March 29, 2022

Michigan Summer Camp: Camp Au Sable & Camp Sagola

Staff worship had just finished and as the sun cast its last rays across Lake Shellenbarger a shiver went through me.

I couldn’t believe that this moment had finally arrived. The next day hundreds of campers from all walks of life poured through our front gate, said goodbye to their parents and guardians, got settled in their cabins and started on one of the most exciting weeks of their summer. 

When I got the call that I was hired to work at camp I was over the moon. Since my first experience as a camper, I couldn't wait until I was old enough to work at camp. I was so excited to be a part of the mission that had brought me closer to Jesus. Every week had its own triumphs and difficulties. Campers went from missing family and being too shy to speak to conquering their fears in the cabin as well as at high adventure, the waterfront, and the barn all while getting closer to Jesus. 

I love all my campers from this last summer but an encounter I had with one of them will stay with me forever. I had a camper who made it perfectly clear that she did not want to be touched in any way shape or form. Now, something you should know about me is that I. Love. Hugs. End of story. I know that not everyone else feels the same way about them and that is perfectly fine but for me a hug really means a lot. Of course, there are ways other than physical affection to show people that you love them and so over the week we found different ways to connect like talking about art or playing card games together. I still felt that I hadn’t quite gotten to her though, like there was a wall that hadn’t quite been knocked down.

When the week ended, I was saying goodbye to all the girls before starting my day off. I was making the rounds of the cabin saying goodbye, passing out hugs and sharing in some tears. I had given out my last hug and was turning toward the door when a girl caught my eye. She had made it clear during the week that she did not want to be touched but in that moment, she burst forward and wrapped me in one of the tightest embraces I have ever received. I gave her a tight squeeze and then let go. She took a step back and then came in for another one! I couldn’t believe what was happening. My heart was so full of joy and the tears running down my face were not from sadness any longer. With that hug the wall had been smashed apart. I hope to one day watch her do the same thing to her friend Jesus when we all finally meet Him. I pray that all the campers and staff will be there.

Ryleigh Snow is currently an intern at Camp Au Sable. She plans on returning to Andrews University in the fall to pursue a major in Graphic Design and minor in Photography.