I remember my first time at camp during the off-season. Before this, I’d only been a camper. As a camper, you never think about camp when it is not camp. It is always warm, you can always go swimming, the paths are always clear, and the dining hall is always ready to serve meals. So I packed my shorts, t-shirts and a raincoat and set off for camp. I stepped out the car and was immediately greeted by the wonderful scent of pine trees, an arctic blast, and a horde of black flies. Luckily, I was able to borrow some sweats, and I survived my first work weekend.
On Saturday morning, I woke to the sound of a chainsaw. Camp was alive with activity all day. The buzz of power tools, the pounding of hammers and the whoosh of a shop vac filled the air. People were busy unpacking, cleaning, and fixing things all over camp. There was a group of kids gathering brush for a giant bonfire. The kitchen was alive with meal preparation.
At meal time we gathered in the dining hall. It was the dirtiest, smelliest group of people I’d ever seen, but as we shared stories of our lives, people I’d never met before became my friends. After much-needed showers, we found ourselves in the dining hall for an evening of board games. Someone had a guitar, and we ended the night with an impromptu campfire.
That was over 30 years ago, and except for 1991 (the year my twins were born), I don’t think I’ve gone a year without going to at least one work weekend. I’ve made more friends than I can count at camp. Some don’t come anymore, and some have gone on to glory, but there are always new people and more projects to complete.
I prefer the fall weekends – not only because there is less mud and fewer bugs, but because sometimes the staff will share stories about the summer and about girls who came to know Christ. I look around and I see a project I worked on in the spring and think…oh, I’ll have to fix that again. Praise the Lord! I like to imagine that the camper who used that item heard about Jesus for the first time. Just like I did a long time ago at Camp Cedarbrook (Cherith) in the Adirondacks.
Interested in volunteering at a work weekend? Check out the details for the 2018 weekends here: http://campcedarbrook.org/summer2018/work-weekends/
Edie Westerman and her family are long-time camp volunteers. She grew up going to camp in the ’70s and serves faithfully as a volunteer on work weekends, during the summer, and throughout the off-season.