @ sundays with sophie

Patty said...

Oh mu gosh that painting of O Come, O Come Emmanuel is just beautiful!!! That is one thing I would love to do is free-style paint like that sometime soon:)

Veronica Lee Burns said...

This was so fun and interesting. I haven't done camp since a teenager either! I bet it's SO different!