Saturday, June 29, 2013


 I speak for myself when I say that I get frustrated when things don't go my way. I get frustrated when things get difficult, or when things don't go according to 'my plan.' This past session, 2nd session, brought many challenges and many moments of frustration. As head counselor for 2 weeks of girls ages ranging from 9 to 12, I knew that what I would need more than anything was patience. Patience to wait as they tied their shoes, patience as they changed for the 12th time of the day, patience in waking them up, but little did I know just how challenging practicing such patience would be.

Power campers. On the first day when my first camper walked through the door of my tiny little W1/2 cabin, I knew. I knew automatically that these girls were power campers, or campers that have been doing this "camping" thing for a while. They know "ALL" about CDR and they expect a great session. A session full of fun things that they've never done, because last year they did yoga with their counselor and they did NOT like it. To me, there are few things that intimidate me more than such power campers, but I thought I was ready for the challenge. I was going strong, I was sharing God's word with love, I was getting excited about riding horses in the pouring rain, I was having the time of my life. Then just like that, I'm sitting at home as I was sick. Depressed didn't even begin to cover it, while I was home, my precious girls were going about the schedule at Camp Deer Run. To all who checked on me, prayed for me, and even encouraged me while I was sick, thank you. It was your words, prayers, and consideration that made what I thought was the biggest challenge I had faced in my career bearable. I came back ready to jump back to work as we headed to outcamping. Spending my first night back in the woods, was difficult and tiring, but I was determined to go hard. God was continually providing me the energy I needed, and every time I began to feel drained, he simply filled me again. I was struggling to regain ropes with my girls. Things felt off ever since I left, and I was quickly frustrated because things were not going according to my plan. My cabin bibles didn't seem to flow as easily as they had first session, and I was struggling with a difficult camper who simply wanted to go home. I was staying up late to console a crying camper, and rising early to plead with the same child to rise out of bed. Both of these things made for a long day. I was dealing with the challenge of girl drama and whiney voices constantly nagging at me constantly when one day God made himself known. Almost as if he was whispering to me, it hit me that as my campers were asking what's next, feeling left out, or simply not listening to me, that I was the same way in the presence of God. I was God's child that always wanted to know what he would do next in my life, I whine before God pleading him to let me rest, I was begging/ whining to God about how upset and down I had been feeling. I was the annoying, whining, crying camper in God's eyes. What a reality call for me! To place myself in the shoes of my children, my campers, gave me a way to face the challenges. For my homesick camper, I compared myself and my desire to enter the gates of Heaven to her desperation to go home. To my lonely, left-out camper, I saw myself as I was struggling in a relationship feeling like I had no one to talk to. To my campers that constantly turned their heads and would not listen, I saw myself as I turn from God to pursue my own desires. I was, I am my campers

These are simply a few of the challenges I faced, but let it be known though it was difficult, though I did laugh and cry, I grew. I was stretched and pulled, but I can feel the presence of God as he is molding me to be a better Christian. As it says in James, we will face challenges, but we must persevere. Challenges make us stronger, they help us learn. I am so glad that I had the session I did. It has helped prepare me for my future and it has better prepared me to place myself in the shoes of my campers. Crazy as it is, tomorrow we are halfway through the summer. 5 of 10 weeks almost complete. As always, God is good all the time. I am so thankful to have a God that is patient with me as he watches me grow.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

God is GOOD.

1st session is complete and once again I am in Paris, Texas enjoying the first staff weekend. It is hard to believe that 2 of my 10 weeks have already flown by. I suppose it is the lack of communication with the world that makes time seem to pass so quickly, but at the same time every moment with my campers seems to last forever. This past week was an amazing one, and after only 5 days I want to share with you the faithfulness of God that was made known to me.

This past Sunday, 11 girls ran into my cabin quickly grabbing a bunk. Surprisingly, I recognized many of their faces as most had camped 1st session last year. Almost instantly, parents were pulling me aside informing me of certain 'situations' that I needed to be aware of. These situations were nothing big, but throughout the session they definitely kept me running. As soon as the parents left, I had all the girls circle up and we began to talk. At this point, only minutes after the parents left I was nervous. The girls seemed really shy, and I found out that 6 of the 11 were new to Camp Deer Run. Nervous as I was, I just prayed to God that during the week, he would soften their hearts and help me show them the beauty of Camp Deer Run.  If it was his will, I wanted the girls to fall just as much in love with camp as I had over 10 years ago. For those of you who have never camped or visited to Camp Deer Run, there are few words that will capture the beauty of the work done beyond the gates. God's presence can be felt at all times, and camp is seriously cut off from the world.

As the session progressed, it quickly became evident to me why I, Katelyn Gambrel, was chosen to counsel these 11 girls in Women's 5. All of my girls were either entering 8th or 9th grade, and I soon realized that though they were only 13 and 14, they had seen enough brokenness for a lifetime. As they began to share with me and as they opened their hearts to God's teaching, I felt my own heart breaking with them. I knew that in 4 days, I had the opportunity to testify and show them God's goodness in everything. 'God is GOOD!' quickly became our cabin cheer, and the broken, hardened girls I had met on Sunday slowly began to heal before my eyes. They began to share their blessings in spite of the hard things they were facing back home. They were learning, and one by one seemed to approach me to tell me. While I know our mission at camp isn't to hear how well we are doing our job, it is SO rewarding to see the fruits of your labor. My girls each hold a special place in my heart, and I hope that through this past week I was able to show them God's faithfulness.

While all of this 'healing' was going on, I also saw my girls have the time of their lives. Whether it was dominating in Killi Olympics, or enjoying girl talk at our Marble Slab night activity, I was able to see God's joy in my girls. We sumo-wrestled, had paint wars, and enjoyed long talks about how God is good, even if we did have to do dishes because of our 'F' in cabin cleanliness. They also loved to sing and chant. They made up songs for almost everything, and how cheerful it was to hear their sweet voices sing in whatever activity we were doing. One day in particular, I was feeling the exhaustion. My body was hurting and I was discouraged because I was feeling so tired so early in the summer. On this day, I made 12, yes 12, trips to the camp nurse. From bug bites, to sickness, to a soccer ball in the face, we saw the nurse for it all. On this day I even ended up seeing one of my campers go home, because she was so sick. If you had seen me in person, you would have had a good laugh at the amount of running I was doing all over camp. But as the day came to a close, I couldn't help but laugh because as I prayed early that morning that God would help me find the energy, he instead saw that I never had the time to sit down or even think about how tired I was. God is good. He answers prayers.

1st session was amazing. As counselor of W5 I was sad to see my girls go, but excited to see and hear from them as they entered the world. Now as I rest up for 2nd session, I get to do it all over agin. For 2 weeks I will be head counseling W1/2, which is the youngest cabin at Camp Deer Run. I am excited to see God work in these upcoming weeks, and I know that whenever I need it he will provide the strength and energy I need.

Good is good. All the time, God is GOOD.