Fiction Fridays: Camp Days Part One


With a pair of ill-fitting Chacos and a bunch of stomach butterflies, Bethany gets ready for the first day of camp.

Ever wondered what your camp counselors are thinking on the first day of camp? Wonder no more, but beware! They’re as nervous as you are! Follow my (mostly) true journey as a camp staffer from a few years back, as well as the adventures of some girls just like you.

Week 1 Day 1

I wake up refreshed from my day off and just lay there.

Eleven days of training has zoomed by, but, I feel like I’ve grown at least a year older in my time at camp so far.  But something feels different, something is maybe special about today?  Oh. I stop stretching out comfortably in my lower bunk to freeze and stare at the rip in the bottom of Tiffany’s mattress above me.  Campers are coming today.  Day One.  One o’clock.  Be there or be square and oh yeah your life will never be the same.

I’ll be there to catch it all on tape.  The screaming, the shouting, the excitement.  Buses smashing through paper banners at the gate, sweltering teens lined up for a group picture. A bunch of crazy staffers dressed up for Christmas in the middle of summer. Tomorrow morning at this time, there will be a video of everyone’s first day blaring across the big screens and it will all be due to me.

And I wonder:

Am I really capable of doing my job?

Will campers be psyched for day two of camp when they see this video, or fall asleep in their chairs?

Can I learn to love fourhundredsomething campers in one week the way I’ve learned to love the twenty-six staff I’ve been filming non-stop for eleven days?

Will I be able to spend intentional time ministering one-on-one with campers the way we’re supposed to?

If I do find time to do that, what will we talk about? I never got along with other teenagers when I was one, how will I do it now? I’m definitely not cool enough.


As I pull on the Day One shirt, the one that lists the themes for all five days of camp, LOVE at the top of the list, I think about how my attitude has changed since I got here.  I didn’t really want to come.

Somewhere back there in Video Production 209 with Dr. Borchert, I guess it sounded like good experience, and when someone dropped out right before I applied and there was just the one perfect space for me, I thought God really laid out the way for me.  But in the whirlwind week between graduation and driving to training, I didn’t want to do it anymore.  Go to Alabama, where I’ve never been, meet crazy awesome extrovert camp people I was sure I’d never get along with since I’m so quiet and reserved, and make a video every night for campers to watch the next morning, which would keep me up late all over the place since I’m slowest video editor in the world?  No thanks, you can keep that job.  I’m going to stay at home and hang out with my family who’s had a hard year with my granddaddy almost dying and my mom worn out from her job.

I brush my thick, brown hair into a ponytail. I can almost feel the Alabama heat oozing through the window panes. It’s going to feel like walking through water.

But I never break promises, and I signed a contract for this job.  And besides, this is the path laid out in front of me.  By God?  I’m not sure.  But it’s there, what I’m supposed to do, so I’m going to do it anyways. But some days I feel like I really misheard Him.  Like I just wanted the experience at video editing more than I really wanted to know what His plan for my summer was.  But then, why would I have ever agreed to do something so crazy if I didn’t really believe He was ok with the plan? And why on earth did there have to be four whole months between applying and showing up like a vagabond on the front porch steps for training to dull my memory of how God has spoken?

I pull on my Chacos, adjusting the straps carefully, wincing as I hit a blister forming where I didn’t have the straps right two days ago during rec.

But that vagabond learned one thing pretty quick: It’s easy to learn to love people you’re videoing.

Ok maybe that’s not true for videographers on reality TV sets, where they’re drumming up drama. But a bunch of college/young adults who love the Lord and are intensely passionate about turning that love out on others? Yeah, pretty easy. Through the camera lens I’ve already seen these people act like complete fools, making faces, playing silly hand motion games and throwing each other to the ground in Ultimate Frisbee, as well as loving and helping each other with everything from simple to humongous.

They are awesome.

Now if only I can be that awesome.

I sigh as I spray on sunscreen. Are my camera batteries charged? Do I have enough blank tape? Is the staff intro video that taught me to love these people already loaded on the auditorium computer or have I left it on my editing computer?

            Is this day going to be a flop?

            “BETHANY!!!!” A loud pounding on the door stops my questions. Three crazy girls spill into the room, all in Day One shirts, all with colored layers under it showing off how different they are.

I for one can appreciate how different they are. I’ve videoed them all in detail.

“Can you believe it’s time?” ” Want to go get breakfast, they’ve got yogurt, your favorite!” “Are you nervous about making the video? Can I help you capture it on the the computer to save you some time?”

And as I follow their pull toward the cafeteria, I realize. Maybe I’m not the only one who’s learned to love.

Then, I snap out of the safe envelope of their caring with a jolt. Gulp. It’s time for Day One to begin?

Have you ever had to make a decision to love someone, even though you didn’t have much in common? Have you ever been nervous about whether you’ll be able to do a good job? Have you ever second guessed God’s plan for your life? Stick with Camp Days as Bethany explores these problems and more … and share with us about your experiences in the comments below! Also, check out Fuge, the awesomely amazing camp that inspired these stories, which are based on reality with some names and details changed to protect the innocent.

Meanwhile, check back next week on Fiction Friday for the next installment of Soldiers Don’t Cry. Catch up with Part One here, and Part Two here.

Finally, Day One t-shirt on, camera strapped over one shoulder, hanging at the opposite hip, hair in a practical pony tail and sunscreen slathered on, I poke my head out of my room.  Time for Day One to begin.


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