Being a dishwasher may not sound like the most glamorous of jobs, but it’s an essential role at a camp. This year, I had the tremendous opportunity to serve in the kitchen as part of the high-school staff at the Living Youth Camp in Texas. This experience not only provided a fantastic opportunity to serve the campers—it also helped me gain a new perspective on camp and everything that goes into making it a success. Over the course of two weeks, our dedicated team—comprised of six volunteer dishwashers—washed more than 50,000 dishes for over 200 people. It was both a demanding challenge and a fantastic opportunity to provide a service to God’s people.
It seems just like yesterday that I was a camper right alongside all the rest of the kids: fellowshipping, participating in fun activities, and learning about God’s way of life. I’ve attended a camp every year for ten years, and those years as a camper were some of the best times of my life. It’s easy as a camper to go about your day without giving a thought to what goes on behind the scenes. I know—I was guilty, too. This year, however, I was struck by the amount of effort and energy put in by the staff in order to make camp an enjoyable, uplifting experience for the campers. It was so encouraging to witness the staff selflessly give of their time in order to make this year a success in numerous ways.
That was something that really stuck with me and inspired me to think: As a staff member, what can I do to help make this year a success? How can I effectively serve the campers? What can I do, even in my lowly role as a mere dishwasher in the back of the kitchen, to positively influence the lives of the kids? After having been a camper for so many years myself, the efforts of the staff I was now a part of really inspired me to put in the effort to “give back,” so to speak.
In Ecclesiastes 9:10, we read, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” No matter what job you have, there’s likely something to complain about. However, it is important to fulfill our responsibilities diligently and maintain a positive attitude. This is especially true at camp, where the focus is on the campers and helping them have an uplifting experience.
Being a staff member is more than just scrubbing dishes, retrieving misfired arrows, or filling water coolers; it’s about facilitating an enriching environment in which the youth of the Church can thrive and build a godly foundation for life. Even the most mundane tasks can contribute to the greater mission of nurturing spiritual growth, and the dedication and effort put in by each staff member helps ensure that Teen Camp provides a wealth of godly examples to everyone who attends.
It’s important to remember that even though high-school staffers are not adult staff, they are more than just “campers with extra free time.” They play an important role in the camp dynamics, and you can’t just come and go whenever you like—there are responsibilities and expectations to fulfill. As staffers, our responsibility is to serve the campers and help support their spiritual growth. Serving as a high-school staffer requires focus and dedication. So, I hope this glimpse into the life of a high-school staffer, and the lessons I learned in that role, will inspire those of you who are able to rise to the challenge and join us next year as a staff member at Teen or Preteen Camp—or both!