Many moons ago (ok, two summers ago), I graduated from the Camper In Leadership Training (or CILT) program at camp. CILT is a two-year leadership development program for high school girls interested in serving God and others through a leadership role. My fellow CILTs are the best friends I have ever had and remain so to this day. I confide in them, I go to them when I need prayer, and I lean on them for support. So when I was asked to write this blog about CILT, I thought it had to be done by all of us. So I will introduce you to each of us as we each answer a question about the CILT program. So without further adieu, here we are!
I’d like you to meet Alissa, the amazing crazy one. She is also the one who can empathize with you the most. If you are laughing or crying, Alissa is there with a hug and probably a movie quote.
“What did you learn from your fellow CILTs that you might not have learned on your own?”
“I learned that love and support is unconditional when You meet the people that God wanted you to have as your friends. I learned that in order to maybe solve a situation between kids requires an outside point of view. I also learned that even though we have different talents in working with kids, that if we help each other out in the areas we are weak that we are a unit that God can use to bless that child.”
By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain (1 Corinthians 15:10).
I love what Alissa had to say here! When you are all going through the same program in such a tight unit, you can’t stay stuck in a single-minded point of view. It demands that you open up to new ideas.
Hannah is a rare gem. She literally has a smile on all the time (like, that’s her face!). And she is known for steering steadfastly towards the optimistic, even if she’s still trying to convince herself.
“How have these friendships in CILT strengthened your faith outside of camp?”
“The friendships I made in the CILT program were absolutely incredible. Growing up, I didn’t have many close friends who were actively pursuing a growing relationship with Jesus. Getting to know the other CILTs both encouraged me and challenged me in my own faith. The program really stretched us each as individuals, but we were all able to get through it by supporting one another. There’s something about carrying a canoe together on a hike or putting on a songfest for the entire camp that really brings friendships to a new level of trust. Even though we live many miles apart, I still consider my fellow CILTs some of my closest friends. We keep in touch and continue to encourage each other!”
Hannah touched upon a great point when she said that CILT friends stretch your faith in that everyone has chosen to be at camp to grow in their relationship with God.
Keri is our brain. We all would have exploded without her. She is cool, calm, and collected in the face of trouble and is prone to pouring herself into another so completely that she has been known to forget to take care of herself. (But we forgive her easily, because how can you get upset with someone who has given too much of themselves?).
“How did your experience with your other CILTs help you grow in leadership?”
“Follower: a person who moves or travels behind someone or something. I was always known to follow the trend; to do whatever everyone else around me was doing. Let me tell you though, it is exhausting. Going into the CILT 2 program, I knew I was going to be challenged physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Little did I know, I would be pushed into becoming a leader to the young campers, a role model for them to look up to. That in itself is a huge responsibility and I wasn’t sure if I could live up to it. During the four-week period, I learned a lot of valuable lessons. I had to first be confident in who I was as a person in order to be able to have a positive effect on campers. I was able to explore this while on the CILT trip, where I was tested physically and was given the opportunity to lead the other CILTs in a portion of the hike. Back at camp, leading activities and doing live-ins was where I got the most practical experience. I shared my experience, strength and hope to these girls and tried to pour principles of faith into everyday conversations. My confidence grew and my authentic self began to shine. I was comfortable in my own skin and finally believed that I truly had something to offer others by just being me. I’m extremely grateful to have gone through this experience with such an awesome group of girls and am proud of who I grew to become in the four week period.”
Keri is so right. As CILTs, we were often put into these situations way out of our comfort zone to help grow us into leaders. It was so encouraging to be figuring out that new role with a group of other girls who were all new to it.
Becky is…a breed of her own. She is an awkward hobbit (her words!) and she’s proud of it. Becky is so welcoming and accepting without judgment or reservation. She just loves to make people laugh and affirm them as a person.
“How did your CILT group invest in you and how did you invest in them spiritually, emotionally, socially?”
“My CILT group poured into my life in every aspect I can think of. I am closer to my fellow CILTs than I am with most of my other friends. I know that if I ever have a problem, be it emotionally or spiritually or even physically, I can call any of them and receive the comfort and support as well as wisdom that they always show me from God. I can always rely on them to give me Godly advice in a non condescending way and I am comfortable sharing with them since we all have gone through so much together. I am so thankful for the program that brought me to these people.”
I could not have said it better myself. We’ve seen one another our best and at our worst, so there is no shame and there is good accountability, since we all know the amazing things we are capable of.
Oh! I almost forgot. Hi, I’m Maycie! I like making people laugh and I absolutely love camp.
“How did was your friendship affected through the CILT wilderness trip?”
“The CILT trip is the first thing you do during the second summer portion of CILT. It’s a five day wilderness trip that combines both hiking and canoeing. I had a blast with my CILTs on CILT trip. We conquered mountains together, slept in a tent far too tiny for the five of us together (our choice), forgot our tarp for the tent together, thanked our counselors for remembering said tarp together, worked our amateur canoe skills together (the canoe without a counselor in it was labeled “the struggle bus”) laughed together, cried together, got frustrated together. Everything is together. You can’t escape it, and the experience just bonds you to one another and to God. Just like we couldn’t avoid each other, you can’t avoid God when you are hiking these mountains or canoeing these rivers. He’s just there with all of creation screaming out his praise. And you enjoy it even better because you’ve got this group of girls who “get it” with you.”
Together, we are just one of more than 50 CILT groups, and I hope as you read our story throughout different aspects of CILT, you learned about what an amazing program it is, and what amazing relationships you are destined to build in it. Though not every CILT group meshes like ours has, in almost every CILT group you will find a bond that is beyond explaining and will bring out the best in you.