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  • Writer's pictureJules Arata

session one: so this is it


before this first session started, i thought i was prepared. i thought i remembered what it was like to have campers in the dining hall, what the chaos was like.

what i forgot about is how connected you become with campers after just one week together. how much you look forward to talking to them at every meal, and serving alongside them. i forgot what my heart felt like when campers call my name with excitement and invite me into their conversations. how my heart feels like it grows when they come into the dining hall and see me and their faces light up.

i forgot what a joy it is to have the opportunity to teach others how to serve, and yes while that is technically my job in the real world, it is different when it is a summer full of high school age friends who are on fire for the Lord. i am so blessed that both jobs are so firmly based in Truth and proclaim the gospel so loudly, but there is something so special about helping shape these 15/16 year-old Kingdom growers.

i forgot what it's like to have distinct relationships with each camper, to the point where they invite you to their talent show and get excited when you show up to support and cheer them on.

but there is something that i remember.

i remember my least favorite feeling of the summer (which sucks bc it happens literally every single week). i remember how hard it is to let the kids leave, believing that my one week with them is enough, reminding myself of how much the Lord can do through me for them in that short time serving together.

i remember how hard it is to say goodbye, to watch them get on the bus and drive away. i remember how much my heart hurts when they give me puppy dog eyes as they walk away. i remember how hard the turn around is, bc the next group of campers arrives within the next few hours after the first leaves.

the goodbye is brutal, but that just means what i did get to experience was so sweet and good that i have the privilege of missing it.

it was a session full of campers that i knew from last summer, ones who encourage me, ones who were eager to serve, lead, and learn. ones who were so vulnerable with me, sharing their stories, giving book recommendations, inviting me into their lives and trusting me with their joy. they came into the dining hall with hearts that were not only geared towards serving others, but ones that were focused on the Lord. they were not afraid to ask me hard questions right alongside joking with me.

session one is always a hard goodbye bc they love me so well. i mean all 40 of the sigma campers asked for a group picture with me and then gave me a group hug, after which i sobbed (understandably so). there is just something about high schoolers, i don't know if there are words that could describe the true nature in which they affect my heart.

to think about how this session started and where i am at now, it is just purely crazy. from going from Chelsea (my partner-in-crime) having the flu, and having to run food truck delivery and the whole dining hall without her, to where we are now. where we feel comfortable with each meal & are having dance parties with the campers.

a week where my best friend turned 21 and i got to help her feel celebrated. a weekend where i got to find rest and joy in going to one of my favorite cities and see old friends and eat my favorite burger in the world. while yes there were hard moments in this week, difficult news & overwhelming emotions, i am reminded what a joy it is to be able to have a community i am so deeply rooted in that i am able to feel this connected and impacted by.

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