My name is Nolan Cason, and I’m the counselor of cabin 15. This is my first year here on staff at Gilead. Actually, it’s my first year here at all, and I’m enjoying this summer of service immensely. For those who don’t know, we just finished up high school week here at Gilead. Simply put, it was a blast. We as counselors in particular enjoy high school week, not only because many of the normal stressors that comes with counseling are not present, but it can also be easier to relate to the kids and connect with them. Sure enough, that was the case for me this week. As a result, I walked away tremendously thankful to the Lord, not only because of the great week of fun that was had, but primarily because of the incredible ways that he worked in the lives of the campers.
One of the ways that high school camp is so special is found in the one-on-ones that the counselors have with the campers ( a one-on-one is a time reserved between one camper and their counselor just to talk, usually as a way to get to know one another, but also discuss questions or spiritual issues that the camper may be working through) . High schoolers can be incredibly open and vulnerable with us, in response to very little prodding. While younger campers may reach a level of openness with us during the week, and be willing to sit with us and discuss spiritual difficulties that they are having, lessons and concepts that God is teaching them, or simply be willing to talk about themselves for a certain length of time, many high school campers jump into these areas of discussion almost immediately into our conversations with them. I know that I wasn’t the only counselor this week that was a bit overwhelmed when several of my campers opened up about some of the darkest areas of their lives within very brief times of sitting down.
As I thought on these conversations later on, I came to recognize the true team effort that camp is. In this case, the team extends beyond any one summer’s staff, but it includes staff members from many years. If you are a former staff member, particularly a former counselor, at Camp Gilead, my colleagues and I owe you a tremendous thank you, not only for ourselves, but especially on behalf of the campers. The level of trust and respect shown by our campers towards us this week comes as a direct result of your efforts in the past. As you showed these campers Christ-like love, treating them warmly and kindly throughout their weeks of camp, they came to expect similar treatment from their counselors, and, as a result, have to come to trust us implicitly from day one. Their willingness to open up, to trust us, comes from the fact that you have laid the foundation for us through your efforts in the past. In truth, we stand as brothers and sisters in this work today, as seeds of love you sowed in the past we have reaped in the form of trust and vulnerability. You have helped campers conquer challenges they face in their lives today by putting in the time with them in the past. My fellow counselors and I are simply undeserving recipients of your past ministry, empowered by the Spirit to carry on what you have begun. Your efforts have given me another great reason amongst many others to finish this work strong in the final two weeks, as we work with 7th to 9th graders and 5th to 7th graders. Now, I can embrace the fact that I’m not only doing ministry for these kids’ lives now, but am working to lay the foundation for the counselors of the future, as you did for me and my colleagues. Again, thank you so much.
In Him and through His love and power,
Nolan Cason, counselor of cabin 15
aka Nolan of House Cason, earl and lord paramount of the fifteenth holdfast, servant of the High King