One of the more powerful memories I have of my Summer Camp experience has been those quiet evenings after a long day of activities. In many camps throughout America, the end of a camp day is a great time of reflection. At my camp, we called this period of the evening as ‘devotion’. Each night, a cabin group of campers and their staff would sit in their bunks, lay out and gaze upon the stars and have a discussion. Topics were often varied.
As a counselor, I often had a sense of humor about these topics and on occasion would be known to play Phish songs and ask the kids to discuss the meaning of them. It was quite the discussion when 12 year olds would dissect “The Mango Song” and delve into the meaning of the lyrics ‘Your hands and feet are mangoes, You’re gonna be a genius anyway” and watch it evolve into a discussion on inclusiveness for all people. Imagine if every 12 year old in the world engaged in discussions on inclusiveness (regardless of whether it came accidentally from a Phish song). I can guarantee, we’d have less talk of bullying than we currently do in society.
As I progressed through my years in Camping, I began to truly enjoy the impact that these ‘devotions’ could have on people. One of my last devotions while running a summer camp is one that I will remember forever.
During a staff training, I led a devotion with many of our younger camp counselors. We sat outside under the stars and discussed the “dash” in our life. Too often we define ourselves by our length of time. The length of time we’ve had at a job, a home or a lifetime. As these young staff began their counseling careers, I asked them to reflect on what they want that ‘dash’ to be – that oh so important moment of impact that lies between our start date and end date for everything that they do. These young counselors talked of what they wanted their impact to be on the lives of their campers, the inspiration they wanted to bestow upon them, the ability to be remembered for their contributions, etc…..
As the stars illuminated the night sky, their hopes and dreams laid the foundation of their ‘dash’. Planning their ‘dash’ became their blueprint for impacting people’s lives.
At the conclusion of that devotion, I remember walking back to the camp with the staff. The cool summer night air was crisp, the stars were bright and theses young staff were even brighter. Little did I know that moment would be my last camp devotion as a Camp Director. It was a satisfying ‘end’ for me as far as devotions go, but it also was a great reminder of how fragile that ‘dash’ can be. How soon it can end.
What do you want your ‘dash to be? How do you want to be remembered?