At this point summer has gone by more quickly than I would have ever imagined. Once we get started with summer camp there is little time for many of the tasks I should attend to as part of my position. Most days are spent driving up to camp, driving the bus, helping fix things and taking care of the items that require they be addressed.
Several years back we had a gentleman who drove the bus for a school district during the school year and for Camp Shalom during the summer. He remarked that driving a bus for camp was far different than driving for school. Driving for camp was a reminder for him of the joy of being around kids. It’s far easier to enjoy bus driving when you don’t need to worry about behavioral issues and the kids are all singing songs.
Our staff members remind the campers to thank the bus driver as they exit the bus. Almost every camper and staff member say thank you as they walk past me when they exit. I decided several years ago that if they are going to be asked to thank me, I should acknowledge that with a response. So, more than 100 times a day I say “your welcome” or some other acknowledgement to my riders.
I do this for more reasons than because it’s common courtesy, I do it because it’s my way of developing my own little relationship with the campers. You might be surprised at how much you can learn about someone in a few fleeting seconds of interaction. I think anyone who assists with communion at their church would tell you the same thing.
Most people we meet in our lives will be very brief encounters. We will pass them in the aisle at a store. We could be standing in line behind them at Kwik Star. How many people do you pass between the different masses or services at your church that you never get to know because you are always going in opposite directions.
For eight weeks during the summer, we are blessed to provide a time for our campers, so they have an opportunity to slow down their pace and get to know the people they encounter better. Sometimes it’s a person they have just met, other times campers learn things about their friends they maybe never knew or failed to acknowledge.
While our Mission Statement refers to Camp Shalom as a “time and place apart”, I sometimes think of it as more of a “time and place together”. Geographically we might be in a different place, but we are gathered. We gather and let Christ love work through us to build our relationship with each other, and his relationship with us.
No matter how long we have known someone, we are never done building a relationship with them. Each day we grow and change and the people around us are doing the same. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you haven’t changed, because every life experience influences all of us.
The only thing that will not change is God’s relationship with us. He has given us an invitation to be in an everlasting relationship with him, and like a good bus driver he waits patiently for us.