Portrait #32: Counselors at Camp Omega, rural Waterville, Minnesota
They are the faces of enthusiasm, of adventure, of leadership, energy and a passion for the outdoors. They are summer camp counselors in Minnesota. Friends, surrogate moms/dads, teachers—they are all of these and none of these. They are young people. Who care.
I never had the opportunity to attend summer camp while growing up—there was no money for such extras. But my younger siblings did. When I had children of my own, I determined they would go to summer bible camp no matter the financial sacrifice.
My girls, from kindergarten age on, every summer, went to Camp Omega near Waterville. The first time I sent my eldest away for a weekend, I wondered how I would make it through camp. Me. Not her. I survived her absence and she thrived in the serene setting of woods and water in the care of faith-focused counselors.
Amber loved Camp Omega so much that she eventually volunteered there during high school and then worked two summers as a counselor. The friendships she forged and the confidence and faith-growth she experienced were immeasurable.
Some things cannot be taught by parents at home. Some must be learned in a canoe, in a raucous competition, on a climbing wall, around a campfire roasting marshmallows, in a circle of new friends with a counselor strumming a guitar, in the top bunk of a lumpy bed with whispers in the dark and the brush of branches against roof.
Mosquito bites and sunburn. Raccoon eyes and bounce of a flashlight. Rousting out of bed and falling asleep exhausted from a day of running and screaming and breathing in all that fresh air.
Camp. Counselors. Summertime in Minnesota.
Minnesota Faces is a series featured nearly every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling