a place I call home

Last week, I had the greatest pleasure of having the opportunity to counsel some fantastic fourth and fifth graders at the greatest place on earth, Spirit in the Pines.

As a kid (even though I still consider myself one), I was a camper at SITP. I started going when I was in second grade and never really stopped because of how much I loved it. Those weeks that I spent up in Hackensack, Minnesota taught me things that are hard to explain in words. Spirit in the Pines does things to you that are hard to explain in words.

To describe camp in the simplest version possible, I choose one word… heaven.

It is the one place in the world that I can drop everything, and be me. It is the one place in the world where being me is completely accepted, and even encouraged. Camp is where I made more friends than I can count, and met some of my absolute favorite people. Whether it was the staff, the counselors, or the campers, people are just their best selves there.

That’s what I love about camp the most. I get to be the best version of myself. Outside of it, there’s so many things going on around us. These things constantly factor to how we behave, how we see ourselves, etc. I can easily say i’ve made more mistakes than I count within my small amount of life. SITP gives me the six day chance to revive the old, and perfect me. I contently for the first time in my life will use the word perfect to describe myself. All of my small imperfections have contributed to the overall perfection within me, which was all made by God. How incredible is that?

Often we forget our perfection when we don’t have someone reminding us from 7:30am to 10:45 pm. Having the opportunity to wake up in an atmosphere like that every day is honestly so incredible. Even as a counselor, it was amazing to watch these little campers faces light up singing these songs, and learning these stories. You can just see their lives transforming without them even being aware of it yet. It was amazing having the ability to pay attention to all of these individuals maybe in a way that they’ve never felt before. Overall, it was just amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, we had our issues. Counseling had it’s battles. More than I can count. Whether it was our campers breaking the AC, and having to sleep on cement floor. Or having to yell at one of the girls for overflowing her bowl with cereal every morning and not eat any of it, and then watching her cry because you yelled at her. It was tough.

Counseling also benefitted me in so many ways. Some of the girls I met, I can genuinely say I got so close to over the course of the week. Whether it was the big hugs, or yelling at them to be quiet during our 45 minute break, I can honestly say I learned to love a little more than I have before.

It was an odd feeling of responsibility, but also the most enjoyable form of it.

The funny stories that are stuck in my head are the probably the best part. Whether it was Boletta writing ‘ASU’ instead of ‘USA’ on the top of her forehead, then deciding to take paint and splatter it across. Or reading Hailey’s madlibs (which were never really that funny) and then listening her recite them four days straight… I loved almost every minute of it.

I can honestly say this was the best, and most life changing week of my summer. I discovered parts of me that I never saw before, and also revived the ones that I had lost.

I’m so thankful for all of the campers that came my way, and the amazing counselors we worked with. I also cannot forget the staff who made the entire week possible.

Mostly, thank God for giving this camp something to talk about. Something to praise, something to love, and something to admire. Thank God for constantly loving me despite how much I have sinned, and also forgiving me for all I have done. Thank God for always directing me on a path, even if I haven’t discovered or understood it’s intentions yet.

Honestly, just thank you God. I have no idea what I would do without you.

Love,

Emilee

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