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TLC Camper Journal: November 9, 2021 Part Two: NINJA CLIMB Hannah Kimble

My legs shook violently as I looked down. I was a long way up already. Why on earth had I agreed to do this?

Brenna had talked last night about pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone, which may have meant for people like me, who were absolutely terrified of heights, to attempt going on the high ropes.

Now I was doing just that on the Ninja Climb. I couldn’t stop myself from shaking as I steadily climbed higher and higher. The Ninja Climb was a series of wires strung from tree to tree that we were supposed to cross with ropes above to hold onto. There were three wires in total. When we crossed one, we would climb a tree with metal rungs where we could place our hands and feet. I was only on the first level, but this was the highest up I’d ever been. It was a hot day, but I shivered when I saw how far away the ground was. Sure, I had a harness on, but I had never really learned to trust harnesses. Part of me wanted to quit now. But an instinct told me that I should keep going. The instinct pushed me on. As did the voices of my cabin below. They cheered loudly below. I inched along the wire. The sound of my new friends’ voices were the only thing that kept me going. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I reached the end of the first wire. With a sick feeling in my stomach, I climbed the tree and stepped onto the second wire. If I had thought the first one was high… it had been nothing compared to this. I focused on the trees ahead of me and moved slowly, holding onto the rope above for dear life. I stopped halfway across, and the wire moved back and forth underneath my feet. My balance gave way, my hands slipped, and I fell backwards off the wire. To my relief, the harness caught me. I felt a stab of disappointment that I had climbed this high just to quit halfway through.

“You can do it, Aubrey!” I heard Brenna’s voice from below.

“Keep going!” Joy encouraged. I swallowed. There was a possibility that I could get back up there.

I carefully pulled myself up onto the wire and stood, grabbing onto the rope. I felt a rush of determination. My cabin continued to cheer for me, and I went on until, before I knew it, I was climbing across the third wire. When I reached the end, I let out a whoop of exhilaration. This was definitely the highest I’d ever climbed, but now it was over with, and I could go back home and say that I’d done it. When I reached the ground, my cabin met me with excitement over my success. My limbs felt weak with relief.

When the rest of my cabin had taken their turns on the Ninja Course, Brenna brought us over to a small clearing of trees where we sat down. I leaned against a tree, still unable to believe that I had actually just climbed that high.

“So…” Brenna began, “Some of us might have felt a little nervous about going on the Ninja Climb.”

We laughed softly, though I couldn’t imagine anyone could possibly have been as nervous as me.

“But you all had no reason to be nervous, since you had a harness. That harness was not going to let you fall.”

I nearly snickered at my counselor’s words. Joy caught my eye and winked. The fact that the harness was holding me hadn’t really made me any less terrified. But then I thought about how I’d fallen off of the wire, and how the harness had caught me.

“Imagine what it would be like not to have a harness,” Brenna went on. “There would be no way you could climb that safely without one. You had to trust the harness to carry your weight. Think about your own life. God is all-powerful. He controls everything that goes on, from the way the earth spins, to every single breath we take. Sometimes, we try to tell God what we want—what we think is best. The truth is, though, we do not know what is best. God does. That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to request things through prayer. But it does mean that we need to trust his perfect plan for our lives, just like we trusted that harness.”

I had never heard something like that before, that resonated so clearly with my heart. I had been guilty many times of not trusting that God knew what was best for me. I barely heard the rest of the conversation, and I walked in silence to the dining hall with the rest of my cabin, contemplating what I had just heard. The loud talking around me finally pulled me out of my ponderings.

Lunch was a fun time filled with good food, songs, laughing, and lots of chatting.

When lunch was over, Brenna stood up and raised her voice so that Sassafras could hear her over the dining hall.

“Who’s ready for the zipline?!” She said it with a grin. She was excited. But my happy mood suddenly turned. As we walked down to the zipline, I trailed behind the group. Ashley noticed that I was walking behind everyone else and moved back to stride beside me.

“Are you going on the zipline?” she asked tentatively.

I shrugged, not bothering to answer.

“You don’t have to go,” Ashley ventured further, “but you did just do the Ninja Climb.”

“But that’s… different. The zipline is higher than the Ninja Climb.”

“It’s true…”

“But I want to go. Brenna talked last night about pushing ourselves, stepping out of our comfort zones, and this is the way I need to push myself.”

“I’ll be your partner,” Ashley said. I couldn’t refuse this. So, I nodded slowly as we walked down the hill to get our harnesses.

The walk up to the zipline was at least a half-mile long. We walked along a trail and finally reached our destination. A series of metal steps led to the platform where the zipline came off of. Ashley and I were up first. All I wanted to do now was get this over with. When I arrived at the top of the stairs, I felt sick. The ground was so far away. If I fell… well, I didn’t want to think about it! Brenna clipped in my harness. It felt like a hundred years before she told us we were good to go. Ashley glanced back at me.

“Are you ready, Aubrey?” she asked. I hesitated. On the Ninja Climb, I’d had my own part to play. I had actually been doing something—climbing. But with this, I had to just sit there and hope that the harness wouldn’t let me fall.

I thought of what Brenna had said earlier today, about the way we’d had to trust the harness and how in the same we, we had to trust God’s plan for us. I even had to trust that God would keep me safe on the zipline, as foolish as that sounded.

With that thought in mind, I ran to the edge of the platform and jumped.


TLC Camper Journal: October, 8 2021 Part One: ARRIVAL Hannah Kimble

It was the first week of my summer break, and I was in the car on my way to Twin Lakes Camp.

I let out a long sigh. When my friend, Makenna, had told me about Twin Lakes Camp at church, it had sounded like fun—especially since I thought she was going. But plans had changed, and now Makenna couldn’t come. So now, I was still going to camp.

Alone.

Knowing that I would have to spend time away from my job at the local ice cream shop, miss upcoming volleyball practices, and take time away from my friends and family, I hadn’t been too keen about the idea of going to camp in the first place.

And now I was going to a place for a week without a single person I knew. I wasn’t an outgoing person. Besides, there were a lot of better things I could think of doing during the summer before my freshman year of high school.

I couldn’t help but wonder why on earth I had agreed to do this. Not that I wasn’t excited. I had heard good things from Makenna about camp. She said that Twin Lakes was where she had first learned to know and love Christ. I looked forward to the spiritual aspect of camp. But naturally, I was skeptical. Living in the woods for a week did not sound entirely inviting, especially without Makenna.

We drove past a sign that read, Twin Lakes Camp. As we followed the road, we arrived. The first thing I saw was an apple tree. Behind that were small grassy hills and rustic buildings. We drove down to my cabin called Sassafras. The cabin wasn’t what I’d expected. I had imagined some sort of shack in the middle of the woods. But Sassafras sat right on a small hill and was more than just a shack. It was a sturdy, appealing… cabin. I went inside to find five bunk beds sitting against the wall in various parts of the large room. The inside was just as nice as the outside. I was pleasantly surprised.

I noticed other girls my age laughing and chattering while they made their beds. None of them looked nervous or unhappy like me. In fact, they all looked excited, ready for the week. Didn’t they all have better things to do during the summer?

A college-aged girl made her way toward me and smiled.

“You must be Aubrey!” she said. I could feel the energy coming from her. “I’m Brenna. I’ll be your counselor this week.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said quietly.

“You’re our last camper in this cabin, so we saved a bed for you.” Brenna pointed to the bunk above her, which still had no bedding on it. I said goodbye to my parents, then went over to set up my bed. The attention of the other campers in my cabin slowly turned toward me. I glanced around the room uncomfortably. A petite girl with dark brown, shoulder length hair jumped down from her top bunk and made her way toward me.

“What’s your name?” she asked in a friendly voice.

“Aubrey,” I told her shyly.

“I’m Joy. What grade are you going into?”

“I’ll be a freshman.”

Joy laughed. “That’s funny. Everyone else here are freshmen as well. I’m the only sophomore.” Joy continued to chatter to me in her friendly way, asking me about my interests, the sports I played, and what I was looking forward to about camp. When I had finished setting up my bed, Brenna called us all to sit in a circle so that we could formally introduce ourselves.

“I’m Brenna,” our counselor began. “This,” she pointed to a girl beside her, “is our Counselor in Training, or CIT, Lauren. Lauren works in the kitchen but will do as many activities with us as she can.” Lauren had dark brown eyes and a serious expression. She waved.

“How about the rest of you introduce yourselves?” Brenna suggested, nodding in my direction. “You start. Tell us about yourself and why you came to camp.”

“Okay…” I began. “I’m Aubrey. I’ve never been to camp before, and I have a lot of things I want to do this summer at home, so… I’m not really sure why I came to camp. To learn more about God, I guess.” I shrugged.

Brenna nodded slowly. “Well, we’re glad you came,” she said brightly. The person on my left side spoke up.

“I’m Rebecca.”

“I’m Kristen,” the girl beside her continued.

“And I’m also Rebekah—but I spell it differently,” the next person said. “I came to spend time with Kristen and Rebecca. We go to school together.”

Next, Joy introduced herself. After her, the next two, Taryn and Ashley, who were also friends that had come together, spoke. Lastly was Mia. I hadn’t heard Mia say a word since I had gotten here. She seemed uncomfortable among so many strangers. Not like I could blame her!

Once our cabin had finished the conversation, we strolled down to Chapel. As we walked down, I found myself falling into conversation with Joy and Lauren. Joy was easy to talk to. Mia walked tentatively beside us, and Joy turned to talk to her. Rebecca, Rebekah, Kristen, and Brenna walked up ahead at the front of the group. Ashley and Taryn stayed behind the group, talking amongst themselves.

Our speaker told us his powerful testimony that night.

Once Chapel was out, we went down to the beach where loud music was playing. Bright lights were strung overhead, lighting up the lake with bright colors. My cabin huddled into a group. Our love for the familiar songs were one thing all eight of us had in common. As we jumped up and down to the music, I began to relax, and I started to believe that maybe, maybe, I could have a good time, even without Makenna.

Perhaps this would be a great week after all.