Coming back from camp was much harder than I expected. I’ve been to camps before, but this year was the first time I experienced campsickness (as opposed to homesickness).
On the last night, no one wanted to go to bed because we knew when we woke up, it would be time to leave. On the car ride back to Missouri I talked for three solid hours about what I had done at camp, and I still didn’t say everything. It’s amazing how much we managed to cram into ten amazing days. How is it that in such a short amount of time, we all managed to become so close, and learn so much? People I hardly knew before are now close friends, and areas of my life that were full of questions now have answers.
At camp I, and I’m sure many others, experienced something I’m going to call the “bubble effect.” For ten days we were cut off from the world, surrounded by people our age who believe what we believe. For a Messianic Gentile, meeting even one fellow Messianic teen is rare. Coming to camp and meeting dozens more was exhilarating. Thanks to the 12-21 program I had met many of these teens before, but camp provided new circumstances that allowed us all to know each other better than ever. There was no distraction from our phones, we were always within walking distance from everybody, and every day was filled with activities for us to do together.
Repeatedly I’ve been asked what my favorite part was, but the answer hasn’t gotten any easier. I loved morning prayers because I was able to worship and pray in a completely new way. The difference between our first Shacharit and our last was phenomenal. That first morning no one knew the words and the idea of getting up to dance was terrifying. By the last day, we were singing the words at the top of our lungs and jumping at the chance to dance again and again. I loved eating meals together with everybody because we blessed the meal together and talked in community with one another. I loved playing new games such as Slip and Slide Capture the Flag when it was campers vs. counselors, and I found one of the hidden flags. I loved talking with all the counselors because they genuinely cared about me, and they enjoyed the work they were doing. I loved evening campfires because we sang songs, told stories, and enjoyed being with one another. I loved celebrating Shabbat with fifty fellow Messianic believers. I loved the goodnight song, where we sang off tune and nobody cared. I loved cabin time, where we discussed our three highs and three lows of the day with our cabin mates. I loved being an LT (leader in training), because of the extra responsibilities that I had. Any of these things could have been my favorite part.
I think the hardest part will be waiting for next year. Going from all that back to the real world is hard. My goal over the next year is to take what I learned at camp and apply it to my life away from camp. After a discussion with the director, Shayna Michael, I’ve decided to pursue my passion for creative writing. It’s now my job to take all the good memories and inspiration I got from camp and let it push me to follow HaShem’s plan for my life in the most amazing and exciting way. It’s going to be a long journey, but I can’t wait to get started!