July 18, 2022
Recently, my children and I took a short hike and splashed around in a local waterfall. Memories of summer Christian camp flooded my mind as I remembered taking my cabin girls on waterfall hikes.
As I remember my pleasant memories of camp summers, I have often pondered the many similarities between motherhood and working at camp, particularly as a counselor. In many ways, having my own children is like having my own cabin of kids except I do not send my kids home at the end of the week (I will admit, there are times when sending my kids elsewhere for the weekend sounds tempting!).
Every aspect of Christian camp had an arrow pointed directly towards helping our campers grow spiritually. The great outdoors offered a venue unknown to some campers and gave them a front row seat of God’s creation. Even the craziness of team games and the “split-your-gut” laughter during “Fun Time” could open “heart” doors, some previously locked tight.
Every moment and every setting of motherhood offers opportunities to teach and train my children in God’s ways. The most apt setting for teaching my children may be during daily Bible time, yet playing a game one-on-one with a needy child may open the door for relationship building. Involving a child in the mundane yet necessary tasks of moving wet laundry over to the dryer or scrubbing a toilet offers teachable moments to instill character.
Though I am not going to rebrand my home as “Camp Mom”, I do want to glean the practical and spiritual benefits of camp and imbue these principles into my own home. I am still a work in progress as God gets more of “me” out of Ashley and more of the beautiful color of His Son into my heart and life.
Camp is physically rigorous! The camp I worked at had a mountain of stairs, and one of our daily challenges as counselors was getting our campers to climb the stairs. By the end of summer, I had always lost weight, one incidental benefit of camp!
In order to meet the demands of camp, I needed to get in shape and take care of myself. I drank gallons of water, especially as a counselor and laundry worker (we had no AC in the laundry department). Supportive shoes were indispensable for all of the walking, hiking, and sometimes running at camp.
The simpler setting of home may not require as much movement as camp, but I would dare say that being a mother is just about as physically demanding as camp. In order to meet the demands of motherhood, I must take my physical health and well-being seriously. Daily exercise should be a goal. Healthy, life-giving food should fill my plate. A container of water should always be at my disposal. Well-made shoes will inspire me to participate in my children’s lives.
Homemade lemonade--water, lemon juice, and liquid stevia--yum!
Being a mother and a being a camp counsellor have been the two most physically demanding jobs in my life. Never in my life have I felt as desperate for God’s strength as these two scenarios in my life, yet each time I leaned hard into the Lord, He sustained me!
The camp I worked at excelled in the number of well-done activities for the campers. In fact there really were more activities than a camper could accomplish in a week. This camp had a craft shop, hiking trails, obstacle courses, miniature golf, tubing, canoeing, and the list goes on and on.
All these fun activities were bridges to reach into my campers hearts. Many closed campers would let down barriers doing something fun that they enjoyed. One summer, I remember jumping off the high tower into the lake (NOT something I wanted to do), but this built a bridge for me to reach a very needy camper.
A godly mother seeks exciting opportunities to engage, strengthen, challenge, and delight her children. Every moment of life does not have to be entertaining, but a godly mother knows that engaging in fun activities with her children helps to build relationships.
Activities with your children do not have to be expensive or extravagant, and one of the very best activities is a classic, taking the kids to the park. Other beneficial (and educational) activities include visiting a farm, going picking of some kind (strawberry, blueberry, apple, etc.), or visiting a zoo. My mom recently purchased a zoo pass to our local zoo, and the grandkids are loving making multiple trips to the zoo.
Camp means being together…all the time! As a counselor, I had a cabin of about 8 girls each week, and we did everything together. We all slept in the same cabin. We cleaned said cabin daily. We ate meals together. We listened to the preaching of God’s Word together. There certainly were moments of frustration and selfishness (especially on my part!), and I remember going out back of the cabin on several occasions to beg God to help me love my campers.
Just as I entered into daily life with my cabin campers, as a homeschool mother, I enter into daily life with my children. We do just about everything together at this stage in my children’s young lives, and all this “togetherness” can leave a lot of room for frustration and weariness.
I learned early on from some other wise mamas the importance of quiet time for myself and my children. I need a break each day to reset and refresh to meet the demands of the rest of the day, and my children also need to learn independence and quietness.
Spending so much time with my campers meant I got to establish relationships with them. As counsellors, we were expected to have one-on-one conversations with each of our campers to learn her unique needs. As we learned our campers, we could then point them to God and His sufficiency to meet their needs.
All of motherhood really could be summed up in the word relationship. I have seen mothers abandon their opportunities for relationship and then weep in surprised disappointment as their children walked away from them. Being a mother is wearying, to the absolute inner core sometimes, but God is able to sustain me and give me the strength for each step. My heart is saddened for the aforementioned ladies, yet I want to humbly learn from their stories and do all I can to focus on strong relationships with my children.
Every aspect of camp culminated in spiritual investments into our campers. The main mission of Christian camp is to show campers how they can know God personally or continue growing in their relationship with God if they already know Him. By investing in relationships with our campers, we could then direct their hearts to God.
Being a mom is about building and maintaining relationships with our children so that we can shape their hearts for Christ. As a mother, the opportunities for leading my children to God are endless. The days are ripe with opportunities to teach my children about the Savior and how to live for Him.
One of the very best ways that I can lead my children spiritually is to take them to scripture daily. Having daily bible time does not need to be complicated, and it could be as simple as reading a chapter or section or scripture together each day. As I take my children to God’s Word daily, I am establishing a pattern for them to then have their own times in scripture independently.
I hope you enjoyed this little walk down memory lane with me, or should I say hike through the woods? If you are a mama, I hope you choose joy in your journey of motherhood.