She’s only moving out for the summer, but still.

This weekend, we’ll drop our daughter off at a Christian camp, where she will work for the rest of the summer.

Now, please don’t picture me kicking and screaming, as we pull into the camp. Having her work there was my idea, actually. I’m the one who looked up the website, and printed out her application. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of for my kids. It’s what I got to experience, as a kid.

Throughout high school and college, I worked at summer camps. It was hard, sweaty, emotionally draining work. We never got to ‘punch out’, and our only pay was a
credit at the Snack Shack. But I wouldn’t have traded Camp for seven summers of cruise ships and tropical islands.

At Camp, I learned to work hard, appreciate differences in others, and depend on God in ways I never had before. I discovered who I was at Camp–who God made me to be! Working within a group of Believers who depended on me, I got to discover how the Body of Christ works. I got to discover what I was good at, and how God had gifted me for the sake of the Church.

Our director, Chris, used to walk up while we were leading a cabin activity or walking some kids down to the beach and say, “Step into my office,” which was code for, ‘Step over on this side of the dirt path so I can talk to you privately.” He would spontaneously encourage us and tell us what gifts he saw emerging in us. (I’ve written about what an impact this had on me here.)

As a counselor, I got to introduce several precious young girls to Jesus for the first time. I got to nurture the faith of other little sisters in Christ. I got to develop a leadership style that was winsome. I got to experience working through conflict in a godly way. I got to pray with a group of people every morning and then watch as God answer our prayers!

Camp was a place that my spiritual roots went down deeper and my spiritual life sprouted up and flowered. It was the place that I became me. Camp was a gift from God! It’s a gift I’ve always wanted to give to my kids.

But even so, dropping my daughter off at camp for the summer will still be a huge sacrifice for me. (Funny how I never considered the sacrifice my parents made when they dropped me off…) It’s hard to think of setting the table with one less plate for the entire summer. It’s hard to walk by her room and know that the things on her dresser will remain untouched. It’s hard to picture trips to the beach and bike rides and hosting gatherings without my girl at my side.

I suppose this is the first of many ways that I will lay my kids on the altar, before the Lord. All of the ways that he plans to use my kids for his glory will probably create cost for me. But I wouldn’t want them to miss out on serving him. I wouldn’t want any other life for them.

So, with a lump in my throat and a smile on my face, I’ll drop my little girl off for her first summer away from home. And as I hug her goodbye, I’ll tell her to live for Jesus… at Camp.

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