Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Days at Camp

Five days a week, I am surrounded by dozens of kids aged four to about six.  Apparently sometime this spring I lost my ever-loving mind and decided it would be a good idea to teach at the summer day camp held at my church, giving up my summer opportunity to sleep in and spend the mornings in my pajamas watching cartoons with my kids and not showering.

As it turns out, it was not a good idea.  It was a great idea.

I get to jog around on the grass and encourage kids to "Chase Teacher Steven," a game that is infinitely more fun than "Chase Teacher Sarah" would be.  Teacher Steven is young, lanky, has about 2.5% body fat, and stands about six feet tall.  Chasing him is fun for the kids.  Chasing me would be more akin to cow tipping.

There are so many cool things about teaching at Camp Notgoingtosaytherealnameinanefforttomaintainalittlebitofprivacyformyselfandmystudents.  First of all, the energy level of these kids is off the freakin' charts.  Even after a couple rounds of Chase Teacher Steven, they are still as jacked up as if we had handed them each a king-sized Pixie Stick on their way inside the building.  They land in our large group room and we teachers have to make sure we remember to check our pride at the door because we are about ready to get crazy up in this hiz-ouse.  We jump on one leg, spin around, shake our bodies like a Polaroid picture, and march around the space along with the kids.  Even if they aren't winded by the time that one song is over, the teachers are usually already breathing hard before worship even starts.

Worship is one of my favorite things to do at Camp.  The kids get so into it and I love to hear their little voices screaming praise at the top of their lungs.  The songs get stuck in my head so deeply that I often find myself at my night job standing in the server bar bouncing around and singing "Everlasting Love" or "Big God Story" while I wait for the bartender to give me my martinis and old fashioneds.  (For those of you who don't live in Wisconsin, Google "brandy old fashioned" and prepare to have your cocktail-making mind blown.)

Sometimes I have to sit out in the hallway with the kid who is afraid of the hot dog obsessed puppet with no eyes.  Then there was that one day when I filled in for the woman who usually brings the freeze pop obsessed puppet to life.  As I crawled behind the puppet theater wall and put the puppet on my hand, the significantly more youthful teacher in charge of the other puppet warned me, "Your arm is going to get really, really tired."  As it turned out, the muscles in my arm were set on fire, but I was so distracted by the burning sensation in my thigh muscles as I held my body in a squatting position for ten minutes that I barely noticed until later that my arm had turned into Jello.

The different personality types really come out of the woodwork during small group time because we suddenly find ourselves trying to keep the "active" children seated on the carpet when all they really want to do is roll around and take their clothes off.  Meanwhile, the introverts just want to crawl into a corner and watch the rest of the kids fight over who gets to raise their hand first to give what is always the correct answer at church camp - JESUS!!  The Bible geek in me confuses the living daylights out of my kids by clarifying that the Bible says that Jonah was swallowed by a "big fish," NOT a whale and then we somehow end up talking about the time the kid sitting on the letter B spot on the carpet stole all her brother's Goldfish crackers, but we turn that right around to needing to ask God for forgiveness for being jealous and greedy and Boom!  Gospel.  Nailed it.

It's a hoot and a half.

Later we go outside and spray the kids with Super Soakers and run away before we get blasted in the face.  Last week I ended up with whipped cream on my face.  On Fridays, we spend a half an hour trying to keep our kids from killing one another in the bounce castle and I pretend I know how to paint faces.  The cherub-faced little punkin sits down in the chair in front of me and announces, "I want a unicorn!"  I glance at the plate of oil crayons in front of me and respond, "How about a rainbow or a heart?"

Here I am rocking my super-artistic abilities to draw a flower on this young lady's cheek.  I've disguised her face both to protect her privacy and also because she'd probably be embarrassed by my masterpiece.

And then there was that time when I brought my class over to the pond for our fishing day and I found myself hollering "Don't cross the streams!" to an audience who really couldn't appreciate my cleverness and pop culture references while they got their fishing lines all tangled because they kept crossing over one another.  At least I know I'm hilarious.  The best part was when one of my students who had been holding that worm in the water so patiently for nearly twenty minutes finally got a bite on her line.  I turned to look and saw an insane amount of splashing on the water, so Miss Linda rushed in to help her reel in what has become known as The Big Fish.

See?  Not a whale.  It was like God was making sure they knew Teacher Sarah was right about Jonah.  :)

By the time the parent show rolls around on Friday, the kids' faces are covered in sub-par drawings, their hair is coated in colorful chalk, and their bellies are full of hot dogs and freeze pops, but their hearts have been nudged into the path of God.  There is praise on their lips, joy in their hearts, and important questions rolling around in their minds.

It's the most exhausting job I have ever had, but most Kingdom work usually is. 

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