I have just lived through the most intense summer of my life. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but there were definitely a few learning times. Let’s see if I can quickly recap the past few months of my life.

May 26—29: During my break before summer, I was able to help a friend move to Marina, CA and spent several days touring that area. We ventured to Monterey Bay and San Luis Obispo [sp?]. We went to visit the Winchester Mystery House. We had lots of laughs and enjoyed our extra travel buddy, C. Jack. We took lots of photos with him, as you’ll notice. On the way back to Ironwood, JOn and I were able to stop in Bakersfield and visit Laurie Barnes, one of our favorite horsemanship campers.

May 30—31: I volunteered to help Sam Brock and JOn build a lean-to garage type building. It was a good way to earn a little extra money, and I’m always eager to build things. [No, really. I actually considered carpentry as a major.] We [they found easy things for me to do] built it all from the ground up. I even got to help put on the roof. Nothing like hot desert sun pounding down heat on you and the metal roof you’re attaching. I started the summer already a little sun-kissed. :) Day two we only had to paint and clean up. I really enjoyed the work.

June 2—14 [Staff Training]: For a counselor, this means Stem Winding at 7:00, breakfast at 8:00, other meetings until around 10:00 and then—LIFEGUARD TRAINING [at least during week one]! This was my fourth summer at Ironwood and my third summer counseling. Lifeguard certification lasts for three years, and so my time to re-certify was here. The water was cold, as always, but the weather was awful. We had a ridiculous sand storm the day that the girls had to be in the lake. Fun. Heh. But we made it through, and I’m good for another three years now.

Week two was able to hit hard. Mr. Sam spoke on acknowledging God, from Proverbs 3:5—6. Talk about getting a rebuke. I had just spent a week in lifeguard training, passed relatively easily, and had yet to acknowledge God for any of it. And I’m counseling. HELLO!?! So that was an awesome thing to focus on for the summer—in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

June 16—July 5 [Horsemanship 1—3]: These weeks are all kinda muddled in my mind. I had a few of the same campers for all three weeks, which is probably why it gets confusing. These weeks came at me fast, and I don’t think I was as prepared for them as I should’ve been. The first week of camp kinda surprised me [which it shouldn’t have]. I had lots of fun, but I don’t feel like I necessarily counseled well. I enjoyed my girls and laughed tons. God worked in my heart big time during weeks two and three. I had to get to the point where I was willing to give up anything for God—realizing that if I wasn’t willing, it had become an idol. There were a few hard times during those weeks, but I really enjoyed having a lot of the same girls. I had the privilege of counseling the four graduating girls—Laurie, Abecca, April, and Olivia—for those weeks as well as Becca and Jessica. I love counseling . . . probably because I love building those relationships. I feel like I left those weeks, not just with campers, but friends.

July 7—12 [Junior High 1]: I don’t think I’ve ever had a cabin entirely full of 12 and 13 year-old girls before. If I have, I didn’t learn a whole lot from the experience. I was able to lead one of my campers to the Lord on the first day of camp. It was pretty cool, actually. We were walking back from taking the swim test, and I asked her about her salvation and she said she was a little confused because she’d heard lots of different things about salvation. I walked her down the Romans Road and explained God’s free gift to her. She said she wanted to accept it, and when we got back to the cabin, I grabbed my Bible and showed her the verses I had mentioned and she asked God to save her. It’s always fun to me to hear the girls that say “I don’t know how to pray” talk to God. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable for them, but their prayers are beautiful and simple.

July 14—19 [Junior High 2]: I was a little more prepared mentally for this week than the last. It was another full cabin, and a completely different dynamic than week one of junior high. I had a great time and most of the girls made some great decisions. We enjoyed our overnight campout without any bees. [The first week of junior high, we battled literally hundreds of bees trying to overtake our water coolers. I courageously carried them to safety with the bees still all over them. Yes, I know. I’m brave.] One of my campers also got a delightful [ha!] song about a moose stuck in my head. It’s very catchy. I’d love to teach you sometime. This cabin was full of fun and crazy girls. Good times.

I believe the weekend after this camp was my breaking point. I had lots of stuff going on personally, and I was at the end of myself. [I found out that’s where God uses you.] I poured myself out to God and decided to trust Him with everything I couldn’t control. We sang a song this summer in Ike’s Roost called Broken and Spilled Out. I think all of the counselors in Ike’s could say we were broken and spilled out before God at some point this summer. Every day for the rest of the summer, I was able to wake up and ask God for help very specifically that day. I believe the summer ended well because of that.

July 21—26 [Horsemanship 4]: I think this was my first small cabin of the summer. You’ll notice there are only five campers here. We had a blast this week. It was the week of TMI [things no one ever needs to be informed of were often announced to the rest of the camp]. My cabin enjoyed the luxury of being small and really got to know each other. The girls camped out on the floor one night and just seemed to get along pretty well. A baby lizard was lost in our cabin . . . she climbed out of her cup. I never did find her, but I didn’t see her again, so maybe she got out somehow. There was only one upper level for week four, and she was my camper. She had plenty of one-on-one time with Stephanie and Ben and was able to pass both 4.1 and 4.2 in one week. This was our smallest week of the summer with only 3 cabins at 5 campers each—under twenty people for our entire camp, including counselors. I fell in love with small camps that week.

July 28—August 2 [Junior High 3]: Switching schedules back to junior high can throw you for a loop. But it was actually lots of fun. Another smaller week of camp made me very excited. Monday, one of my first campers to show up obviously did not want to be at camp. She came with a scowl on her face and got onto the wagon without a smile. I sat down beside her and just tried to strike up a little conversation. She answered my questions with civility, and I found out she’d never been to camp before, although she had camped out in her backyard. We dropped her stuff in the cabin and started walking back up the hill when another camper ran up and put her arm around Katlyn and basically just welcomed her to camp and told her she was gonna have fun. My little camper, Nina showed up shortly after that, and she hit it off with Katlyn. At the end of the first night, Katlyn and Nina both said, “Miss Audrey, this has been the best day of my life.” My girls made great decisions about consistent devotions and controlling their tongues that week. That was the week I started doing bedtime stories. I found a book at a yard sale or something called The Rumplestiltskin Problem. It’s hilarious. Basically, the lady who wrote it said the story of Rumplestiltskin doesn’t make sense [and it doesn’t!]. There are huge questions left unanswered. So she wrote six alternate stories to try to answer those questions. The girls loved it, and we were in bed early every night. It worked like a charm.

August 4—9 [Horsemanship 5]: At this point in the summer, you’re beginning to smell home. I love horsemanship camp, though, and the atmosphere of it. This week was proof that God’s timing is amazing. On Monday we had a ridiculous storm come straight down the middle of camp. We got an inch-and-a-half of rain in 30 minutes. The wind was the worst I’ve ever seen it. It knocked down part of a tree which took down the power line for all of Broken I and Ike’s Roost camps. For the first time ever, we ate dinner on the Grande Veranda of the Homestead. God’s timing played out because Rivertown didn’t have any campers that week until Thursday, so their cabins were open. Broken I also had a very small camp with only 3 cabins of campers. This meant all those extra counselors not being used were put on crews for the week. They were able to step in and help with clean-up. Those of us counseling ended up moving cabins for the night because we didn’t have power in ours. That was an adventure in itself. But things were completely back to normal [whatever that is] by Tuesday morning. I dealt with several of the girls on assurance of salvation during the week. Other decisions made that week had to do with anger and really living out the Christian life—making God part of every aspect.

August 11—16 [Horsemanship 6]: The last week of summer camp for 2008. What a great week. I apologize for not having a cabin photo to display. It will get put up in time, but my photo CD for that week got misplaced in the venture home somehow. I had five campers during my last week of camp and four of them had been previous campers from the summer. I love how that works. It makes things easier because you already have that relationship with them. You know where they are and you have a general idea of where to point them. The one girl I didn’t know came out on Thursday night to deal with assurance of salvation. We walked our way through the plan of salvation, and she explained it to me. I told her it’s not a set of words you say that saves you—it’s believing and confessing. It was like a huge light bulb flicked on in her mind. Then we went to 2 Peter 1:5—10 which is [in my opinion] one of the best passages to go to for assurance of salvation. We discussed where she wasn’t living as a Christian and came up with a great plan to stick with for devotions. I’m really excited to see where God takes her.

That was my summer as concisely as I could put it. There’s much more I could talk about, but that will have to wait for future posts. God has been good to me this summer. And thankfully, I can say it’s all of Him, through Him, and to Him.