I was glad for my umbrella as the floodgates opened, and tears came to my eyes. “The campers are really here!”
Even if it was just on Zoom, the camaraderie among us could still be felt and there was a mutual understanding that our mission to have camp this summer was going to be bigger than all of us given the current circumstances we faced. But something said during this Zoom call really struck me: “If we were preparing for rain, wouldn’t we bring an umbrella?” This brought to mind the many answered prayers and promises of the Bible, but I struggled to find the same faith as Abraham or Esther when thinking about the upcoming summer. 2020 had already ruined so many plans that I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to be disappointed yet again. However, despite the uncertainty at every corner, we as a camp staff decided that if we were preparing for rain, we had better open our umbrellas.
A few months after this initial Zoom call, I found myself back at my home-away-from-home, Camp Au Sable. “Am I really here right now?” It felt surreal to be back at camp given the multitude of doors that had to be opened for me to be standing there at that moment. I could tell it was starting to drizzle.
Our preparations for the summer began and we were soon cutting down trees, clearing walkways and painting buildings. Each day as we were preparing for camp, David Glenn, the assistant camp director, would lead us out in one of our favorite camp staff sayings: “The campers are coming!!!” This phrase is the bottom line of what camp is all about: the campers! With the campers in mind, our mission for the summer was clear: we wanted to create a place of emotional and spiritual healing for campers as they were emerging from weeks of isolation and many were facing the loss of family members. Keeping our goal in mind, the excitement only grew as we continued on in anticipation.
Soon the day arrived when our first campers would be arriving! A rippling sense of excitement and adrenaline could be felt among the staff. It wasn’t long before the staff and our newest arrivals, the long-awaited campers, were sitting in the soccer field for the first evening line-call. David explained that the staff had been awaiting the campers’ arrival and every day leading up to this moment had called out: “The campers are coming!!!” After this explanation, the staff once again called out, but this time with the echoing reply, “We’re here!!!” in response. It was no longer drizzling — it was a downpour. I was glad for my umbrella as the floodgates opened, and tears came to my eyes. “The campers are really here!” I couldn’t believe it. Our prayers and preparations did not go to waste and God’s faithfulness was clearly displayed for me to see. I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness in that moment and knew that whatever would happen in the weeks to come, would all be by God’s grace.
Kelli Coffen, an Elementary Education major with minors in Language Arts and Math Education at Andrews University. This will be her third summer serving in the girls’ village as a counselor at Camp Au Sable.