As I have collapsed on the couch, I am completely exhausted. My feet hurt from walking. My shin hurts from forgetting that chairs tend to be hard. My voice hurts from speaking and screaming (usually not at the same time). My mind hurts from rethinking everything on the spur of the moment. My eyes even hurt. The only time that all those things could be considered a good things is the evening after High School Winter Camp. While this year’s camp went extremely well, I have to say that I pray it never happens like this again!
We knew that Friday would be a crazy day for us, as Leah had to finish some cooking for camp, we needed to rent a car, and pick up some baked goods all before packing up the car and teaching chapel at 2 at church. The first wrench in the plans was a call from my friends at Enterprise. They kindly let me know that the 4×4 SUV that I had reserved was not actually ‘available’. They were scowering the San Gabriel valley for one, but Leah didn’t have any faith, and took it upon herself to make some calls. Thankfully, she found one at Avis.
The insanity began as Jr. Highers were filtering into the youth center at 2pm on Friday for their weekly chapel. I was preparing to teach chapel, as well as getting the final details ready for our 3:30 departure for Big Bear. We were excited because Big Bear was getting a new blanket of fresh snow, and we were ready to have some fun in the snow. The unfortunate part started when I got a cal at 1:50 from the owner of the camp we were going to stay at.
Del, the owner, didn’t sound excited. Apparently, Big Bear was under white-out conditions. They were getting dumped with snow, making travel close to impossible, nevermind incredibly dangerous. The power was flickering, and could go out at any moment, with no sign of restoration. Del’s main advice was this: Don’t even bother trying to come up.
We went into full panic mode, trying to figure out what in the world we were going to do when the high schoolers started showing up in one hour. In the back of my head I thought that this might be a possibility, so we knew that we could stay at the church, should we need to. We decided in a few minutes that it wasn’t worth trying to find another location, so we just started brainstorming what in the world we would do to fill the time and make up for not going to the mountains.
Leah, Tash, and Trace helped me brainstorm, as Tim (Student Ministries Intern) and Matt Garrett helped prep for the kids to get there and stalled in chapel so I could scramble a little bit. I wanted to do something big to make up for the disappointment the kids would face, so we were calling every theme park in the area, getting prices and weighing our options. After short deliberations, we figured the only way we could make it up was to take the kids to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland.
Now that we had the location and the big event scheduled, we had to decide what we were going to do for the rest of the day. We checked the kids in, told the parents what was going on, and then brought all the kids together to break the news to them. Obviously, they were disappointed, but they generally took it pretty well. In God’s sovereign plan, a couple of kids decided that they weren’t going to stay if they weren’t going to the mountains. It was interesting to see the motives of some of the kids and why they were going to camp. The message wasn’t changing, we were probably going to be doing more if we stayed, and the group was the same. It was a good lesson for myself and the staff to rely on the sovereignty of God, and that our plan was to go to Big Bear, but God’s plan was to stay here.
For that evening, we went out to In ‘n Out for some burgers, came back to the church and hung out for the rest of the day. We had our first chapel where I spoke on the beauty of God and what it should mean to the believer. The basic message was to focus on the beauty of God in the midst of trials and temptations, and to be enraptured in the majestic nature of God, rather than the passing satisfaction of sin.
Conor, one of our staff members, was able to get some tents and a portable enclosed fire place, so we set up a little tent city on our field, complete with camp fire. Another staff member brought in some s’more stuff. In addition, we set up the volleyball net in the gym, cooked some Pazookies (fresh backed cookies in a tin with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top). After a few hours of hanging out and having fun, we turned in for the night, and so ended a long first day.