Friday morning was bittersweet. No one wanted to acknowledge what was going to happen at the end of the day, so trying to go on with camp life as normal seemed like the best thing to do.
In the morning, we prepared for the day as usual. The only thing slightly out of the ordinary was that we had to pack up our bags and suitcases.
As we walked down to breakfast, I pondered in silence how, at the beginning of the week, I had so badly wanted not to come. And now I so badly wanted to stay. The rest of the cabin laughed and chattered like they had every day, and I wondered how they could stand acting like nothing was going to change. In less than twelve hours, camp would be officially over, along with everything I’d learned and all the people I’d met. How had it gone by so fast? And why did it have to be over?
I glanced over at Brenna. I knew what she would say. “Remember what you’ve learned this week. That’s the point of camp. You can’t stay here forever, but you can take home what you’ve learned about God and use it all your life.” I didn’t need to hear that twice.
After breakfast, we went straight to our first activity that I’d heard the counselors talking about incessantly since the first day I’d gotten here. It was called the Crate Escape. The way people explained it sounded confusing, so I didn’t understand what it would entail until I actually got there. High up from the ground, there was a wire with a bell hanging from it. In order to get to the top, you had to stack crates on top of each other and climb on those. The people on the bottom would hand us the crates. When Brenna explained it, it seemed completely impossible. Of course, we would be harnessed in, but still, the crates could easily tip over. When Brenna told us to partner up, Joy and I were quick to choose each other. After Kristen and Mia tried and didn’t get very far before the crates tipped over, Joy and I were up. It began well. The crates were risky, that was for sure. They were constantly tipping, but if Joy and I held on to each other we could more easily keep balance. When we got up higher than our cabin-mates below could reach, they put the crates on a giant pole and lifted them up to us. I began to feel shaky as I realized how high we were, and how much higher we had to go to reach the bell. We basically made two stacks of crates. Joy and I would stand on one stack while we placed another crate on the other stack. They we would move to the other stack and continue the process in the same way. We fell into a rhythm. Brenna and Lauren shouted instructions to us from the bottom, the rest of the cabin cheered us on, and we continued to stack and stack and stack. The one disruption came when I felt the towering crates tipping beneath my feet. With a gasp, I placed one foot on each stack, still holding onto Joy for support. For a moment, we swayed back and forth precariously. But finally, the towers stilled, and we stacked the next one and the next one until finally, we were just a few feet away from being able to reach the bell. The last part was the hardest. We took it slowly and barely talked. At last, I reached up and brushed the bell with my fingers. I rang it triumphantly once… twice… and five more times, just to make sure everyone knew we had made it to the top. Joy rang the bell and cheered along with our cabin below. This was an accomplishment! Certainly, something to be proud of. We then gave the two stacks of crates a satisfying kick, and they fell beneath our feet.
“That felt good,” I whispered to Joy. She nodded vigorously in agreement. We were lowered down from our harnesses. When I stepped onto the ground, I breathed a sigh of relief. I hadn’t realized how nervous I’d been!
The rest of the day passed. I tried my best to cherish each moment with my cabin in this place. I would likely never see them again. But part of me looked forward just a little bit to going back home, seeing my friends and family, having my normal life routine back. Ashley voiced my thoughts that night at the dinner table.
“I don’t want to go home. But I’m almost ready at the same time.”
“Me too,” I agreed.
“I’m excited to eat my own food,” Rebekah said. We laughed.
“It’ll be nice to get some good sleep for a change, that’s for sure,” Mia commented.
“Yes,” I agreed once again. “It does feel like going home is an end though.”
“It’s not an end, Aubrey,” Joy said. “This,” she gestured to everything around her. I assumed she meant our time at camp, “this is just the beginning. When we get home, we have lives to live. Things to do. People to minister to. God put us all here for a reason. But he also wants us to go home for a reason.” I paused to let the words sink in. Joy was right. Her wise words never quite left me.
Later that evening, our parents came. We had one last chapel that was just as good or even better than all the other ones. When chapel was over, our cabin stood in a circle chatting, as if nothing was about to happen. But one by one, each camper in Sassafras saw their parents and bade us goodbye. At last, it was my turn. As I walked to the car with my parents, I waved goodbye to my cabin once more. I kept smiling as I thought of all the great things that had happened this week. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, what next?
I chattered to my parents in the car for an hour straight about everything that had happened this week. I told funny stories and unique stories, talked about the high ropes that I’d done, told them about chapel, gave a description of my cabin and all the girls in it, and everything else that I could think of. When I seemed to have run out of things to talk about, my parents seemed surprised that I’d enjoyed it so much. I grinned, staring out the window. I would remember more stories to tell my parents about camp for years to come. And they still couldn’t even know how great the week had been. Whatever challenges the future held, I was more than thankful I had come.
And I couldn’t wait for next year!