Wow it has been quite awhile since I have written a blog post, but this is one I have been thinking about for sometime now.
There is a place in the hill country that absolutely has my heart. This is the place that most of my friendships have spurred from and the place where I found Christ. This is the place where Christ finds you in your brokenness and pulls you close. Deer Creek Camp has been a part of my life for 10 + years now, from camper to counselor to leadership staff, I have gained an immense amount of knowledge, maturity and spiritual growth during this time period.
This summer I got to spend the summer photographing the most precious children, loving on them, creating schedules, loving on the counselors and pursuing Christ. I wish I had the words to explain how God rocked my world this summer. It was a challenging summer full of new experiences and situations to conquer, but the relationships and memories formed are lifelong. I can tell you countless stories of the happiness that I experienced, but come on, who wants to read a 100 pg long blog? I mean I’m not even sure anyone wants to read any kind of blog, but oh well. On that note I will share a few stories and a million pictures, because I love this place and I love these people and I want everyone to see what I see when I look at camp. That is partially why I loved being the photographer at Deer Creek, it was my way of capturing what I see when I look at camp and being able to portray that to others.
Okay so I have to say… the first two weeks hold a VERY special place in my heart. This was the term I attended as a camper and the term that my little sibs still attend (try to spot them in some of these pictures). SBTW1 has the sweetest little ones and they were a fan of the camera, always seeking me out and wanting to take a picture. A huge part of why this term is so important to me is that I had the opportunity to watch these kiddos grow up. I have known so many of them since they were little bittys and now I am watching them enter into high school and make big decisions. I love them so so so much.
Another favorite thing I love about spending my summers at camp is that I ALWAYS get to celebrate my birthday at camp. This summer as I turned 20, it might have been my favorite birthday to date. I have never in my life felt more celebrated or loved on my not only the staff, but the sweet kids.And of course the birthday surprise of my fav cook, baker, and friend surprising me and making me a special birthday desert (Seriously… if you know me you know I love BK and you know that when I saw him pull up to camp I actually cried, there are witnesses). Another special silly part about my birthday, emphasis on silly, I have always wanted to crowd surf, yes I know. I got to cross that off my bucket list, because all of my rockstar counselor friends came together to make that happen for me. Silly, but awesome.
I know I say this about every session, but this is another fav. Most of these gals were my campers last summer and I have gotten to watch and experience them grow into the young women that they are today, and that makes be beyond proud. Some special moments from this session: Anyone who knows me knows I am afraid of heights…to say the least. I had the opportunity to climb to the top of the leap of faith with a past camper of mine and support her through the fear and jump off. I also got to experience two of my sweet sister friends make the decision to be baptized. Needless to say there were lots and lots of tears. I love this session, plus 4th of July at camp, THE BOMB.
SBTW 4 is full of more people I LOVE LOVE LOVE. This term includes Corpus week which brings some of my sweet friends back to camp for a week of fun. I love this term, because it is the last few weeks of the summer and everyone is exhausted, but its crazy to see The Lords continued movement. These smiles give me so much joy and it is so easy to see God’s finger print looking at them.
Friends week is the best week, and my favorite week at Deer Creek. While I love the other sessions, this one has my heart. These kids love me so well. I loved getting to be around to capture their joy and take photos of that encompass all the beauty that they embody. Friends week is the week I discovered my calling and the week I fell in love with what I do. I had the opportunity to lead jump start, teach about Jesus and explain what it looks like to live a Christ filled life. I have tear filled eyes writing about these sweet humans. I have sweet story I want to share with you guys. On the last night of friends week, we sit together and watch the video for the last week. I sat between Michael, dressed in his Elvis costume, and Chance, who couldn’t stop smiling. About half way through the video Chance lays in my lap and Michael lays his head on my shoulder. It didn’t take me long to realize both of these sweet guys were crying. I started to ask them what was going on… they didn’t want to leave the next morning. I consoled them and held them tight. After the video I received a huge hug from sweet Chance and a kiss on the cheek from Michael telling me I was such a sweet girl. Serious guys. I melted. Basically I had moments like this all week and I was a puddle of tears all week. I love them so much.
Needless to say, this is my place and these are my people. I have nothing, but gratitude for the founders of this place who have such a special place in my heart. Mama and Papa Bear have created to perfect environment to experience, real life. People say camp is an escape from real life, but truly camp is how God wanted us to experience life, in an environment perfect for cultivating relationships with one another and with Him. Camp is home.