I’ve been up since 5:30 a.m. Breakfast preparation at Camp Lookout begins at 6 a.m.
Dinner preparation begins at 4 p.m. Four hours later, I walked out of the Lookout kitchen and started working on my computer.
My feet hurt in a way that almost alarms me. My back hurts. My brain is scattered. I’m hungry because I can’t figure out an appropriate time to eat when the job is to keep the food coming for others.
But I’ll tell you what: This is a temporary volunteer opportunity for me. Summer camp employees work hard. They do this every day, and then some of them stay up part of the night with the children in their care.
Tonight I helped Fatimah pour huge pots of just-boiled spaghetti into a colander. I brushed melted butter on breadsticks. I sliced tomatoes for the salad bar. I sliced another big pan of cake, which would later be topped with whipped cream and strawberries. I refilled pitchers of sweet tea.
I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned.
All the while, I kept noticing how much these children, these campers, are the center of the universe up here on Lookout Mountain. Zillions of planning details have gone into taking care of their needs. Zillions of conversations happen all day so these children will be blessed.
One little guy came up to the kitchen counter tonight and politely asked for his gluten-free meal. Because it was spaghetti night, I immediately thought, “That’s not going to happen, pal. You’ll need to focus on the salad bar.” Yet Travis, tonight’s main cook, was way ahead of me. He brought out a specially prepared bowl of chicken parmesan with gluten-free noodles. The boy said “thank you” three or four times.
Yesterday, I heard a staff conversation about a girl who arrived with shoes that were much too small for her. A couple of new pairs in larger sizes were quickly located for her to try on.
One boy was having a rough day — perhaps he was homesick. During chapel, I saw two counselors sitting with him outside on a bench, talking gently with him. After worship, Director Don Washburn took the boy on his knee and had a heart-to-heart.
Camp staff are not only teaching these children about the love of Christ. They’re showing them in hundreds of different ways — in thousands of little details. Right down to the milk and cookies in their cabins. Right down to the alfredo and marina (with or without meat) on spaghetti night.
I love it! I love being here.
Somebody please pass the ibuprofen.
(The photo above is me taking breadsticks out of the warmer. I’ll do a better job of getting photos tomorrow.)