I had so wanted to take pictures. Even had my camera in the car with pictures deleted so I could snap away as many as I like. When we pulled in the gravel driveway I think I actually heard a sharp intake of breath from the boy in the seat next to me.
This was not the time for pictures.
I have been wanting to send Zachary to Barefoot Republic for a couple years. A summer camp about an hour away from us, this place focuses on bringing a diverse group of young people together for a week of typical camp rituals. Wall climbing, eating bizarre foods, battles between cabins, worship services infused with youthful emotion. The pictures on their website and the videos they post on YouTube all show a group of kids laughing and playing hard and enjoying themselves.
Zach doesn’t have that many opportunities for this kind of event. He goes to youth group and he participates in sports and is around other kids…but there is just something a bit different about this place. Maybe it is the diversity they seek out and encourage and facilitate. Maybe it is the enthusiasm of the counselors. I could see it and I was so excited.
The boy? Well…each mile on the GPS that counted down he got a little quieter and the jokes were a little less hearty. When we pulled in he was pretty quiet, other than mentioning he might die.
We checked him in and it all went faster than I wanted. He was swept up in his cabin by a counselor. I stood outside not wanting to be the hovering mom. I did, however, finally go in because I needed that last good-bye. He was busy filling out some paper and nodded and did say he loved me.
It was not exactly the departure I had planned…I was hoping for a little more of a glimmer in his eye. This is the first time he is away for camp…and I’ll be thinking about him all week. I wish he could see on this end how great it is going to be…he sees instead the uncomfortable silences that are not in the pictures on FaceBook. The awkward moments where you don’t quite fit in or know what to do. The missing home.
Here’s the great thing, though…the counselors see both. They know that catch in the gut of the kids who are not comfortable, and they know how that same kid is going to be grinning from ear to ear at the end of the week. They know, and we parents hope, that these kids are going to see sometimes you have to take that uncomfortable leap into something new to find out how great it can be.
As I was walking away I heard one counselor shout a hello to another counselor. He greeted her and asked if she was ready for the week.
She gave a harried look and replied that she hoped so.
He laughed heartily and then said,
“No worries. God is ready.”
Yep, the boy is in good hands.