As we made the final page over our walkie talkies for our last end of the day staff meeting, we walked to the classroom to say our final goodbye to an incredible summer. We walked in with heavy hearts having said goodbye to campers we may never see again, but an aroma in the room lifted our spirits. A mom of one of the campers had set up a feast in the classroom to honor our staff. This is a mom who we met because her family found themselves homeless and living in our Family Shelter. When the mom went to classes, the daughters came to City Camp. They apparently loved us as much as we loved them, because when they found a home and left the shelter, the mom still made sure to get her girls to City Camp every day.
For 50 days the Vanderberg Youth Center halls were filled with the joyful hum that comes from City Camp, but on August 10th the hum was somewhat bittersweet. That's the day we said goodbye. We said goodbye to 16 interns, 85 campers and City Camp 2012. As 4:00 pm rolled around and parents started picking up their children for the last time of the summer, we gave our last hugs, exchanged phone numbers and wiped away tears. Saying goodbye is always hard.
When you've spent 350 hours with a camper over the course of 10 weeks, you hear their stories, you see the power of the Gospel at work transforming hard hearts, and you feel that same power cleaning out the ugly places in your heart too. City Camp starts to feel like one big family living life together, sharing meals together, going on adventures together, learning to love and forgive each other, and encountering a beautiful and captivating God together.
So there we sat, exhausted from a summer of pouring out and the very person God sent to be a blessing, is the person we existed to serve. The person that came to feed us, was the women we fed. When our hearts were heavy, it was the heavy-hearted women we had served that came to return the favor. The once homeless women and her children brought us a meal to say thanks. Now the tears were not from saying goodbye, the tears came from an overwhelming sense of God's mercy on us. As our pride crumbled and as we gave thanks for God's provision we reflected on a summer full of tangible reminders of the goodness of our King.
(Submitted by Kalie George, Youth Ministry Asst. Administrator at City Union Mission)