My Life’s Work – Part III – The Part Where the CEO Thing Comes Back to Haunt Me

by Priscilla on August 9, 2017

My girls and I were five months into our new adventure. New school, new friends, new sports teams new music teachers, new coworkers, new schedules, same hair salon. (Every woman knows next to dreaded new OB-GYN search precipitated by  a move, a hair stylist is the most important find, and I wasn’t up to finding a new one so we still make the hour’s trek back to our old hometown to see Lynn and Monica who work their magic on our tangled manes.)

The calendar showed that summer camp commenced in nine days. Staff from all over the world were showing up in two. I’d been busying myself attending fundraisers for scholarships, talking to prospective parents, creating brochures and postcards, educating myself about all the different social media avenues non profits use, learning software specific to summer camp, recruiting volunteer nurses, writing grants, meeting with vendors for the camp store. Things were humming along quite nicely.

And then they screeched to a halt…and I hit a big wall called reality. Not the reality I was expecting, but hard life reality that comes out of nowhere when we least expect it.

“My last day is Friday,” the summer camp director told me.  “I resigned.”

I don’t remember ever being told I was the one who was going to run the show. I don’t remember much from 11 weeks ago to be quite honest. For 10 weeks straight I worked over 100 hours a week. I learned what “o” rings were for a rifle, and what it means to “fletch an arrow.” I discovered why certain string is better than others for friendship bracelets. There was bait to be bought for the fishing class (bee moths are best) and extra small harnesses to be ordered for those high ropes dwellers who love it up in the trees. My international staff had to get to the social security office, the boat drivers had training to take, the horse wrangler needed certified and the lifeguards needed shirts in all the right sizes.

I felt like I was two steps ahead of the crazy train, and every day at staff meetings, I’d implore my 20 somethings to hang in there. “I know you are getting hit with a lot of changes every single day, but hang in there. You all are doing great!”  And they were. They really, really were, but my biggest fear is that they could read my mind that was a hot mess and run screaming for the hills.

Then the campers came…and the real education began. There were naughty seven year old boys who needed a lecture from a mom not a camp director. Homesick campers asked for bedtime stories. Bedwetters needed laundry done discreetly. Bugs showed up.  All of them.  At one time. In one place. Mosquitoes, chiggers, wasps, bees and bedbugs. Yes. Bedbugs.  Don’t even get me started on that saga. That leads me to the next drama –

Parents.

Parents calling because they weren’t seeing enough pictures on the website of their children. Parents calling to say they saw pictures of their children, but their children didn’t look happy. Parents calling demanding to speak to their unhappy looking children because they were worried, worried, worried that their camp experience was awful, awful awful. Parents calling about the bugs. Parents calling to see if their kids were homesick. Parents calling to see if the bugs were homesick. (Parents, I need you to hear me on this. If you don’t hear from us, everything is fine. The point of summer camp is for you to get a well deserved break. Please don’t call to ask us if your child passed the swim test, is getting enough to eat or can have a top bunk.)

I delivered birthday cakes, started campfires, scraped dishes, scheduled laundry pick ups, ordered pizzas, sang “If I Had a Hammer,” sported Chaco tan lines, hauled stand up paddle boards in from the lake, and  bailed water out of swamped canoes.  I cleaned poop off the pier (bird that is) one minute and greeted board members the next. My all time favorite thing, though was visiting cabins at night with Katy the Wonder Dog. It was the kids’ favorite thing too.

 

Every night around midnight I’d crash on my couch, and the next day at 6, the coffee pot would start up, and I’d be out the door at 7.

Did I mention I still had daughters to raise?

Somewhere in the middle of the crazy of Week 6 and the Drama of Week 7 that Still Small Voice got my attention and said, “Hey, remember the CEO thing?  This is it.”

I was walking through the woods in the silent morning before all the kids were up, and stopped in my tracks at this thought.  The voice continued, “Remember all those years ago, when you were in a dark spot? Your girls were toddlers. Your husband was in Iraq, and you discovered your marriage was in trouble.  Remember what I told you?”

I remembered. “You will write, and you will speak, and thousands will hear your words,” I whispered back to the Still Small Voice. I hadn’t thought of that experience for years.

“This is it.” The Still Small Voice whispered. “This is exactly where the words are going to happen…they are happening now.”

And in recognition of this truth, the tears started flowing…because with me the tears flow pretty easily.

You see every Sunday, I had the privilege of greeting about 250 new campers every week. I’d tell them that camp was family, that they were home, and this is where they belonged. I stood right where Chaplain John stood all those years ago and let them know that God brought each and every one of us here in this space at this time for a special reason.


Every Friday night, I’d look over this room at all the same campers after a week of activities, and fun and friendships and lots and lots of sunscreen and bug spray and remind them that it was their job to take the lessons they learned at camp out into the world because God has a job for all of us, and it’s to share His Love.

But my favorite words were the words I spoke in front of this bell every morning.

They were what we called “First Words.” I’d talk about Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility.  Sometimes I’d tell fables. Sometimes I’d share stories from my childhood. I’d read Psalms or explain Jesus’s parables. Always, always, always I’d remind both campers and staff that God loved them and had a plan for them, and that plan was Good. And the best part of it all was that my late father was always there with me.

Over a decade ago, my life changed drastically. Everything I thought was true overnight, wasn’t. I fought tooth and nail with God about my dreams. All I ever wanted was to have a home and a family, to share a table with friends and use my gift of hospitality to bring just a little bit of “as in heaven,” to “on earth.”  God asked me to put my plans back in the locker because he had other plans…bigger ones….plans that included a 400 acre homestead to share with over 1800 family members, plus a staff that acts as aunts, uncles and big brothers and sisters to Twins A and B.

Over 11 years ago, the Still Small Voice first spoke to me…or at least that’s the first time I was able to hear it. Everything that happened, had to happen to get me to this place. My Life’s Work.

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Cammie August 9, 2017 at 2:04 am

Oh oh oh. I can’t tell you how much I love this. God is awesome.

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Jason August 9, 2017 at 3:16 am

Love. This. Phenomenal. Awesome. All glory to Him, and all thanks to you for doing what He laid on your heart. So inspiring.

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Paula August 9, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Never, ever stop listening and writing with your heart and His leading! Just reading your words lift my own heart with much joy and thankfulness! Praying continually for your and yours!

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Janice August 10, 2017 at 12:29 am

This is all awesome and amazing! I LOVE reading your stories and I LOVE you!

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