I have asked some 20 Camp BlueShirts and campers to share their thoughts and lessons learned from 20 Camp. I welcome yours also! I will be sharing them here from time-to-time.
Here is Brandi‘s story:
I could probably write multiple pages about what I learned at 20 Camp, but I’ll try to keep it short and to the point.
Being a first time volunteer, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Having heard multiple stories from years past, I wondered if it would live up to the high expectations. It not only met those expectations, but far exceeded them. But not in the ways that I anticipated.
Sunday afternoon while we were doing our last minute training/prep session, we were asked to pick what we felt like our strength was and what our weakness was as a leader. And once we picked and shared what we felt our weakness was, we were asked to work on it during the upcoming week and to help keep each other accountable. Mine were patience and positivity. And while I didn’t anticipate working on them the way I did, I do feel like I made progress with each of them.
Patience- Going down with an injury within two hours of camp starting, was not at all on my agenda. Not being able to do practically anything with my group was not only frustrating, but very disheartening. That was not what I had spent the past two weeks getting ready for. Spending the first night of camp in the emergency room away from everyone made for a lonely night. Sitting in the waiting room for five hours before being taken back to be seen did nothing but irritate me on every level imaginable and leave me absolutely exhausted the next day. By the time I made it back to the church that morning, people were already starting to get up and around, so going to sleep didn’t seem to take precedence. Which only led me to being irritated and overly emotional all day. Fighting sleep all day and listening to one joke after another made me literally want to go off on anyone and everyone. To the point that biting my tongue was really my only option. This is not exactly how I wanted to work on my patience. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned is that when you pray for patience, God doesn’t just give us patience. He gives us opportunities to practice patience. And while this wasn’t quite the opportunity I was wanting or expecting, that’s the one I was given. Having to rely on people and realize that I was extremely limited in what I could do was beyond frustrating. And I could have just let my frustration get the better of me and take it out on everyone. But I didn’t. I could have just given up and gone home. But I didn’t. Maybe it’s because I had incredible accountability partners. Maybe it’s because patience is something you gain as you get older, along with giving more grace in situations that aren’t in your control. Maybe it’s both. But either way, I feel like I greatly improved in this area.
Positivity- This. This is an area that I’m still working on. And while I still feel like I have a lot of room for improvement with this, I feel like I grew more than I give myself credit for. I feel like everything comes back to my injury, but that was the majority of my week. It was really easy for me to get down on myself and just be negative about everything. Going on absolutely zero sleep on Tuesday, only made that worse. I honestly think I cried about anything and everything not only on Tuesday, but Monday as well. Kudos to Ryan for sitting there and listening while I had an emotional breakdown on Monday. Not being able to be involved hardly at all made me feel absolutely awful. I felt like I was doing nothing but wasting everyone’s time, especially my group. And I felt like I wasn’t making an impact at all on anyone, campers or volunteers. And it wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon and the great Grandma Yetti conga line that I realized that despite my lack of involvement, I had still managed to make an impact on people. Talk about a humbling moment. Instead of letting the jokes get to me, I began to embrace them. There was nothing that I could do to change my situation. My knee wasn’t going to get better overnight. I had to just accept the fact that as untimely and inconvenient as it was, my knee was severely sprained and as a result, my level of involvement had to adapt accordingly.
But as much as I feel that I learned with just those two things, there’s something even greater that I learned, and that’s that I am surrounded with some of the greatest people who have so much love to give. Not once did anyone make me feel anything other than incredibly loved. Which honestly, is something that I’m not used to at all. Whether it was Lizzy and Chandler spending the entire night with me in the emergency room or Chandler being my personal chauffeur anytime I was in my wheelchair, or Brandon just sitting and talking with me to see how I was doing, to Kristina making me laugh at every moment of the day to keep me in good spirits, never in my life had I felt more loved. I had always heard and been told that the 20 Camp is a family. That was definitely shown. I was incredibly blessed by every camper and volunteer. Reading my shirt when I got home and reading the notes that I got at the end of each camp brought tears to my eyes, the good kind of course. I am beyond blessed to be a part of this dream and to work with some of the best people. I look forward to being a part of many more to come.